Andrew Fish http://andrewfish.com a catalyst for God's glory Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:46:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Discovering the P’s http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/discovering-the-ps/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/discovering-the-ps/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:46:43 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=939 About a year ago, I was impressed by God’s Spirit to focus on a “Five P’s Prayer” for Doxalyst: Perspective, Place, Partners, People, and Provision. It’s good that God bundles grace with His calling because He has been bringing results despite my own lack of consistent follow-through. First, Perspective: as shared in my last letter, […]

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About a year ago, I was impressed by God’s Spirit to focus on a “Five P’s Prayer” for Doxalyst: Perspective, Place, Partners, People, and Provision. It’s good that God bundles grace with His calling because He has been bringing results despite my own lack of consistent follow-through.

First, Perspective: as shared in my last letter, everything we do flows out of missio dei. The mission of God is to reveal His glory for the purpose of redeeming and restoring Creation to it’s right relationship with Him. It is only in the context of God’s mission that we can understand who we have become in Christ, the purpose and nature of the church, and the great privilege of being God’s co-workers.

From this perspective emerges what I believe to be the three-fold vision of Doxalyst. 

  • Cities — large metro areas — are strategic in God’s mission. They are the intersection where God reveals His glory to individuals as part of His plan to reveal it to the nations.
  • The Church is God’s vehicle for accomplishing His mission.  Because God designed the church to grow exponentially, Doxalyst is primarily focused on the development of growing movements where every disciple makes disciples and every church plants many more churches across multiple spiritual generations.
  • God will equip His laborers with media and technology tools which enable movements to be accelerated in over a thousand major metro areas worldwide.

The second one of the Five P’s — Place — has often felt like the most practical concern. And the answer has come into focus over the last few months: Houston, Texas.

Last January, I received an unexpected call from Colin Millar, who works as a full-time “prayer igniter” in the Houston area. He has been a great encouragement as I’ve pursued the vision that now exists as Doxalyst. Colin asked if I would write a “vision plan” for reaching greater Houston that would connect with leaders of an emerging citywide prayer movement. I flew to Houston in late April — first to attend a mission conference, and then to spend a few days exploring some next steps towards a city-reaching movement.

Returning home I realized I should ask the Lord a simple, direction question: “Houston — yes or no?” Simple questions create room for a simple, clearly understandable answer from which, by faith, all the other “variables” can be resolved. Over the course of a few weeks, I realized God was saying “yes.”

God has also been working on the third of the Five P’s — Partners. I’ve long realized the vision for Doxalyst will require working alongside others who have similar aims. Just before visiting Houston, the Lord connected Colin, and then me, with a small group of believers launching a new endeavor. Just recently, I shared my thoughts about Houston with a mission contact, who in turn connected me with newly-launched disciple-making team in the city. I was recently reminded of a simple truth: the Kingdom moves at the speed of relationships. Even though these connection and others are still in infancy, I’ve been greatly encouraged to see God work this way. I trust this is just the first taste of what He as in mind.

Math has never been my strength, but it is important to help understand the situation. Today there are roughly 5,000 churches of all types in greater Houston. Thirty-some are in the “mega” church category — and a few in the “Texas-sized mega” range. If each of these churches averaged 100 members (1/3 higher than the national average), that would yield about 500,000 people. Or, 8% of the people in rapidly growing a metro area of 6,180,000. Even doubling the calculation would still leave several million people unreached!

Reaching a city like Houston will require a dual-track effort to grow the Church — the true, big “C” body of Jesus Christ. Inspiring and equipping believers within established churches to become multiplying disciples will be important. Existing churches grow with the addition of new disciples. Yet the larger growth yield will come through the emergence of new churches meeting in homes and other places. Accomplishing the mission requires thinking “outside the box” of the institutional, westernized church concept. While large, successful churches often attract attention and mimicry, the global trend of church growth is “micro” rather than “mega.” 

I don’t interpret coincidences as divine signposts. Yet it’s “interesting” how Houston has intersected this city-focused vision that has become Doxalyst. Several years ago, I was making a flight connection in Houston when the Lord led me to start jotting down some ideas for how media and technology could be used to reach cities. And a few years later I was there at a conference for “Training for Trainers” — or T4T — when God opened my eyes to see how discipleship multiplication was the key for reaching cities. And now, by God’s grace, it may be the place where the vision starts to come into reality. 

Personally, I can’t say that Houston has ever been high on my list of places to live. I find the sprawl overwhelming — it’s the fourth-largest metro area in the U.S., spanning 10,000 square miles. Yet, it is statistically the most diverse city in the country and has incredible influence in business, culture, and academics. (And they don’t have a mere “international” airport but an intercontinental one!) I don’t want to make assumptions about on God’s plan — because I’m almost certain to underestimate it or be completely wrong — but there is some recognizable strategic value in pursuing this vision in Houston.

The last of the Five P’s — Provision — is something which will obviously be required for my move to Houston. With the connections that are already forming, I’m hoping for the Lord to provide far more resources, far more quickly than ever before in my ministry career.  It might seem like a big hurdle, but it’s minuscule in comparison to what we are believing God will do in Houston — and other cities worldwide.

This is shaping up to be a fairly busy summer. I’m likely to return to Houston sometime in the next several weeks to further develop the existing partnerships. Another mission agency is going to be launching a large prayer movement for their partners on prayward.com. And I’m also helping to develop the strategy and curriculum for a 5-day club this August for kids in the heart of Canton.

Your ongoing prayers are both vital and appreciated! Expect to be hearing from me soon with more details about this emerging vision for Houston.

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Road to Glory http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/road-to-glory/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/road-to-glory/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 17:07:36 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=930 I sometimes feel as though I’ve been given pieces to a puzzle, but the cover of the box — the end result — seems both hazy and overwhelming. A recent, unexpected call from a friend in ministry has brought about an opportunity for the vision of Doxalyst to develop in a major U.S. city.  I […]

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I sometimes feel as though I’ve been given pieces to a puzzle, but the cover of the box — the end result — seems both hazy and overwhelming. A recent, unexpected call from a friend in ministry has brought about an opportunity for the vision of Doxalyst to develop in a major U.S. city.  I set about pulling together the concepts and words into a coherent and succinct form, rehashing several principles I’ve written out before. Then I finally recognized the “framework” which brings it all together. It’s all about God’s glory.

Such a realization seems like a palm-to-the-forehead “duh” moment. After all, the “doxa” in Doxalyst is the greek word for “glory.” Yet I’ve realized it’s easy to read, think, talk or even sing about God’s glory as an abstract concept but not appreciate what it really encompasses.

We might visualize God’s glory as a blinding light too awesome and powerful for our senses (Exodus 33:12-23). Or maybe we think of in regards to the vast complexity of Creation — “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.”  (Ps 19:1). God’s glory is His holiness, power, and dignity. Yet God isn’t telling the world about what He is, but who He is.

That’s why God’s glory can only be fully known through intimate relationship, through the eyes of our heart. Jesus comes to us as “the visible image of the invisible God,” so we can know a glory “full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Colossians 1:15, John 1:14)

The mission of God — or missio dei, because everything sounds cooler in Latin is to reveal His glory. His purpose is to redeeming and restoring Creation to a right relationship with Himself unfolds across time. It’s “a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure,” leading to the day when “he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ — everything in heaven and on earth.” (Eph. 1:9-10)

city-glory

Cities are strategic intersections on the roadway of God’s mission. They contain many examples of what happens when sin separates people from God’s glory. But they also provide a vital opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed: first to individuals, then the whole community, and then regions and nations. This is the pattern seen in the New Testament account of ancient Ephesus. It’s still relevant today for the 54% of the world’s population concentrated in urban areas.

God’s mission is focused on those bearing His image: our past (what we lost), present (how we live), and future (what we will receive) all revolve around God’s glory. “He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession.  Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. (2 Cor. 2:14)  The glory of God’s face was impossible for Moses to see, yet now God causes “the glorious light of the Good News.. [to] shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

Jesus brings us together in the Church (the true, universal, big “C” one) as the means — the vehicle — of God’s mission today. As King and head of the Church, Jesus sits in the driver’s seat and expects obedience. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus gives spiritual gifts which “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church.” (Ephesians 4:12) But it’s more than just serving a cause or mission — the Apostle Paul calls us “co-laborers” with God.

Jesus asks us to see things as He does. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Luke 10:2) We can only pray as Jesus instructs when we agree with Him about nature of our and urgency of God’s mission. “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)

A car can travel great distances because the engine essentially performs the same sequence of steps over and over. The same is true of discipleship in the Church. God’s mission moves forward through the Church by means of disciples making more disciples — more people knowing and coming alive in God’s glory in an exponential process.

Jesus says, “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit…When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:5,8) The biological imperative of fruit is reproduction of the parent plant. The spiritual imperative for a follower of Jesus is reproduction — more disciples who propagate God’s glory.

There can be no mission apart from God’s mission, no pursuit greater than His glory, and no cause more pressing than its revelation. Yet there is a self-interest in this too: the more God’s glory is revealed, the more of it we will desire. The more of it we experience, the more we will want to tell others. Jesus tells us to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” (Mt 6:33)  — the full revelation and experience of God’s glory which will make us fully alive.

For as much as I enjoy geeking out about technology or talking about big opportunities, it all for one grand purpose — the revelation and experience of God’s glory.

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Anticipation http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/anticipation/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/anticipation/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 23:49:43 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=924 Like most kids, I could barely stand the wait for Christmas to arrive. Now it seems to come far to quickly. I was at Cracker Barrel in early November when a “helpful” clerk reminded me there was only 9 more weeks before Christmas. Dinner tasted a bit strange. Rereading the story from the Gospel of […]

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Like most kids, I could barely stand the wait for Christmas to arrive. Now it seems to come far to quickly. I was at Cracker Barrel in early November when a “helpful” clerk reminded me there was only 9 more weeks before Christmas. Dinner tasted a bit strange.

Rereading the story from the Gospel of Luke, I realized there was a lot of anticipation surrounding the first Christmas. The countdown began at least a year before Mary and Joseph found their way to that stable. You know the story: Zechariah the priest, an altar, an angel… “Surprise! You’re going to be a dad!”

Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a child but were now beyond the point of that happening. Perhaps they had given up on their prayer request — if not in words, perhaps in spirit. But they, like others in Israel, would have been praying too for the Messiah to come. For all the years of waiting, and waiting, surely some wondered if it was a hollow hope.

The angel’s message to Zechariah was double-barreled. His child would “prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.” (Luke 1:17) Zechariah was an educated man, a spiritual leader, and a son of Abraham. A direct descendent of another elderly, once childless couple. But like any of us in such a situation, he missed the “big news” and focused instead on a more practical matter. “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” (v.18) I can imagine Gabriel rolling his eyes.

What a “pregnant” sense of anticipation Zechariah must have developed during his nine months of silent contemplation! Not only for his own child, but for the fulfillment of God’s promise.  He had time to fully digest the angel’s message, as well as the other miracle in his wife’s family.  Certainly Elizabeth told him about their unborn child’s reaction when Mary arrived. Surely Mary told him, the family priest, about her own meeting with Gabriel.

Zechariah was likely the first person in Israel, and on earth, to know of the Messiah’s imminent arrival… and he couldn’t speak. But when baby John finally arrives, the Holy Spirit flows from Zechariah’s heart to his mouth. His prophecy is moving, soaring. Spoken in the present tense, six months before Jesus would be born, it reveals that Zechariah understood what God was up to:

Because of God’s tender mercy,
     the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, 
to give light to those who sit in darkness and  in the shadow of death, 
     and to guide us to the path of peace. (v. 78-79)  

Beneath all the holiday glitz and trappings the message of Christmas  resonates deeply in our hearts. “They will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Isaiah 7:14) Because we were not created to be separated from our Creator — spiritually or physically. That first Christmas was the beginning of our loneliness’ end. The honest, unhindered compass of every soul orients to the Savior born in Bethlehem.

Christmas is still about anticipation. We live in the gap between two revelations of Immanuel — one fulfilled, one to come. And as the world becomes ever more strange, increasingly filled with difficulty and strife, the stronger, more earnest, is our anticipation.

Our first parents lost Immanuel in Eden. In Bethlehem, Immanuel came back to us as a baby. Someday Immanuel will come back as King, then we along with all of Creation will again know His fullness. “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Christmas is a celebration not only of the past, but the future. One we are certain of because Immanuel came, Immanuel is with us now, and Immanuel is coming again. We, unlike Zechariah, don’t have to wait in silence. And there’s a world desperately hoping we won’t.

Merry Christmas!

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For The Kingdom http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/for-the-kingdom/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/for-the-kingdom/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:26:46 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=892 View PDF Version Jesus said, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’” (Matthew 9:36-38 and Luke 10:2 NLT) I want to see things that way too and act accordingly. God is concerned […]

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Jesus said, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’” (Matthew 9:36-38 and Luke 10:2 NLT) I want to see things that way too and act accordingly.

God is concerned about people, and where you find a lot of people you find a concentration of God’s concern. This is a primary reason I think  cities and urban areas are important — in addition to their strategic value for regional and even global impact. Look at it this way: in a harvest, it makes sense to focus first on the areas where the grain is most concentrated and work your way out from there. 

Considering the spiritual need in even a small community can seem overwhelming — let alone a much, much larger and more complex world. This is why I am keen on pursuing the core Biblical strategy of exponential growth God has laid out for us: disciples making disciples and churches planting churches. It is God’s divine wisdom that the resources for the harvest will come from the harvest itself. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that in this day of great need, the Lord is also equipping His laborers with tools and resources to increase their scope and efficacy.

Kingdom Growth

Jesus often conveyed truths about the Kingdom of God using examples from the natural world. He gives us a compelling analogy for how to go about the work of the harvest.  “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

From this passage, a missionary couple in Asia identified “Four Fields” of Kingdom Growth. Others working with discipleship multiplication and church planting movements have adopted and tweaked it for their needs while keeping the same basic pattern. And it is the foundation of the strategy for Doxalyst.

God’s ready fields

four-fieldsThere is no place we can take the gospel where the Holy Spirit is not already at work, preparing the way. A farmer will watch the seasons and survey his field to understand the conditions to plan accordingly. Likewise, a movement begins with planning how to enter the field where the harvest will happen.

Reproducible evangelism

Clear, culturally relevant ways to communicate the authentic message of Jesus are used to “sow” across a field. By keeping the methods simple and easily learnable, both new and existing believers can quickly join in the task.

Reproducible discipleship

Short term discipleship comes through concise, Biblical lessons that challenge a new believer to follow and obey Jesus. As with evangelism, simple lessons can be learned and passed on. Believers are taught how to “feed” themselves from God’s word for further growth.

Reproducible churches

Biological growth is exponential because it comes through by creating more cells, not by making existing cells larger. It’s natural for a group of disciples growing together to begin taking on the characteristics and practices of a church body — this is the harvest.

The power and presence of the Holy Spirit is an indispensable element in each of these steps. It is our responsibility to share the gospel, but it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction about sin and testifies to the claims of  Jesus.  And as Jesus says about the farmer, we don’t fully understand how growth happens. And while this steps might seem sequential, as a movement grows they will begin happening all at the same time — a wonderfully divine “mess” that only the Holy Spirit can fully plan or manage.

Doxalyst’s Roadmap

I believe God has called Doxalyst to develop 21st century methods that further 1st century Kingdom principle in order to accelerate discipleship and church planting movements. The true potential of the digital age for the King’s mission may be found when front-line movements are equipped with leading-edge digital tools. Where harvesters once used sickles, we are equipping them with combines.

I began this year asking God to give me a strategy for Doxalyst, and last Spring some loose ideas began coalescing into specific “products” that could be developed by Doxalyst. The Lord brought my focus back to discipleship multiplication and church planting movements, and after rediscovering the “Four Fields” model I realized the tools I’d been envisioning fit into it.

(Note: “.io” is an internet address domain like “.com” and in tech-speak “IO” is shorthand for “input, output.”)

Ethne.io

four-fields-doxaIn the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20)  the greek word “ethne” is often translated as “nations” but literally means “people groups.” In the modern world, cities are home to many people groups defined not only by ethnicity by other factors like education, social status, and economics. We can use the massive amounts of information that exists about people today (in an appropriate, non-creep way!) to identify and understand the people groups  that need to be reached in a specific area.

This tool will help both leaders and front-line workers to visualize the field in which they are working. It will bring together multiple points of information — from census data to field interviews with locals — and present it on a dynamically generated map.

Disciple.io

Technology needs to support, rather than replace or undermine, the processes that are already working. This is especially true for the discipleship that occurs in small group and one-on-one settings.

Disciple makers will use the application to track the progress of individuals from the point of initial contact (whether online or in person) to maturity. It will also be important for the system to support different models of discipleship development. A new disciple will be able to find supplementary material, as well as add information about those he or she might be starting to pray for and disciple.

Evangel.io

While God has and is working through internet outreach on numerous fronts, online exposure and decisions often does not yield lasting, multiplying disciples. A “third generation” option would bring the dynamic potential of online media alongside existing frontline efforts, especially highly effective face-to-face outreach. It’s kind of like putting the “air force” at the disposal of the “ground troops” who can decide which targets need to be “hit.”

Evangel.io will be a platform for local movements to build and manage locally orientated websites that leverage world-class tools and strategies that would normally be beyond their reach. In addition, they will be able to integrate online outreach both personal and potential mass outreach, and provide immediate, local follow-up and discipleship options for contacts.

Prayward.com

A critical aspect for Kingdom growth is prayer. Whereas the other applications on this list are still “envisioned,” Prayward.com exists today as a tool that can help facilitate the development of prayer movements. After first telling you about this tool I discovered a few (ahem) bugs and ways to improve both reliability and functionality. And while the future of the project is still a step of faith, it’s been a good learning experience for future development.

You might note that there is not an application for the “reproducible churches” field. Quite simply, the Lord hasn’t given me a concrete vision in this area so I’m not going to force one. And this list is by no means exhaustive regarding the potential for technology accelerators — I’m confident the Lord will give vision for more tools going forward.

Steps of Faith

Nothing in these envisioned tools represents a ground-breaking technological advance. Virtually all of these tools represent things that are already being done by various commercial applications and even some existing ministry tools. There are four factors that I believe set this vision apart from other alternatives and make it a worthwhile pursuit:

  1. It is focused specifically on the needs and objectives of discipleship and church planting movements. Many existing solutions are not adaptable or “tuned” for this task.
  2. Tools will be intentionally global, readily serviceable for various languages, cultures, and levels of internet access.
  3. While each tool can be used independently, the greater value will be their inter-connectivity and sharing of information.
  4. The applications will be provided as a free, “cloud-based” solution for Bible-centered movements anywhere in the world. Cost and technical skill should not be a barrier for a movement to leverage advancing technologies.

There’s much more depth to each tool and the overall plan than I can fit into this letter — I will spare you from some of the geekier details! And there’s also a lot questions and challenges that will need to be addressed and explored along the way, many of which I probably haven’t imagined yet. I can also see some of the potential problems and limitations that will need to be addressed. Technology is not a panacea that solves every problem, and if not used with sensitivity it might actually undermine a movement. An upcoming update to doxalyst.org will address some of these details.

Communicating this vision is a huge step of faith — perhaps the biggest one I’ve made so far. Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy — perhaps I am. But hopefully it’s the good kind of crazy. I have a few inklings about how this can be accomplished, yet I lack the connections, resources, or know-how to pull it off. But I do have a mustard seed of faith in a God with infinite resources and a habit of providing for His will.

Maybe some will not want to be part of this vision for one reason or another — but if I don’t communicate it, I can’t find the partners God will bring to make it possible. The Lord has impressed on me repeatedly the first step is just to get it “out there” — then He’ll show me the next.

Maybe someone will co-opt the vision — but if I really believe this is from the Lord, it was never mine in the first place. If I find someone else working towards a similar goal, I’ll seek to join forces. What matters is that it happens, not who gets the credit.

Maybe I will end up flat on my face. I’m as likely to trip over my own shoelaces and be tackled by the enemy. But by God’s grace I will get up again. You or I can never fail so long as we are genuinely and humbly seeking to obey the Lord.

I’ve come to realize that the biggest battle for a vision can take place inside one’s own heart and mind. That’s where I’ve found myself for the last several months… asking the Lord over and over if this is really His calling and plan. It’s so much… bigger than you or I. I’m overwhelmed by it. Perhaps you are too. And maybe that’s the key: it’s not about me or you. It’s about God, and His glory. It’s His field, His harvest. That’s what the “doxa” in Doxalyst is all about.

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From Here to There http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/from-here-to-there/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/from-here-to-there/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 20:49:16 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=888 “Vision,” by definition, requires anticipation of things that are not yet real. It’s the ability to look past the moment and see in your heart and mind what’s possible. God gives visions in the Bible (sometimes literally) to communicate His redemptive plan. That’s still true today. Yet when God gives a vision, He usually doesn’t […]

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“Vision,” by definition, requires anticipation of things that are not yet real. It’s the ability to look past the moment and see in your heart and mind what’s possible. God gives visions in the Bible (sometimes literally) to communicate His redemptive plan. That’s still true today. Yet when God gives a vision, He usually doesn’t include a detailed roadmap. Rather, the Lord asks us to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Faith in the His sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness. Faith that He is in us through Christ. Faith that He will use each right step to accomplish His purpose — and redeem the missteps. Faith that He knew what He was doing by giving you the vision in the first place!

Sometimes God has to refocus your vision before revealing the next step. Several years ago, the Lord began giving me a vision for how digital tools could help effectively reach cities with the gospel. I found inspiration in the New Testament account of Ephesus, a key crossroads that might make “Sin City” blush. Here Paul and others began teaching about Jesus publicly and from house to house. “The message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect” — there was almost a riot! As a result, “People throughout the province of Asia… heard the word of the Lord.” (Acts 19:9-20:20)

“Training for Trainers” (or T4T) emerged out of an Asian church planting movement — the largest ever documented. The more I learned about it, the more it sounded a lot like what happened in Ephesus and throughout the New Testament. Jesus told us, “Make disciples… Teach them to obey everything I have commanded.” T4T takes this quite literally. The missionaries who “re-discovered” this Biblical model realized they didn’t know who God would use. So they simply trained everyone to make disciples and plant churches — and some of the most unexpected people became the greatest disciple makers. The timeless Biblical principles expressed in church planting movements such as these encapsulate God’s master strategy, the key to making disciples in cities and elsewhere.

Here’s what I call the three-strand vision for Doxalyst: (1) developing media and technology tools to further accelerate (2) the New Testament model of disciples making disciples and churches planting church (3) so that every person of a city and beyond can be given authentic opportunities to know Jesus. In the coming months, I’ll be relating some more specific ideas about what this might look like in practice.  

Doubt is the antithesis of faith. And big visions, especially from God, can be fodder for big doubts. In every area which God calls us to walk by faith, our enemy wants to distract us with doubt and fear — often by shifting our eyes from God to “reality.” But to walk by faith is to choose God’s reality over the one you see. For myself, I would rather act on what I believe God is saying rather than live with the “what if” regrets of inaction. But it’s not about me or you or anyone else. It’s about God — His purposes, His ways, His glory.  

I believe Doxalyst will thrive for a simple reason. We are not in the business of developing new strategies or ministry models. Rather we are joining in what God is already doing, embracing the core Biblical truths have proven effective across time, place, and culture. God is concerned about people and in a city, you find a high concentration His concern. For this huge task, God has provided in the 21st century tools to accelerate principles first demonstrated in the 1st century. 

This God-vision propels me forward. Yet at the same time, it also brings a certain level of frustration. As much as I enjoy big ideas and grand strategies, they are pointless apart from fruitful action. I’ve been asking God to show me how to walk in faith toward the long-term objective while having a Kingdom impact in the present moment. Here is what I believe the next few months will look like.

First, from the outset of this adventure I’ve believed it would be wise to to pursue the vision alongside an established or emerging movement somewhere in the world. I’m proactively trusting God to either connect me with an urban church planting movement somewhere in the world or help me to start one… somewhere. Maybe even in my own “backyard!”

Second, this vision is going to require my full attention. The Great Commission has been my full-time occupation for nearly 13 years, and I have no conviction otherwise. I still need more ministry partners, “Kingdom venture capitalists” investing in Doxalyst. Wherever this vision may take me, I want to go there fully funded and able to fully engage in God’s plan.

Jesus said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Let us be about the business of trusting God for the impossible.  

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Prayward http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/prayward/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/prayward/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.andrewfish.com/?p=853 Doxalyst is focused on vital disciple-making movements which saturate entire communities and cities with the good news of Jesus Christ. Media strategies and technology tools are simply a means to bring this about more quickly and effectively. One of the key, indispensable elements needed for such movements to flourish is focused, ongoing prayer. Prayward.com is […]

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Doxalyst is focused on vital disciple-making movements which saturate entire communities and cities with the good news of Jesus Christ. Media strategies and technology tools are simply a means to bring this about more quickly and effectively. One of the key, indispensable elements needed for such movements to flourish is focused, ongoing prayer.

Prayward.com is launching this month as Doxalyst’s first “accelerator,” a web application designed to facilitate prayer focused on Kingdom-building missions. A prayer movement is comprised of believers, whether directly involved or at a distance, who commit to regularly bringing the mission’s request and thanks before God in prayer. While the primary purpose of Prayward is local movements, it will also serve any missionary (long- and short-term), organization, church, or informal group working to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission.

Right now, Prayward is in what we geeks call “beta testing.” This means that while I think it should work, the best way to prove it is to invite others to use it. There’s nothing like having people clicking around and trying to do stuff to find out what is broken or doesn’t make sense to others. There’s a handful of features I still want to add and many visual tweaks needed, but the primary focus right now is getting the basic functions to work smoothly and consistently.

Building Prayward has been a another big step of faith. There are many potential points of failure, not the least of which is  the basic model of a prayer movement. I’ve often gone back to the Lord with worry and doubt only to hear“press on.” This project has stretched my technical skills, and I’ve often received an insight or solution that could have only come from the Lord. In the larger picture, it moves the vision of Doxalyst from words to reality.

The goal for Prayward and future Doxalyst projects is to be “free or low-cost” solution that can serve a global audience.  It integrates many open source components — computer code written and freely distributed by others. In fact, underlying code of Prayward offers the ability to easily translate the app into other languages.

Because it cost server and send messages, Prayward’s operational expenses will be met by charging a minimal price for the text messages and emails sent by the site (such as 1/4 of one cent per email, and about one cent per domestic test message). The goal is not to generate revenue, but simply cover expenses.

Along with the launch of Prayward, I’ve also been seeking God’s will for what I can be doing here in Canton. When I first came back to the area last year, I thought I would only be here a brief time before heading abroad. While I still don’t know where God will take me down the road, I do know there is something He wants to do today. With the vision for Doxalyst, why not look at the city I’m currently in? So I’ve begun asking how I can encourage and facilitate the growth of local disciple-making movements.

I’ve recently started to connect with the Total Living Center (TLC), a local inner-city ministry. In addition to helping with some practical things, like building new web site, I’m also working to introduce the concept of disciple-making movements and see what God might do here.

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Immanuel: With Us, For Us http://andrewfish.com/blog/immanuel-with-us-for-us/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/immanuel-with-us-for-us/#comments Tue, 24 Dec 2013 18:00:55 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=849 “…and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23, quoting Isaiah 7:14)  The greatest mystery of Christmas: the Creator – one of the “us” who said, “let us make man in our image” – took the form of the created. To fully understand the majesty of this miracle, we must […]

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“…and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23, quoting Isaiah 7:14) 

The greatest mystery of Christmas: the Creator – one of the “us” who said, “let us make man in our image” – took the form of the created. To fully understand the majesty of this miracle, we must fully understand the chasm between the holy, infinite God and sinful, mortal man.

For all of Israel’s history, God had been distant and removed. He spoke only to a chosen few. In the temple and tabernacle, His presence dwelled in the Holy of Holies, a place separate from the people. And now, God-made-flesh could be heard and touched by all.

“Immanuel” defies human logic. Jesus, fully God and fully man; one plus one… does not equal one. “Immanuel” is scandalous. It frustrates our human, religious attempts to find God; God had to come find us.

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon:

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/56710936[/vimeo]

“Immanuel.” It is wisdom’s mystery, “God with us.” Sages look at it, and wonder; angels desire to see it; the plumb-line of reason cannot reach half-way into its depths. . . . “God with us.” It is hell’s terror. Satan trembles at the sound of it; . . . the black-winged dragon of the pit quails before it. Let him come to you suddenly, and do you but whisper that word, “God with us,” back he falls, confounded and confused. Satan trembles when he hears that name, “God with us.”

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

This is the gospel: Jesus Christ, God with us and God for us. All the fullness of God dwells in Christ, and through faith all the fullness of Christ dwells in us. (Colossians 1:227, 2:9-10)

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Vision http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/vision/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/vision/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:56:42 +0000 http://andrewfish.com/?p=846 I’m challenged to relate the vision God has been shaping in me… in under 500 pages. In many ways, I’m still learning to express it: to find the words that will communicate, and the boldness to write them. To express something that is far, far bigger than I am — which I have no hope […]

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I’m challenged to relate the vision God has been shaping in me… in under 500 pages. In many ways, I’m still learning to express it: to find the words that will communicate, and the boldness to write them. To express something that is far, far bigger than I am — which I have no hope of ever accomplishing apart from God. I’m not so much worried that He won’t come through… I’m freaked out that He will!

Let’s start with the basics. Jesus told us to “seek first” the Kingdom of God and pray for it to come into fullness. Towards that end, He’s given us a specific task: make disciples who obey Him, who will in turn make more disciples. This is the indispensable task, the foundational activity in growing God’s Kingdom. Everything else should build on this principle — including Doxalyst.

I believe God gives us vision — for me, a mind-heart understanding — to reveal what He is about to do. It is our invitation to join in His redemptive work, to respond with obedient faith and experience the joy of His glory.

Here’s what I believe God is up to. Today, the Kingdom is growing faster than at any other time in history. Yet there are still many who never heard of Jesus, and many more — billions — who have never truly glimpsed His compelling fullness. This bothers God. It should bother us too. So I think He wants to speed things up. A lot. And He’s created the digital age as a means to this end.

I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit can and will use digital media and networked technologies to accelerate the growth of movements where disciples make disciples, generation upon spiritual generation. Through this the church planted in new communities, cities, and regions worldwide. The gap between the present and the future is where God will, by faith, write a story that includes this venture called Doxalyst.

I’ve heard how digital systems are being used by the military to track assets and forces on the battlefield. Everyone from generals to privates can access a realtime stream of information, relevant to their role, to aide in carrying out the mission. This leads me to wonder how technology could help those on the spiritual battlefield more effectively accomplish the task. To twist an old Christian rock song, “why should the devil have all the cool widgets?”

Jesus says that the harvest is abundant, and we should pray for more workers. But He’s also made His workers  intelligent and innovative. I believe that local movements worldwide will greatly benefit from scalable, cost-effective tools — internet applications — that enable disciple makers be more efficient, accountable, and effective. Connected devices in the palm of their hand that let them keep tabs on contacts, update information on new disciples, communicate, and sort the data to help understand what God is doing and wants to do next.

A movement is formed when discipleship happens across multiple spiritual generations. In order for a disciple to make a disciple of someone else, that person first needs to know about Jesus. Evangelism is both the start and end of the process God designed for Kingdom growth: obedience to Jesus yields more people who are obedient to Jesus. Quite simply, the more people who learn about Jesus — in a way they can understand — the more opportunities there are for disciples to be made.

I’ve seen first hand the potential for internet-enabled evangelism to reach people with the gospel. Yet I also believe we’ve only seen the first fruits of what God wants to do through it. The full potential of online outreach will come when it’s an integrated component of a movement’s mission to share Jesus and make disciples. This will allow them to more rapidly identify and connect with those around them who are open to the gospel, and in turn can bring it to others.

Vision is a call to a future reality that motivates action in the present. I think difference between bold and “crazy” is your total commitment to take each step of faith. I’m all in.

I find myself in a strange new place, challenged to think, act, and believe like an entrepreneur for God’s Kingdom. Asking others to jump into this new venture with me, defined by ideas and faith but no real results… yet. Whether Doxalyst has one employee (me) or a thousand, it will be God who makes it happen. To Him alone be the honor glory.

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Course Adjustment http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/course-adjustment/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/course-adjustment/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 16:01:44 +0000 http://doxalyst.com/?p=841 Over the last year or so, the Lord has been been revealing and refining a vision in my heart: using media and technology to accelerate movements of disciples making disciples in communities, cities, and regions worldwide. This vision is far bigger than me, and quite daunting… I honestly have no idea about the how, only […]

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Over the last year or so, the Lord has been been revealing and refining a vision in my heart: using media and technology to accelerate movements of disciples making disciples in communities, cities, and regions worldwide. This vision is far bigger than me, and quite daunting… I honestly have no idea about the how, only the Who. As with any big step of faith, there’s bound to be twists and turns, setbacks and jumps forward that must be taken in stride.

This vision remains my heart and passion; but I won’t be pursuing it under Greater Europe Mission. When I joined GEM last Spring, I saw the immigrant ministry a place to launch the vision in the context of a specific missional objective. But a recent, unforeseen change in leadership has left GEM IM fractured with some of the team moving on to other places and others shifting within GEM. This left me in a lurch, and my initial reaction was an admittedly whiny prayer, “Lord, I can’t handle more change!”

“Doxalyst” is the name of my new ministry God has led me to start. It is a compound of “doxa” — “glory” in biblical Greek — and “catalyst,” an element that causes reaction. God’s glory is fully revealed in His redemptive work as people become disciples of Jesus Christ. The core objective is to develop catalysts that, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, will exponentially increase the scope and pace of this mission of revelation.

Here’s what is not changing. The core mission and calling I’ve communicated over these last several months, indeed over much of my mission career, remains the same. I remain passionate about discipleship multiplication. And I am committed to being “a geek for Jesus,” maximizing missions in the internet age. And I still see a great strategic value in reaching immigrants in Europe. It’s the context of how I’ll be serving this that’s changing.

A challenge for those in my position is balancing bold vision casting while being honest and transparent. I’ve asked myself, and God, “Did I made a mistake in joining GEM?” If so, how can I be confident of God’s leading with Doxalyst? And what about serving in Europe?

God has shown me a few key things. First, my time with GEM may simply be part of a larger plan I don’t yet fully understand. I’ve certainly gained insight from the experience. Second, the Lord’s call to obey comes bundled with grace. We strive to understand His will, God’s sovereignty and wisdom are great enough to redeem our mistakes and shortcomings. In regards to “where” I’ll be serving, my new motto is  “eager to go, willing to stay… committed to serve.” 

I’ve also wrestled what it means to be an “independent” missionary apart from an established agency. The bottom line: my authority is the Bible and my mandate is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. All of us are called to be missionaries; I am doing it vocationally because God has led other believers to “send me out.” I have great respect for the many mission organizations through which God is clearly at work, yet His purposes are not bound by manmade institutions.

There are advantages and challenges in forming Doxalyst. It will allow me to be wholly focused on the vision and have greater agility in responding to opportunities. This move also brings much greater financial efficiency: my overhead: my overhead should be less than one-third of the assessments I’ve typically had on gifts to my ministry (from 12-15% down to 3-4%). Finally, I’ll be able to utilize services and select benefit plans more specifically tailored to my needs.

A big question: how  will I set about the actual work of this vision — to turn dream into reality?  Strategic partnerships are among the many things I’m trusting God to provide. This vision is specifically focused on local, on-the-ground realities and I know I must remain connected to that. I have several ideas, some which are needs/opportunities I identified during my time in Germany and Spain this summer.  I will have the flexibility to engage in multiple partnerships, even becoming fully integrated with other ministries for various projects.

I like having things all settled, wrapped up in a nice little package. Especially as I share this vision with others and ask them to invest in it. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that what I think is a detail today is often not what God has planned for tomorrow. Things change, but my calling is to stay true to the vision God’s put in my heart and invite you into the journey.

I do know this for sure: without prayer, none of this will be possible. Thank you for faithfully lifting up this new venture before our Lord and King.

 

 

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Fruitful Obedience http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/fruitful-obedience/ http://andrewfish.com/blog/letters/fruitful-obedience/#comments Mon, 22 Jul 2013 19:48:41 +0000 http://doxalyst.com/?p=837 At the core of our mission and vision, both my own focus and that of the larger effort with European immigrants, is the concept of “discipleship movements.” Like other phrases in the “Christianese” lexicon, it’s shorthand for a very deep and compelling truth that risks becoming so familiar it loses meaning. What’s more, it begs […]

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At the core of our mission and vision, both my own focus and that of the larger effort with European immigrants, is the concept of “discipleship movements.” Like other phrases in the “Christianese” lexicon, it’s shorthand for a very deep and compelling truth that risks becoming so familiar it loses meaning. What’s more, it begs a critical question that must be answered in a Biblical way: What does it really mean to follow Jesus?

Jesus used a lot of “organic” analogies in describing life in His Kingdom. Perhaps it was appropriate for His ancient, agrarian audience; but they were not “simple.” But I think these illustrations speak to use because the One who designed the physical world has also designed the spiritual one as well.

We see this in John 15:5 as Jesus declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Most of us think of fruit as a food, it’s biological purpose is reproduction. the seeds inside the fruit, nourished by the fleshy part, grow to become just like the plant that produces it. The natural state of a person “in Jesus” is to produce fruit, in which the seed of the gospel brings spiritual reproduction. And like a vine, a believer is called to produce fruit season after season. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (15:8)

But then Jesus gives us the key in 15:9-10: “Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…” This connects with Jesus’ Great Commission mandate in Matthew 28:20 to teach disciples to “obey everything I have commanded you.”  If I were to market Christianity, “obedience” probably wouldn’t be one of my selling points. Yet the truth is that Jesus is King, the nature of a King is to command obedience — and if a person is not obeying Him, they are obeying something else.

Authentically Biblical discipleship, truly following Jesus, is centered in the authority of Jesus as King and His command to bear fruit. When this happens, disciples make disciples to make disciples… generation after generation after generation. And that’s a movement.

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