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  • 1. A Walk-with-God Based Church& Seven Connections that Make it HappenSteve Elzinga & Henry Reyenga
  • 2. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them onyour foreheads.Teach them to your children, talking about them whenyou sit at homeand when you walk along the road, when you lie downand when you get up. Write them on the doorframes ofyour houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 11:18-20Your life consists of two things: the walk or way of lifeyou choose and those with whom you walk it. Your walk candetermine whom you walk with; but whom you walk withcan also determine your walk (way of life). You have tochoose whom you will walk with and the way you will walk.2
  • 3. The beginning of a “new“ church paradigmThe guy we were golfing with had no idea why we (Steve and Henry)were on our knees -praying. It had nothing to do with our golf games.Though planting churches on opposite ends of the North Americancontinent, we had become fast friends in the cause of reaching peoplefor Christ and building up His church. Henry opened the doors of hisnew church in Chicago on March 13, 1988. Steve opened the doors ofhis church in Vancouver, B.C one week later. We met for the first timetwo years later and instantly connected “ probably because neitherone of us knew what we were doing and it was nice to not know withsomeone else. Initially we got caught up in the church plantingparadigm of the late 80“s and early 90“s which tended to center on a“build it and they will come“ strategy. That meant you had to havegreat, creative, attention-grabbing preaching, vibrant, meaningfulmusic and an educational program to meet every conceivable need. Ifyou could build a good, attractive program, then the people wouldcome. Apparently we were both good at this church plantingparadigm, because our churches grew to 500 in no time.But something was making us both restless. Something wasn“t quiteright. We were missing something. And over the next year, God in Hisgrace spoke to each of us in His own way and we began to hear Hisvoice. We were finally ready for a change. The moment had arrived.We were ready to let go of the handle bars of our own ambition, ourcomfort zones, our security, our churches, and even our families (thecourse we embarked on would be costly for them as well as us), andinvite God to take us on an adventure down new, unmarked trails.That moment just happened to come on a golf course in WashingtonState and we just happened to be playing with a local guy who had noidea why we were on our knees.3
  • 4. Steve“s Story.It was February of 1993. I was on a plane from Vancouver, BritishColumbia, to a destination as far from Vancouver as my frequent fliermiles could take me “ Florida. I had been planting a church that hadgrown to 500 in 5 years. Everything was great. But as the churchgrew, my spirit shrank. And I just had to get away. My parents have atrailer on the west coast of Florida where they escape the harshwinters of Michigan, so I had given them a call the night before toinform them that I was coming. “Is Marie coming too?“ they asked.“No.“ They sensed something was wrong but must have also sensed Ididn“t want to talk about it. They met me at the Ft. Meyers airport.Nothing but silence. The next morning I asked if I could borrow theircar.Tears poured down my face as I headed east across the state ofFlorida ... but I didn“t know why. “Why do I feel so empty, so defeated,so dried up?“ I tried to stop the flow but the reservoir of tears wasseemingly endless. “God what is happening to me?“ I couldn“t figure itout but finally these words found their way past my tightly locked downconsciousness: “This church is killing me.“But how could that be? The church was great. The people were great.They loved me; I loved them. I was being asked to speak atconferences. I was being asked to write articles in Christianmagazines. The seminary I graduated from asked me to speak to theirchurch planting class. On the outside, all seemed well. On the inside, Iwas dying spiritually.After crying literally for two hours, I had made my way across the stateof Florida and with no particular end in mind I just continued south.First Key Largo, then Marathon. I just kept driving one road, onebridge, one island at a time, until finally the sun went down. Nowwhat? Hotels were $150 a night. No way was I going to pay that, so Idid what any sensible person of Dutch descent would do “ I soughtthe most expensive hotel I could find, parked the car in their parkinglot, and jumped into the backseat for the evening.It is not that easy to fall asleep in the back seat of a car. In the middle4
  • 5. of my tossing and turning, it happened. God spoke to me “ as muchas God speaks to Christian Reformed people (Reformed people donot typically find themselves on the charismatic side of the Christianshore). And this is what I heard Him say: “I am here.“ And that wasthat. Nothing more. I had no idea what it meant.The next morning, with the hot sun on my face, I woke up, retraced mytrip back to my parents“ place, and got on a plane back to Vancouver,back to my home, and back to my church. Strangely, the closer I gotto my church, the better I felt, though I had no idea why. I kind of feltlike Elijah experiencing the silence of God on a lonely mountain. “I amhere.“ It was strangely comforting. The realization that God was withme “ God Immanuel “ God incarnate “ God walking with me in metrouble and confusion. Yes it was comforting, but it didn“t help meknow what to do.That is what is frustrating, isn“t it? You know that God is with you andthat He cares, but why does He so often delay in showing you what todo? Patience. God is not only a God who is with us, He is also a Godwho shows us the way “ in His time. Over the next three weeks, Godrevealed to me what His words “I am here“ meant. This is what I got: “Iam here, Steve, and that is what matters: your walk with Me. Not yourpreaching and teaching and leading and strategizing“simply yourwalk with Me. Next, I am with you, and what matters is your walk withyour wife and together as husband and wife, your walk with Me. Next,what matters to Me is your walk with your family and your family walkwith Me. And if you or you and your wife or you and your family canhelp someone else, some other marriage, some other family get awalk with Me“well, that is all I want from you. And if the people youreach go on to reach other individuals, couples, and families and thatgrows into some kind of church“well, that is up to Me, not you.“What a load lifted! I had been planting the church. I had been workinghard in the only paradigm of church planting that I knew (build it andthey will come) where a lot depends on the senior pastor. I had beenstriving to make sure this week“s sermon was better or at least asgood as last week“s. Of course, I had the help of my wife and thepassionate 10% of the church that really believed in the vision, but I5
  • 6. realized I was slowly burning them and me out. But it was for thecause; it was for glory of God. Now I realized that God did not requirethat my friends and I burn out like glorious comets for His purpose andglory. I didn“t have to ignore my family and shortchange time withthem for time with the church.With a new sense of purpose and direction, I spoke to my church andtold them that I would no longer kill myself to make sure the serviceswere powerfully relevant, finely polished, and entertaininglycaptivating“not that I had anything against these things. But, I toldthem, I was going to take more time with my own walk, my walk withmy wife and family. I admitted, however, that I didn“t really know whata walk with God looked like. So I invited the people of the church tojoin me in a journey of discovery. Out of 500 attendees, 5 couplesindicated they were interested in this journey.We began a simple talking, listening, repeatedly (every day) walk withGod using the Serendipity Bible and homemade prayer sheets (weused ACTS “ adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication).The five couples who showed an interest in this journey began to meetweekly to support one another in this new daily walk. We made ajunior version of the prayer sheet so our kids could own part of theirown walk. Within 3 months each of the five families had shared whatthey were doing in their families with other families and what startedout as one small group turned into five. A new paradigm of church wasat work: a walk-with-God based church.Henry“s StoryI was about to start my second church plant in a new city where Iknew no one. By God“s grace, I had successfully planted a church inChicago and knew exactly what to do: attract a crowd, meet theirneeds, and build the church. But was I up for doing it all again“all thework, the networking, the planning“and so much of it dependent onmy skills as a leader.I was shooting baskets with my seven-year-old son in the driveway ofour home in Colorado Springs. My neighbor, a retired Air Forceenlisted man, walked over to join us. He had a speech impediment, so6
  • 7. he wasn“t often talkative, but that day he began to share with meabout his involvement in Amway, a network marketing business. Hewanted me to try it as well. He did not try to impress me with facts andfigures; he did not talk to me about the high quality of the products; hesimply shared with me a dream. I asked him why he was doing thisbusiness, and he told me of his dream to get out of debt and providefor his family. He told me that he was just barely making it, but hisbusiness had given him hope. He had found faith in free enterprise.I was impressed. I saw an ordinary guy with a clear dream. He had atool to make that dream happen. His clear and reproducible businessmodel was one anybody could follow. His urgency to help me start myown business trumped his fears and limitations. His dream was real tohim, and he wasn“t going to be easily discouraged. I told my neighbor Iwasn“t interested to see the plan, but our conversation stuck in mymind. This man made me think about Christianity. What if Christianshad such urgency to share their walks with God? What if Christianswere more aware of the spiritual dreams that motivate and drivethem? What if Christians had the tools to share their dream with theirneighbors and coworkers? This man made me dream of a Christianitythat would spontaneously spread from house to house, from person toperson, a Christianity that would spontaneously spread, not by the skillof a talented church leader, but because of the changed lives ofaverage, everyday people. I was ready for a change. But could achurch paradigm work that did not rely on exceptionally gifted leaders,loads of money for programs and staff, and the latest and greatest ofwhatever church culture happens to think is cool?It did work once before. The church began with twelve ordinary menwhose only qualification was that they had been with Jesus. Thedisciples were mainly lowly fishermen. Early in the spreading of thenew church, Peter and John were dragged before the big-shotreligious leaders. These men saw whom Jesus had picked as leadersin spreading his new teachings. “When they saw the courage of Peterand John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, theywere astonished and they took note that these men had been withJesus.“ (Acts 4:13)7
  • 8. Back to my neighbor: What impressed me about him, this Amwaydistributor, was how ordinary he really was. He was an enlisted man.He had an ordinary life. In his association with Amway, he received areal dream. He told me how he used the products, but he wasn“tsimply pushing detergent and potato chips. He had a message of freeenterprise. He described how his life had changed, and he wanted toshare all this with me. What if ordinary Christians were so excitedabout their relationship with God, their daily walk with Him, that theycouldn“t help but share it with ... well, let“s say a neighbor playingbasketball with his son?I came to the conclusion that I wanted one of the founders of AmwayCorporation to mentor me. I figured that I could learn something thatwould have powerful application for the work of the church. I sent a faxto Amway headquarters, attention Mr. Rich DeVos. I wrote in the faxthat his work in establishing Amway and figuring out how to helpordinary people start and share businesses was very important. Within24 hours, Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway, called me and agreed tobe my mentor. He gave me his phone numbers. I concluded that Godhad some great purpose in this, and I was looking forward to findingout how this new relationship was going to bear fruit.Henry and Steve“s StoryWe began meeting regularly with Rich DeVos. We even joined Amwayin order to understand how this business model reproduces. In fact,Grace George (wife of Dr. Carl George) sponsored Henry, and thenHenry sponsored Steve. Within a short time, we had sponsored manydistributors. But our ultimate goal was to learn what we could abouthaving and reproducing a walk with God.One of the first things we noticed about Rich“s approach to businesswas that it looked a lot like the family tree. Over the next year, welearned seven important ideas from this family tree model of business.1.It must be Real. Your business has to be something you believein and actually live out in your life. And whatever it is, it has to beso life-changing that you cannot help but share it.8
  • 9. 2.You need Mentors. You cannot succeed without help. Asponsor or mentor is a father/mother, so to speak, and a newbusiness owner is a son/daughter. The goal is to mentorsomeone so well that they can mentor someone else ... havemany children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-greatgrandchildren.3.You need Support. It takes more than one mentor to succeed.There must groups of like-minded people gathering together,creating a culture of support, like an extended family.4.There must be Ownership. The goal is to give the businessaway “ to help your children grow up and become parents oftheir own.5.You need a Reproducible pattern. In order for average peopleto succeed in owning their own business and help others do thesame, the business plan must be simple and reproducible.6.There must be some Recognition. What you recognize orhonor is what gets reproduced. We are all looking for “Well done,thou good and faithful servant“ from people we respect andvalue.7.You need a Dream. You have to want it. It has to come fromsome yearning, some desire deep inside of you, or you will neverovercome walls and obstacles. Ultimately your dream mustconnect with God and people.Rich and his friend Jay started a business in their garage selling soapwith these values. In their lifetime, they saw their dream expand allover the world. We, Henry and Steve, are not in the soap business.We are in the church business. Jesus is the founder. He didn“t evenhave a garage to work out of. It was in the open air that he said to hisdisciples, “All authority in heaven and one earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in thename of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit“ (Matthew28:18-19).9
  • 10. He mentored or walked with his disciples for three years and thengave them the task of starting the church (ownership). They sharedthe Way or a Walk (reproducible pattern) with others, creatingchurches (support) in one nation after another. They were known asapostles, and they ordained elders and deacons (recognition). Despitepersecution the dream expanded. It expanded because the disciplesof Jesus simply helped ordinary people get connected to God, and inthe process they got connected to each other. These people“s liveswere so extraordinarily changed that they couldn“t help but share theirwalk with God with others. Despite no church buildings, noseminaries, no Christian radio, no mission agencies, and no Christianbookstores, the Way (as it was called) spread, first to Jewishsettlements throughout the Roman world and eventually to the wholeGentile world. It spread one person, one couple, and one family at atime. It spread because it was real.The Walk-with-God Based Church paradigm, as it has developedover the last 15 years, is beginning to see signs of the vibrancy of theearly church“s extraordinary impact on ordinary people. It hasmobilized Christians to do more for God than they ever thought theycould do. People who thought they could never talk about their faith ordisciple someone in a relationship with God are finding that it“spossible. This paradigm does not rely on talented, articulate speakersto motivate people, but on mentoring relationships wherein peoplespend time with God together, walking alongside each other. Itidentifies simple day-in and day-out habits of walking with God thatneighbors can do with neighbors, parents can do with children,workers can do with coworkers. The walk-with-God based churchparadigm encourages people to be players, not spectators, in theirspiritual dreams. It gives people a plan for connecting to God that canbe reproduced in the lives of anyone they meet. It is supported by anetwork of like-minded Christians who are reinforcing the same habitsin their families and churches, who help to overcome obstacles andsetbacks together. By God“s grace, the walk-with-God based churchhas become a movement and is spreading spontaneously. People areeager to share the effects of a vital relationship with God, and theyhave a framework within which to pass it on.10
  • 11. If you want to discover the principles behind the walk-with-God basedchurch, keep reading. If you want to discover how your church canbenefit from a common goal of a walk-with-God, keep reading. If youwant to see a change in you or your family and come alive spiritually,keep reading. If you want to find the courage to share your walk-with-God, maybe for the first time, then keep reading. It is our hope anddream that God will use this book to make your faith stronger, morealive, more contagious. And we hope, ultimately, as we all walk withGod together, the Church, the bride of Christ, the body of which Christis the head, is lifted high.11

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