Launch, 30 September 2018

Series: FAC-DNA
Romans 12:4-8

Series Overview: God has placed us uniquely in our city and world for such a time as this, a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family.

Big Idea:
What can our church do to open the door to service more widely, launching leaders, groups, and churches?

My name is Kirk and today we conclude our series FAC DNA. We’ve been looking at why we exist, why our Christian & Missionary Alliance family exists. Our president, Dr. John Stumbo, has called us a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family. We are all about Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, Coming King, LORD, and Senior Pastor. We are a family, a mosaic of different people from different backgrounds united at the foot of the cross as God’s children. We are commanded to love God and love others as we love ourselves. And we’ve been commissioned to make disciples of all nations, beginning with Jerusalem—or Toledo—and also Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

The “how” of being a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family has been expressed in four verbs:

We love.
We proclaim.
We reach.
We launch!

Stumbo video transcript:

Four verbs. We’re called to love, we’re called to proclaim, to reach, and the fourth is to launch. For us to do that loving, proclaiming, reaching kind of work, we need to continue to launch, and I don’t know how many things I’m saying when I say that word.
I am pleased to report that I love seeing evidences of when older leaders such as myself start to make room for
younger leaders who are rising among us and give them a voice, an opportunity, a chance to speak in or to in some way engage more fully in a position, or on a platform with a microphone, or in some way to have a greater voice.
I’ve been pleased to see when men are using their influence to allow an open door for
women to have a ministry access—completely within our polity to do so. But often women have been shut out from ministry opportunities, and so it’s fun to see men help women be launched in ministry.
And it’s also exciting to see when those like myself, of a Caucasian background, that have some measure of privilege for why we get to do what we do, to use that influence to open doors for those who come from
other cultures, who may not have as much natural access to ministry opportunities as we do.
And so, I’m not claiming by any means that we have totally arrived at launching various sectors of the Alliance family, but I am saying that I do see evidence of that from place to place, and I rejoice in that and want to just be an advocate for those of us who would use our current positions of influence to give others access to ministry opportunities that we may have just taken for granted, but they can’t take for granted because they haven’t been given them. So, launching . . .Christ-centered, Act 1:8 family—called to love, proclaim, reach, and launch. It takes me back to a need for the Holy Spirit to be fully at work in my life and yours as well.
May we commit ourselves to these kinds of things, for these are the kinds of things that the Church must be doing as we prepare for, and rejoice in, the return of Christ.

One of the Alliance Core Values states:

• Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. Matthew 28:19

We’re all about making disciples—reproducing Jesus. The word “Christian” means “little Christ” even though many Christians act nothing like Jesus…but that’s the goal. As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will become like Jesus and have been commissioned to reproduce that Christ-likeness in others.

I was raised in a small church in Michigan and was led to believe the pastor’s job was to do all of the ministry and the people in the congregation just sang songs, tried to stay awake during his sermons, and paid his salary. Essentially, he was the hired hand, the professional to do the ministry. Boy was I wrong!

Church is a team sport. I’ve heard some people say they love Jesus but they hate church. I understand what’s behind that, but how offensive would it be for me to say to someone, “I love you but I hate your spouse!” We were not created to be independent, autonomous individuals. We were created for community, for interdependence. In fact God exists in community—one God in three Persons, something we call the Trinity. It’s a mind-blowing reality, but suffice it to say we need one another—and everyone matters.

Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the early church, said it so beautifully in his writings to the Christians in Rome:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8)

If you are a follower of Jesus, you’ve been given a gift by God—maybe more than one. It’s not for you, but for us—the church—in order to build God’s Kingdom and let the world know about the King and His return.
I said church is a team sport. You can’t play football by yourself. The greatest football player of all (Jim Brown?) could never win against even a little league team. It’s not like golf or tennis where one person can play alone. Every football team has different people playing different positions and if they coordinate and work together they move the ball down the field and will eventually score. Let me state again
• Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. Matthew 28:19

Making disciples of all nations means we all need to get in the game. We all need to discover our roles and play them with passion for God’s glory. I need you. You need me. We’re on the team together. We’re family.
Perhaps you’re wondering what it looks like to be on the team. The Bible is filled with many examples. Here are just a few:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

That’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good one. Wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues. Other scriptures talk about leadership, teaching, helps, mercy, apostleship, administration, evangelism, shepherding or pastoring, giving, serving, and exhortation. Do any of those sound like you? These aren’t the same as talents or skills, though they may overlap. These are ways in which the Holy Spirit can supernaturally work through you to bring glory to God.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

I want to go back to Dr. Stumbo’s video because I’m sure we’d all agree it’s good for people to use their God-given gifts to serve God, but that’s not always reality.

First, there are those people who simply don’t want to use their gifts, for whatever reason. Spiritual gifts are not for you! They’re for God! If your gift is teaching, teach. If it’s giving, give. If it’s leadership, lead!

But unfortunately, some people have been told they should not use their gifts. Tragically, racism has kept some people from exercising their gifts. Older people have looked down upon people because of their youth (1 Timothy 4:12). And women have been treated as second or even third-class citizens in many churches simply because of their gender. Perhaps most alarming, the Bible has been manipulated and misused to defend slavery, ageism, and chauvinism. May it never be!

I know what some of you are thinking: I’m not a racist and I love to see our young serve Jesus, but the Bible says women can’t…

The role of women in ministry is a controversy for a number of reasons we simply don’t have time to unpack this morning. There are scriptures that restrict women, but questions remain whether those were universal or for a specific situation. We know God used great women throughout history including Deborah, Phoebe, Junia, Priscilla, Esther, Ruth, Miriam, and perhaps most of all Jesus’ mother Mary.

There are problematic passages in the Bible for egalitarian positions that say anything a man can do, a woman can do. There are problematic passages in the Bible for complementarian positions that say women should have limited roles in the church and/or the home. Why the confusion? Why is the Bible unclear? I wish I knew! I believe the grey areas of the Bible are meant to cause us to seek God together, guided by the Holy Spirit and the Bible.

I have studied the role of women in ministry extensively and the best way I can succinctly summarize my conclusions is I fully endorse the Alliance position. Here’s what is stated on the Alliance website:

Today, women serve with distinction in The Alliance on local church ministry staffs; as international workers, chaplains, and professors in our educational institutions; and on leadership teams in local churches, district executive committees, and the Board of Directors.
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came upon believers in a new way — both men and women. Peter explained the Pentecost experience in this way: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). The Holy Spirit has been poured out on women and men in the same way and for the same purpose: so that we will all be empowered to live in a manner that demonstrates the character of Christ and fulfill our roles in the mission Jesus has assigned to His Church. The gifts the Spirit gives that equip believers for ministry in and through the local church are distributed to both women and men. The completion of Jesus’ Great Commission calls on all believers, male and female, to be released and mobilized to put those gifts into action. While desiring both genders to be mobilized to exercise their gifts in a variety of ministries and leadership roles, The Alliance continues to affirm its understanding of Scripture that elders are male members of the local church. This includes the elected elders of the local church and the senior/lead pastor.
An Alliance statement on women in ministry states the following: “Women may fulfill any function in the local church which the senior pastor and elders may choose to delegate to them consistent with the Uniform Policy for Accredited Churches and may properly engage in any kind of ministry except that which involves elder authority.”
Launch What?

I’m proud to serve in a church and denomination which affirms Paul’s teaching to the church in Galatia:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

We will launch. We will launch people, sending them to love God, love others as they love themselves, and make disciples…of all nations. That means we are all called to be ministers, missionaries. Your mission field might be the senior housing centers where you visit shut-ins, the school where you teach or study, or the home where you raise children. Your mission field might be the office where you work, the park where you play, or the stores where you shop. One more time:
• Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. Matthew 28:19

We want to launch you as individuals, but together we can launch, too. Throughout our 130 years, we have launched people into the vocational mission field where they serve across our city, nation, and world. We are praying God would raise up more people from our church to go and make disciples.

We have launched organizations, including Cherry Street Mission, Proclaim FM, Toledo Christian Schools, WLMB-TV, Toledo Urban Impact, and Claro Coffee Bar, among other things. Launch. This isn’t just something to do. It’s what we are to be.

We are to multiply.

The first command in the Bible was to be fruitful and multiply. Reproduce.

We are to reproduce and launch leaders.
We are to reproduce and launch small groups.
We are to reproduce and launch churches
We are to reproduce and launch ministries
We are to reproduce and launch businesses

Someone told me this week it’s hard to launch new churches because it means saying goodbye.

Yes, but that’s what is supposed to happen. Healthy things grow and reproduce.

As much as I love my three kids, I had to launch them into adulthood and the world. One has been launched into marriage and will launch our first grandchild in November.

Our DNA as a church must be loaded with multiplication, reproduction, launching.

Think of it this way, none of us will be here in 100 years. If we don’t multiply and launch people, leaders, groups, and churches, First Alliance Church will cease to exist. Even worse, if there are no children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, there will be no legacy.

I care about the future. I care about the future of God’s church. I want to everything possible to invest my life into others who will do the same for generations. That’s discipleship. 2 Timothy 2:2 describes four generations in one verse. That’s what it means to launch.

This past week I was invited to participate in an Alliance church planters assessment center. Heather and I were assessed as planters about twenty years ago and being on the other side of the table was fascinating. For three and a half days, I was consumed with the journeys of five couples from across the Midwest who are hoping to launch new churches.

Family, we have a great history of launching. Let’s not be the barren generation who ends it. Let’s love, proclaim, reach, and launch for the glory of God.

Family, we have a history of launching people and organizations, but I believe the best is yet to come. I’m praying God would raise up men and women from our church to serve overseas with the Alliance. I’m praying we would see new ministries launched from FAC. I’m praying we would plant more churches, multiplying God’s Kingdom in other parts of our city, nation, and world. Most of all, I’m praying all of us would be launched to do whatever God is leading us to do—as individuals and together as a family—to love God, love others as we love ourselves, and make disciples of all nations…for His glory!

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Women in the Bible, 16 November 2014

    Big Idea: Mary is not just for Catholics, but a crucial Biblical character worth imitating alongside many other godly women.

    Key Scripture: Matthew 1:1-16


    I want to talk about
    women. I’m particularly fond of one beautiful woman, my wife, my best friend, and the mother of our three adult children. We have been married for more then 24 years and there’s (at least) one thing I’ve never heard her express: complaint about being a woman.

    It’s no secret that throughout history women have been treated as second-class citizens. The exact origins are unclear to me—aside from the possibility that average men are more physically strong and capable of using and abusing force and violence to achieve their objectives.

    Although we think nothing of women owning property, voting, or leading corporations, women are often paid less than men for similar work…and we have yet to have a woman lead our nation as president. According to one
    Newsweek study, the USA ranks eighth in the world in terms of opportunity for women (Iceland is first followed by Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, and Norway). The worst country is Chad, followed by Afghanistan, Yemen, The DR of Congo, and Mali. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/18/best-and-worst-countries-for-women-from-iceland-to-the-u-s-to-pakistan-and-afghanistan.html)

    Today women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and are killed for honor in Pakistan.

    It’s easy to point fingers at the “world,” but the church has not always treated women favorably. In many churches and denominations, women are restricted in areas of leadership, understandably on the basis of some of Paul’s writings in the New Testament. What has always bothered me, however, is the double standard when women can go overseas and lead churches but are forbidden from doing much of anything in a USA congregation.

    Just for the record, I have struggled more with the issue of women in leadership than any other issue. I respect many that hold to a conservative view and many that are very progressive. We’re not going to delve into Paul much today, but I want to suggest the restrictions he placed upon women were specific women in specific churches at a specific time, not necessarily universal instructions for every woman for all times. Were that the case, we would be in great violation at Scio. For instance,

    Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (1 Corinthians 11:13)

    As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:33b-35)

    A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Timothy 2:11-13)

    Men and women
    are different.

    Male and Female

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

    He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” (Genesis 5:2)

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ (Matthew 19:4)

    “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6)

    “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” wrote one bestselling author! We are different, but it cannot and should not be said that men are superior to women.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

    Here’s the formal statement by our denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance:

    Women may fulfill any function in the local church which the senior pastor and elders may choose to delegate to them consistent with the Uniform Constitution for Accredited Churches and may properly engage in any kind of ministry except that which involves elder authority.

    • from the Manual of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, H1, Statement on Church Government, 4. Form of Government, d. Local Church, (5)


    Years ago I wrote a paper on the subject of women in ministry when I was doing my master’s degree. I received an “A” but the professor wrote, “What is your opinion on the subject?” I tried to faithfully present both sides of the argument—and the spectrum. Apparently I presented the viewpoints without revealing mine. My paper was based upon one verse in the last chapter of the book of Romans.

    Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (Romans 16:7, NIV 1984)

    There’s one problem with this verse. The fourth word is actually
    Junia. There is no evidence that any man had the name Junias! This verse says Junias is outstanding among the apostles. Since apostles were thought to not be women and Junia was a woman, the name was changed to Junias, therefore making it a male name.

    So Junias is a man who didn’t exist with a name that didn’t exist in the ancient world!

    Early translations of the New Testament into other languages showed Junia as a woman but Martin Luther turned her into a man! He wasn’t the first, but was influential in the name/gender change.

    The Bible we possess is not in the original language, nor do we have the original manuscripts. We have English translations derived from composites of various manuscripts. This does not mean the Bible is unreliable, but it does mean the 66 books didn’t fall from heaven, leather-bound in English!


    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (Romans 16:7, NIV 2011)

    Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (Romans 16:7, NASB)

    Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (Romans 16:7, KJV)

    My professor, Scot McKnight, and most scholars “are reasonably confident” we have the original words in about 98% of the New Testament, and the few questionable issues do not deal with essential matters of our faith.

    So Junia is an outstanding apostle. Priscilla taught Apollos. Phoebe was a deacon.

    Women in the Bible

    Why are we talking about Junias in a series about Mary? Mary is not the first prominent woman in the Bible. Throughout this series we will examine her story, her character, and her significance. We all know she was Jesus’ mom, but let’s look at His family tree.

    A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)

    Here is the family tree of Jesus. It’s not too exciting at first, but notice the women included—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba…and Mary.

    Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes. Ruth was a foreigner. Bathsheba committed adultery—or was a rape victim. It’s startling that these women would be specifically mentioned (since each man listed had a mom!).

    The repeated phrase “The father of” shifts with Jesus since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but He was born of Mary.


    Each year we celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s a special day filled with emotions for most of us, feelings of warmth and love for some, grief and loss for others. Moms are special. We honor them. If your mom is special, imagine how special Jesus’ mom must be.

    Series Introduction

    With few exceptions, “Mariam” has been tossed aside by Protestants except for the month of December when we let her sit in the nativity scene beside the baby Jesus. Not wanting to “worship” her as Roman Catholics are often accused of doing, we ignore her faith, obedience, and important role throughout the life and death of Jesus. This series will strive to uncover the character and narrative of one of the Bible’s most underrated figures and one we are to call “blessed” (Luke 1:48b).

    Why do we virtually ignore Mary? For some it is a reaction to Catholics.

    As Scot McKnight says, “We are Protestants; we believe in the Bible; Mary is in the Bible; we need to believe what the Bible says about Mary.”

    For Further Study

    The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.