This past week Hugh Halter, National Director of Forge America, spoke at the Forge Dallas 1 Day Training. Half of the content focused on how we live out the Incarnational way of life in the very places we live, work, and play. The two videos below are of Hugh sharing some of the same content that was shared at our training. We hope you find this resource incredibly beneficial.
Every Jesus follower has been already been sent to the places they live, work, and play. It is in those places that God invites us to join Him in His redeeming work. In the video below, Ryan Hairston speaks on this topic at Frisco Bible Church in Frisco, TX.
Incarnational Evangelism by Forge America Director, Hugh Halter
On June 8, 2015, Forge Dallas concluded the 2014-2015 residency. As you might know, the Forge Dallas mission is to train everyday men and women to live as missionaries where they're already doing life. We hope lives are changed and the participants are empowered to make a difference in the places they live, work, and play.
Recently, we asked the graduating residents to answer the question, "How have you changed as a result of your Forge Dallas Residency experience?"
Below are a few of their responses:
"Forge Dallas has given me a new lens to see life."
"Forge Dallas has given me license and language for joining Jesus in his mission in the everyday spaces of my life."
"Forge Dallas has helped me to be present in the places I live, work, and play. I now talk with people and pay attention to people I would have never spoken to and been attentive to."
"Forge Dallas has helped me to see my workplace as my mission field."
"I am an architect. As a result of the Forge Dallas Residency I changed jobs and am now using my gifts to aid in community development so that my city looks more like Heaven than Earth."
"Forge Dallas has given me direction."
"Forge Dallas has helped me see that the primary work of God is not in the church building but in the world around me. I am now asking how can I join You, God, in your mission in my neighborhood."
"Forge Dallas has given me hope for what could be."
"Forge Dallas has given me a picture and real life examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus."
"Forge Dallas has helped me become more like Jesus."
"Forge Dallas has given me a tribe. I do not feel alone."
"Forge Dallas has helped me answer the question, “To whom have I been sent?” I am now mentoring kids in poverty with the hope that wholeness and purpose can be brought to these kid’s lives."
"As a result of Forge Dallas, we moved into the neighborhood we felt called to."
"Forge Dallas helped me to realized that my workplace and my neighborhood are my mission field. I feel equipped and empowered to make a significant difference in these places."
"Forge Dallas has grown me as a leader. I have invited others to live as missionaries in the places God has placed them alongside me."
"Forge Dallas has helped me make my neighborhood look more like the Kingdom of God."
Pictured are those who competed the 2014-2015 Forge Dallas residency and their coaches.
To the Forge Family
As most of you are hearing or have heard, I have agreed to jump in with FORGE and lend a hand. Many of you are friends and know me well, but others barely know me and I’m sure there are some questions about who I am, why I’ve decided to make this move, and what is on my heart for FORGE. So I want to take a moment and share a bit of my heart with you all and specifically address the big ‘why?’ of all this.
First, I’m getting older! As I approach the big 50, I’ve found that my personal ambitions are falling by the wayside and all I’ve been thinking about is how to have the most influence with the leaders for God’s future church. As my 21 year old daughter Alli is getting married in a month and my 19 year old daughter McKenna finishes her last two years of college, they have both shared how impossible it has been to find a community on mission that makes sense for them and the friends they hope find Jesus some day. This kills me! Even though I am tired of 25 years of church planting life, I’m now begging God to give me new energy for the harvest and for leaders who will be able to pave a new path for fresh, vibrant, culturally relevant expressions of kingdom community. So this is my ultimate motivation for why I’m jumping in with FORGE.
Second, Cheryl and I want to be with a ‘tribe’ this next 20 years and the people in FORGE are the ones I love being with and am inspired by. As the missional movement has taken the national conversation, it has given me many opportunities to be with Alan & Deb Hirsch, Mike Frost, Kimmo (Kim Hammond), Brad Brisco, Lance Ford, Ryan & Laura Hairston, and many more who have been serving the FORGE mission. Whereas we have simply bounced off of each other, I can’t wait to call this movement my family and friends. Cheryl and I don’t just need a new mission. We need a tribe to live life with and work with.
Third, when I am asked if the missional movement will make it, I constantly hear people asking, and begging for real life stories that will give early, middle and late adopters courage to press beyond present paradigms of church. So strategically, I feel I want to give my time to FORGE because I think it is the closest network that can re-org around DANGEROUS STORIES that will move the missional conversation beyond the conversation. As we roll out some new vision, you will notice that we are going to move FORGE beyond a missions training community to a family that sets the foundation for missional movement.
All movements need four things: Training, Resources, A Network to hold people together, but the first and most important element of movements, is to have “STORIES.” Stories that people can be inspired by, find hope in, and practical hand holds that allow them to become true missionary practitioners.
As such, we believe the best thing FORGE can do is make our primary metric to facilitate, train, capture, share, and propel dangerous stories around the world. We are setting the calendar to now bring back an idea that the Australian FORGE tribe launched years ago. A national convocation for the FORGE tribe called Dangerous Stories. This annual tribal gathering will be the launching point to capture, and share new stories with the church at large and it will guide us into how we use the FORGE hubs, the learning communities, the apprenticeship environments, and consulting to help dangerous stories increase. Each year we will launch another ‘ledger’ of dangerous mega churches who made a significant shift, dangerous church plant efforts, dangerous neighborhood incarnational communities, dangerous missional initiatives that serve the least and lost, dangerous life renovations by business leaders, BiVO leaders, Bivo house moms and plumbers who are creating amazing kingdom impact.
My desire is that when anyone asks, “Does any of this missional stuff ever work or turn into something?” all we have to do is point them to what will be a massive catalog of real, doable dangerous stories.
So what does this mean for all of us? All of us who silently found ourselves drawn into and dancing together in the FORGE tribe? I think it is a call back to the streets. A call back to examine our own lives and push beyond all the reasons we may have softened our local leaderships or commitment to new wineskins and true incarnational life and community. We must all have our own dangerous stories. Not stories from the past but stories we are flipping the pages of now.
When I knew that God was asking me to help guide this new season of FORGE, the first lump in my chest was about how I would lead from my life. The Tangible Kingdom was the story of my last 12 years, but it isn’t going to be the story of the next 10 years. So Cheryl and I, have been for months talking about, planning and praying about filling our home again and allowing God to build his church. What will this one look like? Will it work? Who cares! The mission of God is not something that waits for success to begin. The mission of God is a call for us all, at all times, and in all places to simply Go and Go the way Jesus would Go. This will be our next dangerous story that I can now roll the dice with and I can’t wait to see what God does.
The Forge Motto makes all the sense in the world for me, and for the whole world.
“TRAINING MEN AND WOMEN TO LIVE AS MISSIONARIES WHERE THEY ARE ALREADY DOING LIFE.” Love it!
As I end this message, I want to say a huge thanks to Kim and Maria Hammond for taking a ‘faith of leap’ to come to the US at Alan’s beckoning and faithfully forging out FORGE. We all know what it cost them, how extensive their struggle was not only in creating FORGE America but with all their health issues literally fighting off death. As many of you were, I was not only upholding them in prayer but I was personally inspired by the relentless and yet relational way they gathered the tribe together. Kim and Maria, we, and countless thousands who will someday be moved by FORGE America owe you a debt of friendship and faithfulness on our own part. You led well. You led without knowing how you would pay the bills and we will not forget what you did in pioneering this great work.
Also, to the original founders of Deb and Alan Hirsch, & Michael and Carolyn Frost, we hope this new season will bring a smile to your beautiful faces. To the mostly volunteer servant team of Brad & Mischele Brisco, Ryan & Laura Hairston, Lance and Sherri Ford, John and Jeri Taylor, and many others I’m just getting to know, thanks for supporting the Hammonds and FORGE with your time, your skills, your passion, and your vision. I know how much you all worked and most of your work was without pay and without a job description or business card. You literally gave because you felt called to the tribe! To all the FORGE Hub leaders I can’t wait to meet, thanks for all the work you are doing on the ground to create viable apostolic centers where missionaries are trained and sent. You have all laid an amazing foundation.
To all of you who may see this letter but who haven’t found a tribe. I invite you to FORGE. A movement of missionaries, who hold the hand of the crazy pioneer but also the hand of the church looking to move forward. An environment for the mega and micro leaders, the priest and plumber, the soccer mom or dad who simply want to reach their neighborhood. No need coming to us if you’re pissed off and still pointing the finger at the church. We’re not interested.
But come if you’ve still got a little wind in your sails, a little passion, a heart for the poor, the broken, the dis-engaged and disenfranchised. Come if you’re trying to find your dangerous story and a tribe to share it with.
I can’t wait to have you meet my lady Cheryl and get working together. Viva le FORGE! Time to get dangerous!
We are so excited that Debra Hirsch's new book,Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality, is finally here! This long awaited project has been a labor of love for Deb, and we are so grateful that she has chosen to bare her soul to us and to the world through her writing. She is a truth teller, and we know that this content is incredibly important and timely—not only in the missional conversation, but in the larger cultural conversation around sexuality in our day.
In her opening chapter, Deb frames her work this way:
I want to assure you of my deep, personal participation in the material I humbly lay before you. It is never my intention to overwhelm you or even to necessarily convince you of the rightness of my theological opinion. This book is about the posture one takes, not the position one holds. I do however want to be your conversation partner. So converse with me. Please give me space and grace to be myself—an all-too-human woman who is trying to work this all out on behalf of my Lord and my friends and the mission of the church. I do love God and his people, and want us all to get this right.
Ready to start reading yourself? Click over to IVP and purchase today!
Need a little more convincing? This video provides a great sneak peek:
The missional conversation must not begin with the mission of our church but with God and His mission. Brad Brisco beautifully expounds on this in his book, Missional Quest. He writes,
God is a sending God and we, His people, have been sent. Just as God’s missionary nature is core to who He is, our missionary identity or our “sentness” is core to who we are. Sometimes this means that we are sent to a new place or people but more often than not we have already been sent to the everyday spaces and places of our lives. Where are the everyday spaces and places you spend your time? What would change if you saw these places as your mission field?
Begin praying that God would give you clarity & discernment so that you might answer this question, “To whom have you been sent?” This could be a people group or place. Some examples of this might be:
- Families of my child’s sports team
- My school
- My workplace
- My neighborhood, or more specifically my street or block
- My apartment complex
- The PTA I am involved in
- The coffee shop I go to do my work
- My gym, crossfit, or bootcamp
- Economic or Cultural group
As you and your families celebrate during this Easter season, I pray that your celebrations will be filled with meaning, joy, hope, and life.
I heard someone once say, “That Jesus is alive so live in fact like you are alive.” I absolutely love this. Jesus is alive and because he rose from the grave we have the promise that He has conquered death and we too will also conquer death and live. In the world to come the there will be no more death, pain, fear, hate, evil, or injustice. Jesus made this possible.
I love this passage from the book of Revelations, Chapter 20, verses 3-7;
This is our hope. All of this made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So what now? I would say, live into the future. Be a foretaste or a trailer of the world to come for this world to see. Here is one last quote in regards to this,
This Easter may we in fact live and live with hope.
Forge Dallas resident Cristina Roberson spends most of her time on North Lancaster Street in her Oak Cliff neighborhood. She’s trying to be Jesus to the kids, parents and teens who live there.
On this night, she didn’t even make it out of her car before one of the neighborhood boys ran up and announced the news: "Cristina, a kid got shot last night and now he's dead." His sisters weren’t far behind, and together they made their to another neighbor’s house, where more kids were gathered. She sat with them, listening, as they talked about the 15-year-old boy that had been killed, how he had been a good friend, how just one night before they were all hanging out, how sad they were, and how afraid they felt that they might be next.
Mostly she listened, and then listened some more. But they had questions, too. So Cristina stepped into this time of pain on a dark night in the “hood” and partnered with God where He was already at work. Even in the midst of this tragedy and chaos, she shared that God was with them, and that he was upholding them with his mighty right hand. He allowed her to represent the heart of Jesus, that even in this brokenness, God has not abandoned them. Cristina walked away that night, poured out and once again aware that Jesus is often found outside of the church walls, in the streets with broken and hurting people.
How easily she might have missed this moment. She earned the right to sit with them in their pain over time. She shows up, consistently. She has celebrated with them. She has listened to stories of young love and family drama. She has stepped into their boredom and hardship and joy over so many everyday moments.
They were able to hold a memorial prayer time for the boy that was killed. In the home of a neighborhood family, they gathered a couple of the boys from neighborhood gangs, and they had the opportunity to speak life, and to pray with them.
As a tribe, we want to join them. Please be in prayer for Cristina’s neighborhood. For the families of this boy, for a 7th grade boy battling cancer, for a young girl who just became a mother, for a young gang member who recently ran away and hasn’t yet been found. Her neighborhood is a rough place to grow up, but these are children made in the image of God, children who matter to Him. “Many people see these kids as troubled kids that will never be anything,” Cristina shared with me. “But I truly believe God has a purpose and a destiny for each and every one of these kids and he desires them. I believe that if we step outside of our comfort zones and go to the broken hurting people in this world, we will truly see God's power.”
Cristina is a Forge Dallas resident who lives and works in an inner-city of Dallas. She is humbled to get to live her life with the kids and teens in her neighborhood, striving to love them as Jesus would. For more info about her organization, check out The Urban Bridge on Facebook.
About the Author
Kimberly Culbertson works with the communication team to steward the stories of the Forge tribe, and loves coffee almost as much as she loves Jesus.
Recently I have been reading a book titled, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. In short, Sinek discusses how great organizations and organizations that make a difference know and communicate the "Why" behind what they do. As I read I could not help but reflect on the "Why" behind Waken Ministries & Forge Dallas.
You may know what we do and even how we do it but, I would like to take moment to remind you of the "Why." When we started this organization 4 years ago we did so because:
- We dreamed to see the world changed, communities transformed, & neighborhoods filled with life.
- We dreamed to see every Jesus follower wakened to his/her ability to join God in His mission right where they already live, work, and play.
- We dreamed to see every Jesus follower empowered and equipped to make a difference in the communities and neighborhoods they live.
- We dreamed to see those who will never walk through the doors of a church building experience the love of Jesus from the Jesus followers they rub shoulders with.
Throughout the last four years these "Whys" have been our inspiration and as we begin this new year these same “Why’s” continue to drive us. Many have joined us in the venture and we look forward to meeting those of you who will join us in the future.
Video of Michael Frost Teaching on Sentness
A few years ago while having lunch with a friend my friend asked me,
“Why is it that Christians are always inviting me to their stuff. They invite me to their services, their events, their programs, their classes, their church buildings, and the list goes on and on. I don’t get it. They always invite me into their world but they never want to step into mine. What’s up with that?”
At this point my stomach sank. I honestly didn't know what to say. The only thing I could initially come up with was an apology.
I went on to confess that we “Christians” somewhere along the way had missed the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus did not expect us to enter into His world; rather, He did the exact opposite. He came into ours.
It still makes me cringe to think that my friend, and probably others who are not yet Christ followers, have this impression of “Christians.” This shouldn't be.
As followers of Jesus we must embrace the Incarnation, step out of our worlds, and enter into the worlds of those around us. We must incarnate into our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, & other social spaces we inhabit.
In the book Untamed, Deb Hirsch writes,
“God became a man not only in order to identify with us (presence), but also to live with and among us! He was no recluse, keeping a safe distance; he literally immersed himself in people. Much of his time was spent just hanging out and getting to know the people around him. Jesus didn't expect people to come to where he was, as we so often do, but rather went to them. He hung out in their social spaces, markets, and synagogues, and visited their homes. In other words, he came into direct proximity; he was near to them.
Likewise, we need to reflect this in our own lives. Too many Christians "hang out" only with other Christians and in environments frequented by other Christians. If we are to follow Jesus, we need to make intentional choices to move out of our religious zones and be where the people are. It will require that we come into direct social contact with others and become a regular part of the natural rhythms of their community.“
The next time you think about inviting someone to your church service stop and ask, “Have I taken the first step to enter into this person’s world?”
In the spirit of Christmas, live as Jesus. Make an intentional decision to enter into the world of those in your neighborhood, and as you do, enter with a posture of humility and love. See those in your neighborhood in the same way Jesus sees them; as people who have been created in His image, who are loved, and who have value to bring to us and the world.
Here are a few ways you can enter into the world of those in your neighborhood:
- Apologize to a neighbor for not really knowing them.
- Meet a new neighbor. Share a meal with a family in your neighborhood.
- Attend a neighborhood Christmas Party.
- Join a preexisting group in your neighborhood.
- Ask a neighbor for help with holiday chores.
- Consider having a Christmas Eve party in your neighborhood and invite your neighbors. Have great wine, wonderful food, and be with those in the places you have been sent.
This is the 5th installment of WWDWWD.
Forge Dallas wants to create win win partnerships. We serve local churches & individuals and partner with, organizations, non-profits, universities, and seminaries, to train men and women to live as missionaries on their campus, at their workplace, and in their neighborhoods.
This is our heartbeat and this is who we are.
This is the 4th installment of WWDWWD.
Forge Dallas understands that it is not just about being missional, simply going out; rather, being missional must be paired with being incarnational, the going deep. This is the example Jesus gave to us. Jesus was sent out and He also became “flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
God is at work all around us and He invites us to participate with Him in His mission. It’s not just the professionals who get play a part in God’s kingdom, rather God invites all people to join Him in His redeeming work. He uses moms, mechanics, accountants, artists, grandparents, & gamers.
This is a story of how God is using one person to make a significant impact in the lives of those around of him.
"Where you stand determines what you see," notoriously spoken by Deb Hirsch in this third installment of WWDWWD. What if the place you are standing right now is the very place where God is asking you to join with Him?
Ryan and Deb allow us to peek behind the curtain and see one of the core distinctives of Forge- your context, your place, matters. A lot. If it's true that the best teacher is experience, then the best learning laboratory is your current context. We place such a high value on the place you're already in because we believe that you've already been sent there by the Redeeming God.
In this video you'll hear Ryan Hairston ask, "What is the Good News to the place where God has sent you?" And in order to discover this, we must first open our eyes and hearts to see what He may already be doing-- right in front of us.
Question: After watching the video, what is the place where God has already sent you? What is your context?
There's a brand new and FREE resource available from Baker Books by Alan Hirsch. His latest, "Fast Forward to Mission", calls us to re-engage our imaginations with the very first Sent People of God. As a friend once told us, "Perhaps the way forward is the way BACK." Alan is inspiring us to do just that with his most recent work.
What's refreshing about this new eBook is that it isn't another ministry trend to latch onto or discipleship model to quickly integrate into a local church. Rather, it is a potent and powerful look into both the science and art of mission and how it moves- out, in, alongside, and from.
You can get it here.
There are two competing postures for the people of God today: a church of consumers, demanding goods and services, and a church of missionaries, sent and sending into the world. These compete for the minds of Christians. Every church functions according to one or the other. Every disciple stands on these two foundations for life, two theological bases for making decisions, two postures that shape all we do: selling or sending.
We must break away from the things that hold us back from living in fullness and sentness. How might we do this?
Kim Hammond, author of Sentness, will lead our conversation on this day; we hope you can join us.
For more information about this event visit: Embrace Your Sentness
In Part 2 of our five part video series, "Why We Do What We Do" Ryan Hairston and Deb Hirsch share something near the heart of the Forge DNA- All are invited to participate in this Grand MIssion of God. All the way from the expected ones- the established authors, large and small church pastors, itinerant speakers, and church planters, to the often overlooked- mechanics, stay at home parents, IT workers, grandparents, and children.
In this video, Ryan tells us a powerful story of his 5 year old daughter, proclaiming the anthem of the Kingdom, "Daddy, I think we need to love people...and we need to help other people love people too."
Because throughout the Scriptures everyone had access to Jesus- women, lepers, Gentiles, crooks and thieves, prostitutes and soldiers- everyone now has permission to join in the Mission of God.
Forge Dallas trains men and women to live as missionaries where they are already doing life. It is in the midst of our everyday lives that God invites us to join Him in His mission. We believe that all men and women, not just the “professionals,” have abundant amounts of potential to impact the communities and neighborhoods they live in. Our goal as an organization is to come alongside these everyday people and empower and equip them to be the good news to those they rub shoulders with. When ordinary people are empowered, watch out, because this is when movement happens.
Here is the story of an individual who recently completed the Forge Dallas Residency and finished feeling empowered and equipped.
“When my wife and I started the Forge residency we were burnt out and frustrated with our experience of church. There seemed to be such a large gap between what I read in scripture and what I saw lived out in our church community. I was tired of coming to the same realization week after week that we were not engaging our world like Jesus did. I felt like there was a great divorce between what we said we believed as a faith community and the way we lived. I was tired of just talking about engaging the world. I wanted more but felt stuck. My church, it seemed was still trying to convince me that Jesus was worth following and what prayer to say to “sign up”. In our bible studies we seemed to do little more than acknowledge that we weren’t living the way we ought to be living. It was like collectively we knew something was wrong but didn’t know how to move past it, or for some reason seem to care. It was from this spot that we connected with Forge.
The people of Forge put flesh on what were only ideas. By that I mean to say that I found a group of people that were willing to follow Jesus into the world. They were willing to bring the Gospel of Christ to those who may never enter through the doors of a church building. They were willing to seek out the broken and engage them right where they were, whether in the neighborhood, the pub or the work place. What I found through the Forge residency was a group of Christ followers who had left the status quo of the American Church and stepped into the world with all of it’s mess. I found a tribe that was willing to admit their shortcomings and imperfections. A tribe that was ok with hard questions. The Forge residency has expanded my view of the Gospel. It has allowed me to see people as worth pursuing and equipped me with a gospel fluency that allows me engage the lost and broken. We started the Forge residency feeling frustrated and burnt out. We graduated a few weeks ago feeling equipped, empowered, renewed, and a part of tribe that despite it’s imperfections was willing to follow Jesus in his mission to seek and save the lost.”
Interested in learning more about Forge Dallas or the Forge Dallas Residency?