New wineskins 

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Jesus taught that is the responsibility of every generation to reinvent the wineskins--the forms that hold the gospel. We are never to tinker with the wine of the gospel itself. We must be constantly creating new wineskins.

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. (22) And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins." Mark 2:21-22 (NIV)

This is true in every arena of life. Your teenager will not want to drive his grandfather's Oldsmobile. Successful businesses reinvent themselves or face inevitable failure.

The church I grew up in--First Baptist Church, Clovis, NM saw a couple of reinventions. One of them came in the wake of a Lay Witness Mission. This was a meeting where people of all age groups came to our church  for the weekend. There were testimonies and small groups and a little bit recreation. They idea was for us to just rub shoulders with these kids. These kids were not like the kids in our youth groups. They were totally sold out to God, and happy to be totally sold out to God. This was a totally new concept for me. Somehow seeing kids my age who were totally sold out to God did something for that sitting in church my entire life had not done. In one weekend, I was changed, and the church was reinvented.

By the way, I have had a dream of a similar kind of meeting targeted toward reinventing the Sunday School. The idea would be to contact your State Convention and see if you could get the names of Sunday School teachers who were getting it done. Have them come and hang out with your Sunday School teachers for the weekend. Get them to share their testimonies, tell stories and generally just hang out.

One of the reasons I believe so strongly that it is possible for groups to double is that I have heard the testimonies of hundreds of groups that have doubled. Perhaps you should invite a dozen or so growing group leaders into your church for the weekend--see what happens.

The second new wineskin back at FBC Clovis had to do with a Richard Hogue Revival. They had the first contemporary music band I had ever heard. Afterwards, we got a band of our own and starting playing some of their songs. Church was different now. It was reinvented now. The wine had been poured into new wineskins.

Introducing the Cowboy Church Movement 

One more example of new wineskins in our day: the Cowboy Church Movement. Here is a bit about the history of Cowboy Churches from http://www.texasfcc.org/content.cfm?id=2001  

In January 2000, Ron and his wife Jane started The Cowboy Church of Ellis County in Waxahachie Texas and served as pastor there for 15 months. The Cowboy Church of Ellis County is considered the “flagship” cowboy church and recently completed construction on it’s second sanctuary to seat the 1800 people that attend its Sunday morning worship service. 

From this humble beginning, the movement is spreading like wildfire. I have had several ask me in the last few weeks, "What do you make of the Cowboy Church Movement?"

Jim Gatliff of Hunt Baptist Association (gotta love that name!) told me last week that there are more than 100 Cowboy Churches in Texas alone, and the movement is quickly spreading past Texas.  The top 4 churches with the most baptisms were all Cowboy Churches. Who'd a thunk it!!

Oh, one more odd thing--a lot of the people who attend Cowboy Churches. . . they are not cowboys!  Not real cowboys any way. They just like wearing hats and boots and talking cowboy. Its a whole different language. Its a whole different world.

Four things that make Cowboy Churches work, besides the work of the Holy Spirit, which is always the most important thing:

  • The work in a previously connected culture. People know each other in this culture. Go to you average new suburbs and no one know anyone. Cowboys are connected. And, they are wired to.  They use email and texting to help get a crowd. It wasn't that hard for Ron Nolen to get 300 people to show up for that first meeting.
  • Cowboy churches attract kids who attract their parents. A common activity in a cowboy church is to do buckouts, play days, and ranch rodeos.
  • Cowboy churches tend to build where land is cheap. They are happy with a somewhat stark metal building. Building costs don't slow them down. It is hard to start 100 churches in 8 years if this is not the case.
  • Country music.  40 million Americans call a country music station home. The the country gospel/ cowboy music appeals to this crowd.

Cowboy churches are but one example of a new thing God is doing. What is he doing in your ministry?

For more on Cowboy churches, here are a few sites to look at:
http://www.onmission.com/site/c.cnKHIPNuEoG/b.829361/k.7C7F/Cowboy_churches_corral_country_folks.htm
http://www.texasfcc.org

http://www.cowboychurchministries.org
http://www.cowboychurch.net/index.html

Is God doing a new thing in your world?