National transformation is only one man away.
God is still looking for men to stand in the gap on behalf of him for the land. In this episode of Man Talk, Vince Miller is joined by Dan Clites, Director of Church Ministry Development at LCMC and planting pastor who coaches planting pastors across the country. Today we hear Dan’s thoughts on national transformation is possible through the life of men living boldly in their calling.
Vince: This is Resolute, and Man Talk. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re discussing the topic of how to transform our nation as men.
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Well, I am excited to introduce to you, today – my good friend, Dan Clites – who oversees ministry development for LCMC. Dan has served as a church planter, lead Pastor, and Pastor for over 20 years. And today trains and equips church planners across the country. Before graduating from Luther Sem in ’95, Dan worked for 9 years as a television sports reporter in North Dakota. Dan, welcome to the show.
Dan: Thank you, Vince. I – it’s my pleasure to be here. We’re 2 men, this is called, “Man Talk,” so let’s talk man – let’s do it.
Vince: Yeah. Let’s talk man, in Man Talk, right? Exactly. And I am pumped about having you. Because I know that you work with churches across the country. And you’re watching the church attempt – I think – to transform our world, right? And–
Vince: And I use the word, “attempt,” very loosely there. I’m not saying it’s not making an impact, it is. But we want the church to be better, to grow, to advance the Kingdom, right? And so we’re–
Vince: We’re learning principles on really how we can do that today. So today we’re talking about biblical paradigms of city and national transformation. And I know that you’re a guy that sees maybe a little bit more than what the average Pastor sees. Because sometimes I think Pastors are caught up in a very myopic view of their world. Would you agree with that?
Dan: Well yeah. And part of it is because they’re trapped by running all the programs. It’s the great commotion, rather than the great commission. They don’t want it that way, but–
Dan: They get just sucked up into that.
Vince: They get sucked up into it. And we – we, unfortunately, get our eyes off the prize sometimes. And we get down into the weeds. And everybody knows this is true. We can do this in business, right? As well – our businesses do it, everybody does it. We make the mistake of taking our eyes off the prize, and then getting our head stuck in the weeds. And because of that, we fail to see the big picture. But I know you have been blessed. I know I have too, been blessed by seeing a much larger picture of the Christian world.
Now, before we get into all these principles of national transformation – and really what it looks like to transform the nation – how would you describe the current state of the church, Dan? I mean, is it hopeful? Should we be concerned? I mean, I feel like we should be concerned in some ways.
Dan: You’re right on both ends.
Dan: We can be hope-filled, because Jesus himself said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” The key is, are we doing His church, or have we created something that looks more like what the Pharisees wanted to do? Where you come inside and do everything on the inside. Jesus was about the Ecclesia. Training and sending out and impacting the government sectors, the business sector, the entertainment sector, the education sector.
And this is a great permission giving to, “Hey, every man is a minister, every man is a missionary.” And get away from the membership mentality. ‘Cause when we’re trapped in membership, it’s about – my church specific, inside my building – how are things going?
Dan: And that’s not going so well at all. The folks aren’t showing up.
Dan: And they’re voting with lots and lots of feet, by going in another direction. So what do we want to do? We want to go out to them.
Vince: Yeah, I don’t know if you know this, but I was watching some statistics just on the twin cities over the last 5 years. Of basically – Catholics and Protestants and church growth and decline. Did you know over the last 5 years in the twin cities, that the church has shrunk by 1000 every year?
Dan: And that’s the concerning part.
Vince: Yeah, exactly.
Dan: These churches, we know it.
Dan: The 20th-century mentality of the church.
Dan: But here we are in the 21st century. Can I give you an example of–?
Dan: Like millennials, when I talk to millennials – which I just love it, men or women. They say, “We want to change the world.”
Dan: And I said, “Good.”
Dan: “That’s exactly why Jesus came. ‘Come and follow me,’ he says.” And – or they say, “We want to bring justice to this world.” And I go, “Good. It’s exactly what Jesus wanted to do. So stop trying to do it through the politics of things, or by complaining and whining or whatever it might be. Why don’t you tap into the real power source of following Jesus, if you really want to change the world?” “Ah,” they kinda go, “Mmm–”
Dan: “We thought that church was boring.” And I go, “Oh what have we done?”
Dan: God isn’t boring.
Dan: So there you go, if we get missionaries who are sent out into the business sector, or education sectors and start living differently – it becomes very attractive, especially to millennials. Millennial men, who are kinda going, “I don’t know, I’m not against God – but I’m just not for the church as you described it in the Twin Cities.” Which is – in a sense, declining as we knew it in the 20th century.
Vince: I like how you said that right there. And I hope guys were listening to that, because he said, “I’m for Christ, but I’m just – the church is not doing it right for some reason.”
Vince: We all kinda sense that. But we’re afraid to speak to it. And we know something’s happening, and the world’s changing around us. I mean, if we’re watching a decline of Catholic and Protestant churches in the Twin Cities at 1000 per year, over the last 5 years – and that’s from the 40 largest churches. We can say that the 40 largest churches are actually shrinking. “No matter what you say, no matter how you try to convince me – it’s not working.”
Vince: Something has gone wrong. You’re suggesting – I think, for us – that we’ve got to turn people into missionaries again. We’ve got to help them to see themselves as missionaries, and that’s where national transformation is going to happen.
Dan: See that’s the good news. That’s where Jesus says, “I’ll build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” He gives us keys to the Kingdom. And when we have keys, gates are rendered useless. They’re powerless. So we can storm the gates, open them – and just move into areas where – right now we have got a culture that says, “You Christians stay out of this.” And we listen to that, and we kinda go, “Oh yeah, you’re right. We won’t talk about our faith, or do our faith.” So we’ll either do one or 2 things – we’ll stay inside our buildings, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. And it keeps shrinking. Or we’ll go and be just jerks about it.
Dan: Well like, I have to attack the darkness with more darkness. That’s insane.
Vince: Yeah, right.
Dan: That’s why Jesus says, “Attack it with light.”
Vince: I like it. Okay so, I hear from you some of the same things that I have seen, Dan. And I don’t know really where this is going right now. So let’s not worry about that. But I think this topic is so interesting and intriguing. Because I run into church leaders all the time, who have – I would say, what seems to me to be the wrong mentality about church altogether.
And I will tell you that 25 years ago when I was being trained to be a church leader, right? And I was growing up in my church experience – I, unfortunately, was probably taught all the wrong methodology about how to build disciples, and to join Christ in Him building His church. Today, I’m trying to undo a lot of those things. And I’m trying to undo a lot of those things by speaking prophetically through these podcasts like this like you and I are doing right now.
Vince: To give people the principles they need to – that will lead the church into a new era. Because we are losing right now. But there’s hope in Jesus Christ. So help me to understand, Dan – just real quickly – as you have encountered Pastors, do you talk to them–? And you’re mostly talking to church leaders. Do you see that their mindset is stuck in an old way of doing things?
Vince: And is it painful and hard to get them to think differently?
Dan: Yes and yes. It is – oh it’s just painful. They’re just trapped in our rituals and our traditions. And rituals and traditions are supposed to lead us, equip us, send us out so that we’re better equipped to be a disciple – not so that we can sit inside and preserve something.
Dan: And we’re caught in that mentality. And then what I try to do with guys is say, “You know what? Get away from the sacred, secular divide that we often create in the church.” Like, the sacred places inside the church, singing these hymns, or praise songs or whatever program we’re doing inside the church. And when you leave, “Well, good luck out there in that big bad world, and the world that Jesus died for.” And so I always say, there is no such thing as sacred and secular. But sacred of God and sinful not of God. Therefore, we – all things are redeemable by the blood of Jesus. It’s simply a matter of – are we willing to reclaim them or not?
Vince: Yeah, yeah. And I know that you mean those words so gently to the Pastors on the other end of this podcast. Because I know that you have the heart to see them change. Because you work with them every day. And–
Vince: And I know that you have spent hours and hours and hours trying to sway, convince, persuade and share with people that gospel. Because you know that if we can convince Pastors across this country – and even this world, to view the world differently – then we can become Kingdom changers, right? We can change the Kingdom. Now I mean, change the Kingdom. But really change our viewpoint on the Kingdom, so that we can join Christ in building his church. It belongs to him anyway. So let’s let Him lead it. Let’s let him do it, right? And that’s the challenge man.
Dan: It is, and Vince, I always say it begins with a sense of holy discontentment. You love Jesus, you love your church folks, you’re not causing problems, you’re not a whiner, you’re not withholding, giving. Try to prove a point. But just say, “You know what? We’re just not bearing fruit. Maybe we’ve got a lot of apples hanging on our apple tree here inside the building. But the real fruit comes, and does that apple tree spawn another apple tree, that spawns another apple tree? And have more influence beyond your 4 walls.”
In other words, I always say, “You’re not here to just Pastor your congregation. Your congregation doesn’t exist just for your particular tribe or a particular group of people. But you exist for your entire city.” And that changes everyone’s mindset. When you start thinking, “Wait a minute here. This is not about us, this is about them.” In fact, being a Christian is – and a member of a church is never about you. Otherwise, that leads to consumerism and all-about-me-ness and that kind of thing. And you exist for the sake of others. When you break that curse–
Dan: Then your leadership says, “Hey, Pastor – let’s go.” And most Pastors do want to go.
Dan: They want to go. But they’re trapped in other folks saying, “Well that’s a risky thing.”
Dan: Or giving ourselves away too much, or–
Dan: What happens if we ran out of money?
Vince: Yeah, yeah.
Dan: And it keeps them from really being Kingdom minded.
Dan: Holly discontentment is saying, “Hey, I think we can do better than this.”
Dan: I think the God of the universe wants us to be a part of something bigger than just ourselves.
Vince: I love that, okay. Before we close off this podcast, I want to hear one principle from you real quick.
Vince: On a biblical paradigm that will help us to think differently about the world. What’s one paradigm we can embrace?
Dan: Here’s one of my very favorites. And you can write this down, guys. Every Christian is a minister. Or, you can say, “missionary.” And your labor becomes your worship. I’m not saying you worship your job, no.
Dan: But I’m saying, “Your job, or what you do for labor, what your sphere of influence is – that is how you can honor God, worship God through your work – by seeing yourself as a marketplace minister. I say get rid of laity.
Dan: That sounds too much like laying around. You want to be a marketplace minister. Equipped by the temple Priest, yes that’s important – to be sent out, and have a greater impact in the marketplace.
Vince: Sounds really–
Dan: That’s one of my favorites.
Vince: It sounds really simple, right? Where are we as Pastors called to equip the Saints for works of ministry, right?
Dan: There you go.
Vince: I mean it–
Dan: Ephesians 4.
Dan: Yeah. When we just reach to very simple verses, right? “Equip the Saints for works of ministry,” Ephesians 4. And we’re called to do that. And maybe we’ve dropped the baton on that one, Dan? Maybe we’ve forgotten that principle and that all-important principle that Jesus applied to his life.
I mean, think about this just for a second. Jesus Christ equipped 12 guys. Without equipping those 12 guys, we wouldn’t have anything that we have today. In fact, you and I wouldn’t be sitting here doing this podcast. Take that one thing away that Jesus did. The one natural thing that he did, that was very intentional, methodical and purposeful – and we don’t sit in front of each other today– Jesus did all kinds of incredible, divine things. But without equipping 12 dudes, we don’t sit in this room.
That’s craziness man. How do we forget that stuff? We get so tantalized by all the commotion and forget the commission. And just like you said earlier – and I – I just think that if we could have a mindset – a mindset for equipping the Saints, then maybe that mindset and seeing our life as a – as a mission, that we’re on a mission. Why do you think guys forget that? Why do we forget that?
Dan: Because we’ve been trained to think in events or tasks or duties from the time we’re a little kid. “Take out the garbage, that’s your task.” And you think, “Well, I did a nice thing.” And then it’s over. And we’ve – and so we get that into the church. We ask people to volunteer. Come in, do a task or a job. Instead of talking about – everything that we do here, is to equip you. How you talk, what you do – what you don’t do in the everyday ordinary, sometimes mundane things of life. It’s get away from doing so much, and becoming more.
Vince: Oh, I love that.
Dan: Struggle with that one, it’s a good one though.
Vince: Yeah, you know what? We need to struggle with it, Dan. Because that’s where I want to end today. Is – gentlemen, we are called to live a life of mission. In fact, when we were – we kinda made that choice to follow Christ, we were called to abdicate all of our own mission and take up Christ’s mission. And we really don’t get a choice in the matter. We were called to a life of hating everything else and loving God more. Because when you love God more, you love everything else better.
And so gentlemen, today – I want to call you and invite you into that life of mission, as Dan was talking about here. Aside from some of the obstacles, we’ve got to live that out. And that means living it out everywhere. It means living it out – yes at church, but not only there. It also means in our home, in our neighborhood – and as Dan said, in our marketplace. We are marketplace missionaries called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
And that’s the show, thanks for listening. As we close, I want to remind you that we have great content for your men’s groups. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Check it all out at beresolute.org/free-trial. That’s free dash trial. And yes, I will see to it that you get a free trial and a Resolute Men’s study guide to go with it.
So, guys, I hope you enjoyed the podcast today. But please know that the time that we spent together today is worthless unless you choose to do something with it. So do something today – by getting off the bench, and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of Man Talk.