One of the best things about being a Christian and a primary thing is that we as sinners are able to be reconciled to a Holy God. We are called then also to be ambassadors for Christ, and ministers of that same reconciliation towards others. Therefore there are five challenges to work through when we seek reconciliation. It is important to note I am not speaking primarily about “Forgiveness” although forgiveness is a key component of reconciliation but I am primarily speaking about true reconciliation and restoration which requires forgiveness, and repentance on all sides.
Challenge #1 – The Acknowledgement for Repentance.
There must be an acknowledgement of both the offense, and an understanding of the broken trust. There are two things that happen when someone is “wronged.” They are wronged by the “action” itself, and there is as a consequence to the betrayal, a broken trust relationship. When people become friends they establish a sense of security and trust, and if Christian often founded in the principles of Christ. Once this is violated, it’s not only the wrong action itself that is the offense, but because of the violation of trust, there is a twofold hurdle for reconciliation to take place.
The action itself must be acknowledged, and time must be granted (in relationship with one another) demonstrating trustworthiness going forward. This acknowledgement and humility in granting time allows for trust to be rebuilt.
Challenge #2 – Log Examining Forgiveness
Any healthy Christian will always, always, always ask themselves, what did “I” do first to cause the issues or problem / conflict. In other words frequently there are layers of a conflict and ownership must be had on all sides (Not always but frequently). Most people’s general mode is justifying themselves and place %100 blame on others, which is normally false or skewed perception of what actually took place. Therefore, once you have identified your own failings, and failures verbally acknowledged them to the other party, you may have to revisit forgiving them over and over again, especially if they do not acknowledge their own part of the conflict or in their sinning against you.
This is forgiveness, that we do not trust ourselves to exact revenge, hold a grudge, fight a battle, make them feel as bad as we have felt, hold it over their head until you believe their debt has been paid. How can we? Considering what we ourselves deserve? But Jesus is just and the justifier, and he will defend and make all things right, therefore we have no right to hold anything against them, based upon the forgiveness we have received in Christ, not receiving the just penalty we deserve, but instead mercy. We must forgive first.
Challenge #3 – Getting to the “Real Problem”
On the surface, it may appear that one’s actions were the problem, and that a promise “to change” is the solution; however this isn’t true repentance, acknowledgement of sin, and a turning in the other direction if it’s not linked to the heart. There are two forms of sorrow, one that leads to death, eg. pity party, the other that leads to life. The pity party looks like when something is brought to my attention I act as if I don’t know what’s being said has any basis in truth. Therefore I am a victim. Then if the relationship is broken its something that has happened to you and not something that you must take any responsibility. This is a self-deception move often of the flesh, to not examine one’s self and not hear from the offendee what they are attempting to communicate. It is essential to get to the real problem, which is the heart of the matter. Whatever the offense, the offendee must be heard, and believable life giving sorrow takes place, (not of the pity party nature). This must be contended for when attempting reconciliation. The challenge is so frequently leveled at people wanting to protect themselves, and protect their own perceived goodness, rather than hear the issue which broken the trust relationship. No one can force repentance, and thus often there is a stalemate at understanding because of a refusal to forgive, or of self-examination, acknowledgement, and repentance.
Challenge #4 – The inability to restore “Trust” or the challenge of being “Trusted”
This is tied closely with the first challenge. Once a trust relationship is broken, it will be difficult but often necessary to restore that trust if true “reconciliation” is to take place. Without trust regular interaction cannot take place, because you will always wonder, about motive, safety, security, within that trust relationship framework. Once acknowledgements take place of particular sins, there is a demonstrated sorrow that leads to life, over time. Trust relationships can be restored. I have heard one preacher say, trust should be earned slowly but lost quickly. This in fact takes time. This is not an excuse for unforgiveness, saying have they graveled enough, have they said they’re sorry enough. NO, but this is seeing the fruit of repentance over time demonstrating a repentant person, and rebuilding trust not based upon their trustworthiness, but based up on seeing the faithful demonstration of Christ working in someone else’s life.
Challenge #5 – What can one do you do if someone doesn’t acknowledge sin on their side?
Seek to live at peace with all men as much as it is up to you. If you have done your part in self-examination, acknowledgement of your own sin, after you have attempted to show them their sin, and the offense that’s taken place, and they still don’t see it, then there is prayer, actually there is always prayer. Prayer should be happening throughout the process, but this is the one life line that remains, to ask for sight. The only one I know who really grants sight to the blind is Jesus. I would say this also however, that as you pray for their sight, that you pray for your own sight also. Perhaps you are just as blind in some other area. Never use this as a tool for self-elevation (self-righteousness) but always with pity, and love seek to restore, reconcile, pray for truth in the inward parts, and that God reveal any wicked way within yourself.
I know this one thing, that the Holy Spirit is in us, if we have put our faith in Him and the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is at our disposal. If Christ was raised from the dead and He conquered sin and death to reconcile us to the father, then if we trust Him he will allow us to take part of the ongoing work of the Spirit in reconciling us toward one another, in spite of what things look like at times. His grace is greater than all of our sin.
There are five challenges of reconciliation but there is one answer, and His name is Jesus.
I am preparing a sermon on Mark 8:27-9:1, specifically 34-38 as I prepare also for an evangelistic outreach in the morning. Needless to say it has me wrestling !
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Few RSVP’s came for this month end Evangelism workshop came. I trust in God’s sovereignty and those will be there whom should be there in the morning, but in praying, and in the consideration over what has taken place in our culture we must call one another, yes challenge one another to ‘die to self’ to go to the culture, to be more bold in our proclamation and demonstration of Christ to the culture to those who do not know Jesus.
Here are some suggestions for creating a culture of outreach within your local body. We have not mastered any of these things; these are only suggestions to stir the hearts and thoughts of other planters and pastors as they consider their effectiveness in bringing to bare on the community around them. The gospel must get outside the four walls of our buildings!
Church Culture Shift #1: Leadership must model an authentic passion for evangelism, a love for the lost, and a sorrow for those who do not know Jesus. There will be times when you may not be able to lead small groups, or do as much one on one discipleship as you would like, however this should never hinder you from demonstrating a passion and zeal for souls. We as leaders can hardly expect those whom we are leading to have a heart for the lost if we in leadership do not demonstrate it. You see this both in the life of Jesus and Paul, though they focus on making disciples, Paul establishing churches, his passion to see people come to the Lord is ever present. We must model this as leaders if we have expectations of others to do the same.
Church Culture Shift #2: Missional Community Groups. Since discipleship should be a “universal” thing amongst believers, we believe the best vehicle to encourage discipleship relationship is within the context of small groups that have an explicit focus on outreach, thus often the word “Missional.” We must constantly as a church plant check our vision, make sure we haven’t settled into comfort and ease. If we become overly ‘self-focused’ we will lose the evangelistic fervor of a vibrant body seeking the kingdom. We have been called to be ambassadors for Christ, to be reconcilers, to go and make disciples; we must be constantly reminded of this because it is not often easy or comfortable. This is a call of self-denial and because of that we need frequent reminders, by people who love us. Our life is not our own we were bought with a price. Caveat, not everyone will outreach in the same way, and certain seasons of life lend themselves to being able to reach out, thus we always do this with grace, and humility not with self-righteousness or condemnation. We must challenge and encourage people to go beyond where they believe they can, this is part of walking by faith and not by sight. We must encourage and celebrate new believers, new disciples as they enter the kingdom! These are also very good ways to be intentional on follow up!
Church Culture Shift #3: Do evangelistic workshops! We have started these once or twice a year, when our “outreach” focus wanes a bit, we will hold evangelistic workshops to encourage outreach. Also don’t do these things alone offer to help other churches or people in the area / neighborhood to come along side pray and encourage these new relationships.
Church Culture Shift #4: Make certain corporate prayers include praying for the lost, and also specific prayer time with in Missional Community Groups. Both an emphasis from the pulpit and an emphasis from the leaders within the Missional home groups will help in being reminders that we must not seek to save our own life, but we must deny ourselves pick up our cross and follow Him.
This is a question that has been asked by many people over the years, and they have more than one answer I believe. It’s not a simple Yes or No, but yes and no.
Let’s start out with church size, is it ok to be content with a small church. Over the past several years in church planting, I will be quite honest I had hoped to be more established relationally into the peoples of the community at this point in our plant, and yet we have so many barriers to overcome. I don’t want to undermine how much progress has been made, because by God’s grace alone we have made much progress. God’s brought together a wonderful team of people making great progress in the community, however, if I were sovereign, which I am not, I would have hoped for more local believers from the city to be hearing /attending our gatherings and Missional Community Groups, and although we’ve seen much success with these in various capacities, the question remains is small church ok?
The “yes we can be satisfied with small church” is there, if we are being faithful sowers of the word of God, into the lives of both the saved, the lost, and sowing the seeds of the gospel to a dying world, then we can be satisfied or content in the fact that we are being obedient to Jesus commands, and the size of the church is His choice….. In the parable of the sewer for example, if we are truly being faithful to sow the seed God’s word, and the harvest has not come in we are not to blame. God brings the increase.
If our desire is to see friends, family and neighbors come be with Christ in heaven when they die, if this place is truly not our home, then how can we be satisfied with church being small? There is being content in Christ, which I’m learning day by day. Yet there is a dissatisfaction with status quo Christianity where we relax in the comfort of our salvation to the detriment of the lost, to the detriment of our obedience to the great commission, and to the detriment of ourselves being white washed tombs.
If we by example have become ingrown, and focused solely on our own needs , wants, desires as a church body then this is when we cross the line and our satisfaction/contentment with our size is a fruit of our disobedience.
Small church is not ok when, we have allowed self to be the primary motivator of our size, and we have jettisoned our mission. If we are small because we are planting, if we are small because we are multiplying, these things are no measure for the heart of the faithful.
Size isn’t the measuring stick, the heart demonstrates obedience. Jesus said if you love me, you will keep my commandments…. This is of course motivated by Christ on the cross and grace, and yet what is at the center of the heart of your church? What is motivating you in contentment of its size?
Therefore the question isn’t, is the size of my church ok? Is it enough? The answer should be,” it’s never enough.” The question is, “are we as a church being obedient to the mission of Jesus, out of the love we have for Jesus?”
Tweet I’ve talked about what the problem is, and what needs to take place in previous blogs with declining or dying churches. This week we will talk about the solution. Pastors from Wornall Road Baptist Church, and our church Living Faith KC, came to Armour Heights Baptist Church to begin the process of Legacy Church Planting. Wornall Road and Living Faith KC have comitted to walk along side of Armour Heights Baptist Church to serve them in their Replant. There hasn’t been a major struggle here, but they’ve made challenging decisions with certain pastors in their past. Over time there has been a slow gradual decline within the church, and before they knew it, they are where they are at now. At the most there are twenty to thirty members on the best days, and ten to fifteen faithful.
Pastor John Mark Clifton, from Wornall Rd. came to begin the meeting and the process. He had met with the congregation in the past. He had given them a survey to determine the temperature of their heart condition in relationship to being replanted, and being able to work through change. They determined if Armour Heights was at a place where they were willing to do whatever it takes to see God’s name made great, in their neighborhood. “Step 1″ if the church is hanging on to their past, to their history, to the glory days, they’re not ready. Pastor John Mark Clifton provided the survey, and Step 2 is beginning to work through the process.
These are teaser bullet points below. John Mark expands on them in the link. Please download (Here) the link and listen to the whole talk. This talk was given at a NAMB workshop, but it was a very similar talk given to Armour Heights today. Consider it and would love to hear feedback.
- 1. We do it for God’s Glory ( How will God’s name be made much of because of this church ? )
- 2. Consistent in your prayer, you have to believe in wartime communication with God. What about the way you pray inspires people to know the God you’re talking to?
- 3. Streamline the structure. ( A Church is a flock, a fold, and a family ) You have to value the process more than the outcome.
- 4. You have to be “incarnation” in your living it out. You have to be living the gospel and demonstrating the gospel in the community, and become a community presence.
- 5. You must be generous in your resources.
- 6. Look for 18 to 35 year old and invest your life into them. ( Great movements of God have always started with young men )
- 7. Cultivate Service in your community.
- 8. Redefine Success (W-plus 2)
- 9. We Celebrate the Legacy often
When I say all sides, I’m sure I don’t mean all in this context, but I’m referring to Christians who support ‘opposing abortion’ and for those who do not directly but give mental ascent to it.
I have been posting on Facebook my opposition to abortion recently. I have seen a few main reactions to it. There is an amazing movement that’s started in Ohio, I’m sure there are other movements but this movement is terming themselves the “Abortion Abolitionist.” One of their themes is to say that we need to be more than “Pro-Life” pro-life says you will think about abortion as life, and the other states what you will be willing to do something about it.
Now these aren’t “extremist” movements inciting any sort of violence, only that they are asking people to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak when it comes to talking to people about abortion and the gospel. One thing I like about the movement is their linking it frequently to the gospel of Jesus Christ, for without whom there is no hope.
This is the most “biblically based” anti-abortion movement with feet I have ever seen and I’m behind it. The primary caution for those inside the movement from what I’ve witnessed on Facebook is a zealous arrogance at times. There are people who were uneducated, unsaved, have not understood the implications of what they have done with their unborn child and several of the posts I have witnessed are the type of post that like to rub people’s noses in their mess. This is devastating for some who’ve made these choices in the past and attempt to live their lives with their choices.
This type of attitude will eventually kill the movement and give justification for others to marginalize the impact that it could potentially have if it were to be handled in compassion, and understanding, all the while not backing down off of the principles of life.
Humility in the gospel of Jesus Christ is key for this movement to continue on, and I’m hoping and excited to see things continue on with it in the future. There is no other hope than the hope we have in Jesus Christ, and yet we have a responsibility to be salt and light to the dying world. We have commercials online to save animals, and yet we have less compassion for our own unborn human children.
I have been responded to a few times about the post. Once I was accused of jumping on the next “Christian” fad or bandwagon of Christian Abortion. To my hearts despair, I would imagine that abolitionist in the time of slavery had the same accusations when they wanted to free slaves from wrong societal thinking. I’m sure when someone said “Hey they are people too, who deserve to live their life the same as we do…” I’m sure these idealistic people were met with thoughts like, “oh this soon too shall pass, this fad of freedom for the slaves.” I am thankful for those in society who would not give up or give in, those who helped changed thinking on the ground level.
People being murdered is more than a Christian fad, or simply a social and political issue, please wake up church.
The next complaint I have had is that we should only tell people about Jesus Christ, because they won’t really understand unless they understand the gospel. While I think the intention here is well meaning I don’t think the argument is either we tell them this, or we try to save the baby. I think we must be intentional to do both and. We must both proclaim to them the gospel and we must do everything we can to show them that this baby is life and alive, and a human being before it is born. God can use a baby to change a mother, and cause her to repent and give her life to the Lord. Sometimes it happens before birth, and sometimes after, and even yet… sometimes after an abortion a mother can come to know Christ. All of these are our targets of truth, and love. We desire both the mother and child to know Christ in all of these circumstances, but love must be the demonstrative goal, and not anger. The imagery one should get is, one person pleading for another person for the life of someone who’s been given the death sentence. Mercy triumphs over judgment…..
The last thought is for those who’ve been against the abortion post because they’re tired of Christians being in the “Political” eye, and again saying we need only to proclaim Christ. I agree we must proclaim Christ, but also simply educate people on life. The two can be given at the same time. There again is not an either or, but because people have been disillusioned over the lack of change that came from the 80’s when Dobson and others were shaking the prolife trees, and the very little results that come from it, we have grown into this fatalistic society of Christian abortion apathy. The attitude of “The world is going to hell in a hand basket, so let it.” This fatalism is contrary to God’s word.
We as believers are to be salt and light in the world. Salt meaning to preserve, and light into darkness, how can we do that from the pews or from our houses? We must enter into the world and educate, proclaim the good news, and let God worry about the results. We are to be obedient and faithful to his word, and He will bring the increase in his time. Much more can be said but I will stop here!
I have heard of these statements from various people, JM Clifton, JD Grear, and others have mentioned simliar things in the past. Therefore if they belong to anyone else, please do not credit them to me. Many came out of conversations from the past, perhaps quoting other people.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. – John 15:6
What is the remedy ? To do the opposite of these signs!
- If the community where your church building is located would not be affected if you closed the doors then there is a sign that your church may be dying.
- If your church’s sermons are a history lesson and don’t lead you into repentance and faith in Jesus Christ continually.
- If there is no community life, where people are growing with one another applying the gospel on a weekly basis.
- If everyone’s a stranger, and there’s not depth of personal knowlege or bearing one another’s burdens.
- If you are unable to take any risk, risk is part of faith.
- If the primary prayer request is for aunt Margrets bunyons vs praying for the souls/salvation of men, women, and children.
- If when you worship, the worship sounds like people are sad and somber all the time.
- If there are no children in the church and no young couples growing physically and spiritually.
- If everyone from the church building is a commuter and there is no one from the community.
- If your church is content with the ‘status quo’ every week, and unwilling to make changes in order to increase their faith.
- If your church is not making disciples of the next generation.
- If there’s an attitude of , “We’ve been doing it this way for years…. Why change now?”
- If your church has money in the bank that could be used for reaching the lost or meeting needs within the congregation but they’re saving it for a rainy day?
- If you are unable to receive feedback / criticism, in order to hear what things might be wrong with the church or what might help it improve, ie the leadership is unteachable.
- If the leadership really isn’t leading, and the church is more lead by a committee or a deacon group more concerned with supporting the system than shepherding the people.
- If your church promotes outreach as an option and not a scriptural mandate.
- If your church believes church is the building and not the called out people of God.
- If love is not a goal of your church both for the saved and the lost equally.
You have heard the argument that all things must replant themselves or reproduce themselves for a species to survive. There are endangered species list, and I was recently intrigued by an extinct species because it became extinct in our century called the Tasmanian Tiger. It’s from Australia, and the largest known carnivorous marsupial known of modern times. Hunted and killed, it was not able to reproduce enough to perpetuate it’s own kind, and therefore it died.
One thing the church has going for it, is we know who wins in the end, and as arrogant as that may sound to those who don’t believe, it’s not intended to be so, it’s simply we know that those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, at the end of all things here on this earth, will be with Christ forever. This is our hope from Romans 5, this hope that Paul talks about the only hope that does not disappoint, this hope we have in Christ.
This “knowing” can not however instill in us an arrogance that there is nothing to do and we sit on our hands awaiting for the second coming of Christ. What about now? What about His Bride? What about Church?
In my last post I spoke about “What is the Problem?” and in conclusion there are several things we as individuals and churches need to repent from, and begin walking in obedience in our lives. From the very beginning, Jesus uses agrarian parables and teachings to demonstrate reproduction, and he does this superbly in John 12 and also in John 15. Pause here and take a moment to read through those two passages. For the individual we also have the Great Commission which is our “imperative” or command to be be reproducers. One might even be able to say that until we are reproducing disciple-makers are we truly disciples of Jesus?
There’s no denying that this is a mandate in scripture and one that’s been largely overlooked by the Protestant church specifically in many churches over the past 50 to 100 years. We in some senses have been obsessed to reproduce pragmatism, (methods or methodologies) but few churches have truly made disciples, who reproduce themselves. A people who are in right relationship with Jesus Christ, living walking by the spirit, discipling, reproducing as a way of life. It’s been mostly compartmentalized, Jesus is another thing I attend or do, a past time or hobby.
With the impact of “Culture” catching our Awe over the many years, we’ve become captivated by creation ( gizmos and gadgets ) over the creator God. We have in so many ways exchanged the glories of God for the images of created things. This is spoke of directly in Romans 1 and 2, and we ignore it as if God is not paying attention to our decline or demise. Without reiterating too much how our churches and practice even to some degree has been largely motivated and persuaded by our culture, we look at the Gold calve and we worship things that have no power or control.
As John Piper puts it: “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
How does this apply to Church and Church planting? A: We have exchanged our desires to be Awed by our creator for the idolatry of our past, be it memories, or buildings, or some created things in place of the priorities of scripture.
I am an observer of a several churches that are dying in the city or have since died. In each of these churches there is generally a common theme, and this is the worship of the place, the building, the facilities, or the memories. There is a hard and fast love for upkeep of the building, of trying to find the new pastor or youth pastor that will bring the programs and activities of the 80′s back into play but there is little desire in these large church buildings with a small remnant of believers who truly have sought the will of God and desire to do whatever it takes to follow God with their whole hearts.
How does planting then help resolve some of the problems? In spite of the disobedience of a past generation who have largely avoided the mandate to make reproducing disciples, God has birthed in this new era a heart for church planting. People are awakening to the idea that more churches need planted that the pendulum swung way too hard in the other direction for so many years, and the heart of God is to see His church prevail throughout the ages in-spite of the obedience of generations past.
What has to happen for a church to be planted?
A. A church planter must be equipped and sent out.
B. A church planter will go out on their own because they believe they have no other choice.
C. Legacy Planting
Option A is the preferable and the one that is most biblically represented. The second one often ends poorly, or there is much time spent on recovery, and healing. It’s the difference between being purposely transplanted cut just right, in the right place, and put into some water so that new roots grow as some plants are known to do, and being ripped off the vine itself and planted into the ground and hoping that one will make it.
Option B, often when a parent church does not see the reason to plant another church, God puts the vision in the heart of someone there and God will produce the replanting / reproduction in-spite of our faithfulness to the scriptures. It says that “HE” will build His Church! When churches build their congregation around a single pastor, and that pastor is no longer there, then the church if they are not actively raising up new leaders will then fade.
When a church gets down to a certain size and can no longer support a Pastor, they often have closed their doors. When no one from within can take over, and they aren’t able to support a Pastor then they seek associational help. I have even seen cases where a young church planter would like to come into a building and use a facility but a territorialism takes over and there is no sharing. Later the church diminishes more and the building rather than go to another Gospel centered Church, because they loved their building so much they will sell to anyone at the end even those who will end up making them into a Muslim Mosque. This is again a demonstration of what happens when we exchange the Glory of God for created things.
Option C, is the newest and latest option, and one that I am personally excited about.
Option C has recently been labeled “Legacy Church Planting.” Coined by John Mark Clifton in Kansas City Missouri, who brought a church back from near death with the remaining 14 members of the Church, to now approaching 200 thriving members. This happens only when a congregation gets to the end of themselves, when they are willing to like it says in the picture above, allow a seed to fall to the ground and die, so that it may bear much fruit. Legacy planting isn’t fully developed but John Mark and well as several of his new Interns are and have begun the process of putting together a plan, and also giving surveys to determine a Legacy Church’s viability for moving forward with a Legacy plant.
This means a new Pastor comes in and begins to work with the remaining congregation as well as brings another group or core group to join, and they begin the long journey of replanting the church together. The truth of the matter is many churches who are dying would rather get to a place where it is a headache, and they are willing to sell to sell the building and assets to anyone, vs. try to Legacy Plant a church. They are often up in age and don’t have the wherewithal to continue. However John Mark is testament that this can be done, and although long and challenging God is glorified much by the obedience of Legacy planting and reproducing disciples for the next generation! More to come in the next blog on how this gets accomplished stay tuned!
TweetI’m going to write three blogs over the next few days. One will be identifying the problem,the second will continue with some problem identification but begin to explain why the present generation is planting churches and points to why there is hope in Church planting and “re-planting” for Legacy Church for the SBC, the final blog will challenges us in how to get there?
What is the problem? How did we get here?
Without beginning from the beginning or going all the way back to the gradual decline of Church into catholicity and or religious traditionalism, I will simply begin with the obvious happenings over the past decade or two. There has been in the past generation or more, the tendency in North American church to be more of a church spectator than a true contributor. We can blame entertainment and the world but the one thing I’ve learned in being a Christian, it’s never good to turn a blind eye to our shortcomings but to look them head on, taking them to the cross, and seeking repentance, and forgiveness. Nothing will change if we don’t acknowledge our shortcomings and seek Christ, both as individuals and churches.
If you’ve been reading any books about church lately this topic of consumer verses contributor, has been talked about a great deal. We have unintentionally built a Churched generation of dependent infants who lack the ability to reproduce. Frequently when people have received Christ in the past, the thing to do was to dis-assimilate out of old patterns and relationships, and reorient their entire life towards their new Church family. You were taken out of old sphere’s of influence, where you might eventually be able to share the gospel, and moved into the safe Christian place where no one from the world could contaminate you. Over time you would become more and more dependent on your church family, but more so, on the teaching and preaching of your primary pastor. Even though there are often bible studies and times of personal growth, when it would come to outreach or evangelism (The Great Commission ) in many churches it came often to a mentality that said, I don’t want to offend but I can invite people to church building for a special service. There was very little if any personal cost to becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. You didn’t much mention it at work, and there was a heavy compartmentalization of secular, work-life and church life.
Over time many people came to Christ in this way, or at least they had appeared to come to Christ. There were a few that would grow up to maturity but a vast majority of people who’ve grown up in these churches saw their Pastor’s become the professionals and relied upon their expertise to do all the ministry which would not ask anything of them personally. If it would cost them, and they didn’t enjoy it, then it was the pastor’s duty. From evangelism to visiting the orphans and the widows, this was no longer the Christian’s mandate but the minister’s job. If there was an evangelistic effort or a “Revival Meeting” to take place this would be 100% dependent upon the professional ministers. The congregation may invite, but we don’t have to learn enough to actually lead someone to Christ or explain the gospel. No one would actually call their pastor a professional but this is often how Christians would abdicate their own responsibilities, and rely upon the expert.
The years would go on, and these churches would seem to function fine, however as the senior professional pastor aged, there was little foresight in how to train up other leaders or bring about true discipleship and discipleship into ministry for effective church leadership multiplication. Generations of older Christians who’ve been Christians all their life ,when asked how do you disciple someone hadn’t the faintest of ideas. All of the “professional” ministers were well intentioned and thought they were doing their job, and in many respects they were. However they were unwittingly handicapping their congregation by continually feeding them milk, and rarely challenging them to grow beyond themselves by teaching, training, empowering, and releasing new leadership within their own congregations.
With many churches sticking to their 80’s model of Rick Warren “seeker sensitive” methodologies and seeing that it frequently produced a shallow Christianity, a new generation of Christian has been emerging over the past 10 years seeking a deeper theological handle of the Christian faith. Rick Warren has even grown also over the past few years but many of the churches that adopted his practices over past 20 years stuck to the first saddle back methods and have not left them. There are several kinds of churches that have been born in response to the lightweight theological pragmatism that came out of the 80′s, and one of the more well known networks has been Acts 29. Although they align much with SBC in doctrine, in many ways, there are also distinct differences, as well as Acts 29 brings its own distinct culture and zeal.
There is another genre of churches and I won’t be able to cover them all, but they have emerged from places like Brook Hill’s “David Platt’s church” along with “Francis Chan” model churches who call Christians to “Radical Discipleship.” Between the Super pastors of the age, like John Piper, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Matthew Chandler, Jeff Vanderstelt and Mark Driscoll and several more, a new era is upon the North American Church and many smaller SBC churches are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s happening. Driscoll’s church planting networkActs 29 implies the continuation of churches being planted beyond Acts 28 and in David Platt’s book “Radical” David calls men and women to consider everything they have and whatever they have or do, to go hard after the gospel of Jesus Christ no matter the cost.
All of these things are good and both are calling young ministers to plant churches and give their lives radically for the kingdom and the gospel. These are the kids who grew up in the old SBC methods unsatisfied with the dying legacy of their parents generation, are seeking new solutions, the same message, but a different method.
The unwillingness to consider a church’s future, and the changing culture leads to a slow dying off of the smaller mainline congregation and the modern dilemma in which many SBC churches find themselves in today.
Things we need to repent of:
- Depending upon the professional pastors and abdicating our responsibilities to be disciple-makers to the next generation.
- Not training or discipling young men, not just as disciples but disciples into the ministry.
- Loving our traditions and safe Christianity more than we have loved Jesus.
- Abdicating our responsibility of the great commission to the professional class.
- When our methods don’t represent what’s happening in scripture we must repent of thinking our way is better.
What will you do to prepare your church for the next generation? …..
TweetA friend contacted me today, whose son has been estranged for two years from their home. He was raised in a Christian home, and yet when he got some independence he decided he was going to make some adult decisions that perhaps his parents wouldn’t approve of, and therefore he separated himself from them.
This is a common occurrence spiritually, as Christians. If I’ve learned anything in my short time of being a Pastor, is that sin does two things in the lives of the church. Sin separates us from our Father, and sin separates us from the Body.
When sin enters in there are two responses, and we frequently choose the second, when Jesus was born that we might continually choose the first option.
When someone first sins there are always two options:
1. Repent, this means to have ones mind changed, to turn away from your sin and toward God, submit your life your attitude, and your heart to God and run into his arms.
2. Separate yourself from the father in order to suppress the truth and do what you desire to do regardless if it’s the right, or approved of by the father.
How does this look in the life of the church?
Someone comes into a circumstance in life, say a moral or financial decision perhaps, and often people make the wrong decision. They make a selfish decision, or the easier decision, whichever the case may be. In this persons case it was a decision to run off and get married to a young lady who’s not a legal citizen of the U.S. without the approval of the parents. However this can be applied across the board when it comes to church/church relationships. When we do things that we know our earthly father will disapprove of we separate from him in the same way when we know we’re doing something our heavenly father will disapprove of we separate from God, we stop attending church and church services, and we separate from our Christian friendships which can hold us accountable to God’s word.
This takes place in the life of the addict, who attends church for some time, but then becomes so ashamed after they fall off the wagon they separate themselves from God, and then from the body. They make excuses as to why they can no longer attend church, or why things just won’t work out, but ultimately it’s their choice to not repent and throw themselves on the mercy of Christ.
It also takes hold in the believer who simply fails to put their trust in the Lord in times of great difficulty. They make a decision based upon the flesh, and then sin slowly separates them. They begin missing hanging out with their “Christian family,” they move then from not attending Church, they stop reading their bible, or they only read the stuff that comforts them, and not the stuff that brings conviction and repentance.
At the end of the day as Pastors as much as we desire repentance, and as much as this young man’s father would have loved for his son to discuss the circumstance, and seek his father’s and mother’s approval, this would require repentance on the part of the son. This father, like our heavenly father is waiting with open arms. Wanting to embrace his son, and yet sin separates them.
Let me ask you has sin separated you from your God? Maybe you don’t think so, but have you been separated from people who love you in the Lord, who hold you accountable? If so the reminder this Christmas is that God sent his son Jesus so that we might repent, and believe in the one true son of God. He took on all of our sin, even the sin we’ve done as believers. He bore our sin on the cross past present and future. He awaits with open arms, we simply must give these things in our lives over to him. Repent from our disobedience, and trust Him with our lives.
The evidence of willful submission to Christ, is that you will once again be in God’s word, and be with God’s people. Repentance unifies, Sin Separates!
Love you all!
TweetSeveral months back Bob Tolliver ( Missionary from the Ukraine / Elder Emeritus @LFKC ) mentioned one of the most powerful things that takes place in a city is when pastors and ministers unite together in prayer for the city. This idea had already been on my mind much before Bob mentioned it, in fact for years I had hoped to see Pastors come together and pray for and with one another for their ministries and for the city. Ultimately to come together to pray for repentance.
There are a lot of “Ministries” and “Help” organizations in the Northeast who have offered physical handouts and help to the needy here in the city of Kansas City. We understand that we don’t just have a crime problem, a drug problem, a prostitution problem, but we have a sin problem, a depravity problem.
We also understand that the only way to affect true and lasting change in the city is to see the Gospel message go out to the people of the city that will change the hearts of men, women, children.
We have so far held two meetings the first was held at Eleos Coffee where we had the opportunity to hear from one an others burdens and intentions in their ministry. The second meeting was held at Bob Ganote’s Church Sovereign Grace Baptist on Truman. We were able to hear the heart of each pastor, the testimonies, challenges, struggles, battles of our lives & ministry, how some of us came to know the Lord, and our past and present experiences, and our future hope for ministry, and for the gospel to go out to the city. The next meeting will be held on Jan 4th.
We determined we will be about these things:
1.Prayer for the city and for one another.
2.Encouragement for one another as Pastors and ministry leaders in the city.
3.Disciplemaking/Evangelization of the city, are the heart of our meeting together.
We want to make sure that we are “Gospel Centered.” Not any gospel but the true gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, this will transform the city, by transforming lives. When their lives are informed by their beliefs, their convictions, when those things change, the city will change, everything else although ministers to hurting people and we support that, yet we know that the only thing that will provide lasting change is Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.
We will be meeting on the first Friday of every month please pray in advance that God would use this to unite our congregations and the city together for the same purpose and goal. The Good News.