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Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Disconnected

Several years ago I sat in a meeting with church leaders. I asked this group of 7 elders if they could show me the 3 distinct places in the New Testament where it mentioned what they were to be doing. Only 1 of them could remember one of the 3 places where it talks about elder leadership. This told me that these men who were to be leading the church did not know their New Testament very well and probably did not read their bibles regularly. When this took place I remember thinking “what are we doing if we don’t know the bible?”

As this years comes to an end I wonder to myself how many people sitting in the pews each week pick up their bibles after Sunday is over? I started in pastoral ministry in 2002 and will admit that I was more idealistic when I started out. I had this ideal of what I thought the church was, but now reality is staring at me and I cannot hide from it. We are lacking in the basic knowledge of the bible and cannot clearly define to others what the gospel is. Men from the 1st Century up to this point in time are willing to die for this and yet many cannot say what it is exactly. People cannot connect with a God or a Savior as they should if they do not know the Word of God. Going through the Word is not a simple task but it can bring a revival to your heart and conviction to your soul. Stay connected in the New Year that is upon us. Stay in the Word of God!

The leaders that I mentioned earlier. Most of them never reached out to the congregation and yet they always liked to pick apart the church staff. If they were not basing their positions on the bible, what point of view were they using then? If the Church does not know the Word it will do things in a very secular way. Trust me I know from experience that this happens a lot. Only those who know God through His word can stay connected to Him. Those who do not know the Word will just keep going through the motions and never see their spiritual lives grow.

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Calling All Leaders

I wonder how satisfied people are with their church experience. I have to say that until the past year I have not found much satisfaction. The turning point for me has been finding a group of college students who are hungry for the word of God and enjoy growing in their faith. People who are excited about moving forward with God excite those who are just going through the motions. The generation that is in college right now seem to not want to just go to church or play church, they desire to really understand what God wants from them and to act upon it. That attitude is completely refreshing for me.

While I am excited by this group of college students I do understand the reality of it all. One day they will move on and into their lives after graduation. They will seek out a church and get involved only to hit a few road blocks. People who are sold out to systems and traditions instead of having a hunger to live out their faith will affect them in negative ways. Thinking about this brings a heaviness to my heart. Why is the church so frustrating so much of the time? I think one of the best answers is that the leaders who are in place are just going through the motions. It’s an easy thing to do in any local church. But it’s not the life the Jesus has called us too. If you are a church leader you have a great responsibility to keep the church moving forward. This means guiding people closer to God through bible study, prayer, and good works. It means being a change agent. It means helping people realize that worship and  the Great Commission must be prominent if people are going to experience God in greater ways. The greatest hindrance in the Church today are its leaders. God did not let His Son be crucified so that the local church could be a club of close-knit friends. He let his Son die on the Cross to redeem a people for Himself who are willing to give everything they can back to Him. If you are a church leader you have a great responsibility. Remember what you have been entrusted with and who has entrusted you to carry out the work of the ministry.

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If you do not know about the Village Church in Dallas Texas you might have heard of their Lead Pastor Matt Chandler. Chandler is an outstanding preacher who is reformed in his theology and has an energy that many cannot compete with. His passion for the Word and the lost are a testimony to all of us in the church today. This past week it came out that Chandler had a brain tumor and I would like to post an article from Christianity Today as reported by Ted Olsen. Olsen writes;

Some sad news from The Village Church today:

On Tuesday, Dr. Barnett informed Matt and Lauren [Chandler] that the findings of the pathology report revealed a malignant brain tumor that was not encapsulated. The surgery to remove the tumor, the doctor said, was an extremely positive first step; however, because of the nature of the tumor, he was not able to remove all of it.

Matt, who is being released from the hospital today, is meeting with a neuro-oncologist this week to outline the next steps of the recovery process. There is a range of treatment possibilities but the exact course of action has not yet been determined. He will continue outpatient rehab.

The Lord is calling Matt and Lauren and The Village Church body to endure this trial. It will be a challenging road for Matt, his family and our church body. The gospel is our hope and the Lord is our strength. Matt and Lauren continue to find solace and hope in Christ. They weep facing this trial, but not as those without hope and perspective. The gospel clarifies their suffering and promises more of Christ through it all.

We pray for Matt and his family and the Village Church. We will continue to pray and stand alongside of our brother who proclaims the truth unashamed.

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Church FathersHave you ever considered that it matters what is being taught at the Church you attend? I was once a person who thought as long as we proclaimed Jesus it really didn’t matter beyond that. Over time my view of what is being taught has changed. My change came through my study of the New Testament and experience as a Pastor. When people don’t understand basic tenets of the faith they cannot interact with God as He has intended. Lack of doctrinal understanding leads the Church also down the dangerous path of heresy. A Church that is not unified in what it believes will never be able to move forward as God desires. Basic Doctrine is foundational for all Christians who need to have an understanding of what the Bible is proclaiming . The Apostles and early Church fathers all thought this was important.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

Galatians 1:6

The first thing you should know as a Christian is what does you Church believe in concerning the gospel. The Bible is clear that we enter into a relationship with Jesus by faith alone. Romans 3-5 states that we are justified by faith and nothing we can do helps us merit the grace of God. Ephesians 2:1-10 also helps to clarify this matter as well. There are Churches out here that are teaching falsely that you have to do something such as be baptized before God will accept you. That thinking is not biblical and is not found in scripture. Where does your Church stand on this matter?

What does your Church also believe about God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus as the only way, Scriptures being inerrant, and how to function as a body of believers. If you can’t answer any of those questions its time to talk to your Pastor or other Church leaders. If they cannot or will not answer those questions for you its time to consider worshipping somewhere else. Our relationship with God should matter more than anything else in this life. If God didn’t care what we believed we would not have the Bible to guide and direct us. Start asking questions and stay in the Word. It really does matter.

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esv-1At the beginning of the Lent Season this year I gave our congregation a challenge of reading through the New Testament over a 42 day period. Sunday we finished this with great results. The 3 weeks leading to the end of the challenge I started to hear scripture indirectly quoted. I cannot remember a time when scripture was quoted more by a congregation during my ministry. People who had not gone through the New Testament in a long time or who never have been through it systematically before had a lot of praises during this time. The overflow of this challenge is still to be determined, but I have received emails, phone calls, and letters about what a blessing this has been for each individual. At a crucial time for our congregation I believe that this challenge will have positive impact on our Church through the rest of this year. When people start getting into the Word of God interesting things begin to happen. As a Pastor I have experienced first hand what happens to a Church that functions from a worldly perspective. But when the Word is our foundation we begin to see a change in our lives which impacts the body of Christ.

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Out Of Focus

out-of-focusDo you ever go to Church and wonder what the purpose of the Church is? I think what I am seeing in the Christian Book Stores and hearing in some preaching today is helping the Church to lose its focus. Maybe we have lost our focus already! Our purpose as a Church (any true Church) is to be living for the glory of God. One of the greatest ways to do this is by evangelizing the lost. But the problem is that we don’t have a general enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel in our communities.

Could part of the problem be persistent sins in our lives? We don’t talk about sin and holiness much anymore. I have come to believe that sin is one of the greatest things that hold the Church and individual Christians back from serving God in greater ways. I don’t think that our lack of enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel can be pleasing to God. We sometimes even sit around and wonder why God’s blessing is not flowing in our Churches like we long for, but we don’t take into account our lack of evangelism.

Our focus in the modern Church needs to return to its roots that can be found in the book of Acts. We need to stop worrying about being comfortable and having programs that help us do nothing but take in more information. We need to be growing in Christ so that a desire to share who Jesus is becomes something that consumes us on a regular basis. I have to decided that in some way our Church will begin to shift to spreading the Gospel of Jesus as one of our main priorities. If we focus on the Gospel I believe that God will guide us in our efforts and will bless our work once it becomes truly Christ-centered. I want the fullness of God moving through me and my Church in this lifetime. To experience Him in greater ways I must honor the Name of Jesus by telling the lost about HIM.

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Interesting Challenge

bibleA friend of mine from the Quad Cities in Illinois told me about an interesting challenge that his Church is going through. The Pastor challenged the congregation to go through the entire Bible in one year. The Church is probably about 350-400 in size and he said that 200 or so people signed up for this challenge. As we talked I kept wandering how this congregation will be transformed by those who accepted this challenge. There are many who do not regularly get into the word of God and find it easy to brush off with everything else going on in their lives. Those who take in a steady diet of the Word cannot walk away from it without their lives being impacted.

What about a Lent New Testament Challenge? That is what I will be challenging our congregation with this Sunday. The New Testament has a total of 260 chapters. If you were to read 6.5 chapters a day and you started on March 2nd you would complete the New Testament by April 10th. If you have never read through the New Testament from the beginning of Matthew through Revelation how can you know what the Word of God truly has to say? Challenge yourself to read the New Testament in 40 days and watch how God will grab a hold of your heart and strengthen your faith.

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