Pastor’s Survey

Help us with the Pastor’s Survey, Part 1 (Parts 2 and 3 will be sent out in the coming weeks)

Greetings! We at The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development are conducting new research on current church trends to compare such trends against those which Dr. Schaeffer wrote about in his book, “True Spirituality.” Research includes this brief survey of church leaders regarding life in their respective churches and congregations. Please take 2 minutes to complete the survey as your feedback is an invaluable component of our study. The collected results will provide important information that could benefit those in church leadership positions and congregations.

Just 10 short questions,

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCML62V

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Are you being “harlot” with His Church?

 

Read Revelation 17-18, and forget about the end times nonsense theories and be in prayer and ask God if this is you…. And if you will not then you have a bigger problem, pride….

To see if my premise is correct, let’s take a look at this passage in Revelation–a passage that a lot of misguided Bible teachers use to amuse and shift the meaning away from the truth and point of it.

The theme is this great ‘harlot’ blasphemes God and puts her trust in materialism and immorality and leads others to do so, too. In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin.

Our first thought on this, well, that will happen in the last days, I do not need to fret. I certainly do not do that! But, we need to pray and think this through. Perhaps it is so. Read the passage, and seek Christ in humility, is there an application, am I being loyal to Christ or to myself and trends that would ashamed our Lord?

What is going on with the Revelation 17-18 passage?

John is clearly writing to the seven real churches and, consequently, to people in extreme hard times, then being persecuted by Rome. He was dealing with infighting, disloyalty, false teachers, church members being cut off from their families, social circles, and trade guilds so they could not work, this, starving out his people and preventing them from functioning and others forms of persecution. The main enemy from outside of the church was Rome. It was a blood-thirsty, pagan empire that oppressed its people, especially Christians, who were considered criminals and slaves and used for sadistic entertainment. Rome was extremely corrupt and fell because of it.

Yet, the enemy from within, which was even more dangerous, was false teaching and being treacherous to Christ by distorting His precepts and call.

Look at it this way. If you want your church healthy and lined up to God’s call, commands and precepts, you have to be loyal! That means being trustworthy, faithful and devoted to Christ as LORD and His Truth! That means more than just placing Him first or ignoring the relativisms in our society.

It means a defining quality that I am fully engaged to be in Christ, to follow Christ and lead others to Christ.

In contrast, if we are not loyal; then, we are betraying. As a pastor, my first and foremost job is to point people to The Shepherd. So, the point of this message is simple. We have to recover our churches from the desires of what I want, from the false trends, away from betrayal of Christ’s Lordship, to turn back to the true Truth of Scripture that glorifies Christ as LORD!

 

From our research we are seeing that, we got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church?

What Bible Illiteracy Does

 

It creates false teaching! 

A pious, fraud, megalomaniac, Bible teacher can come in and say whatever he would like. And, because of his personality and charisma and our lack of knowledge, we believe whatever he says.

Thus, Bible illiteracy prevents us from thinking, processing and applying to our lives what is actually in the Bible. Instead, we get our feet caught in the gopher holes of this dysfunctional, bad teaching. We have seen this with the “little gods” phenomena that has spread like cancer with the false teaching crowd. What about all the end times’ books and speculations that led countless Christians no nowhere in faith or practice, or the overzealousness of a particular Bible translation and thus no biblical transformation results, or the rabbit holes on which we place our tent of faith that distracts us from God’s true Truth. We may think our pursuits are good, but in fact, we are just distracted from what God has for us and our church!

It creates mindless speculations. 

Too many Christians get so captivated and fixated on speculations and things that Jesus told us not to, like the timing and arrangements of His second coming, that they miss the main point of Matthew 24. His coming again is not about when or how, but what we are doing to prepare for it. That preparation has to do with our faith formation more than anything else-not our ideas of when and how. It has nothing to do with a rapture or not a rapture; a pre-trib/post-trib/ no trib/pan trib, but through all the argumentations and conjectures, the Truth and point are missed. Christ wants us to be loyal and obedient to His Word in precepts and call. He is calling us, His people in His Church, to Him!

What we do instead is take Bible passages out of their context, string them together to satisfy our whims, and fight to the death to make our obtuse points. How sad that is!

It creates shallow Christians and pretentious, incompetent leaders. 

The result? Shallow people and a faithless church, moving away from the Bible and embracing anything but Him and His Word. I am not talking about liberalism, although this is a problem too. Rather, I allude to conservative and Reformed churches moving away from the centrality of Scripture and the disciplines to learn and grow, substituting cheap stories without substance, shallow messages without challenge, and pride replacing love and fruit to be the icing on the cake of pretentiousness.

It creates emptiness and hurt!

Because it keeps us away from God and the blessings and opportunities He has for us. The Bible contains God’s voice; so, do you hear Him clearly or do you just hear your voice and think it is His? God spoke! God speaks to His Son and to His people through His Son. In Hebrews, we have the “prophetic revelations” such as Moses and Isaiah where His voice was heard and written down for us to hear too. This has become our Bible, which contains His Word, instructions, and call for us to heed. As great as this was when first heard, it was incomplete and waiting for a culmination and fruition; now, through Christ, His revelation is clear and complete and audible for us to hear. So, why do we not desire to hear it more (Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:1; 13:20; 1 John 2:18)?

We create an inability to learn from our lives, failures, and hurts. 

Sometimes, God has to get our attention though adversity; sometimes, we have a willingness to listen. He has to break our pride and call attention to our misplaced priorities. The key Jesus uses is His explanation to us of how we are able to receive Him. Are we able and willing to understand? Sometimes, that may not come until eternity as it was with Job.

Our key to Exegesis (drawing out from the Bible) and Bible literacy is to trust and know that He is in control and He will be there with us carrying us through. It is not just about understanding ourselves; rather, it is our understanding Christ. Ask Him to show you His deep, hidden treasures and be willing to listen and grow.

The Consequences of not Knowing the Bible

The Church, as well as the airways, is becoming more and more filled with bad, false teaching from faulty models of biblical interpretation! 

At the same time, more and more Christians are not delving into the Bible for their spiritual nourishment, rather swapping it for “feel good” books that do not properly instruct and/or turning on the TV for the false teacher crowd-or else doing nothing at all for their spiritual growth. Bible studies, Bible based small groups where God’s Word is sought, delved into, discussed and used as challenge and talking points for a life that is transformed are shrinking and/or missing from most lives of Christians and absent from most church programs and happenings.

Endeavors that remain are being attended less and are lacking value and promotion. Additionally, we have the problem of busyness; church leaders-even pastors-are too busy to bother with Bible reading, thus leading from pride and presumption. The people in the pew are so overwhelmed in life, work, family life, and even at church that the Bible, which could solve their problems by showing them their call and God’s precepts, is the last place examined. In many American churches, we have lost our instruction book to the detriment of the Christian community’s spiritual formation, as well as the ability to know and model Christ to the community and world at large, leaving the people in the pew spiritually bankrupt and the neighborhoods with bad models of Christ and thus unreached.

When we do not garner our spiritual nourishment from God’s Word, the Bible, and instead trade it for our whims and mind-sets, we cheat ourselves and weaken our churches, holding back Christ’s work in us and our church’s life; we neuter God’s potential work to those around us too.

Thus, we swap what is good, legal tender for that which is counterfeit and thus leave nothing in our spiritual wallets but confederate notes that are worthless and thus of no spiritual or fruitful value to spend for life and ministry. To counteract these evils and stop Bible illiteracy, we must feed from God’s glorious and wondrous buffet of precepts for our faith and knowledge.

What can we do about it? This is actually easy; just take the time to read it through. Read and know the Bible!

It just takes minutes a day, less than half of a half-hour TV sitcom, to know our Lord and grow in Him for an effectual, transforming life and to dig out what He plainly and abundantly has for us so we have His spiritual spending power. Our reading of the Bible is not meant to merely learn its trivia; rather, we are to be rehabbed in Christ, be changed, renewed, and transformed.

We must take this remarkable currency of His remarkable and astounding precepts and spend it for our spiritual improvement and then for kingdom building. But, what gets in the way of our good buffet and spiritual currency? Simply ignoring God by ignoring or misusing His Word. 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? Shallowness and pretentiousness! These rotten fruits have taken our churches hostage, leaving our pews filled with ignorant, hurt, disconnected children of God who do not know His love or His ways and who make pathetic faith decisions and bad life choices, creating more dysfunction and stress in their lives and homes, and a church that is inept, dysfunctional, and impotent, with an incapacity to know and glorify the very Lord we are to be all about.

 

The Problem of Bible Illiteracy!

Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25

From our research and experiences, we have discovered big problems in our churches, the sheepfold of God’s chosen and precious creation. 

The sheep are getting skinnier and dumber (the people of God)! And, many of the shepherds (leaders and pastors) tend to be merely puffed-up, directionless, arrogant, imperceptive halfwits leading their flock away from the prime pasturelands of our Lord to rather feed on the garbage piles of the world and in turn, crafting obtuse sheep with inadequate nourishment and a lack of proper care. They are ignoring our great Shepherd and thus are relying on the way of the wolf and not on the way of our Lord!

The problems, as we have seen slowly creeping into the churches over the last one hundred years, are these: First, the mainline denominations were hit and sunk. Then, the Pentecostal communities (not all of course, but many) were hit and are like a listing ship, leaning into the ocean in a bad storm.

Now, the torpedoes of worldliness, trend setting, misguided management styles, and pride have set their targets on the conservative churches too, replacing the good food of the Shepherd for cheap chow and showmanship.

Therefore, the sheep have food poisoning and thus are too sick to move and do for our Lord. The main problem is not just the lack of Bible knowledge and understanding; it is the lack of even getting into the Bible. It is the refusal and laziness of not encountering our Lord and Savior through His primary communication platform: His Word, the Bible!

We are seeking anti-intellectualism at one end of our church spectrum and shallow seeker-ness at the other.

We are becoming overly scholarly to the determent of any impact from God’s Word, totally ignoring His precepts and replacing them with ours. Both spectrums give mere “sermonettes” that have no substance or effectual teaching. They give no kind of challenge or discipline that is necessary for authentic Christian growth, thus creating small-minded pew sitters who can’t even find their way around the Bible or even know the difference between John the Baptist and John the Disciple. While other churches may say they are Bible and conservative orientated, they too have moved away from the Bible with a fixation on business and consumer models for ministry, seeking a consumer approach to church, relying on strategies for growth instead of the pursuit of love, trust, and obedience to our Lord. Or, they are, as James tells us, merely reading the Word, not doing as it says (James 1:22). 

Remember, God desires us to be transformed agents of His Work and Word!  

How is your church accomplishing this? If it is not, your church is not following the Lord, it is not following The Person; rather, you are following a person or trend or worse! 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? A failed church and a meaningless life. As our churches give what they think are eloquent and edifying discourses, they are, in fact, delivering empty words and the image of a divine bell hop, not the Holy LORD whom we worship, lean on, and learn from and with whom we discourse.

 

 

Outlining the Bible?

Outlining the Bible is the primary means to prepare one to teach the precepts of Scripture in a clear and logical way. This is designed for the pastor, Bible study leader, or curriculum writer to learn how to examine the text and then draw out what is there in a logical and systematic way. In this way, we can develop well crafted sermons and studies that are personally edifying and impacting to our congregation. This form of study can even be used by a mature Christian wanting more out of the Word for personal edification. Outlining will enable one to “exegete” and then write out what the Bible is saying. 

I developed this curriculum for you to use from over twenty years of research. I sought out the principles and resources that a good “sermonizer” uses to teach.

Why is one preacher bad and another good when they come from the same seminary and denomination? From my original mentorship under Francis Schaeffer, study under Ray Stedman, and interviewing hundreds of excellent Bible teachers including Charles Swindoll and R.C. Sproul for my book, Into Thy Word, it has been my quest to see what “secrets” and means can best be utilized to learn and then teach His Word. I discovered that an outline is essential, after a good inductive and or exegetical study, to lay out what we are to learn and then to teach. By the way, every good preacher is first a learner before they become a teacher! Being a learner, doing an inductive approach, and then outlining are the common denominators of what a good Bible-centered pastor does to prepare. There are no shortcuts to good Biblical messaging. We need, your congregation needs the right essential elements and tools to produce sermons. Outlining is essential for a Bible teacher use to prepare their lesson. Outlining will be your primary means of producing quality, Bible-centered lessons, talks, sermons, or even research papers. 

http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=31442&columnid=3801

Why We Should Go to Church

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:17-18

It can be easy to just give it all up and fall back into the world. There is so much conflict and disillusionment there that sometimes I am surprised that more people do not drop out. Statistics from The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, as well as Barna Research reported recently that perhaps 50% of people who go to a church are not even Christians. I first heard of this statistic when I was in seminary, and even from my “hero,” J. Vernon McGee, whom I would visit as often as possible. He often said he believed a strong percentage of people in the church were not Christians at all! At first, I did not believe it; but, after years of pastoral experience and looking at the research, I now know this to be very possible.

The early church (that is, the period in Christian history right after our Lord’s ascension up until the 4th century when Christianity became legal) went through a period of wide growth and geographic expansion, even in the face of extreme persecution. The Bible describes many instances of spectacular growth, starting at Pentecost. But, most people came to faith through a slow process. Justin Martyr, a man who exhibited extraordinary faith and was persecuted and killed for it (and became the word we use for experiencing persecution-martyr) did not come to the Lord by a sudden, emotional experience, but a long, slow process as most people did at that time. He says he first heard about the faith from an elderly stranger who engaged him in a philosophical conversation, common in that day. But, this elderly man planted a seed that grew over time. In addition, Justin Martyr saw the faith by observing Christians and was stirred by what he saw.

Most of the early Christians went through a several-year process where they were discipled, instructed, and encouraged before they were even baptized or received the Lord’s Supper. This was called “Catechumen,” where we get our word catechism. Today, in most churches, we have a tamer process of confirmation, membership, and so forth. Others may receive Christ at an evangelistic event and just proceed through a short membership class. The difference is that without a process where a person new to the faith can be properly instructed and discipled, he or she may not take a deeper ownership of the faith and become totally transformed by it. By not taking total ownership, one would be unable to know about our Lord and how He can transform our minds as well as our emotions. In the face of persecution and even death, a deeper ownership of the faith enabled those early Christians to thrive and grow and worship Him more.

Our American society has spent 50 years planted in front of the television, including me. I can’t miss “Star Trek” or the History Channel. We have created for ourselves a culture dependent on instant stimulation and gratification. Our temperament has been focused on the quick fix and instant results. A generation ago, the average person could spend his or her whole career at one job. Now we get offended if we do not get a promotion every year, and we change jobs every few years. We become restless; the TV generation has become shallow and “turned off” by church because it is boring to them.

We are a society that focuses on rejection and failure, and that focus paralyzes us from achieving our full potential. It is probably because the TV has replaced our spiritual life, shortened our attention span, and left us with questions and objections that turn to emptiness. A friend in the entertainment industry told me that the average TV program has over 20 different images every minute. So, when you watch a half-hour “sit-com,” your eyes will receive over 600 images. When we read a book, we receive one image. We are addicted to stimulation; most people want more and thus, it is hard for us to settle down.

In our church life, we can have the same expectations in communities with dozens to hundreds of churches from which to choose. So, the average Christian may hop and shop around for months or even years, and never get fully involved or use his or her gifts as one is called to do. Then, the boredom may win out, and he/she gives up. We have lost the sense of adventure and wonder that we used to have. We may see the apostles as “amazed,” “frightened,” “overjoyed,” “tired,” and “saddened,” but we never see the apostles or anyone else in the Bible as bored. God wants us filled with meaning and purpose; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). We are to go to church so we can participate meaningfully and purposefully with our gifts and abilities.

We need to be drawn to the church for a deeper reason than the promise of good child-care or entertainment or even eternal life-deeper than to find excitement and escape from our boredom.

Events intended to attract people to the church are essential, but we must have discipleship and equipping methods too. We must have a passion that comes from the very core of who we are as human beings-Christian beings who have surrendered to the person, work, truth, and character of Christ. If not, we will be unable to survive the pressures of life and the persecution we may receive. Without this, the early Christians would never have grown or been able to show courage in the face of persecution. This tiny sect of Christianity would have never survived a generation, let alone two thousand years.