The Church that is Happening Now

Whats Happening

This is what our research has gleaned of the church that is happening now:

  • We have a lack of Biblical imperative. We may say we are committed to God’s Word, but our spiritual formation, loose doctrine and behaviors show us a to be in breach (2 Tim. 3:16).
  • We have an empty faith, so concerned with what feels good and not what we need by God’s Word (1 Pet. 2:2)!
  • We have a too low view of God’s Sovereignty, we belittle to Him as a mere ‘friend’ and forget His Holiness and our need for repentance (Rom. 11:22-36).
  • We have too much pride and selfish motives and not enough Christ impacting our hearts and minds (John 3:30)!
  • We do not have our people discipled, so they are ignorant of Biblical precepts (Hosea 4:6)!
  • We do not trust in the power and purpose of Christ and His Truth, instead we cater to personalities, political correctness and trends (1 Tim. 4:6)!
  • We spend too much time with entertainment and not enough time of expository preaching (Rom. 10:16)!
  • We have a lack of the power of the Holy Spirit, or too much of it is faked (John 6:63)!
  • We do not teach, exemplify and motivate a radical transformation (Rom. 12)!
  • We are too worried to offend, thus, we end up trying to block the conviction of the Word and Holy Spirit (John 16:8)!
  • We do not have good unity or a Kingdom mentality, so we have apathy, gossip, discord and strife (Rom. 16:17-18)!
  • We have a lack of the Fruit of the Spirit of love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, …. (Gal. 5:19-23)!
  • We do not have much in the way of real consistent outreach and missions or work on social justice (Matt. 5:13-16)!
  • We have a lack of a realization that our time, talents and treasures are His, and view our monies only for our preferences (2 Cor. 9:7).
  • What happened to prayer (Matt. 21:13)?

We may need to rediscover what Christ calls us to when we lead and manage His Church. We may need to reconsider what we do and how we do it. Is it biblical? Is it what Christ calls success or what the world calls success? Maybe we just need to get beyond ourselves, past our perceived needs and desires and repent. To seek Christ first and foremost. Then, we may be able to really lead His people properly where we all need to go. Closer to Him. Closer to one another. Nonetheless, authentic heartfelt surrendering to Christ as Lord, real discipleship and action of faith needs to take place or what are we doing (Matt. 6:33; 13; Rev. 10:8-11)!

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PXIII

Church of Pergamum bThe Church of Pergamum

Read Revelation 2: 12-17

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.” Revelation 2: 12-13

What would happen if your church became a place of contention and hurt? Why is it so important that our churches be safe havens of rest and comfort so that people can worship and mature in Christ and be secure in Him and in companionship with others?

John in this passage is reminding them and us who Christ is and what He has done. He is depicted here as the One in authority who can look into ourselves, pierce us, and who knows who we are and what we want. Then, Jesus calls us to Him and away from ourselves and selfishness. Just as a sword is sharp and piercing, so are our wayward ways when we seek to make life and run His church by our own means, apart from His ways and commands. Such thoughts and actions separate us from God and others, just as our judgment for sin, without receiving His grace, will separate us for eternity. God doesn’t want us separated, but He will do this to protect His other children, just as He will separate those who seek to harm us. This is His protection, and it is our choice to draw to Him or draw to our inclinations and sin.

Double-edged sword, refers to a small offensive “Thracian” dagger. For the Romans, this sword was the image of power, control, and used to enforce its laws and for capital punishment. In Scripture, the sword also symbolizes war and refers to God’s ability and right to make war on those who seek to fight against Him. It symbolizes God’s ability and right to perform judgment (Isa 49:2; Heb 4:12; Rev. 2:12; 6:4, 8; 13:10, 14; 19:15, 21). (Rev. 1:16; 2:16; 19:13).

Satan has his throne. This referred to either its pagan practices or the seat of the Roman throne for Asia. Pergamum worshiped the god Asclepius, who was Apollo’s son, the god of medicine. In addition, this city was the official center of emperor worship and Rome’s representation in Asia. They also had a huge100 foot+ altar for Zeus. Perhaps Jesus referred to this as Satan’s throne because they worshipped what was false. All its citizens were expected to worship these false gods, including worshiping the emperor. If they refused, they were persecuted by not being allowed to participate in the city life, festivals, and trade. This escalated to the Christians being executed for disloyalty to the emperor. And, this trend was exported to the other providences. Perhaps it was here in Pergamum that martyrdom started in Asia.

Who was Antipas? He was the first martyr in Asia. According to the Early Church Fathers, he was slowly roasted alive in a bronze kettle during the time of Domitian.

So what does this come down to?

The church at Pergamum was tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming against others, causing them to follow sin, trends, compromise their faith, and not reverence or trust in Christ.

Even though they were faithful in persecution, their steadfastness was wavering to those who were deceptive. They were being what we now call “politically correct,” that is, tolerating other ideas that were wrong or contrary just to be what they thought was mature and wise. Thus, they were in danger of being judged harshly if they did not repent. We have to see that we can be tolerant to a point, as long as it does not counter our character or the Word.

Reflection

Instead of tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming we are called to be a Faithful witness.

This is also a name for Jesus, referring that Jesus is reliable. We are to be reliable with His Word and plan. It also refers that Antipas was faithful to Christ in character and disposition, as we are all called to be as we lead others to Him (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5; 2:10-13; 3:14).

Consider this, Jesus knows us intimately; He knows our situation, our struggles and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love so we can focus upon Him and lean on Him both in our jubilations and also in our struggles. The key in this passage is to stay faithful in our Christian identity and our leadership of others, and to remain loyal to Christ. We are not to allow our doubts, fears, or state of affairs to occupy His place in our hearts and minds.

Jesus knows our situation, our struggles, and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love and succeed in our faith and life. How can this help you to inspire others when times are tough?

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIII

Why do you suppose most people see Revelation as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe and not what it is really about? How do you see it?

Revelation 1: 4-5,  “To the seven churches in the province of Asia…”

One of the main themes of Revelation is the call for us to stand firm and grow further in our collective faith as the Body of Christ. This is also the best, most effectual church growth plan. Why and how, God wants to grow the church under His stewardship and what God does not want to happen, stagnate with apathy and comfort! Does this surprise you? What did you expect to find from Revelation? It is a letter to churches to in peril to wake up and get it right! It is a Book not about end times, rather how we are to lead and mange His Church. Think not? Perhaps you should actually read it and presume. 

John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon-that God is Sovereign and in control!

Jesus Chris is LORD and He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold. We have hope both now and in the future. So then, this is the fuel and material in which we grow and lead our churches. This is an essential message God gives to us that we must have been transformed and renewed by Christ. Then, we live it out. Then, we proclaim it as our message to our people. Then we build our churches by these means. Not by pride and trends; rather, by being in Him as LORD.

Thus, as a church leader, minister or pastor, what we are doing? Point to the Glory of Christ, His Sovereignty and Lordship.

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

“Grace and peace” is an ancient greeting, as John sends his blessings. To know that we are blessed and have the duty to then bless others, blessed to be a blessing, not look to ‘me’ and be a ‘meme’ leaders; rather, a heart after Christ that humbles us the leader (Gen. 12:1-3; Rom. 12:1-2)

Seven churches.” The principle theme of the Book of Revelation is that it is a letter to real people, real churches with real issues, tough challenges, limited opportunity’s and vacant problems that God want to be there for it! Most people get Revelation wrong, by seeing this as all about the end times and miss the main point. The seven churches were real, just like our churches with our actual problems. These are not allegories; rather, they are relevant to your church now and symbolize the various ages of the Church in history and also represent how each individual church is, through all times and places, in its operation and faith. In fact, after over 25 years of church consultation and research all over the world, every church I have even encountered was like one of these seven, no exceptions (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16; Rev. 1:1-3; 2:1-3:22; 22:7-21)!

“Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” The Lord’s Supremacy echoes the words of God given to Moses in the burning bush. This is a Divine Name of Christ, meaning Eternal Deity and Authority. Thus we are called and empowered to take this seriously (Ex. 3:14-16).

“Seven spirits.” The word, seven, means its importance is compounded. This is a name for the Holy Spirit, referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest of the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, Fruit… (Isa. 11:2) etc., just as this passage gives several titles for Christ. It also testifies to the profundity (depth and reality) of the Trinity (Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 4:5; 5:14).

Faithful witness, the firstborn… ruler means reliable.” What is this about? It sets Jesus as Divine and Lord over all the living and the dead.

That means he is LORD over your ministry and church! 

This also refers to the roles of Christ in His Church. As He is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him, too (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 2:10-13; 3:14).

“Him be glory…To him.” Christ is the quintessential subject and prominent theme of Revelation. This is a doxology of praise, used to wholeheartedly worship and praise Christ as exalted and worthy because of His Sovereignty and the redemption He gives us. Praise is also our frontline weapon against spiritual warfare (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-14; 7:12; 11:15-17; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8).

What does this come down to? Our call is to be blessed so the character qualities we receive from the Holy Spirit come from the inward love we have for our Lord and we will desire to spill them upon others around us as leaders for Christ as we plant, lead, manage His Church (Psalm 1).

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PII

How would a glimpse of your future help you lead better? What if it is a hope to come into your life? How would that change your attitudes and plans? (Keep in mind that Christ is our hope!) 

Revelation reminds us of the privilege and necessity of reading and hearing His Word, to know and receive the authority, Christ Himself.

I bet the word, Revelation, may be scary to you and still not convinced it has to do with church leadership? Look at the Greek title word, “apokalypsis.” This means “disclosure of events,” as opposed to being something secret or hidden. Even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers. Because it is uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation of God’s Word and call with hope and encouragement. So, “The Apocalypse,” is not about the end of the world; rather, a disclosure of God’s exhortations. Giving us hope in the midst of the reality of life and suffering for being and doing church. As, being in Christ is eternal security (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21; Rev. 12:11).

Soon/swift/shortly means quickness and speed. The events that will happen suddenly and unexpectedly (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18) refer to God’s divine providence and the final phase.

At this time the Church was undergoing the beginnings of more severe persecution than what they initially went through in James’ and Peter’s time when the Roman Emperor Nero was blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome (which he had caused), making them the scapegoat (54-68 AD). And/or (depending on date; see background article at http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=67280) at this time, the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) had stepped up the persecutions. They were harsh, perhaps the worst ever endured in church history (Rev. 1:9; 2:9-13; 13:7-10).

What is this about? It may be tough out there, but the time of waiting is over, for Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us in His coming back, but here in His call and empowerment. So, we can understand God’s perspective, not our desires. (2 Pet. 3:3).

The backdrop, then and in many places now, Christians who were being harassed, betrayed and prosecuted in courts by false witnesses and fake evidences, nothing is fake in Christ. He is our hope and light. We will have  spiritual warfare. our battle with Satan is real and will engage us in conflict and strife with one another until the end of the age (Isa. 43:8-12; 44:8-9; Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).

And what does this all mean for us in leadership? Jesus is the principle and prime Witness we look to so we can have the strength of faith and perseverance.   

The Church is and is to be Blessed. Those who are faithful in Christ will receive the good will of God as blessings from Christ; those who reject Him will be judged. Being blessed also refers to the emotional states of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment that results from being approved by God and by the fulfilling of our duty. It is enjoying God’s special favor and His Grace working in us. It is like being told by parents that they are proud of us (Matt. 5:1-12; Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7-14).

Again, the point is to strengthen our spiritual formation, not to seek melodramatic theories or sensationalistic ideas.

God ushers in the last days, the last period of redemptive history, and revealing to us His previously hidden agenda and plans. The concern is not just for future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them in and with His Church. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:10).

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PI

Did you know that the Book of Revelation has more to do with how we lead and manage our churches over what will happen in the End Times? Think not? Then, perhaps you should read it. 

Revelation has often been just recognized as the ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe to come. Woe, doom and glood scary stuff. Then the prideful and false teachers will chime in with their musing theories. And you will not find that stuff in the Book. But, this is not necessarily the point. Look to the book, not what you think it says, read it, really read it and you will see a more wondrous tale. As Revelation opens with an elaborate greeting so we can more firmly connect our relationship with Christ and receive hope and encouragement. 

Let’s take a look and see why.  

Revelation 1: 1-8, starts out with Christ, testifying to John the Apostle what is going to happen to the Church. The Church, we the people of God formed in and from Him, to know Him and build His network Kingdom. The purpose was not just for information or encouragement; rather, it was to the entire Christian community, meant to remind people to be loyal to Christ, then and now. Its purpose is to bless and encourage us so we can stand firm and grow further in our faith.

What has been revealed will happen to us personally and in a future culmination. This book has meaning and application for church leadership to all who read it as well as a glimpse of a hope to come.

This was a letter targeted to seven actual churches in Asia Minor, now Turkey. About the Divine Authority, Sovereignty, and Lordship of Christ as well as the important relevance of Christ in us, so that we can have peace and anticipation in Him.

Thus to know and run a church under His care and purpose, we have to get this fact, what many today overlook, Christ is Lord. This is reality for us, now not just when He comes back. This is for us know and do now, even when all seems lost and hopeless, He is in command and His plan is in commission.

What are we called to do first and foremost in church leadership? We are exhorted to praise and worship Him Who is worthy of our praise because He has freed us from our sins and separation from God by the shedding of His own blood. He has made us a home, a kingdom, and a dwelling for eternity. So, let us manage it correctly for His glory!

Now, we are given a motivation to lead our churches so they point to Christ as Lord, not to the personalities of the leaders or to a trend or new wave of thinking; no, we are to be realigned to the Magnificent. The Incredable glory to come as we are given a glimpse of the coming of our Lord that all will see. It is not about waiting with theories of how and when; rather, the ultimate motivation for right leading by right doing, by right knowing His Word. It will be the ultimate in shock and awe. Christ is proclaimed as the “All in All” of all things, the Beginning and the End, the Almighty One! So, let us lead His Church in that way here and now, till that day comes!

What needs to take place to better connect your relationship with Christ more firmly, so you do leadership more fully for His glory? How would this help the people in your care to receive hope and encouragement?

 

It is all about our Loving God!

How could you present an argument to your leadership that discipleship is paramount for the church? 

It is all about our loving God—longing for Him even in times of waiting and confusion, in times of stress, and in times of joy. We must place Christ first and foremost in all things, both personally and then collectively as we lead a body of believers.  

Why would dedication to unity rather than strife and envy benefit your church? 

When we get caught up with the sensations of trends, pride, and speculation, we miss the grand point of it all and become the fool of Proverbs’ fame! It is as if we were at a football game arguing over whether we should have hamburgers or hotdogs and never realizing that there is a game going on. God has a plan; He will carry it out. He uses us to do it, but He desires us to be “in play” in the game, to be in Christ, in life, and in church, to love Him and be His lead example to inform others of His love—and to be faithful through thick and thin! This is about your church being in the presence, glory, and holiness of God so that obstacles can and will be overcome. In Him, we are over comers! At the same time, God is communicating His purpose for us. Are we relaying it to those in our care? From the beginning of creation until He comes back, God has sought loyalty and Fruit and the resulting growth of our faith, character, and maturity. As leaders or pastors, we must be the shepherds under His care to lead His flock—and to never fleece His flock!  

Why is envy one of the most destructive forces on earth? How can it bring down leaders as well as ministries? 

Christ is “the God of Truth.” Did you know that when we say “amen,” it means “so be it,” and “most assuredly?” We are proclaiming affirmation of His Truth and ways. The call is to keep His Word open, studied, taught, and applied as in the Fruit of Righteousness that is expected of all Christians. God’s Word conveys His will; it is His authority, and it is sacred. Therefore, it is not to be altered or manipulated by our will! God’s Word contains His instructions to and His covenant with us; it is most holy and binding. When one seeks to manipulate or distort it, it is more than a slap in the face of God; it is a heinous evil. False teachers and those who use God’s Word for their own personal gain insult Christ and deceive others, and they will be profoundly judged. So, be a good shepherd and do all you can with due diligence for His glory (Deut. 29:20-27; Prov. 30:5-6; Isa. 65:16; Amos 6:12; Matt. 5:20-48; John 15:5; 21: 24; Rom. 1:7; 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20; 5:10; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 2:10; Phil. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:10; 2 Thess. 1:3; Heb 12:11; James 1:22-25; 3:18; Rev. 3:14)!  

What are the patterns that you and your church take in serving others? 

Christ wants us to love Him, not what is wicked and not what will only destroy us!  

Remember; your church that you lead is like The Temple of God that represented God’s presence on Earth and hope for His people. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where God’s chosen people can go for worship. Christ is now our Temple; His love fills us and infuses us collectively together. We are in God’s home; there is no need for a building, but if we have one, let us use it wisely. We, the people of God, are the Church as we are His temple (Zech. 14:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 10:11; Rev. 4:1-5:14; 21:9-27). 

How can your church better function collectively, with all of its individual personalities, in unified vision and purpose to glorify God? 

The real issue at stake is this: do you, as a leader, reflect His glory and holiness or do you stay in the night and darkness of personal will and misguided trends? Be the light bearer; be His shepherd! This is what our Lord and Savior, who has created heaven for us, asks us to be!

When to Leave a Church?

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8

We are called to obey your leaders, to have respect for their authority and their call to care for and keep careful watch over the people as shepherds, because leaders will be held to account. We are called to submit to those in authority and to value and respect them, enjoy orderliness, and learn from them. In contrast, a person with a lack of faith will not respect others because the emptiness where faith is supposed to be is filled with pride and even self-destruction, worry, and stress that lead a person nowhere good. This does not mean we submit to dictatorial or dysfunctional leadership (Isa. 21:8; Jer, 23:4; Ezek. 3:17; 33:6; 35:7; Hab. 2:1; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:2-4; 3 John 9-10).

However, sometimes leaders and pastors are not following Christ, rather following their pride or misguided intentions and thus it may be time to go to another sheepfold. So, when do I leave? When it is dead and there is no life left and there is nothing you can do, you need to look seriously at the situation. Being a member of a church is like being partners in a marriage; when you leave, it is like experiencing a divorce and thus is to be taken sincerely and soberly, and with prayer. Seek what you can do to improve things and always make sure you are not the one causing the problems of division or discord, unless you are fighting for biblical truth. Even if that is the case, do so in love. Obviously, leaving a church is not a sin unless you are in disobedience. There are times when you need to take a stand, and if it fails, it may be necessary to move on to a healthier church. God gives us a green light to move on when:

· Heresy and false teaching are being proclaimed or a platform for that to take place is present and the leaders refuse to repent, or if there is just no teaching and you are not being fed (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:7-9).

· The pastor and leaders do not reverence Christ or His Word (1 Corinthians 5:1-7; Colossians 1:15-17).

· The pastors or leaders are living in sin and refuse to repent (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

· The pastor or leaders are over-controlling and operate in the weakness of the flesh rather than in the power of the Fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9).

· The diseases before mentioned, such as gossip and hypocrisy, are rampant and you are being hurt to the point you cannot function or worship, and there is no discipline for those who sin (2 Timothy 3:5).

· If you are the person who is sowing discord or division, you must leave right away. Run-do not walk-to the nearest exit and do not join another church until you repent and get some healing (Galatians 5:1-23)!

Besides that, it is hard to say; you need to think, seek wise counsel, and be in prayer. You should never leave a church for petty or superficial reasons. Examples might be that you do not like the speaking voice of the pastor, but he is teaching well, or you do not like the color of the carpet or the style of the music or how the kitchen is run, or that someone you do not like is elected or appointed to a leadership position. You need to stick to your commitment and responsibility. You need to be in prayer and ask our Lord how He can use you there. Are you growing? Is there a place where you are needed to serve? Is there anything you are doing wrong for which you need to repent? What about your attitude and motivations?

If you do leave a church, do not leave quietly or covertly. Meet with the pastor or leaders, dialog and give them clear reasons, remembering to be biblical and in the Fruit of the Spirit and in prayer. They have the need and right to know, so improvements and conviction by the Spirit can take place. Or, maybe you are in the wrong. So, make sure you listen. Then if you leave, you need to forgive and move on. Never, ever stay to spread bitterness and division (Prov. 6:19; John 13:34-35; 17:21-23; Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:7-9; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:1-11; 15:33; Eph. 4:11-14, 31-32; Col. 1:15-17; 3:13; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:7-9; Heb. 13:7, 17)!

Let us gain our composure and confidence regardless of how many true believers are in the church, and live as His disciples for His glory!

© 2009, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/