Does your Church have Love or Relevance at its Core?

 church loveThe principal factor that grows our churches and glorifies the Lord is not chasing a numbers paradigm or the latest trend. Rather, it is all about how we love with the impacting Gospel of our Lord that is preached uncompromised with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then we bring it with the conviction of the true Truth of God’s Word, and the clarity of the reverence and relevance of our Lord moving in our lives. These are the precious items we bring to build our church in God’s Way!

Love is. The primary Greek word is Agape, which means “self-giving” and “sacrificial,” that is more concerned with others than self. It was used in Classic Greek literature to refer to someone who was generously favored by a god. It conveys the idea of a person giving all his or her love, or favor, to someone else rather than to self. It is a love that is not earned; in contrast, it is relational and given freely. The word “Love” also refers to parents giving all of their love for their child.

In the New Testament, agape love was used to make a similar point, as God gives to each of us all of His love.

Real love goes deeper and further, as a deep adoration that is bestowed without expectations of a response from the other. Agape love is also the most common word used both as a noun and a verb in the New Testament. The greatest example of agape love is what our Lord Jesus Christ did when He died for our sins.

Consequently, God’s agape love gave us His forbearance and rescue from the punishment that we deserved. Rather than receiving what we should have, we received His favor without earning it.

(Deut. 6:5; Joshua 24:14 -15; Isa. 44:9-20; Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16; 21:16; Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:8-10; 8; 12:10; 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:32-35; 13; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5 Gal. 5:5; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:5, 12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).

All men will know that you are my disciples. When we love one another, we prove and exhibit Christ!

This is our “mark,” the prime characteristic that makes us friendly and connectable to others, and how we are to be known-by what Christ does with us and calls us to. We are to love one another-period! No strings attached! This is the mold for the form that we use to display God’s love to the world (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Gal. 5:22; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!

How do we know if this is working? This is exhibited in the form of the example from Whom our Lord is being lived out in the leaders lives. Then we can examine our practice with this question, “do you use people, or do you serve them?” Remember, Jesus was God, who came to this earth to love and to serve (John 13-14; 18:15-27)!

Thus, we do not aim at our people with numbers or manipulate them to whatever the latest business model or schema, we present the Gospel of God’s true Truth in love by teaching it and by living it out. Then we grow our churches, God’s Way.

What is real love? How is it shown by the fruits of it, like humility and service?

The Pastors Role is to point people to Christ!

John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Preach, teach, and point your flock to the LORD Jesus Christ and not to yourselves!

“You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.”  Francis A. Schaeffer

 We are not to point to trends or to ourselves, we are not to be sloppy in our studies or devotions, we are not to have dinner conversations in the pulpit, we are to preach!

Feed your sheep!  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Shepherd your sheep! 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28

Equip your people! 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Ephesians 4:11-12

Be right with God! 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9

Have Character and Fruit of the Spirit! 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do your best due diligence! 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Be worthy! 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

Teach true Truth! 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Preach and teach correctly! 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Point to Christ as LORD! 5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;… 1 Peter 5:1-2

Pastors, you must teach the Bible in full clarity with power, conviction and in the full true Truth. If not, then quit…and go sell insurance….run do not walk to the nearest exit, leave, vamoose, hit the road, and give your pulpit to someone, who knows the Word, loves the Lord and who will preach Truth, teach and disciple! Why? For the reason, you are not a ‘real’ pastor, in the biblical sense, who is called to equip, inspire and train; rather, you are just a noise of 1 Cor. 13:1….

The Slippery Slope P V

Embracing the Postmodern Mindsets of Political Correctness

Our virtue leaves us when we start to reject moral absolutes and forsake accountability to our Lord. This forms a void that we fill with all kinds of things meant to fulfill people’s “felt needs” except solid Christian formation that is essential for their “real needs.” Even if the doctrine of a church is rock solid, moving off the Cornerstone can be replacing what the Bible teaches with trends. Or, it can be just administering the business of the church as the main function of the church instead of discipling. 

This is about our growth in Christ! We need to hear His call. Christ calls us to take up the cross and deny ourselves; this is extreme discipleship, a call that is to cancel out our will so we can submit to His. When we confess Christ as our Savior, it means He is our Lord. We are to surrender to His direction, call, and purpose. When we claim to be His, we need to commit and follow, leaving behind all that hinders and causes us to go astray.

This subject is an aspect to sanctification meaning our growth in Christ, this encompasses how and why we grow in our faith. Why do some people grow in their faith and maturity while others go about it very slowly or not at all? This is what “our part” is in our relationship with Christ. As His Work and the work of the Holy Spirit saves us and our part is responding by faith and obedience.

(Psalm 118:18-27; 127:1; Eph. 2:19-22; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5: 12-18; 1 Tim. 5:17; 6:1;1 Peter 2:4-17; Heb. 12:28-29)

If you do not have faith and obedience at work in your leaders life and church, then you are a club and not a real authentic church!

The Slippery Slope P IV

Prayer is Seen as a Last Resort Rather than at the Forefront.

The leadership of a given church is not praying. This transpires the mindset that we want to direct our church our way, without His help, and be independent in our thinking, with the belief that this is maturity and progress. In fact, this is regress and apostasy. Sounds like, who would do that? Well, most churches with whom I have consulted in the last ten-plus years that are failing had no prayer life, either in groups, in the pulpit, or in the leader’s homes.

From my doctoral research, I found that none of the churches that failed prayed, and the ones that did pray were often superficial and prideful. Perhaps liturgy and ceremonial prayers were spoken, but not the heartfelt seeking of God. Real prayer starts in the homes of the pastor and leaders; then, the leadership comes together to pray.

There is prayer in the pulpit, in the service, and in all groups in the church, both scheduled and not scheduled. A church must always seek His face reverently and passionately! If we try to run our churches without prayer, we are running them without our Cornerstone. We cannot do His call, His work, or our Christian life without His lead and relationship. Prayer must be utmost and foremost for His purpose to be in our churches.

(Matthew 6: 5-15; 7: 7-12; Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46; John 15:4-5; Romans 8: 18-30; James 5:13-18)

The Slippery Slope PIII

Not being Good!

Goodness is the Fruit with which virtue and the rest of the characters combine to produce endearment. It is the character that makes people liked and even loved by others. When we as a church are not being good, such as refusing to care, being unforgiving, not operating in the Spirit and Fruit, it leads to dissention and strife. When we fight against one another, we have to see how hurtful and even pathetic it is in God’s eyes!

By the Spirit’s empowerment, we can model the character of Christ. We can be positively responsive to others; God is concerned with how we are with one another as well as how we are with Him.

We readily confess our faithfulness on Sunday, but by Monday, our confession is gone. We desire God to be a blessing machine, while we are impatient and disrespectful to what He wants us to learn. When we have confidence in God and in His plan and purpose for our lives, we can then act on faith

(Prov. 25:22; Matt. 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 8:28-39; 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:2-12).

The Slippery Slope PII

 

The Failure to Love!

Churches fail because they forget that Christ is the Ultimate LOVE! He gives us the ultimate assurance! We have incredible assurance that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Thus, if God is for us, then we need not fear anything such as trials, troubles, problems, setbacks, highs, lows, the devil, or even death. There should be no reason in our lives to keep us from growing in His love and living the triumphant, full Christian life, full of passion and conviction in serving for the glory of our Lord, no matter what we have been through or will go through!

Our failure to obey God by not loving Him and others will cause us to lose out on so much in life and in eternity.

Our diligence to remain faithful and obedient with virtue will help enable others to do so, too. When we obey God, He will reward us beyond our ability to fathom. The solution is simple; pay attention to Christ, not to falsehoods or pride (Psalm 86:5; 145:4-13; Rom. 8:31-39; 1 Cor. 13).

The Slippery Slope

The slope upon which we slip into a Church of Perfidy is the hill of compromise, where we weaken our beliefs and doctrines, and fail to love. This can easily happen if we fail to apply Christ and His guidelines to our lives.

Moving Away from the Centrality of God’s Word.

The foundational error many churches make is the rejection of God’s Word as the authority for their lives (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 1:16; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12). This is the kind of thinking that leads to the rejection of essential doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace alone by faith alone, and so forth. This can be anything from outright rejection of the inerrancy of the Bible to just ignoring His Word and concentrating on other things. If we ever water down the Bible, thinking we can attract more people, we delude ourselves. This is in essence saying that the Holy Spirit is not good enough or powerful enough and we must invent stuff to get people into the Church. The Church must preach the Word with passion, compassion with conviction, with clarity, and in truth—without compromising or diluting it. We can be more entertaining, make our messages more relevant and applicable, and become better communicators, but not replace teaching with entertainment! If so, we are deluded by our dilution. A church will stand or fall on the truth of His Word; water it down and it will fail. If by some chance you grow, take careful heed; a big, weak church is not good in His sight but a small, strong church is glorifying to Him. Even if people leave, we are still to preach and teach powerfully and in truth. Even if we suffer financially and personally, we are not to ever, ever water down God’s most precious Word! Never, never, never! And, if I have not made my point yet, here is another— never!