Kingdom Effective

 

bad church
In most ‘good’ evangelical churches, people are encouraged to accept Christ, make a profession of faith, or be baptized. Then, they are congratulated, put on the membership role, and then quickly forgotten. Sadly, these churches have become warehouses, holding Christians to numbers as a testimony and perceived success, and, as a whole, forsaken discipleship for cheap, contemptible programs with no real teaching or meaning. These programs may seem great on the surface because they attract people, but they do not keep them. In doing shallow programming with little teaching or discipleship has left its members to figure out these ‪‎spiritual ‪growth things on their own.

 

Therefore, the back door of the church is as big as the front door! Or the church is not really Kingdom effective!

All that you do in life as a leader of Christ’s church must be a reflection of a life surrendered to Christ. If you are so self-willed there can be no room for the living Christ, this may mean that others will use you, take advantage of you, get mad at you, ignore you, go around you, ridicule you, and persecute you!  But remember, what they do to you, they do to Him!  Make sure you are not the one persecuting the Lord!

And how do we persecute our Lord in the church today? When we become in breach of his mandates, like to Disciple!

There are many Bible teachers and so called preachers who turn the gospel of Jesus Christ into some kind of “easy-believe-ism,” where repentance is not necessary. However, as you can see, the Bible has something different to say. I would go with God’s Word and not self-proclaimed prompters. John reminds us of the need to bear fruit in keeping with true repentance (Gal. 5)!  Are you showing true acceptance of Jesus as your Lord? You can know this by doing what He says (Luke 6:46; John 3:30).

Let our Lord be LORD, He is to be more; you are to be less. Be willing to learn about Him, to grow by His example in our obedience and be willing to go through times of waiting, confusion, discouragement and even suffering. And as leaders we pass this on!  See these as opportunities for personal growth, faith building and strengthening.

 

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P5

 

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:5-7

Obedience will override our feelings so that we will remain steadfast and secure. 

We are all called to put our faith into practice. We can now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry them out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we daily live our lives, modeling His character to those around us. When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what we do, but whom we can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up. We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring.

The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being.

We cannot lead others to Him when we do not know the way, and, in order to know the way, we must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is that we study His Word which will change our behavior.

A real impacted Christian, especially a leader in the church, must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes them. They must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read them occasionally, like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.

From the character of Christ comes the conduct of Christ-if we choose to follow Him.

Then, the values of our daily walk, those which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or when you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian, especially a witness.

We are called, not to just visualize faith and discipleship, but to do it, not to just read about it, but to do it, and not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be gathered, prepared, and then eaten. The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, gather, prepare, and then put it all into practice so we partake of His feast.

What do you consider to be the key to finding and developing faith?

A worship-centered heart will help create a church that grows because it is also poured out to Christ and effective in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care through prayer and action to the world. 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P4

How Important is discipleship in your church and teaching?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23

In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our complacency, Hears… and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.

We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action.

This is not about our salvation; it is about our response of worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.

I have been in pastoral ministry as a profession since 1982, and was in lay-ministry for several years prior to that. I can tell you absolutely that the one thing that keeps most people from accepting Christ as their Savior and being born again is that they do not want to admit their need; they do not want to be convicted. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them. They still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God should accept, and if they do more good than bad, He will have to let them into heaven.

I do not think anything has been more destructive in the whole realm of theology and what is preached in so many churches than the idea that we are O.K. as we are. No repentance is necessary.

Come one, come all! But, the Bible says we cannot come to Him; He comes to us.

Christ will save us if only we will acknowledge our need and accept Him as our Lord and Savior; yet, so few will. It is the same with Christians who lack the motivation to witness; they do not want to admit that others have a need. It is not an official Christian policy by any imagination; rather, it is a rationalization we make because of our fears, complacency, or indecision.

Despite our best efforts, we are not fulfilling God’s law. We are not able to do so.

People desperately need a Savior! So, carefully consider any barriers in your thinking that blocks you from this core truth and reality of life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) What is the barrier that holds you back from giving this proclamation of love to others? We all need to find and remove it.
Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P3

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

How To Grow in Faith

We are to call upon Him! Second Chronicles tells us, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways…

Do you see the condition? The “if” needs to become a “do;” we are to carry out what He has accepted in us, so the rest of the passage becomes fulfilled in us. …then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

To grow means we are to turn from sin, seek Him, be praying, act with humility, seek His righteousness, and practice maturity. We are not to wander from Him or allow our desires to be selfish and sinful. We are to focus on His precepts and allow ourselves to be filled up with Christ. When we call upon our Lord, that call will echo over all those around us.

We grow as we look to and trust in Him, and as we pursue our lives in Christ.

That means careful pursuit and continual growth, not a simple look-over, but an in-depth and committed life. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Growing is surrendering our will to His. Surrender is the process through which we grow toward Him and His will, and away from our will. Surrender is making Christ the Lord of all of our lives so that worship, discipleship, and growth can happen.

For this to truly happen, we must rid ourselves of false presumptions, perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him.

This can start by our realizing that Jesus “authors” our faith and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will for His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King, as the provider of Grace, as our Love, and as our reason for being.

In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment. 

This can be summed up in the adage, “we cannot be doing the work of God unless we are the people of God.” We have to be growing before we can be effective.

 What have you done about pursuing your life in Christ?

Growing in Christ is the key, so is Christ LORD over you and your church, if not why not?

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P2

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

 

Why does growing in your faith encompass more than just asking Christ into your life and heart?

Yes, there will be times we do not feel like it. Life is tough; it is full of setbacks and hurts that seem to cripple us. So, we go on permanent disability, unable to hurdle barriers that are really simple to climb, simple, when we are carried by Christ Himself. Did you know all it takes to tie down a horse is a simple leather strap? Did you know a horse could easily break it, like we could break a kite string? A horse does not try to do that because he does not think he is able to do so. You are able to cross any barrier to grow in deeper worship and faith in Christ, because He is there with His healing power.

When we ignore Christ as Lord over our lives and church, we just end up stagnate in life, continuing to hurt. Yes, we will struggle and hurt and we will need times to recover. However, we must make the determination to recover, not to remain disabled, preventing our abiding in Him.

Did you know that God does not ask us to seek converts. He simply asks us to disciple. 

Why? Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible, mainly prayer, doctrine, and Christian living, which means having an attitude and heart that worships Christ.

Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God.

This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means. We are the display case of His life and work! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We are to obey and reach out, but we cannot lead people anywhere.

Christ is the One who leads! 

Our goal is to worship and model our worship to others-not just our service in the church, but the lifestyle of a heart surrendered and poured out to His.

However, with that said, when we are real and authentic in our Christian living, then we are actually doing effective evangelizing and bringing others to Christ even more powerfully and frequently.

How does our focus on Him and not evangelism help us be evangelistic? Because, when the focus is on evangelism, it tends to be about gathering the numbers for numbers sake, and this mindset is pretentious and ineffective. Out of a real, worship-centered heart will come a church that is also poured out in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care to the world. It will model Christ-like character to the community, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. However, this is only the beginning. When we are worshiping Christ with our hearts and minds, we are focused on Him and motivated to be His witnesses. Christ’s work in us is what is contagious to others who are seeking Him.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P1

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Growing in Christ is the key to growing a church!

Why? Because the whole point of the Church is to learn, grow, fellowship, share and worship Christ as Lord! If we are not doing that; then, we are doing church wrong!

This is also all about being a good and effective witness of who Christ is and what He has called your church to be and do. Following up, teaching, and mentoring new as well as seasoned Christians are the keys to spiritual growth and the replication of the witness.

When a church forsakes discipleship, its people will not grow and thus will not reach out. Many will give up on Christianity while others become confused, calloused, or complacent.

Alternatively, they will be swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference. When we forsake discipleship, we end up just living for and unto ourselves. We miss out on opportunities, learning experiences, growth, and will exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun. This will turn into anger and bitterness later on in our lives.

Why should we grow in Christ? 

Because, He lived and died on our behalf, willingly giving up His life by paying the penalty for our sin. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also gives us eternal life. Growth will be our response to who Christ is and what He did for us. This is what will either be repulsive or attractive to others as we “fish” for Him.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand when or where He is leading, or when it is unpopular.

As we grow in Christ, we have to keep our eyes on Him. In doing so, we will be of better use to Him and become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Loyal to Christ?

Thus, this Revelation 17-18 passage is about the marriage of the Lamb to the Church, His dowry being the pain and suffering, His spilt blood that He endured on the cross, something that no one else could pay, so we can be redeemed. Jesus is giving the call to the Bride, His Church, to be pure and faithful and to rejoice in Him.

The theme of a marriage feast shows the joy and celebration we should have in Christ and in His Church. So, Church, your church is to be a celebration of the Majesty, Presence, and Goodness of God.

We respond by solid Biblical teaching, heartfelt worship and discipleship with celebration and devotion.

The themes of the world and things to come are on evil, sin, its judgments, and those who miss it and their mourning; for we who believe, it is about celebration for those who are faithful and loyal while living and practicing the Christian life point to Him. Those of us called to lead and teach must rejoice in God’s faithfulness and their vindication, which points to Him. Sin has been judged and God is glorified; He rewards those who are true to Him.

 

Resembling Christ

As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 10:7 

A lot of Christians have the false presumption that discipling means we should make people like us or have them conform to our specific church, denomination, or system of belief. Some think the me in “follow me” refers to I and not Him, Christ as Lord. But, that is not what discipleship or “follow me” is about. Rather, it is about helping facilitate the spiritual growth of others. It is about being empowered by the Spirit to hook people up to Christ. It is like being plugged into His current of electricity.  

We are never to make disciples in our image, alike as who we are, or how we think, feel, or act, but like Christ. Christian means to be Christ-like, not self-like or Bob-like or Joan-like, nor is it meant to be a particular denomination or theological position.  

It is all about doing our best in resembling Christ. We are to become His disciples by our faith, by His work in us! We are then to be discipled by someone. This is not just learning about the faith as a new Christian; it is a life-long commitment to grow in Him through His Word, through our personal devotions, through fellowship, through worship, and by learning all we can, then applying what we have learned. This helps form us as the people of God. We are to disciple others so they can, in turn, disciple others. Thus, Christianity is by faith, it is communal, it is continual, and it is shared. It is a community endeavor. A lot of Christians just will not do this. Perhaps they are too individualistic—too self-absorbed in their own lives to give a thought to God or others. Perhaps, they think, once I made that prayer and I am set free, so I do not need to do anything else. And, yes, they are, if it is real and in Christ. But, what good it is to be a pew-sitter yet do nothing with what Christ gave and called us to?  

The twelve disciples spent three years of their lives following, learning, listening, observing, practicing, and experiencing life directly alongside Jesus. Then, they carried that learning and experience to the world, first as a rehearsal, then as a lifestyle. It all boils down to a decision. Will we make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride, allowing ourselves to learn and grow, and, in turn, teaching others? Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried out to the people around us. Let us follow Christ!

The Problem with most Church Growth Paradigms III

Having studied under McGavran and his protégés, I was amused on how often they would passionately express their theories, then a few years later radically change them and passionately extort them, and then change them again and so forth, while the truths of the Word remained stable. I followed their folly, as I changed and kept up with the latest church growth jargon and theories, only to see the churches that applied them fail. We changed the theories while ignoring the Word. The Bible was used as a mere buffet as we chose passages out of context to fit our thinking instead of going to Scripture and defusing what God calls us to do.

Another big mistake made was the concentration and overzealous adoration of numbers over discipleship. A bigger church meant a better church.

This is far from true. A better church is based on the spiritual maturity of its leadership and members and what they are doing with their call. A good church base is in the solid teachings of God’s Word, spiritual growth, and the response to both our Lord and to people. I have been to many mega churches that attract people because of the dynamics of the pastor and the entertainment of the service, but they were immature and undiscipled, a very sad sight. On the other hand, I have been to small churches that are on fire with the Word and their call from the Lord, growing in their faith. There are many reasons a church can grow that may not be from God’s blessings.

The perceived success and result of most of the church growth drivel in my 20 years of experience was in “sheep swapping.” People would flow to the “church of what was happening now (comedian Flip Wilson),” unconcerned with personal growth and obedience to Christ. As a result, these churches were not growing in the Biblical sense. I have seen churches that did not apply our methodologies, yet grew huge and influential like Calvary Chapel, the Friends movement in Southern California, and Saddleback (in its early years). Thus, the church growth community considered it a success when a particular church grew under their influence; yet, it was usually an ignominy and an anomaly to those who grew without their influence.  

Most of those churches grew because the neighborhood grew and they were in the right place in the right time amongst disease-ridden churches that had isolated themselves.

The surrounding churches were not growing because they did not want to, and the people were not growing spiritually. They then flocked to the growing church, even though that church may not have been doing things God’s way. These have been successes in church growth, but only because the other churches were doing nothing. There are also those churches that were stagnating, and God used the church growth concepts to awaken them and cause them to re-examine themselves. If the big successful churches were not planted in massive growth areas, but rather in sections of the country where there was little to no population growth, they may have not survived. If Saddleback was planted in Huntington Beach or Pasadena, or anywhere in northern California instead of the massive growth areas of southern Orange County and Northern San Diego County, where the churches already in that area were mostly dead, then we would have never heard of it! A better wake up job can be found in Romans 13:11-14 rather than a CEO business approach. Incidentally, most of the church growth originations went under in the 90’s and most of those assumptions then dissipated. Only now are they reprising their ugly heads.

 

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PIII

The Importance Of Our Motivation and Inspiration

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 12

I live in the Los Angeles area, the home of a basketball team called the “Lakers,” even though there is no lake. Anyway, they are one of the top teams in the league, with several championship wins, and usually have two or three exceptional star players. During the end of the regular season in 2004, the Lakers were losing. They had to win two very important games with teams I had never heard of (what can I say, I am just not much of a sports guy when it comes to “foreign” teams), or they would not be in the finals. Then, for the key game, one of their star players, Kobe Bryant, just did not show up. The team was down and unmotivated. Their coach, Phil Jackson, took the rest of the twelve players into the locker room and told them that each one of them had the capability to win. Together, they could win without that star player, or any star player. Then he told them, you have become lazy, relying on Kobe and Shaq and not stepping up yourselves. Then he said, “you all must step up and perform.” They went out, and won.

Do you “step up?” What motivates you in the Christian life?

What is your source of inspiration outside of the Scriptures? Do you just rely on others, or do you and can you “step up” in your faith, reaching out to others to win the game that Christ has put you in? The key to stepping up is motivation. Coach Jackson is a skilled motivator, which is why he has a lot of championship rings. We do not need the ring when we know who we are in Christ and when He is our motivation!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Most of us will look to our creeds and confessions for motivation, and for good reason. But, I want to extend further into our personal responsibility. That is, how can we take our faith so seriously that it becomes more personal and real, and all our thoughts, ideas, directions, goals, and inspirations go in the direction of serving our Lord? How do we take our faith to a deeper level, “step up” so it is ours and personal, and not just because this is what our families are and do, and not just because we are part of a good church, school, or work? How do we “step up” so that our faith is solely because of what Christ has done for us and nothing else?

The key is in allowing the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, we have a responsibility to respond, to grow, and to build on what we are given. It takes trust, faith, and the surrender of our will, our dreams, and our ideas over to the LORDSHIP of Christ. We must acknowledge that He is Lord of us because of His love for us, and that His ways are better than ours. Christ is our King; so, let us live our lives in response to what He has done for us!

© 1992, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org