Stop the Epic Fail!

And the time has come and the time is now, see our churches all fail now….. or will you drop to your knees and do something about it?

 

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http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=66941

The Essentials of real Worship

The changes over the centuries have been momentous, but the basics have remained the same:

1. Honor God by reverence and awe as respecting and honoring His Lordship and sovereignty. As a community of believers, we are to gatherer weekly to mentally focus on God, and pour our hearts out to Him (1 Samuel 15:22: Matthew 15:9: Luke. 11:41-42; John 4:23; Acts 20:27; Galatians 2:20-21; Hebrews 10:24-25; 12:28-29; Revelation 1:10). Ecclesiastes 5:1 says, Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.

2. Praise His Name by singing of hymns/praise songs, prayer and/or liturgy/ Psalter (reading or singing the Psalms)–(Isaiah 6:1-5; Luke 11:41-42; Psalm 19; 29:2; 95:6-7; 150; Ephesians 5:19). The type and style of songs are not as important as the heart and intention of the leader and congregation. The words need to be Biblical and point to the Glory of Christ. The focus is glory and honor; it is never to be entertainment to the congregation. God is the audience and we are the performers to honor Him. It is OK to be creaawtive in worship, such has skits, plays, and various expressions, but not for the sake of entertainment. The question to ask is, does it distract people from the reverence and glory of Christ? If not, it probably is OK. If it does, or could, then save the entertainment for the social times.

3. Confession of sin: We are to acknowledge our sin, and also offer our sincere repentance (Lev 4; 6:24-f.; 7:1-f.; 16:1-f; 1 Kings 17:18; Ps 51:4-6; Isa 6; 53:10, 12; Matt 12:24, 31; Mark 7:20-23; John 1:5; 3:19-21; 8:31-34; 16:8-9; 15:22; Rom. 3:20; 5:12-20; 6:15-23; 7:7-20; 2 Cor. 11:3; Gal. 3:19-24; 1 Tim 2:14). We have to realize the impacting nature of sin, how it destroys, and how Christ paid our penalty for it! If you have any doubt, remember, the outward life is determined by the inner (Matt 5:17; 7:15-17).

4. Prayer must be the focus of the church, with intercession, and thanksgiving, as well as supplication (Acts 2:42).

5. Reading of the Word: We are to never forsake the reading of the Bible; if you do, you have a club and not a church (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 3:17).

6. Commentary: The applying of the Word by the worship leader/ pastor is the sermon or homily. In the Reformed perspective, the whole church service should revolve around the ministry of the Word. The sermon is central to the worship services. Everything else is either preparatory to, or a response to, the message from Scripture (Acts 2:47; 20:7-8; Col. 1:25; Philippians 3:3; 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Tit. 1:9).

7. Fellowship is to build up and honor one another in order to strengthen the church, the people of God (Eph. 4:12; cf. 1 Cor. 14:12).

 

Whose Dwelling is your Church?

The Living Stone is defined as a dwelling! Dwellings need to be cared for, maintained, preserved, and, of course, used. His dwelling is where we can take rest and comfort out of the “weather” of life, and then regroup, recharge, and go out into the world with His Word in our hearts, attitudes, and minds.

The incredible news of this is we still remain in His dwelling. When we go out, we are still inside His presence and care. His Living Stone is also the mobile Stone; thus, wherever we go, we are still under His shelter and care, no matter where we are or what we face.

When we care for Him, we are being “acceptable to God” (Rom. 15:14-16; 1 Pet. 2:5). God accepts us by His sacrifice for our sins (Heb.13: 15-16). Because of His work, we are complete in Him, we are deeply loved and accepted, and we do not need acceptance by any other person or means to be fulfilled (Col. 1:21-22; 2:13-15; James 1:4; 1 John 4:9-11)! 

The cornerstone in building construction was of the highest quality, and cut in precision to the design. It was either the top cap of an arch or the corner of the foundation, each one critical to design integrity and stability. If we guide our church incorrectly or without the pursuit of excellence and holiness, the structure—the purpose of His Church—will not be built accurately and might fail. The matter of choosing how we see and use our Cornerstone is essential to where we are going in our faith both personally and collectively. Do not go astray; do not compromise to please anyone, or your church will be the Church of Perfidy! 

The propose of the Church is to know Christ, encounter Him, worship Him, grow in Him, and then, when we leave those physical doors, make Him known to others. We cannot let our pride, petty whims, and trends derail us from our core principles distilled from biblical precepts.

The bottom line is that we must be willing and able to get rid of anything that contradicts or compromises the Word of God! It is OK to search and use insights from varying sources. In fact, that is what we do here at Into Thy Word as we research and develop curriculum to help you grow closer to Him personally, and run your church more biblically for His glory. However, it is never too late to repent and turn your church around! I have made many mistakes, personally. I have followed bad trends and have started some. I have been prideful and perhaps broken all of the above precepts from time to time. But, God is a God of grace and forgiveness; He still uses me, and He will use you, too. However, we can be better. Let us be willing to grow in Him and serve Him in love and faithfulness, setting aside our pride and will; then our churches will be healthy and vibrant for His wondrous glory!

 

The Top Ten (10) Trends Affecting Church Health

1. The healthiest churches have an active supportive and trained leadership—spiritual, growing and contented members who are excited about the Gospel.

2. The healthiest churches have a high reverence for the Bible and are involved in discipleship and the multiplication of it.

3. There is a direct correlation between the decline of small groups, those who actually study the Bible, or a decline of quality small group Bible-based curricula (versus a mere book study) and the decline of evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

4. There is a direct correlation between the decline of personal devotions and personal prayer and Bible study amongst leaders and pastors and the decline of church health, evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

5. American Christians increasingly tend to be more and more isolated from their non-Christian counterparts, in one’s family, workplace, and secular society in general. The more one is involved as a Christian, the less influence they have to others in the world for the Gospel.

6. Non-Christians, academia, and the media are more and more openly hostile to the Gospel. At the same time, many younger non-Christians (ages 14 to 30) are more receptive to the Gospel message.

7. Less than 10% of Reformed and Evangelical churches (not mainline or Catholic) have an evangelism program or plans for one.

8. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have an active missions program and local outreach.

9. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have preaching and small groups doing active teaching or expository or exegetical Bible sermons and not simple messages.

10. Younger people, 14 to 30 year olds, are seeking a deeper relationship in churches than previous generations. They want relevant worship, deeper Bible studies, preaching that is centered on the Bible and the glorification of Christ, and practical life-relational helps. The dropout rate of 14 to 30 year olds is at an all-time high—50% to 70%. The primary reason is that they want more and the churches they visit do not offer it! The other 30% to 50% drop out because of apathy and indifference, a loss of hope, and the Church cannot fulfill them anymore.

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)

How is your Churches Alignment?

Psalm 118:18-27; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20 

The church is more than a building. In fact, a church is not a building at all. Rather, it originates with the people being supported on the footer of our Lord and Savior. If we are off in our alignment with Christ, then we are off in all other things, too. Thus, we become a Church of Perfidy. This puts our church in a really perilous position in Him, with one another, and in the community. The perfidy of a church means a betrayal of a trust of who Christ is and what He calls us to do. If our church is not lined up to Him and in His Word, and is not practicing His call and precepts, we will start to fall off the “plumb line” of His foundation and cornerstone. Remember, even a small fraction of an inch off center or off level will cause a building to be ruined. So it is with how we run our churches. When we stray from Him, everything that comes from our church will stray, too. We are called to be “plumb” in Christ. A plumb line is a length of rope from which a metal weight is suspended on the bottom end. This allows the earth’s center of gravity to hold the rope in a perpendicular, vertical line to make sure the building that is being erected is “straight” and “plumb.” This simple device has been used for thousands of years and is still a valuable tool today. If you place studs or stones upon a foundation that is not perfectly level or if you do not use a plumb line, then the walls will not be straight and will not join up with the other walls and be a safe haven. Can you see the parallels here from construction to the practice of our faith and how we lead a church?  

Being off a small fraction will cause a much greater loss down the road. If we start to follow trends, ideas, teachings that are not from God’s Word or are not clearly distilled from His precepts, then the running of our church will be skewed because our “direction-finding” is skewed. 

In navigation, if you are off a fraction of a degree from your course heading at your start, then a few hundred miles away you will be many miles off your mark. This type of error brought down the passenger jet, Korean Air 007 in 1983, when the then Soviets shot the 747 airliner down as it mistakenly veered over their airspace. Conspiracy theories aside, it was concluded that the 747 pilots put the wrong heading in the autopilot. They were off a very small degree that slowly ventured the airliner off its course and the instrument guiding system, ending the lives of the 240 passengers and 29 crewmen and crewwomen aboard. When our churches start to veer off His path even a fraction, down the road it can escalate to heresies or complacency that will lead the people with whom God entrusted us astray. This 747, after flying over sensitive areas, was shot out of the sky by MIG fighters. Take heed. When we veer off God’s path, we too will be held accountable (Matt. 16:27; Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30-32; 7:51-53; Rom. 2:6; 14:12-13; Gal. 6:1-5; Eph. 6:21; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Rev 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12).

What Type of Foundation Does Your Church Have?

What Type of Foundation Does Your Church Have?  

1 Kings 5:1 to 9:9; 2 Chronicles 3:3 to 5:1; 6:1-7:22; Psalm 118:18-27; 127:1; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-10 

The foundation of your church will set up the attitude and theme of your church. Thus we need to ask, is our church lined up properly to its foundation? Do you realize that if it is not, your church building will fall off of it? Your church building, if not properly erected on good foundation “footers,” will fail and perhaps collapse upon the congregation, literally. In constituting a building  whether it be a church, an office, or a home–it is absolutely essential that the footers of the foundation are perfectly level and plumb. Footer is a very large block of concrete that is placed in the soil below a building that is being erected. This footer is part of the building’s foundation, which supports the load-bearing portion of the building. Its prime purpose is to prevent the structure from moving or sinking. Footers also provide a stable base upon which the rest of the building is built. If these footers are not lined up correctly, off even as much as a fraction of an inch, then each piece of the building to come afterward will not fit or line up with the other. If we are not personally lined up to Christ, then everything we do will be skewed and will not fit, including relationships, activities, outreach, and the day-to-day activities of a church. All will be off-center and flawed because our alignment is off from Christ who is our Foundation. 

How is your Churches Foundation?  

Is it made from the precepts of the will of man or from God’s Word and Will?

There is something much more important than the foundation materials and placement in constructing a church or in navigational procedures, and that is the understanding of who and what the “cornerstone” is. A cornerstone was a large stone laid at the foundation of stone buildings prior to the 1950s to be a “footer” and to “plumb” the rest of the building so it was square and secure. This cornerstone was the first stone, usually an exceptionally large one, placed above ground on top of stones placed underground at the beginning of the northeast corner of the building. This was essential to the structure of the building. These buildings were laid with cut stones, interlocked by gravity and force and without mortar. They were stacked stone on top of stone, all relying and leaning on one another. Many such structures have lasted for many millennia. Without proper stone placement, buildings in the ancient world would not have lasted long or would have fallen during construction. Here, we have an image of how our Lord is our Cornerstone (Psalm 118:18-27; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20).