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)!

 

Our Devotion Must be to Christ and not to Ourselves

Prayer

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” James 4:11

 

The biblical model for our church is clearly laid out in Scripture. We may not agree with one another on how to implement His call, or even how to do our government. We may not agree on how we worship or on the subtle aspects of pre-millennial, post-millennial, pre-tribulation, or post-tribulation doctrine. However, those things we must agree on and what we must do cooperatively are found in His Word. It contains the big picture and call to the essentials of what a church is to be, which is acknowledging His supremacy in all that we do.

Understanding His supremacy means understanding His holiness. Yet, holiness is not a part of a lot of churches because we have forgotten why we are there and what the true role of the church is.

We have forgotten that the Lord of the universe has called us out and has set us apart for His use. We have replaced His holiness with our own experiences because we have forgotten our call, our definition, and the real biblical purpose. We have been placed in a church for a reason, and one of the main reasons is to be set apart for His purpose and not for our own. This is holiness. We have forgotten our adoption into His kingdom and the vision of what our church should be. We have replaced it with gothic cathedrals with magnificent stained glass pictures and architecture that screams, “God is holy,” yet the pews are empty; the teaching and discipleship are forsaken. We have moved the church so close to the consumer we have forgotten what we stand for. We have printed out ideas and motions as “core values” with Scripture that we think rivets His plan to a purpose, yet the people go untaught and continue to spread the disease of gossip and malice. Lust, greed, and power have taken over when peace, grace, forgiveness, and love are to be the route taken.

Well thought out functionally unhitched to the basics of why we do church misleads its members and community and displeases God! Even if the church grows, it is unhealthy church growth and misses the point of who and why we are.

We must see our unworthiness and inadequacy before our holy God and seek His forgiveness and restitution. We must not let our sin replace the call of the church to holiness. We must allow His grace to work within us and through us so we can be the church that is healthy, vibrant, and filled with love. The goal is to have His love and our love, all working together and all surrendered and poured out to holiness and purpose that is not forgotten. The church is about us as the Christians who are in Him, worshiping Him. It is not about our petty needs and us. The church was created for us to house His plan in our lives, to come together in community for worship, fellowship, teaching, and outreach. It is about us because it binds us together for Him. It is not about our replacing His desires and plans for ours, or putting the focus upon us. We are not the main characters in God’s drama of redemption, Christ is.

Thus, we must realize that the church is about our Lord Jesus Christ and His plan for redemption. It is about our coming together and modeling His character. We are the supporting cast of actors and extras that make the story come alive to those around us. The church is not a place for grandstanding our desires and personalities.

We need to depend on the cross because we fall way short of the expectations, obedience, and the law. Now, with grace, we can go through life empowered and indwelled by the Spirit. When we have a growing relationship with Christ, we can go through life without fear; we can have the comfort of His presence and help build His church as healthy, vibrant, and effective. Our response is passionate devotion and obedience. We cannot be devoted to principles or even doctrine if we are not devoted to the person and work of Christ. Our church is not a cause; it is a Person, the God and Creator of all things who loves us, who indwells in us, who empowers us, and who guides us according to His purposes.

Our devotion must be to Christ and not to ourselves, not to a principle or to an idea, and definitely not to trends.

We cannot pour out our lives for false passion and conviction for a goal that has no eternal purpose, one that does not glorify our Lord. When we run our churches by our personal agenda and principles, we go astray because our principles are not in the Lordship of Christ, they are within us. We become in “breach of the contract,” of His covenant of love and acceptance, rejecting it for self-interests that lead us nowhere! We need to receive the love of our Lord from the Holy Spirit, and not allow anything to get in His way!

Remember, your church can be healthy. The question is, what are you willing to do about it?

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVI

see ChristHow we are to see Christ 

Revelation 1: 12-16 

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  

How would you react if Christ appeared to you as He did with John in this passage? How would this affect the way you lead and manage your church? What can this attitude do to help you be more reverent to Christ in your daily life? 

The image of Christ in this passage is breathtaking. It is not that of the humble servant, Son of man; now it is the immeasurable Sovereign of the universe standing in the heavens, holding the stars. If you have a basic understanding of modern astronomy, you can begin to see this wonder. He was blazing as radiantly as the sun with a voice that thundered as He held the Churches in His grip. John’s only response was to fall face down as dead in total reverence and humility to Christ’s Lordship. Just as we must do when we see Who we serve and Who we give glory to.

A testimony to how we are to see Christ, as LORD, over all, our lives belong to Him, we serve in His church!

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

“Lampstands.” The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers and whose duty it is to be a light as a witness for Christ. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the Object and Reason why we meet and function.

This is what we must get, Who we serve, why we serve, and how we are to serve!

This refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. How He loved and gives His presence to His Church. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

Like a son of man,” refers to His supremacy, distinction wisdom, honor, respect, dignity and role as Lord Ruler and Love for the believer. Christ appears in overwhelming brilliance and glory that was extremely difficult to put into words, as the world cannot contain His essence. The high priest was dressed in expensive, decorative, full-length girdles and robes. This alludes to Ezekiel and Daniel and portrays Christ as Judge and Ruler over all, especially the Church in which we think we rule. These key words refer to His Glory, Deity, and the victory and conquest over sin, and His guarantee of the final victory in the last days. It also refers to Christ being our High Priest. In context, this is also powerful Trinitarian imagery (Ex. 28:4; 29:5, 29; Lev. 19:32; Ezek. 1:13, 25-28; Prov. 16:31; Isa. 1:18Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:17-18; 2:27; 3:21;15:6; 17:14; 19:11-16).

“Blazing fire” means God’s penetrating insight and strength, His Sovereignty as Warrior, and His role as victor in the final battle to come. It also refers to the great victories of battle in the O.T. This points to the Transfiguration (Ex. 15:3; Duet. 32: 41-42; Judges 5:31; Isa. 59:17-18; Zech. 14:3; Dan. 10:6; Matt. 13:43; 17:2; Rev. 4:6; 19:11-21).

Bronze… feet” means bearers of God’s throne, and that God is irresistible and firm (Ezek. 1:7; Dan. 10:6)

“Seven stars.” Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny when, in fact, God, who is LORD is that ruler.

Double-edged sword” refers to the Roman “Thracian” sword that a small double edge dagger used as an offensive weapon, it is referring to the power of His Word and the testimony of our Lord. It symbolizes His divine judgment and decisive action (Isa. 4:12; 11:4; 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15, 21)

Sun.” Angels are sometimes described as shining like the sun (Isa. 60:1-3, 19-20; Dan. 10:6; Rev. 21:22).

Obviously, this is a figurative, not a literal description of our Lord! Christ is shown as Supreme, and Head over the Church. He controls the Church. Does He control yours, or do you think you do (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9)?

This passage displays God’s splendor in the best symbolic words and imagery available following Daniel chapter seven, where mere words are insufficient to convey who He is.

Look carefully at these key words. Let them remind us of Who we are to worship, and motivate us in the day to day activities as we give direction and leadership the sheep of His Church. (Rev. 5:6; 14:14; 19:11-13). 

What does it mean to you and your faith that Jesus is the ultimate Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church?

How and why is it important for a leader to lead by example by going first to the destination to which they are leading others? Can someone lead effectively if they have never been there before, such as teaching of character yet not having it? 

What is the image of Christ to you in this passage? How does this give you more information so you can have a better, healthier concept of who God is? How can this translate into your daily life?

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIV

second comming b

Revelation 1: 5-8 

“Look, he is coming with the clouds…”

We are called a kingdom and priests! What does this mean? In the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy, set part for purpose, loved and protected by Him.

John begins His Book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. What we must be reminded of as we lead and mange His Church. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events, what we can look forward to. What does this do for us at the board meetings and in the pulpits? We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall into pride and apostasy, buying the lies and living in our depravity. Thus, mismanaging His Church.

Revelation gives us a pointer, shows us that God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters, and lead our churches as well (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17).

Before Christ, under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character.  And the bigger point that is often missed, is our call here, to be Christ’s representative, not come up with spurious ideas on His Second Coming (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

Now, see what this does for church leadership, here is the Hope, “He is coming,” this is one of the main themes of this Epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. It is a pronouncement of not just hope, but a pointer to Who and What we are as a church to be about.

Get ready…. “the clouds,” which means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. But what does this really mean? This means judgment for the wicked. Not so much with what the popular false teachers proclaim who miss the point (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). This is also comforting for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).

Now comes The Voice, God’s Voice, “I am” refers to God the Father testifies that the Son, Christ, is God. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12; Matt. 3:17; Heb. 13:8).

What is going to happen? The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. A reminder when we lead, instruct, even in the dreariest of meetings, we are in His Hands. What a great comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!

Who and What it is all about, our faith and our leadership all must be from and point to: “Alpha and the Omega!” This means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).

Do not worry, Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow. God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!

The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PII

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Peace is the positive hope of Christ clearly taught and given to others in loving and caring ways.

The church is to be the beacon of light first before she can take a stand.

A “stand” born out of chaos and division is a foolish endeavor, because the credibility will not be there nor will the true purpose of the church be communicated correctly. The church is the result of reuniting; thus, our teaching and determination proclaim the reconciliation we received to those who have not received it, and in turn remind us of our gift. In Christ we are united; do we set that example and show it both publicly and to one another? Just as the Jew was united with the Gentile, we are to come together with one another for our Lord’s purpose and to excel in His call.

We are to learn and to grow in our relationships and knowledge of our Lord. The wisdom of God is to be made known.

We cannot do that if we are so busy fighting with one another. We must realize that God will not allow His message to be thwarted by our pettiness. We cannot be hostile to our Lord as the Demons or the unsaved are. We must be set apart to be a peculiar people and a mirror to His majesty. The love of our God is to be known and expressed by His followers and made known to others.

Our weakness and feebleness will not get in the way of our Lord’s final purpose and will. So, we need to take comfort in His purpose and holiness, confident that He will guide and lead; we need only respond. Yes, we will make mistakes (and God knows I have made a boat full over the years), but our comfort is that it all does work to His glory. The point I need to make is this: we can do better, and His plan is better than ours. Character is the outgrowth of our struggles and obedience that will be used to further His Kingdom. We do this as a united body, rich in our Lord and committed to His cause. We model this with integrity, honesty, and care, with love as our drive, pointing to hope in His name. Our weakness becomes our strength because of His work in us.

Christ is our head, and when we do not get this essential fact, we will spill our “disease of disgust” instead of blessings from His presence.

We are to give God the glory in all we do so our triumphs will be His and our failures will also be His; our Lord reboots us and gives us the perseverance to go on with greater character and ability to press toward His goal. When we stop seeking the honor for ourselves, then we can see His glory and the responsibility of the church. Our Lord created the universe and governs it. Thus, He governs us too. Our acceptance of Him and practice of His will puts into place the healthy church, which has been given to us to be its managers and responsible caregivers.

The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PI

Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 1:21-23; 3:10; 4:15; 5:23

Our responsibility is to passionately engage in our devotions and surrendered will before our Holy God. If we are not poured out with ardor and devotion as a response for who He is and what He did, then how can we communicate the purpose of the church to others? If there is no distinction between the Christ-centered church and a fraternal organization or social club, then what are we doing, who are we modeling, and what are we accomplishing?

If we are not excelling for Christ, then we are not “getting” what the responsibility of the church is.

We must know the calling and answer accordingly, or we are nothing but Christian trash. By responding, we are actually seeking our Lord’s hope and riches, which He freely gives to those who pursue Him. This is God’s mighty power at work in the church, so let us not block His flow with our evil desires and attitudes. We are to put our yearnings, aspirations, plans, and vision all under His feet—under His command and control. His dominion means that Christ is our power and lead. The fullness is the gift we receive by our service and obedience for His glory. His fullness will exceed all our plans and aspirations a hundred fold. Our hearts must burn with passion for the worship of our Lord.

We must fall down and worship at our Lord’s feet in order to be a real, purpose-filled church—that is, His purpose!

The church must exist from and through Christ in our will, because it does in reality. The church fulfills the hope from the brokenness that sin caused and that the New Testament pointed to. Hope is a call that Christ gives us that we, as peacemakers can in turn give to others. The church is to promote peace and welfare, not stir up strife and division. Yes, there are times we must take a hard stand and we are called to do so even past the point of sacrifice. But, the relationships and teachings of Christ that bring division and conflict will bring peace too.

The Problem with most Church Growth Paradigms V

God wants his lost sheep found? Of course, He does. However, if God is sovereign, and is truly God, are His sheep lost? This is of theological debate, but this is a Biblical and right emphasis for motivating the church. So far, so good!

Our choices of method must be based on fact. Yes, it is. However, what are the facts? Usually it is in the following of categories and not in His Word! Not so good!

Pour your resource into winning channels. What is working in one church must also work in yours. This is not true, because most churches fail under these principles! Numbers tell us that God is with us, but this is not true either! This is also not Biblical! Numbers can be misleading, and what we may see as a winner, God sees as pathetic and foolishness. Read the book of Proverbs! God looks for faith, devotion, love, and obedience, which are all missing from this church growth model! Strong leadership never means a strong willed personality, but a servant’s heart after God’s heart, which is contagious to others. That is God’s winner!

People like to stay with their own people: This is as far from the Bible as you can get without setting up alters to Satan! Yes, we do like to stay with our own people, but this is part of our fallen sinful nature that we are to change, not encourage! This is very bad!

Pragmatic research & Scientific research: Yes, we should look to good research so we can be the best at our programs and outreach (this is what we do at the Schaeffer Institute). However, let this never distract us from Biblical precepts. Always consider what God calls us to, not just what people want!

People movements: Go where the people are, yes, we are! However, we are to be the salt and light without being taken in and affected negatively by those people. We are to never take the philosophy and trends of the culture, rework them, and put a Jesus stamp on them when they are against Jesus’ teachings and character!

Social networks: This is one good aspect. We need to strive to be better at being a people, at modeling Christ-like behaviors, so we can be the people of God in the world!

Receptivity: YES! Christians can be cruel gossipers and filled with hypocrisy, and who do a much better job at turning people away from the gospel than a legion of demons. This is also a good aspect, one on which we have much work to do! 

Priority: Whose priority? This is perhaps the biggest problem in the North American Church. Our priorities are all skewed, chasing trends and ignoring our Savior and call! Are we being poured out to Christ, or to our way of thinking? Are we in church leadership roles to glorify God or make a name for ourselves? What are our true priorities and are they what God has directed?

Purpose:

…..Whose purpose? Is it God’s or yours?  

Did you notice what is missing? It is God and His purpose! Do you see what is emphasized? It is mostly unbiblical, slap-in-the-face-of-our-Lord drivel! Yes there are some good ideas and place we all need to grow. However, you cannot build His church by your means! All that you will accomplish is what a dog accomplishes when he chases his own tail. It may be fun and amusing for a while, but nothing is accomplished. It is good for a dog, but detrimental for a church! While we need to realize that God does want His church to grow, growth is found in spiritual maturity and in contagious obedience, sharing our Christian faith with others around us. Good research is essential as it can help us make our programs and paradigms better, but these are to be useful tools, not the point of our devotions and emphases. Of course we are to make people feel comfortable and at home, but do not forget that it is all about building the Kingdom of God and glorifying Him! This prime directive is absent from most church growth principles!

As a church growth consultant, I also propagated some of those principles for many years. I glanced over Scripture and conformed God’s Word to my ideas and those of others instead of really bowing to His Word. I shutter to think I asked questions to church boards such as, “Is the pastor a leader and not just a teacher? If not, you have to get rid of him because you must have a leader.” “Does the pastor really want the church to grow? Is he willing to pay the price for it?” I did not ask questions such as, “Is the pastor growing in his faith and practice, spending quality time in the Word for himself outside of sermon and teaching preparation?” “Is the pastor surrendered to the Word?” “Is the pastor following the precepts of 1 Timothy 3:1-9 and Titus 1:5-8?” What is real church growth? I believe Campus Crusade for Christ nailed it, as we will see in a bit.