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 Consequences of not Knowing the Bible

The Church, as well as the airways, is becoming more and more filled with bad, false teaching from faulty models of biblical interpretation! 

At the same time, more and more Christians are not delving into the Bible for their spiritual nourishment, rather swapping it for “feel good” books that do not properly instruct and/or turning on the TV for the false teacher crowd-or else doing nothing at all for their spiritual growth. Bible studies, Bible based small groups where God’s Word is sought, delved into, discussed and used as challenge and talking points for a life that is transformed are shrinking and/or missing from most lives of Christians and absent from most church programs and happenings.

Endeavors that remain are being attended less and are lacking value and promotion. Additionally, we have the problem of busyness; church leaders-even pastors-are too busy to bother with Bible reading, thus leading from pride and presumption. The people in the pew are so overwhelmed in life, work, family life, and even at church that the Bible, which could solve their problems by showing them their call and God’s precepts, is the last place examined. In many American churches, we have lost our instruction book to the detriment of the Christian community’s spiritual formation, as well as the ability to know and model Christ to the community and world at large, leaving the people in the pew spiritually bankrupt and the neighborhoods with bad models of Christ and thus unreached.

When we do not garner our spiritual nourishment from God’s Word, the Bible, and instead trade it for our whims and mind-sets, we cheat ourselves and weaken our churches, holding back Christ’s work in us and our church’s life; we neuter God’s potential work to those around us too.

Thus, we swap what is good, legal tender for that which is counterfeit and thus leave nothing in our spiritual wallets but confederate notes that are worthless and thus of no spiritual or fruitful value to spend for life and ministry. To counteract these evils and stop Bible illiteracy, we must feed from God’s glorious and wondrous buffet of precepts for our faith and knowledge.

What can we do about it? This is actually easy; just take the time to read it through. Read and know the Bible!

It just takes minutes a day, less than half of a half-hour TV sitcom, to know our Lord and grow in Him for an effectual, transforming life and to dig out what He plainly and abundantly has for us so we have His spiritual spending power. Our reading of the Bible is not meant to merely learn its trivia; rather, we are to be rehabbed in Christ, be changed, renewed, and transformed.

We must take this remarkable currency of His remarkable and astounding precepts and spend it for our spiritual improvement and then for kingdom building. But, what gets in the way of our good buffet and spiritual currency? Simply ignoring God by ignoring or misusing His Word. 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? Shallowness and pretentiousness! These rotten fruits have taken our churches hostage, leaving our pews filled with ignorant, hurt, disconnected children of God who do not know His love or His ways and who make pathetic faith decisions and bad life choices, creating more dysfunction and stress in their lives and homes, and a church that is inept, dysfunctional, and impotent, with an incapacity to know and glorify the very Lord we are to be all about.

 

The Problem of Bible Illiteracy!

Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25

From our research and experiences, we have discovered big problems in our churches, the sheepfold of God’s chosen and precious creation. 

The sheep are getting skinnier and dumber (the people of God)! And, many of the shepherds (leaders and pastors) tend to be merely puffed-up, directionless, arrogant, imperceptive halfwits leading their flock away from the prime pasturelands of our Lord to rather feed on the garbage piles of the world and in turn, crafting obtuse sheep with inadequate nourishment and a lack of proper care. They are ignoring our great Shepherd and thus are relying on the way of the wolf and not on the way of our Lord!

The problems, as we have seen slowly creeping into the churches over the last one hundred years, are these: First, the mainline denominations were hit and sunk. Then, the Pentecostal communities (not all of course, but many) were hit and are like a listing ship, leaning into the ocean in a bad storm.

Now, the torpedoes of worldliness, trend setting, misguided management styles, and pride have set their targets on the conservative churches too, replacing the good food of the Shepherd for cheap chow and showmanship.

Therefore, the sheep have food poisoning and thus are too sick to move and do for our Lord. The main problem is not just the lack of Bible knowledge and understanding; it is the lack of even getting into the Bible. It is the refusal and laziness of not encountering our Lord and Savior through His primary communication platform: His Word, the Bible!

We are seeking anti-intellectualism at one end of our church spectrum and shallow seeker-ness at the other.

We are becoming overly scholarly to the determent of any impact from God’s Word, totally ignoring His precepts and replacing them with ours. Both spectrums give mere “sermonettes” that have no substance or effectual teaching. They give no kind of challenge or discipline that is necessary for authentic Christian growth, thus creating small-minded pew sitters who can’t even find their way around the Bible or even know the difference between John the Baptist and John the Disciple. While other churches may say they are Bible and conservative orientated, they too have moved away from the Bible with a fixation on business and consumer models for ministry, seeking a consumer approach to church, relying on strategies for growth instead of the pursuit of love, trust, and obedience to our Lord. Or, they are, as James tells us, merely reading the Word, not doing as it says (James 1:22). 

Remember, God desires us to be transformed agents of His Work and Word!  

How is your church accomplishing this? If it is not, your church is not following the Lord, it is not following The Person; rather, you are following a person or trend or worse! 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? A failed church and a meaningless life. As our churches give what they think are eloquent and edifying discourses, they are, in fact, delivering empty words and the image of a divine bell hop, not the Holy LORD whom we worship, lean on, and learn from and with whom we discourse.

 

 

Research on Spiritual Maturity and its Importance

Research Conducted between 2002 and 2007:

We recently rested these statistics with no significant variation….so the same as today, no real improvements in the church today…

· Sixty-percent (60%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members do not have an accurate view of biblical truths.

· Sixty-percent (60%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members do not have an accurate view of their personal spiritual growth. They believe they are growing, but put little to no effort into their growth. Thus, their feelings are in contradiction to fact as perceived by the pastors.

· Fifty-six percent (56%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members consider themselves as conservative Christians but do not practice that in how they talk, behave, or vote in elections.

How sad it is when Christians go un-discipled because they do not think it is necessary or important or relevant—to miss the fact that Christ Himself tells us that the chief role and duty of a church is to train and disciple its people so they can know and grow in Christ and thus be an impact in the world. When we do not do this, we end up useless, as leftover crumbs under the feast table of the kingdom. Perhaps some milk has been drunk, but no meat, no impact, no worthiness of contact of our life in Him to our situation and opportunities, so we miss out on the marvels of being used in His kingdom (Matt. 28:11-20; 2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 4:11).

Research from 1996- 2007, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

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!

Is Christ LORD, Lord, or lord over you?

 

Jesus is Lord over creation, but you have to exercise your will to move it out of the way so He can be Lord over your life.

 

To help our faith and relationship with Christ and others to grow, and for Him to work in our lives, especially to touch others, we also have to be willing to trust and obey Christ as Lord over all things–including our lives. 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5: 20

 

If you have nothing relevant or appropriate to offer your people and you are not hospitable to them, you are producing a failing church.

Even if you have numbers, if you are not centered on Christ, you are in trouble and you are not succeeding for Him. We can change our worship format, make our parking lots bigger, and make our programs more relevant, trying to be a better WHO. Our “who” is that we are in Him—who we are in Christ; we are Christians by His love. But, what about changing it to HOW—to change how we are, how we behave, how we treat one another, how we are loving, how we care, how we learn, and how we grow in Christ.

The big how is that we know and then model Christ as a reality, that Jesus Christ really is in our lives. We are learning, experiencing, and living in and for Him! By really and truly being His ambassadors and allowing His Spirit to sustain and use us, we can be used to turn others toward Christ.  

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 

Remember: real church growth is in the spiritual, not just numerical!  

            The key to unlock the growth barriers is opened yourself to the Lordship of Christ, to flow into contentment in your worship and prayer time. Sometimes that is all we can do, but it is not a last resort it is our front line and most important defense. Jesus is to be our preparation for the weathering of a storm to building a church. He will help you build your relationship with Himself so your faith, confidence and courage grow and be the inspire to those you lead. Then you will be prepared in those storms and crises of life and church life as well as your growth challenges, these will make you stronger and help you help others through them too. When we fully learn to trust, then we can obey and it will build our confidence so we will sail across those storm tossed seas of church life in confidence as Jesus Christ is there beside us manning the helm!

Is Christ LORD, Lord, or lord over your church?

Out of learning why churches fail, we also learned why they succeeded!

The churches that were healthy, growing spiritually, and socially vibrant have significant aspects that set them apart from the failing churches. These factors are displayed in order of relevance and importance. Each one of these factors creates a harmony, contentment, and atmosphere for a churchgoer to come to church services and fellowship, and then to invite others. When they feel this church is “home,” they will learn and grow, then desire to become a member, become active, experience and give love and Fruit, and be able to serve our Lord there. Each of these themes is significant as they motivate, inspire, and spur people on to feel part of something greater than themselves. They become a conduit for the work of the Gospel, the moving of the Spirit, and the glorification of our Lord. These churches are places to know Christ, to be effective, and to grow spiritually—“true spirituality” as Schaeffer challenged us with.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5: 17

The main, significant factor over all else of why churches succeed is this one point: they were centered upon Christ as LORD! They were not centered on a personality, a vision, a denomination, an emerging paradigm, or a set of trends. They were “souled out” to Christ as central and sovereign. Each of these points relate to the Lordship of Christ.

 http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=35972&columnid=3958

All churches will have fighting and squabbling!



We are all in some process of sanctification and growth and we are not perfect—or called to be so. The question is, are we on the right road that delivers the fruit or are we just stationed at the fruit-stand and not restocking it? A prime purpose of the Church supposedly is to show and give out the Fruit, but many of us find ourselves empty. Are we making the effort to pick out the rotten fruit and throw it away? If you want to be successful in life, church, and ministry, you need to get this point: we are to be fruit makers. The primary purpose of doing church is not to just please ourselves, but to glorify and serve our Living God. Our lives as Christians are about how we live out His work and honor our Lord; we can best do this by applying our faith and growth in Him to display and give out this Fruit in our church relationships.

Having trouble? Take heart! Christ is the One who changes us and forms our Fruit. All we do is affectionately and in gratitude respond by faith and commit to His precepts. This requires our continual commitment to prevent our bad behaviors or body language from discouraging others from Christ and His Church.

Remember, Christianity is not just the proclamation of the Gospel; it is also the example of the Gospel! The action from your faith will reflect our Lord and either build or destroy your church! Consider this; the fruits and character that we have been given freely cost dearly; they are not cheap. Jesus Christ bought them and then brought them for and to us, for our betterment and to His glory. We must not take for granted what cost Him so much!

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

What is in the Way of our Fruit Production?

When we become a Christian either by birth in a Christian family (to slowly understand Who and What Christ is and over time make a commitment to Him) or through evangelism as an adult (a quick response when ones realizes their sin and need for grace and then commits to Christ), a time must come when the reality of who we are in Christ hits home in power and conviction. The black, dirty slime of our minds has to completely change to the new, golden anointing oil of His Fruit, love, and precepts. This will transform us into practical applications of His will in His church. But, our faith just does not come about on its own; something wondrous must take place within us to transform us so we can trust. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in our Fruit of the Spirit production and cultivation. In other words, we must become the people of God in order to be capable and willing to do the work of God.

Keep in mind this Fruit is mutual; it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us motivated, especially in the leadership of the church and the common places of personal life! This is how the Christian life is to be practical and outgoing—not sedentary and inclusive.

Since God saved us, we in turn are compelled to show our response, to work in Christ’s behalf, to be His agents, powered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel message, even in our own church. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and others. We must refuse to let distractions derail or remove us from His will and plan so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; Col. 3:16; 1Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).

This is why we at ITW and FASICLD are embarking on this new research project to see if our churches are truly displaying Christ or building temples unto themselves. Are we fruitful vines or thorn-bushes? This is entitled, The Fruit of the Spirit as a Biblical Mandate versus Actual Practice in American Churches. The initial results are not good; in fact, they are an abysmal testimony to failure resulting from not taking our lead from God, but seeking to be led from ourselves. Thus, in our wake is left a diseased-ridden and dysfunctional church; if we do not turn around, we will fail beyond measure.

Questions to ponder:

We are called to stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do! Remember, our Lord offers His encouragement for all those who are in Him to grow in Him!

What does it take for you to have a greater desire and ability to grow, practice, and apply your faith?

What does it mean to you to make every conceivable effort to put into practice your faith and fruit? How is this necessary for your life?

What have you received from Christ that drives your life? What is in the way? What are you going to do about it?

 

Remember, Christ is our Empowerment and our Example!

Is your Thinking Right? Are your Behaviors are Right?

Good theology is our right thinking of God’s precepts, including the knowledge of His Fruit. Our mind and thinking must be based on Christ and Scripture through which the Spirit guides us (2 Cor. 4:18; 1 John 2:17). If not, our culture and the pleasures of life will sweep us away from God’s best for us. This is our Christian life and purpose! This is the boot camp and the army is our duty in application. Yet, it is the least thing considered by the average Christian’s pursuit, especially those who never take ownership of their faith, who grew up in a church considering it as cultural and a duty rather than devotion and lifestyle. Thus, our churches become fruit-stands that have no fruit in them, just a shell of a building without His real substance, impact, and power penetrating. The danger is for the Christian to sit in a pew, learn all that he/she can, and take comfort in that knowledge, but never do anything with it. This creates the church that refuses to evangelize or reach others, or display Christ by their words and deeds. The Christian that refuses to share his/her faith usually is one who is not growing in that faith. Thus, faith and Fruit may be miserly trickled out on Sunday but no display or model of Christ is present on Monday. Be aware that you will be harshly judged; you are no better than the Pharisees! The proof test is do you use people, or serve them? Do you just gather information, or do you apply it (Hos.6:6; Mica. 6:6-8; Matt. 12 9-14; 23; James 1:21-27)?

In Romans 12: 1-2, we are called as church folks to passionately pursue God’s will, and that is to think rightly of His precepts. By doing so, we can make our faith real so it impacts others around us. This is what a collection of Christians is called to and should do to build a healthy, well-balanced church that glorifies Christ. The simple way we can do this is to see our lives as extensions of God’s grace and hands, so we are willing and able to be lined up to Him and be better used by Him. We are called to be a living sacrifice, which means we are to be living, growing, and performing Fruit agents of God. We are not alone in this essential matter. As Christians, we are transformed completely by the Spirit; this includes all we are and all that we are to do—our will, our plans, and our opportunities (2 Cor. 3:18). We cannot do this unless we give our selfish will and pride and past hurts over to Him (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14)!

The incentive for us to surrender to Christ is that His Way is better than ours! He gave us a gift we cannot fathom, let alone earn the gift of grace and eternal life, so why would we not seek to please our Living Loving Lord?

When we are growing in Christ, we will be displaying Christ—our “reasonable service” as church leaders! Then we will have real ripe and pleasing Fruit; God’s will is for us to be willing and able to please and serve Him. This is accomplished when we are on guard so that the distractions of the sinful life will not entice, motivate, or divert us from Him and His plan for us! The call is simple: be willing to allow God to transform you rather than the world; simple? Yes, but it takes diligent effort and the trust we have in Christ to succeed as a church and as individual people of faith! When we do this, our thinking, attitude, and mindset will change and then impact all that we do in life.