Today is a great day! I love to read all kinds of literature. Books, magazines, newspapers, blogs etc. I just love to read. One of the great things about Mondays is that many pastor’s blogs include reports about how many people were saved by Jesus Christ during the Sunday services at their church. One really cool statistic from my church is that every service time every Sunday this year, at least one person has asked Jesus Christ to become their Lord and Savior. If God is working like that in one church congregation in SC, how much more is HE working throughout the world in ALL of the Church! Just in the USA alone there are over 300,000 church congregations. If each of those only have one service a week, and only one person comes to know the LORD in each service. It would take less than 20 years for America to be 100% followers of Jesus Christ. And that is with only one person a week per church. Beg God that he will use YOU to reach one person this week for HIM. If each person who attends church this week would do that, it would only take 2 weeks to see the country come to know Jesus. I know that this seems impossible, I am glad I serve a God who deals with the impossible without blinking an eye!
Archive for the 'Body of Christ' Category
I am currently reading a book that to be honest is a little out of my “normal” reading genre. The Church Emerging from Vatican II: A popular approach to contemporary Catholicism by Dennis M. Doyle I have learned many things through this book about the Roman Catholic church of course, but more interestingly and not as expected, I have learned much about the non-Roman church. For example: Martin Luther, the great reformer, wrote the first Catechism! He did so so that the common man would have knowledge of his faith. Even though ultimately he was excommunicated from the church, it seems he has had a great influence on both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant church. I have learned why the Baltimore Catechism seems to be so isolationist. It was written in a time when the Roman Catholic church was defining itself more by how not to be Protestant than by how to be Roman Catholic. I am not done with the book yet, so I am sure I will have more posts influenced by it. I do recommend it, both to the Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Holiness, Assemblies of God, and other Protestant/Evangelical/Pentecostal denominationally affiliated people who read this blog. I also recommend it to my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ who may not know some of the history behind Vatican II and how it is affecting the church. You also might learn some interesting things about your Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ as you read it. …Right now, I am really wishing I could have a sit down with Pope Benedict XVI(RC), Dr. George Wood(AG), Dr. Johnny M. Hunt(SBC), Bishop Wolfgang Huber(Luth-Germany), and Bishop Ieronymous of Thebes(Greek Orth.) to see if there is some way to find common ground in Christianity. My issue isn’t really with the fact that there are thousands of denominations. It is with the isolationist mentality of many of the denominations. Each group seems to feel that they have the most perfect or the perfect doctrine and everyone else is an infidel, or at very least seriously mistaken. I can imagine Jesus, sitting in Heaven shaking His head while saying to Gabriel, “Did I really go down there, suffer and die an excruciating death for this?” The spotless bride of Christ seems to still be working out some issues in her life. Fortunately, we are covered by the blood of Jesus and appear spotless.
PS. If any of you are friends with the above mentioned denominational leaders, I really would love to meet them. I don’t really think that a Spanish Teacher/blogger has the clout to get those men into a room together…but then again, who would have thought that a baby born to a virgin in a manger would be able to change the world?
Warning —today’s post may read a little more like a cross between a pipe dream and a history lesson.
In the Apostle’s Creed, the words- I believe in “the holy catholic Church”, are key to a discussion I am in the midst of with a Roman Catholic friend. It has gotten me to thinking about the “catholic” church. I must first define “catholic” with a lower case “c” as if I don’t it could cause confusion for many readers of this blog. If I am refering to the Roman rite or the Roman Catholic church, I will say Roman or Roman Catholic. If I simply write “catholic”, I am referring to the universal church who is the bride of Christ. Some may disagree with my usage, but I am being clear in how I am using the word so that there is no confusion.
As I have been thinking over the earlier mentioned discussion, I have been also thinking about the protestant reformation. It interests me that though it happened much later, most of the issues that the reformers took up with the Roman Catholic church, were later found to indeed be heretical beliefs by the Roman church itself. The two major issues were the selling of indulgences and simony (the practice of selling off priestly positions, especially bishops positions). Now that these issues have been solved, why have we as the church not come back together? While I don’t believe that the Roman Catholic church is perfect, neither do I believe that any other branch of the catholic church has it all figured out with a 100% perfect theology. (In case you are wondering, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and yes even us Baptists are included in that grouping I am referring to as “the catholic church”…we don’t have a perfect church either.) The main question I am raising is this, “Is there a way to bring the church back together on this side of eternity?”
Before we all start pointing fingers at Martin Luther and his friends, the protestant reformation of the 16th century wasn’t the first schism in the church. The founders of the early church had issues that we see in the New Testament. Jumping ahead a few years, the Council of Ephesus caused a split that separated the Assyrian church from the rest of the early church, and that was in 431 AD. The great schism of the 11th century brought about the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church. (This is a point my RC friends will disagree with as they hold the succession of papal authority directly descends from Saint Peter as the first Pope to each succeeding Pope.) As we know, there have been many other schisms in the church since 431. My question is the same, is there a way to bring the catholic church back together as one body, the bride of Christ? I welcome comments and suggestions from you who believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, no matter what denominational name is stamped over the church you attend. Feel free to think outside the box. Suggestions that everyone should just convert to your denomination are not helpful.
As a Christian leader, are you clearly identifying the goals that the Lord has placed on your heart so that those who God has given you to lead can work along side you to acheive those goals? Are people in your church just trying to guess what the purpose of the congregation is? Having been both a lay person and a church staff person in various congregations in my life, I have noticed two leadership traits that can stifle church health and church growth.
1. No clear plan! If the pastor and church staff don’t know what the goals are for the church, then how can the average person in the pew hope to know and be a part of achieving the goal.
2. Goals that change too often. Many pastors and leaders are visionaries, this is a great quality as long as the vision is sustained. The problem comes in when the leader has one great plan after another with no time in the middle for implementation! We see this issue when the church attempts to start too many ministries…the result is that none of them are carried out well.
God has uniquely qualified each person in the body of Christ to carry out a mission for HIM. Pastors and Leaders help others plug into that mission and unite people of similar mission to carry out the goal of being the Hands and Feet of God here on earth. There are many vital ministries in this world, each of them is important. Remember that no one person or even one congregation can do them all! Beg GOD for THE MESSAGE that your church needs to hear and carry out. It won’t be the same as the church down the street…if it is, there is no need for your church to exsist-Just go join them. It will be something that God impresses on you that is specific for the congregation HE has allowed you to lead. Have an awesome day! I hope you found some encouragement and direction in this post.
I teach Spanish Literature for a living. Not making much on the blogging. In my literature classes, we talk about being “critical readers” or becoming literary critics. One of the things that has always bothered me about literature teachers in academia is that many of us have written a book review or published an article expounding on someone else’s book, but few have stuck their necks out and written a piece of fiction for others to critique. In the church world, it isn’t any different. If you do a quick Google search or search on Youtube for any pastor who is well known you will find clips of their preaching, maybe their blog, news articles about things their church is doing in the community etc… but you will also see blogs or comments written by people you have never heard of trashing those pastors. Sadly, sometimes the writers are other pastors or church leaders. If you are one of those “critics” I have a challenge for you. Use the energy you currently put into trying to discredit those who are busy working to make the Name of Jesus Christ known to as many people as possible and jump into the fight along side of them.
You might ask if I agree 100% with every pastor out there that is leading people to Jesus Christ. I must admit that I don’t always agree with their methods or even some minor areas of theology. I will say that I can still learn much from them! When I have preached a sermon in which thousands of people have come to the Lord, then I might have a talk with Billy Graham about some petty issue. When I have written a book that has helped hundreds or even thousands of young pastors plant churches that have reached people for the Lord, then maybe I will have a word with Rich Warren about our differences concerning church leadership and direction. When my 10 year old church plant has 15,000 people and we are making an impact in the lives of people in my community, then I can have a chat with Perry Noble about whether God uses A.D.D. rednecks in ministry. When the ministry God has given me allows me to see thousands of hurting families healed, then T.D. Jakes and I will have a discussion…You get the picture. Currently, I am a Spanish teacher who likes to blog about church stuff. If I can inspire people in church leadership, that is awesome! More important than what I write here, is what God does through me to impact people HE puts in my life. Don’t use your influence to tear down those who are working FOR the Kingdom of Heaven. As long as humans are involved, we will have differences, but let us stand together as brothers in Christ! Let us put down our petty arguments and endless theological debates so that we can introduce a dying world to Jesus Christ!
Today in South Carolina, we have one of those odd occasions in which the ground is covered in some white cold substance. In the north, it would be called snow or ice, but here we get mixes of all forms of precipitation and it just shuts down the world. Is your church having a snow season? In the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, the witch has kept the land of Narnia in an eternal winter until the children come and along with Aslan, save Narnia from the witch and spring comes. Some churches seem to be having a season of eternal winter that resembles the shut down world of South Carolina in an ice/sleet/snow storm. How do we get from the land of God’s Frozen Chosen to the warmth of Jesus’ love without losing our standards and convictions? We must ask the question of ourselves first. Are we crazy in love with Jesus Christ or are we just trying our best to live by the rules our church culture has put on us? If we are in love with our Savior, the following of him will begin to come naturally. If we are just trying to live by the rules, we will become bitter. (Now that guy in church who never smiles makes sense huh?…pray for him! He thinks he is saved!) Finding our passion in Jesus Christ is the only way to warm up the church and find our way out of the winter freeze!
Yesterday, I had a chance to see just a little bit of what the party in heaven must be like when someone comes to the Lord! NewSpring Church had a 10th anniversary celebration at the BiLo Center in Greenville, SC. Just being able to praise an ALL POWERFUL GOD along with 15,000 or so other people was incredible. The great thing was the altar call…over 350 people came forward to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior! The service was about 2 1/2 hours long and could have gone longer! During the altar call people clapped and cheered for those who were laying their lives down to let Christ take control of their destiny! For 15 minutes, 15,000 people were in unison praying for those down by the stage. For 15 minutes, there were no problems, no divorces, no debt, no tax issues, no kid problems or parent problems! For 15 minutes of Glory, people stood and cheered for the ALMIGHTY GOD who was GREAT enough to reach down and save not only those who walked forward but each of us who were cheering as well. We are ALL broken vessels saved by a LOVING GOD who cared enough to make a way for us to find HIM through HIS SON JESUS CHRIST! That was 15 minutes of GLORY!
This last weekend, I had the chance to go to a small country church with my wife and my parents. It was a different denomination than I usually attend, and a church of about 40-50 while the church I had been serving at is a church of 600-700. Needless to say there were differences. Some of the differences were good, while others were things the church could work on. I am going to write up my observations so that hopefully if you are a pastor or church leader you can evaluate your own church a little.
1. Age of the congregation: There were people of all ages! This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but the presence of teens and young adults in a rather traditional style church says that they are doing something right! There was an energy that is brought out by having youth yet it wasn’t all young people. There were those there who have the luxury of wisdom as well.
2. The preaching: Well planned and based on scripture. It was a clear message that people could apply to their lives. (Based on dealing with trouble in our lives. Used a passage from Job and supporting scripture from both old and new testaments.)
3. They shake up traditions a bit: If anyone knows this church, they will figure it out from this point. The denomination they belong to is known for being traditionalists, however, they changed up the order of service. That may seem like a small thing, but it is working for their community. They have Worship service first, then Sunday school, then lunch and then the second service…so there is no evening service. That is quite radical for that denomination, so I am applauding them.
4. The warmth of the church: The people were quite friendly once we got inside. (See Negatives). They prayed for each other’s needs in a very real way! During the “meet and greet” time, while most churches I have been in simply shake a few hands and sit down, at this church it was about a 15 minute time of fellowship among the people. Most of the church came to greet us…that last part can be both a positive and a negative, but it was obvious that this church had a real sense of community among the members.
1. Entering the church – Here was one of the areas where they needed help. The only one to welcome us was the mat in front of the door that clearly said “Welcome” on it. Upon entering the foyer of the church, the bulletins were laid out neatly on a table, yet there was no one there to show us where to go. We made our way into the sanctuary and sat down in a pew. (Yes, I did actually hear someone say, “Sorry sister __________ those people are sitting in your seat.”)
2. Music – Music is an opinion thing. Here I am not referring to contemporary or singing from the hymnal. They sang from a hymnal and that is fine. There seemed to be a disconnect at times in the rhythm between the piano player and the young man leading the singing. All in all though I enjoyed praising the Lord with this group!
3. Visitor treatment: We were very much pointed out. I heard people say, “I am going over to greet the visitors”. I am a fairly outgoing person who likes to meet new people. My wife is not. She absolutely hated everyone coming over and introducing themselves to her and asking questions. Not all visitors are created equal. Some just want to come in and enjoy the service without being singled out until they are more comfortable with the congregation. (Side note, those who just spontaneously greeted her before or after the service aren’t the problem, it was those making a point of meeting “the visitors” during the meet and greet time.) I admit this is a picky point and possibly one of personal preference, but if your church notices that visitors are coming, but not coming back, you might want to look at reasons why that might be the case.
Finally, It was wonderful to worship with a great group of believers! I look forward to seeing them in heaven and even here on earth should our paths cross again.
There is a term that has taken off in the marketing world. “Viral Marketing” It is what happens when something becomes popular and is passed around by customers rather than being advertized by the corporation’s dollar. My workstudy has a video clip of a Nascar race that he posted on youtube. It has had thousands of hits…even though there is nothing special about the video. We as believers in Jesus Christ have the most incredible story ever written! Shouldn’t we be putting together video clips that will become “viral marketing” tools for Jesus? lifechurch.tv has done a great job of this, but they are one church in Oklahoma! Think what would happen if churches around the world would join hands with them in what they are doing to change the world for Jesus Christ. (I have no affiliation with lifechurch.tv or Craig Groeschel other than that I enjoy the videos they produce.) Can your creative team make a video that will be viewed over a million times on Youtube? Consider that a challenge!
I just got off the phone with my mother. We had a great talk about a topic I don’t hear many people talking about lately. The theme of our chat was “true repentance from sin”. In to many churches and thus to many church going people, there is a sense that all we have to do is ask Jesus into our heart and that is it. Our heaven ticket is in hand and off we go through life. Nothing has to change in who we are, or the way we act. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Jesus told us to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. (This post isn’t going to get into the whole whether baptism is part of the forgiveness of sins process or not.) He clearly tells us to repent! That means not only doing an about face away from our sin and turning towards Him, but also that we seek out new life in HIM! That will bring about a fundamental change in our being; in who we are! One young man I am friends with is a great example! Before Christ came into his life, he was a very hard person. Liked to fight, some might even say he was mean. Now, after God has gotten a hold of him 100%, he has softened noticeably. He weeps while he prays. (A man who never shed a tear before.) He is now a very giving person who shares the love of Jesus in word and deed with all who he comes in contact with. That kind of change should not be the exception! It is the rule with true repentance! When we not only ask to be forgiven for the sins we have committed, but ALSO turn 180 degrees away from that sin, then we can live the life of holiness that God intended for us to live.