… the thoughts from a life in the Son-shine State

Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

It will be messy.

Many churches, when starting out, experience an initial rapid growth in attendance. Some refer to this as a “swell,” and not true growth. Most often it’s attributed to Christians that are unhappy with their current church and are looking for something new.

Real growth happens, not when a community simply gains people that are already followers of Christ, but when they start reaping a harvest of seeds sown in fertile soil.

This requires something many Christians don’t enjoy—finding good soil.

In his book Organic Church, Neil Cole reminds us that “bad people make good soil—there’s a lot of fertilizer in their lives.”

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The more messed up we are, the more manure we find ourselves standing in; and as a result our lives become very fertile for the seeds of the Gospel to take root. (Encouraging, isn’t it?!)

Don’t go looking for the people that have it all together. Find the fertile soil… it’s ready for seeds of Life to take root!

Sniffing-out fertile soil…

Steve

Wrong focus?

Sowing Seeds

The Apostle Paul reminds us that God is responsible for the growth of the seed of the Gospel in people’s lives.

It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
1 Cor 3:7

Neil Cole, in his book Organic Church, points out the over-emphasis on growth in today’s Church at the expense of sowing seeds and reaping the harvest.

Marketing and business guru Seth Godin reminds us today of the importance of planting and harvesting (even outside the context of the Church).
Read Seth’s post Planting, harvesting and your fair share.

As you read Seth’s post, you may notice that even he says nothing about the growth process. Interesting.

Where should churches spend the majority of their time, energy and money? In growing our church attendance, growing families, growing our worship team, growing our bottom line, growing our influence, growing… growing… growing…? Or maybe in planting and harvesting, relinquishing the responsibility of growth (which was never our to begin with)?

Food for thought this Monday.

If we were all like me…

… would that be good?

What if we were all like you?

What if we were all like Jesus?

Most people I meet want to have an impact on those around them.

At least, we should desire to have an impact…
and hopefully a positive one.

The trouble is, we often attempt this our own way.
We do what we think is important, and in return seek recognition for the great job we did, or impact we had.

What we need to be doing instead is asking the Holy Spirit to leads into the life of impact that will matter in light of eternity, and that God will receive the glory for it.

Francis Chan, in his book Forgotten God, has some challenging words for us regarding this truth:

How would you be missed if you left [the place God has called you to]? What would change? Basically, what difference does your presence here make? … What would your church (and the world-wide Church) look like if everyone were as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless?

Ouch!
Tough words from our fiend Mr. Chan…

Much work to be done in my heart, and then lived out in my life.

Holy Spirit… HELP!

Where Life Happens

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We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church.
— Neil Cole, Organic Church

Office vs. Position

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ… He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:11, 12, 16 NLT)

Sometime I wonder if we are doing it correctly.

What is it?
You know, the whole paid church staff thing. Pastors, teachers, worship leaders, a full office of secretaries and administrative assistants, grounds keeping crew, janitors, counselors, media team…

It just seems that we got things all mixed up.

I struggle with wanting to get paid to “pastor.”

I know the Bible says that a worker is worth his wage. Peter and the others quit fishing and worked helping to establish the New Testament Church; and their needs were met.

But have we gone too far with it?

I opened with Ephesians 4 because it talks about some specific offices. These are known as the “Five-fold Ministry”. What is interesting is Scripture says they are given as gifts.

These gifts are designed to help everyone else sothey can grow the church.

We have taken something that is a gift and made it a position.

Now, Christians around the country show up Sunday mornings and are serviced. They pay Pastor, or the evangelist to grow the church. The teacher is paid to make the disciples for us.

Was this the intention? Were these gifts given so we could elevate them into the authority?

Is it possible we have lifted up man to the place of king, and the building of our churches (lower-case ‘c’ because I’m referring to the institution and buildings), rather than the whole body working together—equally participating and contributing—in order to lift up the King and the building His Church (upper-case ‘C’ because it’s referring the body of believers)?

I’m really not so certain anymore that we’ve got things properly ordered.

Thoughts?

You should come to my church, it’s so cool…

As I sat in the coffee shop reading a book and reading people (something that is becoming a regular thing for me), I couldn’t help but listen in to a conversation between two young men sitting near me.

What i proceeded to hear shocked me.

It took a lot of self control to not interject.

One of the guys is from a “church” nearby (which will remain nameless, but I know which one it is) and he is talking to his friend about why the “church” he attends is so cool, and why he should consider going.

This time of attempted convincing was pretty pitiful. I have never personally attended any meetings at this particular place, but have personally talked with some of those on staff there; and unfortunately now have a different understanding of what they are apparently all about.

He proceeded to say things like:

  • My pastor is so cool. He dresses really stylish and says really cool things.
  • The worship team plays secular songs, but it’s okay because the message of the songs ties in to the message that was preached.
  • It’s got this awesome New Age feel going on.
  • I’ve learned that it’s okay to listen to secular music… I listen to all kinds of secular music, but I also listen to worship music; and as long as I also listen to worship music, then it all balances out.
  • Many things that Christians say you shouldn’t do aren’t really as damaging as they make them out to be.

This is not an exaggeration.
I really heard these statements, and proceeded to begin this blog as they were talking.

Should I have spoken up?

Aaahhh…. I don’t know.

Yes.

But… Maybe not…

I don’t know.

I didn’t say anything.

Sometimes I feel like I only want to say something because I think I’m right and they’re wrong (and that’s no statement of that being the case—me right, them wrong).

I really struggle when I hear things like that.

I don’t agree with any of what he said as valid reasons why someone should become a part of a community of believers. If anything, that would be reason enough for me to stay away.

I’m not trying to be judgmental, I’m simply stating my concerns for the message being proclaimed by this “church.”

Where is the call to be separate?
Where is the emphasis on Christ as Savior and Lord?

If you have to convince someone that your church is cool, and that’s why they should attend, then I think you have been duped.

I want my reasons for someone joining us to be things like:

  • You should come some time, we are seeing families restored like never before.
  • We’ve been having people healed by the power of God!
  • We’ve seen some amazing, radical transformations as people have been surrendering to Jesus!
  • We are striving more and more for holiness, and been really encouraged by others in our community to be more like Jesus.

This isn’t some holier-than-thou, get-all-spiritual rebuke.
This is really my heart, and I think it’s what we are to strive for!

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 MSG)

It’s what the world needs!
Unbelievers don’t need another “cool” pastor, or New Age experience, or to be told they can continue to entertain themselves with whatever they want to and it’s okay…

The world needs to hear that they need a Savior, and His name is Jesus!
They need to see people that are different!

I was reminded just last night that Jesus’ call to be a disciple was to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood.
This was not cool! This was so revolting that everyone left! This was hardcore against the grain!

Have I listened to secular music (which, by the way, is the Christian term for non-Christian)? Yes.
But is there some sort of balancing act? No.

I learned years ago that most non-Christian music that I would listen to is depressing, completely NOT God-honoring, and leaves me feeling empty and dirty.

It’s like saying, “I watch porn. But I learned that’s okay as long as I also watch 7th Heaven.

Eh… enough of this rant… it’s getting me all worked up and I need to try to get some sleep soon…

This is yet another reason why I feel so strongly about getting out of the institutional church…
What the heck are we teaching people?!

This is not God’s intention.

There’s lots of work to be done.

Oh, God. Help us to reflect you in an age of complacency and celebrity!

P.S. I’m also praying for a chance to talk to my friends on staff there.

Coffee =

While I sat in the coffee shop tonight, this is what I observed:

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I long more and more to build bridges with my community…

I wish I had the time to learn everyone’s story.

Help us, Lord!

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