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To Whom….

To whom are you loyal? To whom are you patriotic?

There is a massive discussion happening in our nation right now. All over a simple flag. For some the flag (the battle flag of Northern Virginia, commonly known as the “rebel” flag) represents their southern heritage. For many it doesn’t even represent the civil war (from whence it finds it’s origins) but rather southern heritage and culture more generally. For others however, the flag whole heartedly represents the civil war and the many argued issues surrounding that conflict. The debate began largely over the flying of this flag in South Carolina at the state capital. As the debate has heated up many retailers have chosen not to sell the flag and manufactures have decided to stop producing the flag.

All this discussion of patriotism loyalty and heritage got me thinking about us as Christians. As Christians this perhaps isn’t a debate for us. It is a matter of what the flag represents to different people, and perspective and feelings are hot points of emotion in any debate. I will not give my two cents on the specific topic.

However, as Christians we must be loyal and patriotic to another nation before America or the South. We are part of the nation (kingdom) of God. We don’t seek what is best for anything other than that nation first. This isn’t to say that we can be Red blooded Americans and be patriotic. Of course you can and should. But God and his kingdom must come first.

For some people America is their God. “America first” and literally Condemn (insert “d” word here) all the rest. This can’t be the case with us Christians.

We are to be sacrificial lovers of people. Not divided over man made lines. God comes first for Christians.

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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Events, News, Other

 

Why Church?

Ephesians 4:11 states that the church exists: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

This is clear in its expression for the reason that God has invented the church. The church is to equip Christians for service, that is to say they are to be prepared, trained, resourced and given opportunity  to serve and obey God. The rest of scripture clearly shows that the four areas with which the church is responsible for this equipping are in the broad areas of Outreach, Community (or Fellowship), Discipleship, and Worship. All that the church is to do according to scripture falls into one of these categories. The necessary point, however, is to understand that the church is supposed to equip, not do. The church as an entity is not to worship for the individual but rather equip them to worship. So the church could teach a person about God, and provide a service with music were that person might come to express worship to God with their fellow believers  The church is not to try to make the congregants better Christians (i.e. disciples). But rather equip them through discipleship. That is the church would train, and mentor, provide classes, and service projects where a person might grow in Christ-likeness. The church can’t fellowship for the individual but rather provides opportunities for Christians to gather and build lasting relationships. Most controversially  the church is not to outreach for the Christian but rather to provide them with the training, resources and opportunities to assist them in reaching out as individuals. More on Outreach in Next Sunday’s Sermon. Be sure to invite your Friends.

The big answer to the question Why Church? Is that we are stronger together than we are apart. Yes you can accomplish most of what the church offers as an individual but most will have greater success when people do it together. you will grow more, you will be supported, encouraged  accountable, and serving more when you are building relationships in a healthy, biblical Christian Community.

At New Life we have a Purpose, a Mission, and a Win. The purpose is the same for all churches to equip Christians in Outreach, Worship, Community, and Fellowship. This is the subject of our current sermon series.

The Mission of New Life is our specific calling and gifting from God for our community. New Life is to be a place that reaches the de-churched, and the “but” people to welcome them into an active, accountable, equipping, church community. The de-churched are those that have some connection with church and many of which claim Christ. Some of them are actually saved some aren’t. The reasons they aren’t involved in church today vary as much as the people themselves. Some of them were hurt by the church. Some of them find the church boring, hypocritical, or non-Christ-like. Some simply left a church because they moved or the church died and they never found another church. The “but” is the common expression of de-churched people…”I’d go to church “But”… I know I should go to church “But”… New Life must be a hospital or rehab center for these people where they can come and fellowship and heal from these “Buts”. However, New Life is not called to be a Nursing home where people come and wallow in their hurts. When a person goes to a rehab center they are expected to recover and leave better than they were before. When a person enters a nursing home there is often little hope that they will get to leave, or be better than they once where. The Church is a hospital and rehab center not a Nursing home. So New Life is supposed to reach the de-churched through Outreach, Community, Discipleship, and Worship, and then involve and equip them for these same areas of service. The purpose is the means for accomplishing the mission.

Finally, New Life’s Win is how New Life is able to determine whether or not  and how well they are fulfilling their purpose and mission. The Win at New Life is connecting People with People and People with God. After all what is Worship and Discipleship people connecting and growing in relationship, understanding and intimacy with God. What is Outreach and Community, People connecting and building relationships with people. So New Life is winning in this world when we help in Connecting People with People and People With God.

 

Capital or Community?

As many of you did I stayed up pretty late last night watching the election coverage. But I went to bed long before the results were in. And as many of you I looked this morning to see who had one. I know some of you are excited and others are disappointed. But allow me to begin by saying that I believe the church has no place in politics. God did not call us to change legislation. God did not call us to make our nation pass laws requiring people to live a moral life. If Jesus is our example for how we are time live then Jesus gave us no example that should lead us to believe that we should try to control Washington and Christ lived in Rome a much more pagan state then our own. Yet Christians still hold political rallies, and Christians still hold get out the vote campaigns.

My question is WHY? Is the word of God not your authority, guide-book, and direction? Then where do you see that in scripture? Are you worried about the detrimental state of our nation? Well then that is where the church has a major issue.

The detrimental state of our nation in regards to the Christian values, or lack there of, within our political system has been prevalent for a very long time. Though abortion is a hot button issue for social conservatives there are numerous other teachings in scripture that our country has flagrantly disregarded yet Christians have had little or no response to in the public arena.

To just point out a few: Our God speaks time and time again in scripture to be good stewards and to lay up an inheritance for our children yet our nation is 16 trillion dollars in debt. Our God calls us to live at peace with all men when at all possible and that little thing about “do not murder” yet our nation maintains troops in all corners of the globe, is fighting numerous wars, and entering new ones daily. Our God has called those that love him to bless Israel yet for multiple administrations (not just the most resent) of our country have sought “peace” for Israel by instructing them what to do, at times instructing them to give away some of their land. Our God calls marriage to be a holy institution and covenant before him. Our country believes they have a say in the matter.  Our country has no place in marriage whether Hetero– or Homo- it is a covenant with God.
I could go on but I believe I have made my point. If we desire for America to be a Christian nation there is a lot more to change then just the so-called “Social Issues”.

However, it is not voting or politicians, or policy, or governments that make America Christian or not, it is people, and commitments, and individuals, and culture. America was a Christian nation because its people were primarily Christian. That is no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for sometime now. And it will not be until the church wakes up and starts caring more about souls in their own neighborhood than they care about papers in Washington.

 

Are You Praying?

In his book “Break Out Churches” Thom Rainer chronicled how churches that had long been mired in mediocrity that had had little to no impact in changing lives, in reaching there community, or making a difference in the world had a dramatic change when the church, and specifically the leadership, recommitted themselves to the foundational ministries, the greatest of these being prayer.

My point is that if you desire for your church to make an impact in the world you must pray for it. If you desire for yourself to make an impact in the world you must pray for it. If you desire your church to change lives you must pray for it. If you desire your life to be changed you must pray for it.

In Acts 1:14 the leaders of the church gathered together and devoted themselves to prayer. Websters defines Devote as “to keep or intend for a special purpose”. The early church leaders special purpose was not merely changing a few lives or impacting the world but rather saving the world. There is a reason that the first century church was the point of, arguably, the greatest church growth (at least by percentages of people) that the church has ever seen. Prayer was certainly a major factor in that amazing growth.

To see God work in and through us we have to remain connected with him. It is through prayer that we maintain and build this connection.

If you didn’t make it to New Life Sunday we missed you but you missed a new challenge for every one that hears it. YOU are challenged to prayer for ministry (that is yours, your churches, others in town, others you know about, people your witnessing to, people you should witness to, that’s work with the church, the leaders of the church, that’s visitors to the church, any and all ministry) for at least an hour a week. This is over and above your times of personal prayer. But don’t try to fudge it and pray a minute here and a minute there. The suggestion is to pray ten minutes a day. This point is a matter of intimacy  Do you build a relationship with the person you talk to a minute at a time or the person you chat with for long periods, like over a meal or on trip? Well obviously the longer periods. So is the same with God.

If you did hear the challenge you should be praying. If you didn’t please join the rest of those that did. 10 Min. A Day. Its simple.

Are You Praying?

Don’t forget after each sermon we will have two blog posts to help you reflect on and apply the sermon and specifically to develop the concepts with your family. I like to give you some discussions or points directed toward adults and then the whole family:

Adult Discussion:

  1. Are You Praying?
  2. Honestly evaluate your prayer life. Jesus was 10 Where are you?
  3. What is your view of Prayer? What is the bible’s view? Focus on importance.
  4. Remember how you emphasis prayer is how your family will.

Family Discussion:

  1. Establish a family prayer time. Once a week, or once a day the important thing is that you do it.
  2. What kind of things can we pray for? Should we pray for?
  3. Are You praying for ministry?
  4. What is ministry?
 

Why a Pastor of Worship?

As most of you know New Life is currently seeking a Pastor of Worship. Some people may be wondering why? Why not a senior pastor? What good would a pastor of Worship do? Well I am glad you asked.

There are three simple reasons as to why, and they all have to do with growth, spiritual, communal, and neumerical.

1) Staff. The simple fact is tha a lack of staffing often holds a church back. The rule of thumb is for every 100 people a church needs some sort of staff member. This is obviously a point focused on the western church were most of the congregation is exceedingly busy and is forced to relegate much of the work of the church to paid positions, at least in a directory sense. Many churches don’t do this and they stop growing once they reach a particular size. The second aspect of this is that a church must staff for growth, be prepared for what is coming. So a church with 200 people doesn’t need 2 staff they need 3 to be prepared for the growth that God wants to cause in their congregation. This is a faith issue, all staff is. If a church waits to hire a staff member to when it is safe then they will never do it or do it late. They must follow God. We aren’t talking about a safe thing here, people are dieing and going to hell, families are dividing, friendships are ending, lives are being ruined. The church needs to reach its community in doing so it will grow and to grow it must have staff.

2) Worship Service. This one is especially true for smaller churches. Weather we like it or not for most people, especially in small churches, the worship services is the first and primary expositure of a visitor to the church. In the case of the small church the entire church, in many cases, is the sunday service. So it stands to reason that if this aspect of the church is improved the church will retain more visitors. This is meer logic. There is another aspect of this improvement. It also encourages the current congregates. If you enjoyed or benefited more from your churches worship service wouldn’t you be more excited about church, more likely to invite your friends, more likely to be on time, want to be involved etc.  A Pastor of Worship’s job is just that, to see that the service is as good as can be.

I would like to add that the first two points are commonly included in top five lists of church growth inhibators.

3) More Leadership. Often times in churches, especially small ones, every working congregant is doing more than one job and multiple jobs they are not equipped for or passionate about. This situation results in burn out, mediocrity and no time to take ownership of any job to see to its excellence. When a church brings on a staff to address a wide array of issues and jobs, like a pastor of worship, many of the little jobs that people are doing just so that the job gets done will now be addressed by the staff. This allows the person to focus on the jobs they are passionate about likely taking over a few areas from people that aren’t passionate about what ever the first person was passionate about. This happens throughout the church, all from one staff member. This person will also better equipe and supply people currently doing jobs that they are passionate about with the resources and assistance they need to succeed. In all, much of the church improves in quality and effectivness, regardless of what aspect of the church it is.

As a small additional point on leadership. The addition of another leader provides the current leadership with depth for more perspectives, ideas, and direction to better lead the entire congregation.

So a single staff can have a profound effect on a church especially for something as crucial as a pastor of worship. So that is why a pastor of worship.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Church, Church Growth, News

 

Taking A Break

Anthony and I are going to be taking a break from posting. As you can tell we have already started. The holidays are a busy time for all of us. So we are taking this time to get refueled, re-energized and over some little writers block to have fresh, empowering post starting the first week in February.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in News

 

Logo

 

 

This is now the official Logo of New Life Family Fellowship. I have some ideas as to things me can now do to get our name and mission visible in the community, but I want to hear your ideas. So comment on this post some ideas as to how we can use this logo to reach our community, and build the kingdom of God through New Life. 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Church, News, Questions

 
 
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