RSS

Category Archives: Outreach

Give Up NOW!!

 

In Antony’s sermon on Sunday he gave us a fantastic introduction to the book of Ephesians and really to the Ephesian church. There was a point in Acts where the work in Ephesus by the church made such a profound impact upon the community around those of the church that major changes were seen. I just want to focus a bit more on of these instances.

There is a story of some people that practiced magic. When these people came to Christ they burned all of their books on magic. These books would have been education on what was a false religion and thus idolatry. Now, I know that the church has gotten a bit worked up over this idea of magic and calling everything from Harry Potter and Magic cards, to the teletubbies “of the devil”. I have no intention of elaborating on this fact other than to say we should be wise in what we expose our selves and families to because the devil is real and he does work in this world. I would also say that some times Christians go to far, and demonize things and people. There is a point of being wise and avoiding what you might see as being bad but in doing so we should be careful that we aren’t being unloving to people associated with those things. Don’t forget that loving others is just as much (and I would argue more so) a part of your sanctification as fleeing from evil is, so do both wisely.

So now that I’m sure I have everyone mad I digress. The magicians burned their spell books. Anthony did the math for us on what kind of value these books had. In really rough numbers these books were worth some 6 Million dollars in today’s money. There are two points that I find interesting about this. First is that they burned them. I have no doubt that there were those in Paul’s day, and would be today, that would suggest we sell the books and use the money for the kingdom. Judas did this with Jesus in a very similar situation. The issue here is two fold. First, God doesn’t need our resources he calls us to be good handlers of the resources we have. Secondly, if these books were sold then they would continue to lead people away from God. This goes back to loving others. If we didn’t love others we would care more about the money then we would care how it might effect others. If we cared more about people then we would give up the money for someone else’s benefit.

The second point I find particularly significant about this even is that these people made a great sacrifice to follow Christ. There is a good chance that magic was all these people knew and these books were the source of their income, and their possession of greatest value. But they gave that all up to follow Christ. To often we think that we can come to Christ and make minor adjustments in our life. But truly following Christ is a life of great sacrifice, suffering, and self denial for the sake of the kingdom. Jesus didn’t say “just add me to your life” he said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24).

The Christian life is a self denying life of sacrifice. That isn’t to say that it is supposed to all be hard and miserable but it isn’t going to be easy and super all the time either. What are you sacrificing? What should you sacrifice? What have you been unwilling to give up for the cause of Christ?

 

 

Response to the Unsaved

How do you view unsaved people? Do you look down on them as terrible people. Ridicule them in your mind. View them as something other than what you are, we aren’t all people, children loved by God, we are saved and they are unsaved (heathens). Here are a few ways people respond to the unsaved world around them.

1) Evade: Run away
We build our Christian sub-cultures where we go to a Christian book store, we have Christian friends, we only hire the Christian plumber to work on our house, we only do church social events… Etc. Many of you don’t have any Friends that are unsaved and the only unsaved people you know are at work or your neighbors. How are you going to be the light to the world if you never leave your house? Jesus went where the unsaved where. If you want to catch fish you go where the fish are.

I heard a preacher telling the story of some of the men in his church wanting to start a softball team. The preacher said sure that sounds great. The men responded that it would be really fun, they could join the local church league. To this the preacher responded no, they wouldn’t join the church league they would join the “beer” league the open league because if they were going to reach people for Christ they had to go where the people far from Christ were. The first game came and one of the players came up to the preacher and pointed to the other team saying “they are huge and I know some of those guys they cuss and drink and they do stuff you just shouldn’t do.” To make matters worse the name of the other team was the nasty boys. Well the church team beat the nasty boys, and they beat every other team in the league and won the championship. But that’s not the great part of the story. The great part is that three families from the nasty boys ended up coming to that church that very year and were saved and baptized.  If your going to be a witness of God you have to do so where someone can see you.

2) Pervade: Overpower them.
We weren’t sent into this world to make it conformed to a certain set of actions, behaviors or thoughts. We were sent into this world to be the servants, to be the slaves, to love people in such a way that they might  know the love of Christ, see our good works and glorify God in heaven because of it. Why is it that we get mad at lost people for acting lost.

3) Invade: This we do.
We Go where the world is. We Love how Jesus loved and we preach and live the gospel to every one we meet. We are intentional about witnessing in seeking someone else’s salvation. In the church if we do any witnessing, and evangelism, if we talk about the gospel at all it is often defensive. If someone where to come to you and ask how to be saved you would likely share your faith. If someone visits church or a church event we will talk about Jesus and the gospel. But we don’t need to wait for people to come to us we need to go to them. We must be offensive. WE are to storm the gates of hell. The gates of hail will not prevail we will. We will rescue people from eternal damnation. We will.

 

Furtick’s Haters

Steven Furtick is a hugely popular preacher. He is pastor of Elevation church in Charlotte NC, where he is lead pastor of a church of 8,000+ persons and has seen thousands come to faith in Christ over the churches short history. I believe largely because of his success in ministry and his youth Furtick has received many accusations in regards to his genuineness. I can’t say I know everything there is to know about pastor Furtick or elevation nor do I have a desire to. And I won’t say I endorse everything he says because their probably isn’t a person on this planet that I would endorse everything they say. However, what I will say is two things 1) I believe that Furtick is not a heretic and does preach the gospel. I believe that Furtick is a genuine Christian with a genuine love for scripture and people and desires to see the two connected. 2) I believe what Jesus said in Mark 9:40 ‘For he who is not against us is for us.” and that he was right.

With that being said watch this video from Furtick addressing those that have accused him:

Call me weird but I really do believe that we are all in this together, Christians that is. If one ministry or one church or one pastor or one person is successful it is not our job to point out how they aren’t perfect or how I would have done it differently. It is our job to celebrate some more people in the kingdom, or more orphans placed, or more hungry feed, or more Christians discipled  Why aren’t we celebrating and more importantly working with each other. I know that a large reason for this is denominations and I am no fan of denominations in a general sense. I believe they serve some good purposes but they also serve to bring much division. However, I believe that the Evangelical Free Church of America has it right on at least one point of their distinctives. They state that:

The Evangelical Free Church of America embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith.

We believe in the spiritual unity of the Church though not necessarily in structural union. We join with other Christians and other denominations of like, precious faith in common goals and ministries to accomplish the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. But we believe that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve our distinctives. We recognize that union in structure does not guarantee unity of spirit.  Our foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians. Check out there statement of faith to see just how humble their orthodoxy is. They are foundational and that is about it.

They are right and Furtick is right. It is time for us to stop “Hating” each other and start loving each other for the sack of the world. It is time to stop negatively pointing out how every other church isn’t like us and start celebrating the diversity of the work that God wants done. I would like to call on all those reading this blog. All those at New Life and around the world to be known by your love for other Christians. To be labeled as the church and the people who work with other Christians to see this world changed. Plenty of Churches say they would work with others if a situation came up and will if there is a big crusade or something. That is not what I mean. What I mean is we ought to start seeking out how we might partner with others. To deliberately search for opportunities to unite the body of Christ. I want to see more and more and more partnerships that don’t find differences but seek out similarities in the same missions to see people saved, lives changed, and the kingdom of God grown and strengthened.

We are in this together, lets start acting like it.

 

In God’s eyes

Anthony spoke on giving on Sunday, specifically about giving within the church.

My question is what do we give out of. Some give out of abundance, some give out of lack. Some give out of obligation others give out of guilt. God would have us give out of love. This is why God gives to us, because he loves us, so shouldn’t love be the reason, the motivation, and the inspiration for our giving to those that would have a need among us, LOVE?

Doesn’t John 13:35 tell us that love for other Christian’s is one of the greatest tools for spreading the gospel that the church has?

That being said Anthony addressed our giving from the stand point of stewardship. God has given us wealth, resources, possessions, abilities so that we can be good stewards of it. We might think that being a good steward means saving, or investing, and sometimes it does. But we once again must be reminded that the way we view somethings is not the same as how God would view the same thing and our thoughts on a subject are not the same as what God’s thoughts would be on the same subject. So what would God’s stewardship look like?

God would call us to put to use, save and invest in the things that he sees as important. The very purpose of our existence, the reason he established the church. God would have us build community, and relationship with other people. Rebecca and I have opened our home on Saturday to invite people over to have a time to glorify God. We are using our resources for God’s purposes. God would have us reach out and grow in our relationship with him. God has given us more than enough to work with the problem is, in God’s eyes, we are just wasting it on trivial things.

Adult discussion:

  1. What are you wasting your God given resources on?
  2. What do you think God’s view of your stewardship has been?
  3. When are you going to do something about your lack of obedience?
  4. What is a small step you can take to being a more Godly steward?

Family Discussion:

  1. What are somethings God has blessed us with?
  2. What are some of our resources, abilities, etc. as a family?
  3. How can we better use what we have to glorify God?
  4. What are some areas we are wasting some of what God has given us?
 

Un-Felt to Felt

In Acts 6 there is a telling illustration of the church providing for the needs of others. In fact this pursuit was such an important endeavor to the church that there was a structure established for seeing to it that those with needs have their needs meet and that this work would be done well.

The church doesn’t have another purpose or mission but rather an obligation to come together, pool our resources and see to it that those among us and as many others that we may touch are shown the love of Christ through having their needs meet. When God and his church work in this manner there is a collision between a persons felt needs and a persons primary need.

Perhaps first we should recognize what a felt need is. A felt need is anything that a person could verbalize to someone else that they need. That is to say it is something the person recognizes as a need they have. A person might say I need food or gas in my car, or they might say I need significance or a friend. The meeting of felt needs is a cornerstone in the work of the church in our community. This is especially true in the area of outreach. God has called us to have compassion on those hurting around us and because we have God we have the means to meet those needs.

On the other hand there is a much greater need than most people’s felt needs and that is their primary need. Every person’s primary need is for salvation. Many of you reading this blog have realized your need for a savior and received the one that can meet that need. However, there are many people who do not realize this need. In the work of the church we must realize that we practice humanitarian work because we love and have compassion on people, but we should never lose sight of the fact that a person’s greatest need is their need for a savior. In many ways evangelism is merely helping a person move their need for a savior from un-felt to felt.

 
 

To 2013 and Beyond

I hope We are all Excited about the possibilities that 2013 holds for New Life. We have the opportunity the ability and command to reach our community for Christ the only question is do we have the motivation.

I truly pray that we will be a church that does: see those that have been turned off to God and hurt by the church included in to an active, equipping, biblical church community.

New Life needs your help. We are all in this together. We are all part of the body of Christ and even if only a small portion of the body isn’t working it impedes the whole thing. We all have gifts and abilities that God has given us to bring him glory, to impact the kingdom, and empower the body of Christ. We all have a circle of influence that God has given us to make a difference, and be a representative of Christ.

As we move ahead it is the desire of myself and the elders that we see 100% involvement in ministry. We can all do a small part in connecting people to people and people to God. We might can be a greeter, or a children’s church worker. Maybe you can lead a small group, or teach a class for spiritual growth. There is much to be done and much that can be done to bring the most glory to God. But it is not our desire at New Life just to see church involvement rise but rather to see ministry involvement rise. We desire church to happen whether it’s as individuals or as a group. We are all called to be God’s representatives. We are all called to discipleship, community, outreach, and worship in our own lives. The church is called to equip the body to do these purposes together, and as individuals.

As we look ahead to 2013 I would like to challenge you for two things.
First how can you get involved in New Life. There are many things you could do. See any of the elders or Daniel for some ideas.

The second is how can you represent Christ more or better in the coming year.

 

Our Job or His?

As many of you know I am a student of church. I love church. I Love being a part of a church, meeting with the church, ministering to the church, worshiping with the church, seeing the church grow and minister. I love the church. And out of this love and study I attempt to be informed of many aspects of church from history to ecclesiology (theology of church) to methodology of church, past and present. So in a moment of contemplation this week I had a thought about a modern form of church, that is to say a method of doing church. It is important to note here that the method of church might be un-biblical but there is not a complete method of “doing church” that is presented in scripture. That being understood the method of church can and should change as the culture, in which the church is present, changes but that the message (that being the eternal truths of scripture) should never change.

However, before I address this modern form it would be beneficial to first address the most daunting issue in many many stagnant churches. This issue is really more of a mind-set. Many church congregants view the work ministry as the pastor’s job. And those many congregants are little more than that: congregants. They are more than happy to congregate in the name of God but when it comes time to serve in that same name these people are no where to be found. In many churches this is not only a large issue but the foundational  the primary, the most important, and the determinant issue in the future of the church.

With that being understood there is a method that has been widely propagated throughout the western church called seeker friendly or seeker sensitive. My intention is not to insult or demean churches that employ this method but rather to make a few observations.

First allow me to explain this method to those of you that might mot be as familiar. One must understand that this method is a broad umbrella which encompasses many differing renditions of this particular method. That being said the seeker sensitive method typically designs their main corporate gathering or a main corporate gathering to be inclusive, attractive, “sensitive” to those that have not received Christ. These people may be open to receiving salvation or inquisitive toward the ideas of God, Christ, Christianity, and/or religion. None the less these persons are not follower of Christ and the primary corporate gathering of the church becomes the primary outreach mechanism of the church.

Now we might could debate weather or not this method is unbiblical. Remember I stated that there were unbiblical methods of church though there were no explicitly biblical ones. I would say that the broad umbrella of “seeker sensitive” churches or church services (keeping in mind that this classification is painting with a broad brush) is not explicitly unbiblical. Are there decidedly unbiblical “seeker sensitive” churches or services? Yes, But that can easily be said of any method, theology, denomination, ect. One must remember that just because a particular method is not for me, or I might not like or agree with it, doesn’t mean its unbiblical, it just means its not for me. And that’s a good thing that I come to that conclusion because those churches or services likely weren’t designed for me to like.

With all that being said, most “seeker sensitive” situations do a great job at encouraging their people to invite new people, which is great. However, that is where most of the involvement stops. Isn’t this prolonging and heightening the “That’s the preachers job” mentality? At least in the area of evangelism. Its like saying the average congregant couldn’t communicate the truth of salvation, the depth of the good news but that it is the preacher that needs to be relied upon to do this.

I said all that to say this. We are all capable of communicating the profound truth of the gospel to a lost, hurt, and dying world and beyond that we are all commanded to.

 
 
%d bloggers like this: