Church

A church planter should answer this question of themselves, why they go to church, the reason as a Christian. The answer as to why will determine what they invasion the church they plant is to be like for the members, what they will experience at the church gathering.

Why I go to church, I gather with other follower of Christ in order to:

Worship: Engage in worship, real passionate worship and praise of God, this includes words and actions. Worship that is a heartfelt intimate expression of love, devotion and passion for God with the body of Christ. To be in the company of like minded others who have come to worship God with passionate hearts, a body that when it worship’s it expects to encounter God, to enter into God’s presents, and to be changed as a result of the encounter, and will except nothing less. Worship that includes the freedom to rise my hands, my arms, dancing, shouts of joy, lay prostate, stand, sit how ever my spirit desires to express my love to God. I go for worship that is lead by a true worshiper of God who’s sole and only goal is to enter into the presents of God and love on Him.  Someone who is there to express to God their love for Him, they sing songs straight from their heart, write new songs on the spot, cry out praises from a heart that passionately loves God, not memorized words. And they are about leading everyone to do the same thing. (The best worship gatherings I have ever been part of, some there where no bands some there was, but the best ones where the ones that had a passionate lover of God who took, lead the rest of us to the very presents of God and allowed us to sing, shout out our love and praises to God). I seek no less than a hour in worship of God. (Psa 22:2, 35:18, 40:3, 29:2, 95:6, 9:2, 21:13, 149:3, 150:4)

Prayer: Like worship in prayer I expect to encounter God, and to be changed as well as the whole church to be changed as a result of the encounter. One of the characteristics the Lord specifically says will mark His church – His house – is prayer. “My house will be called a house of prayer for all Nations.” Therefore this is a must for it to be a church according to Jesus. The heart of a church gathering is to talk with God, seeking His presents, and direction for the church, and His people. I seek a church that prays without ceasing, as part of worship, fellowship, communion, everything. (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13, Eph 6:18, Php 4:6, Col 4:2, James 5:14-16 Jud 1:20)

Communion: Braking of the bread and partaking of the cup. When Christ said do this in remembrance of Me, He was talking about the Passover meal, the keeping of the Passover celebration meal in light of the life and death of Christ as a ongoing practice of the body of Christ. To share a meal as the body together recalling the life, death and resurrection of Christ, partaking of it whenever we gather in community in remembrance and celebration of the gospel during a meal. Therefore I desire to have a meal at the gathering of the body that includes the braking of bread with reference to the life of Christ and taking of the wine of the New Testament, all while recalling and retelling of the Gospel, what Christ has done for us and who we are in Christ. (Mat 26:26-30, Luke 22:19-20, Acts 2:42)

To Exercise myspiritual gifts: For the good of the body, and to be the recipient of the gifts of others that the body may be made compete, fully functional. Paul says when you come together as the church let each one bring something and contribute to make church happen. Paul says one of the main purpose of the church, coming together is for each person to exercise their spiritual gifts that the body/church might be complete. My primary responsibility in the body of Christ is to exercise my spiritual gifts. ( I Cor 14:26)

For Edification: That I might give encouragement, to exhort others and edify the body and might be encouraged by the others in the body. That we might mutually build up, love one another in the faith. (Acts 13:15, Heb 10:24,25, I Thess. 5:11 & 14, 2:11)

Teaching of the word: To hear verse-by-verse teaching of the word in a gospel/Christ centered way. Teaching that equips for the work of the Lord, that tells us how are we going to live together in submission to the Word.  I go not only to hear the word taught from the pulpit, but to hear a word – teaching from others in the body, as well as to share a teaching the spirit has giving me to share. (Heb 4:14, Rom 10:17, II Tim 4:2, Acts 2:42)

To Give: To help meet the needs of others. To give to God the way He said to, as Jesus instructed us to in Matt 25:31-46, buy fulfilling the needs of other, taking care of the orphan, widows, poor, and any in the body that has need face to face. (Gal. 5:13, I Tim. 6:17, 18, I Cor. 12:25, Phil. 2:4, Acts 2:42-47 )

Fellowship: To be part of a community gathered around a common Lord, common faith, and common baptism, to be in the company of like-minded followers of Christ that we might engage in the things of God and the Kingdom of God. That I might fulfill all the one another’s of the bible that God calls His people to do. To engage in true heart to heart fellowship with others, celebrate with others our God and Lord Jesus. Fellowship doesn’t mean meetings it means the shared life of the community. (Acts 2:42-47, Gal 5:13, 6:2, Ehp 4:2, 4:32, 5:21, Col 3:16, I Thes 4:14, 5:11, Heb 3:13)

I go because Church is not optional; it is essential, this is why Paul said, “do not forsake the gathering together of the saints”. Fellowship, service, love, and mission with the family of God is critical to a fruit-bearing faith and life. Just as salvation also is a community project, we rely on others to persevere in our faith, to spur us on, encourage us, admonish us, teach us, disciple us, pray for us, love us, and to exhort us. But this only can happen in real biblical church, and that is one that allows me all of the above elements. And all of this said in the context that, “church is not one activity in our lives. Church isn’t a meeting you attend or a building you enter. It’s our identity, our community, our family a way of life. It’s the context for the totality of the Christian life.”

I do not go to church; to simply Go to church, I gather with others to Be the Church. Not to be entertained by great performers, see a video show or short drama. I do not go to church to be reduced to being an attendee an observer.

We must think of everyday activities of our life through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission. Seek to live in such a way to apply these three elements to every aspect of our lives.

The gospel must be and is most effectively proven by it being lived out in everyday life, its effects on us lived out. Community life cannot be simply restricted to a Sunday morning service and/or a mid-week gathering. It must extend radically beyond these events to accomplish all the “one another passages” and what we see in passages like Acts 2:42-48, just as it is true that evangelism (mission) cannot be accomplished through programs nor by only a hand full of “professional evangelist”. Our missionary methods must expand into the ordinary everyday activities of our lives if we are to follow the scriptural models we read of, and Jesus’ life example. We must purposely form our everyday lives around the gospel and Christ. We’ve must move away from the program-based way of “doing” the Christian life, and doing church, move to a more ordinary, real and organic everyday way of life.

Begin by looking at all your daily ordinary activities through a tri-fold lens of community, mission, and gospel, things like going out to dinner, grocery shopping, going to the mall, taking the kids to the park. You want to seek out how you can take these activities and infuse each of these three elements.

Lets take going out to dinner, to add the community element you invite a Christian friend, someone from your church gathering. The gospel element can be added in a natural but intentional way as you converse throughout dinner, by partaking in the breaking of bread and the cup of the new covenant. Community is achieved by the very nature of coming together and have a meal together, you intentional engage in the one another’s of Christian fellowship. The mission element is accomplished by your intent of being there with a mission purpose, to reach, take the gospel to the world around you. By engaging your servers and possible those around you with the gospel.

Lets change up the situation a little: To add the mission element to your dinning out would be to invite a non-Christian friend, neighbor or co-worker to join you and your Christian friends. The community element is added in by both having community with the Christian as well as the non-Christian friends, but also the non-Christian getting to experience first hand real Christian community happening before them between you and your Christian friends. Allowing them to see a glimpse of the Kingdom life lived out by you. The gospel element can be added in again in a natural way as you converse throughout dinner. By you and the believers partaking in the breaking of bread and taking the cup, and explaining what is happening and why, and how this effects you life and who you are. And by them hearing how God and the gospel effects and directs your daily lives. And of course the mission element is also accomplished by the fact you are proclaiming the gospel through natural conversation and community with the intent to expand the kingdom by making disciples. And you still add in the active mission element of reaching out the your servers and others around you.

See how easily this way of living where we think of everyday activities through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission, can be applied to basically every activity of everyday life, everything we do. Perhaps the element of community cannot be always applied to every situation but the gospel and mission can be applied to every thing we do in life.

A question I hear a lot is, can I be bi-vocational and do church planting? And the statement I need to quit my job before I can do church panting.

And my response is do not quit your job and yes be bi-vocational, I just did blogs on the first two questions a planter must ask himself, Why he wants to plant a church and Define church before deciding to plant. One does not half to quit his day job to plant a church. In fact it really is detrimental to church planting to do that, by quitting your day job you make church planting a career for income purpose, it becomes all about making you money. Makes you disparate to make the church a income producing business, it is to easy for you to focus in on size to generate income for yourself. Not reaching the lost, by making you become focused on church transplants to obtain fast growth thus to produce a fast income. And if you do not achieve adequate income you will abandon the work to go back to work out of necessity. As a church planter I have two mission fields my job and my neighborhood.

Let me show you just how easy it is to plant a church, a biblical church that is and keep your day job, and even do so with out a penny

Take You for instants, you share the gospel with 3 coworkers the Lord is reviling Himself to, they accept God’s call and give their lives to Christ. Now every day You and those 3 join 2 other Christians at work for lunch 2, 3 sometimes even 5 times a week for one hour they gather and brake bread, share a meal, have a time of song and praise to God, study the bible, have time of prayer and fellowship. Guess what? You just planted a church, you have church every time that all of you gather together at work. All the elements are there, all the element we see in the scriptures that is. Jesus said where two or more gather in my name I am with them, so where two or more and Jesus are, church happens. You see size does not make it church, it only take 2, not 200 or 2000.

And You live a life that incarnates the gospel and the life of Christ before all, and you have been sharing the gospel and demonstrating a life lived in Christ to your neighbors for months and eight of them accept Christ and join you and two other neighbors who are Christ followers at your house every week for a time of fellowship, a meal, to study of the word, worship and prayer. In this gathering you have every element we see in Acts 2:40-47 as well as I Cor 14:26, boom a church, a house church is born. You have now planted two churches and did not have to quit your day job, see how easy it is, and I tell you that more real church happens in both of these gatherings than any meg-church.

See how simple it really is, and yes it really is that simple. You see if your definition of Church is Jesus’, Paul’s, God’s, then no big building is required, no paid professional staff is needed, no money, no set of programs, no professional entertainers, no seminary education or business plan and you don’t have to quit you day job. Only what Jesus said in Act 1:8, the Spirit of God, and to Go and proclaim the Gospel, and make disciples. And this should be the heart of every follower of Christ, every planter, a church in every neighborhood, every work place and school. To focus on community life so that they are one-on-one with a dozen others doing life together just like Jesus and His disciples, it does not get any better, real, organic, Christ like than that.

As I stated in two prior blogs here and here one of the two questions one must answer before planting a church is Define Church, what is church. Because you’re definition of church and Why you want to plant one is foundational to what you do. These two issues are so very critical, they will set in motion the chain of events that determine what is created, the answers will mold and shape what you do.

What the scripture tell us Church is to be, its purpose, what it is all about, the description we see of the first church must be our goal, blueprint for church, it is there and only there we must and should get our definition of church.

And that definition as I see reviled in scripture and seek to plant is:

Church is first and foremost people, the body of Christ. As well as Church is a way of life, not a systematize set of programs or event. You don’t begin with a structure or a church strategy; you begin with people, people in community with one another, a way of life that is lived out by the people. Church is all about Jesus Christ, about His life and death, living in oneness with Him, fellowship with Him, worship of Him and the teaching and proclaiming of His Word and His gospel to one another.

Church is about all things related to our intimate connection with God through worship spiritual formation, and prayer. Everything related to how God works His redemptive ways among people, the spirit, the word, discipleship and community. Church is a gathering together with two or more around Jesus, a gathering centered on communion, worship, His word and oneness with Jesus, and being on mission with Him on the earth.

Church is where people, the body of Christ come together for intimate life together, to encourage, edify, build up one another, equip each other for service, admonish each other and love each other.

Where we exercise our spiritual gifts for the benefit of each other, and in servant hood, serving others. To be fed the word of God, the meat of it to cause spiritual maturity and growth of the body.

Gathering together for corporate worship of God in the spirit. To have a communion meal together, the breaking of bread, which is the sharing of a meal in remembrance of Christ life and death. A time of study of the word of God, time of prayer for one another and the meeting of the needs of each other.

Church is an intentional and purposeful act of carrying out of all of these things by all, church is not spectator event, something put on by a few for the many, it is not a time or place for entertainment. It is other and service centered, you go with the intent, purposes of given, serving others, contributing your spiritual gifts for the good of the body, to share your resources with those in need, to do and give. You go to be the church, to bring a song to sing, to teach a lesson, share a word, to build up the body, to share a meal in love and fellowship with others.

Church was never meant to be for non-believers, let me repeat that Church was never intended to be for non-believers. It is not about, or for unbelievers, to be designed to be for them, it is for the body of Christ and about Jesus and the Kingdom Life. Yes unbelievers can visit it, but not to be the focus of it. What they should see if they visit one is see the body of Christ in action, experience true worship by true worshipers in love with God in Christ, not entertainment, fellowship in true love for one another, the word of God taught straight out of the bible and the meal of Christ being shared. See the heart of the Christian life on earth, church and a people in a real relationship with a real God. See the gospel incarnated in the lives of the people, see how the gospel transformed the lives of the people, see tangible prof that Christ is alive and active in the lives of the people, see want it means to be a Christ follower, see what the Kingdom life and church is all about, and it’s not a Vegas show.

Do you see how my definition of church shapes what I plant.

A few scriptures on what church is about: Act’s 2:42-47, 1Cor 14:6 & 26, Rom 12:3-16, I Cor 12:1-31, Eph 4:11-16, Eph 5:23, I Pet 5:1-5, James 5:14, Col 1:18, I Thes 5:11, Jud 1:20, 2 Tim 4:2, Tit 1:9, Heb 3:13, I Pet 5:1-4, Rev 2:1 – 3:22

I got two brochures in the mail Saturday for two new “church” plants in my area, the one said on it “high-quality music and videos……. we want you to have a great experience.” If I want great music I will go to a concert, the bar down the street, or put on a Matt Redman or Eagles CD, guarantee you they are better than any band they have. If I want a good video, I have cable, a Blockbuster up the street and the AMC 20 Megaplex to go to, and my own collection of DVD’s and I can chose what I want to see.

What was Not mention is Jesus in any way shape or form, nor was worship, fellowship of the body of Christ, not even their websites mention Jesus, a lot of talk about entertainment, a laid back atmosphere, drama, multimedia, music, awesome environment and straightforward discussions about your issues, questions on life, hum, and where is Jesus I keep asking myself, isn’t church to be centered on and all about Him.

I thought this was ironic that at the same time I am writing this week about planters asking themselves Why they want to be a church planter I get these two brochures in the mail. That so prove my points in my last two blogs. This is why it is so important that the first thing a church planter must do is first define What church is, and second is Why do they want to plant a church and compare it to what Jesus said and the blueprint laid out by Him and the disciples in scripture to see if it is a match. And I would say neater of these two “church” have the right Why to plant or What church is, because what they are doing does not match Jesus’ What and Why.

You know if I just want entertainment I’ll stick to the real pros and go to Vegas or the club down the street, the live theaters downtown, because that’s is not why I gather with others as the church, to experience high-quality music, drama and videos but to experience Jesus and community with others in Jesus.

And for those who would attempt to defend them saying they are trying to reach the “un-churched” but what are they drawing people to, an entertainment center, not real church, not Jesus. Jesus said “lift Me up and I will draw men unto Me” He said “go and proclaim the gospel and make disciples”, not draw, attract them to an enertainment center and entertain them. Anyone who goes to places like these two, will ever experience Jesus, the gospel, or church, because that is not what they are offering to them, what they are doing. Because every Sunday they will not engage in worship but “high-quality music, drama and videos’ they will not have fellowship with Jesus in community but have a “great enertainment experience.” and the list goes on what they would be missing, to sum it up, church and Jesus is what everyone going there would be missing every week

Continuing my discussion of Why do you want to plant a church?

The right Why as I see church planting would be you are all about community, mission – reaching the lost with the gospel and you see church as where mission and community intersect. Therefore you are passionate to seed the world with Christ-following communities that can confidently and are capably of transforming the cultures they live in and beyond. To see the community you live in impacted with the Gospel on a one-on-one personal way.

That you are you hungry for the true biblical community life, to see a church that looks like 1Cor 14:26 and Acts 2:42-48. Hungry to see lives transformed by the gospel both inside and out of your plant.

That you are passionate about the great commission, is it your life mission statement. The deepest desire of your heart is the same as Paul in what he said in I Col 1:28, it is your co-mission statement, that you desire that Jesus be proclaimed, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And the Key, you burn with desire to join God in the harvest, to proclaim the gospel to the LOST and disciple them in Christ. To see them usurered into the family, Kingdom of God, to warn everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And that is not accomplished from a distant, from a pulpit looking at hundreds or thousands of nameless faces, in a huge building with its own Starbuck’s, not accomplished by discipleship and evangelism being a set of programs, or by connecting with the people though a staff of 25. You heart is like Jesus’ that you must connect face to face daily with each person, it is personal with you, you want to life with each one.

It is accomplished when you decide that Growth and multiplication is NOT  measured by the need to add on to or get a bigger building or even to get one. But by Growth being measured in the spiritual maturity, the growth of the people into the image of Jesus, buy the Lord adding to it in newly saved followers of Jesus, and in sending out people who go and start their own church.

Read part one here

Why

Why

I have come to see that in church planting the First thing one must do is answer Why do you want to plant a church? And the Second is to define church. Because your definition of church and why you want to plant one is foundational to what you do, A.K.A. plant. They both combined will define what it looks like and how it functions and its purpose for existence. I have come to understand how these two issues are so critical, they will set in motion the chain of events that determine what is created, the answers will mold and shape what you do.

First, The Why? So Why do you want to plant a church?

First off one must understand Church Planting is about Jesus, about having a passion for the community life and reaching the lost. I have met so many “church planters” that the only place that they want to plant a church is in the rich parts of a metro area, I would say 99% of all new plants in the last five years have occurred in the rich areas of my cities metro area, and I believe that really reviles the planters heart and motives.

Like one young planter I challenged to plant in the poor or even the blue collar areas instead of the rich (high income) area he was targeting, he replied “there is no money in starting a church there” the truth came out as to the why he wanted to plant a church. It was all about money, he was approaching it more as an entrepreneur stating up for a for-profit business. Approaching it like starting a career to provide for him, in monetary ways, to fund his big material dreams of what a church is all about, and his personal desired income.

(I have an idea how about if we say that for the next few years we only plant churches in the inner city and blue collar areas of our cities.)

If you see church planting as a income providing career, something better to do than try and get a career in corporate America, to a be your own boss instead of working for and answering to someone else, you have a very wrong motive.

You must ask yourself, what is my motive. Why do I want to plant a church?

If your vision is a church of 10,000 with a Starbuck’s in it, see a mega complex starched and a nice six figure income with book deals in your future, you are doing it for yourself, only for self gain. You not only have the wrong Why you want to plant, but also the wrong definition, an un-biblical definition of church and motive.

I will continue this in my next blog read here.

This is all she has in the world! And the Church has the power to change that!

This is all she has in the world! And the Church has the power to change that!

Another church gets is right, at least on one Sunday they did, like I wrote here and here about pastors Francis Chan at Cornerstone Community Church and Pastor Jared Wilson of Element church. Kingdom Life Fellowship in Clyde, TX, started a “giving epidemic” Sunday that led to about $750,000 in cash and goods being given away during the worship service.

Special to the Reporter-News for the story below:

“We felt God was calling us to give,” said Hawk, a retired professional tennis player. And give the church did.

The church had accumulated a nest egg of about $320,000 over its annual budget of $338,000. That money was given away Sunday to church members who had financial need.

But that’s not all. People handed their tithes to other people who had needs. Cars were given; even a business was handed over.

“We gave over our budget,” said Hawk. “It was the single greatest moment by far I’ve ever experienced in church. We want to start a giving epidemic.”

On Sunday, people who had dire needs, ranging from keeping their homes to putting food on the table, were asked to come forward. Then people who had pressing needs were asked to come forward, and instead of collecting tithes from the members, those people were asked to give their tithe to a person in need.

No questions were asked, and no judgments made as money was given to pay off credit cards and college loans.

“We can’t make that judgment,” said Hawk. “In Acts, there’s the passage that no one lacked.”

Finally, about $20,000 was distributed to people just to do something enjoyable.

“If you had never gone to Dillard’s and bought a red dress, go do it,” said Hawk. “Go to a nice restaurant and leave a big tip. God not only takes care of our needs but also our desires. We really wanted to touch on God’s goodness.”

Hawk admits that he doesn’t know how much was actually given because the process was ongoing. He thinks a conservative estimate is $750,000. And this from a congregation of a little more than 300 and mostly blue-collar folks.

This like I said in my two prior stories is what we need to see more of in churches Acts 2:42-48 being lived out in church across America, but not just on one Sunday a year. But as a weekly way of doing things, like Chan and Wilson’s church a mandated policy to give at min 60% of the church income to meet the needs of the body, widows, orphans, and the poor and needy. Amen to Pastor Hawk, may there be many this become the norm for that church gathering.

After having a conversation with someone I have constructed a chart that I believe highlights some key contrasts between the attractional and missional Church ways. This is not all-inclusive and neither list applies complete to each of its respect church way.

Attractional / Consumer Church

Biblical / Missional Church

Church is a building/place/time

Church is the people any where and time

Program driven

Lifestyle driven

Mission is a program

Mission is a way of life, the purpose

Story telling

Gospel – Word proclaiming and teaching

Church is something Put on by paid professionals

Church is the sum of each person exercising their gifts, being the church

Institutional

Living organism

Worship is attractional, entertainment, performance based

Worship is the personal – group expression of love to God, spirit based, point to bring God’s present there and love on Him

Preaching is striped of every truth about God, Jesus, sin, salvation that the world does not like to hear.

Preaching is un-apologetic, teaching the word of God from its truths, leaving out and changing nothing

A weekend or Wednesday event in a church building

Can Happen every day, any time two of more gather together any where

The offerings are all about bigger buildings, sound and light systems and more paid staff

Offerings are about taking care of the needs of the body, taking care of the orphans, widows, poor, needy and sending out others to far away lands

Evangelism is all bout programs and events designed to attract others to come and become tither’s, it is a program, a set of how to do it instructions and pamphlets

Evangelism is all bout Going in to the world and preaching the gospel, meeting the people where they live, work and play, it is a way of life, a lifestyle, it is natural and organic

Evangelism is about crating converts

Evangelism is about making followers of Jesus Christ, and making them disciples

The building is the most important asset of the church, and the right one is necessary to attract others to come

The people are the church and the building is unnecessary for church to happen

Growth comes about by having the right marketing program, music, building and programs

Growth comes by preaching the Gospel and making disciples and then God adds to it daily

Run like a for profit business, plans made by men based on business models, marketing surveys determine direction

Run by Jesus via the Holy Spirit and prayer, the bible is the model

Attraction for growth in numbers attending

Sending out for multiplication for the expansion of the Kingdom of God

Pull back from and fear culture

Engage and transform culture with the gospel

Discipleship is a program, 7, 9 or 10 steps and in a few weeks your done

Discipleship is a lifestyle and commitment to pour your life into another and dong day-to-day life with them teaching them how to live out the Christ life over years.

The church structure and authority is set by the traditions and whims of men, the pastor and/or board is the head of the church

The church structure and authority is set by God and the scriptures, Jesus is the head of the Church

The model is complex, takes millions of dollars and relies on large seminary educated staffs, big buildings and therefore can not be easily duplicated

The model is the biblical model, simple and organic can be simply reproduced by any believer and anywhere, like in a house with no money at all

Most Growth comes from church transplants, people leaving other churches to join, on average only 0 to 5 new salvation’s a year, the point to become a big church

Most growth comes from salvations, the point is to Go into the world and reach the unsaved,  to Go and make disciples of all the nations

Growth is seen as a increase in numbers to become a meg-church, to create a larger base of consumer Christians participating in programs and to increase income to the church, no one is to leave

Growth is seen as each person becomes spiritually mature in Christ, being made into the image of Christ and made ready to be sent out, and sending them out

Christians need to see the Church differentlysee them selves for who they really are to be, disciples called out to do the mission of God. We are called to be imitators of God, imitators of Jesus and the life He lived, therefore we are to be on the same mission as Jesus who was on the mission of God. His mission is to be our mission, Jesus said as the father sent Me I am sending you. Instead of seeing the church as a recipient of God’s benefits, God as the facilitator of the American dream for us. Church is not to be a gathering of pew setters, something we “go to” and have put on for us, our focus should be to be more like Jesus, a missional people, on us Going to the world.