Church

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Chuck Smith passed on to heaven Thursday ( October 3, 2013) morning after his body gave out after a long struggle with cancer.

Chuck Smith was one of the key figures of the Jesus movement in the late 60s and early 70s. and was my pastor and mentor for 10 years. He is the most significant man of God in my life, God used him in so many ways in my life.

Time magazine ran a story on the phenomenon that was Calvary Chapel, a little inconspicuous church in the middle of booming Orange County, California, it began with the 25-member church Smith founded on a Costa Mesa lot in 1965.  He taught the bible very simply, verse by verse, and continually pointed to the Holy Spirit, rather than his own abilities as the unexplained explanation.  When asked him to share what the “method” or “secret” was, he said, “It’s the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  If you can explain what God is doing, then it probably isn’t God.”

From the pulpit, and in person, he emanated a disarming warmth. Calvary Chapel became famous as a sanctuary for a generation of counterculture refugees. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a big, benevolent smile.

He didn’t care how worshipers dressed or how long they wore their facial hair. He welcomed hippies, dropouts and the drug-damaged. He allowed guitars to accompany worship songs. He became Papa Chuck to the thousands he baptized below the ocean cliffs of Corona del Mar (as many as 500 at a time, including myself).

Chuck Smith’s life was a legacy of faithful bible exposition.  Chuck taught very simply, but the presence of the Lord flowed from him, and you could sense the Holy Spirit speaking powerfully and giving thrust behind his very simple words when he spoke.  Chuck taught trough the bible verse by verse, cover to cover, starting over about every 3 years. It was while at Calvary, that I not only got in-depth teaching of the whole bible, teaching  that surpassed any seminary, it was there that God taught me how to study the bible under Chuck, that I still use to this day.

Calvary Chapel has recently been hailed by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research as the biggest church planting phenomenon of the 20th century.  He added that it was largely an “unintentional” church planting movement.  In other words, it’s what happened naturally, organically, and spiritually.  It was as if the Spirit of God was directing young leaders to thrust out and plant, all of whom had no idea of what they were doing, but nonetheless, were entrusted by Chuck into the hands of God much like he, himself had been. Calvary planted  nearly 2000 churches, all where trained under Chuck. The process was, if you came on staff, the understanding was you where to be trained for three years, then expected to go and plant a church.

God through Chuck changed the world, the way church is done, worship, music. The emergence of Calvary Chapel paralleled — and helped to fuel what was called “The Jesus movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which embraced those the “traditional church” rejected, and that lead to the greatest number of salvations in Americas history.

Because of Chuck Non-denominational churches became the largest type of church in America

Modern worship songs came from Calvary. Before Calvary an organ, choir and hymnal where the only way to “worship” in a church. Or what I called dead worship, this is one of the two principal reasons I was not part of a church prior to Calvary.

Christian rock music started at Calvary.

The first time I walked into Calvary as a back sliding Christina living with my then fiancé Joan Cooper, and for the first time I witnessed a true biblical church. I saw for the first time true lovers of Jesus worshiping Him, I heard for the first time from a pulpit the word of God taught word by word. I was the same after that. He is the single most influential man of God in my life.

He will be missed.

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What do I want when I gather with my fellow followers of Jesus, Worship, Passionate, from the heart, Spontaneous worship. Prayer time, Jesus said the house of God will be a house of prayer, so I expect a time of giving and receiving of prayer for the whole body. Teaching of the word, verse by verse teaching from the bible. Followed by fellowship, true life to life fellowship, both after the gathering, and continuing  through out the week.

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I am a on the floor worshiper (Like the photo’s), I must stand, not set in a pew, so I can dance, jump, raise my hands, be able to lay prostate on the floor, or kneel. Sing Spontaneous songs to the Lord, shout out praises, cry, laugh show all my emotion to the Lord. That’s worship for me (and the pattern found in the bible). I must be able to worship in total abandonment freely before the Father.

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I will not go to churches that block, prohibit me from doing those things, I will not set quietly in a pew, or sing dead songs that have no meaning to me, that do not speak about the passion and love I have for the Lord. I do not go to be entertained by a band doing performance songs. I go to sing love songs to my Lord.  I do Spontaneous, passionate worship with all my mind, body and soul. If I am in an gathering that does not birth that kind of worship for God, then I am unable to worship God, its like putting me in a straight jacket and gagging me. I must be with other passionate worshipers, with a passionate worship leader and free to be on the floor and worship freely, love on God, sing my love song to Him, cry out to Him. Fall at the foot of His throne and worship Him.

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Check out this video clip of worship as I like it, look at those on the floor, that is where I am found loving on God with passion during worship. This is The More I Seek You + Spontaneous Worship with Steffany Frizzell leading.

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These are three key things I now ask about a church, three questions I ask about a church, and  require of a church before I would be part of it.

I ask these three questions about a church…..

1. How many churches has the church planted?

2. How many missionaries have they sent out?

3. How many baptisms do they do a week?

What I am look to learn, find out, is the church actively fulfilling the great commission, about Equipping and Sending, that is Making Disciples and Going into the world and Baptizing people. ( Matthew 28:19-20 , Mark 16:15 )

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”, so then as followers of Jesus, as the church we want people to become both disciples of Jesus and to Go and make disciples for Jesus. That is what the church is for, to make disciples, to equip them to be disciples of Jesus, and to go into the world and make disciples of Jesus. That is what Jesus did with the twelve disciples, He equipped them, then sent them to do the same thing.

If a church has been around for more than tow or three years should have a list of churches it has planed, missionaries they have sent out. A church that has been around 10, 20 or 30 years that has not planted a church is a dead church. Any church that’s not equipping, sending, and planting churches is not taking Jesus, nor the great commission seriously. It’s not doing its job to equip and send out.

Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa got it right, it is one of the few church in the last four decades that got it, when I was left there in the late 80’s Calvary had planted over 2,000 church around the world. Chuck Smith understood its all about teaching the word (verse by verse), equipping the body and sending them out to reach the lost of the world, planting churches.

If you entered ministry you where expect to Go, no one was to be on staff from more than three years, after that you where expected to Go and plant a church. I went out from Calvary as a missionary with YWAM.

So I have returned to my roots so to say, to the root of Jesus’ mission for His people, His church, to Go, to Go preach the gospel, to make disciples and to baptize, every nation. Every church should be doing that, must be doing that, the church’s  very commission by Jesus was all about Going, Making all about Multiplying.

The gospel should so compel us that we are never satisfied to attend the same church every Sunday year after year and set on our pews. As a pastor you should never be satisfied with one church, growing in numbers of pew warmer, people who keep coming year after year to just sit there and admire you. Or with growth coming from transplants from other church, no one getting saved, just other church goers switching brands. You should burn to have a line of people to be baptized every Sunday, see the gospel go forth and soles get saved. That every Sunday there are names to be read of those who are Going, being sent out as missionaries and church planters.

Jesus was passionate about Going, spreading the gospel and so I’m going to be passionate about Going, taking the gospel to the world. And I want to fellowship with those who have the same passion as Jesus. Be part of a church that has the same passion. It was Jesus’ last words on earth.

If the word is being preached and the gospel being proclaimed then naturally the people will be Going into the world, people will be getting saved and therefore churches are being planted.

So now when I meet a pastor, or talk to others I ask, How may churches has your church planting? How many missionaries has it sent out? How many baptisms do they do a week? If the answer is none, my next question is Why Not?

And honestly the way I feel these days is that any church that is not doing those three things should stop calling it self a church, perhaps call it a Christian entertainment center, or Christian Community center, but certainly not a church.

Any church that is not “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them”, “Going into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”  why would any follower of Jesus want to be part of it?

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Writing about the fallen state of the visible church is not my favorite subject, but others keep bringing it up and this is what the Lord has been showing me.

Regarding fellowship at church, as to going to church for “fellowship” let me define it as I see it in scripture, and what burns in my heart.

To go to church to have 5 to 10 min conversations with people once a week is no way biblical fellowship, that I see in scripture anyway, nor is that what my heart longs for. That’s the same level, depth of relationship I have with the check out girl at the Wal-Mart I shop at. Same as the girl behind the counter when I go to Chipotle. In fact in a way I have more fellowship with them because I see them more than once a week for 10 min.

The fellowship I seek at a gathering of the church, and see in scripture is deep, is wide and 7 days a week (Acts 2:40-46). And as for me I do not go to have conversation about worldly and, trivial things. I don’t want to hear about what cute things their  kids did, the new car they bought, what they did at work, what they think of the president. And I most certainly don’t go to be a target from someone’s networking to make sales for their job or the business they own, or someone trying to sell a house to me. How does gathering with a group of people talking about worldly and, trivial things further me in my walk with Christ, equip me for the work of Christ? It doesn’t.

I go to fellowship in Jesus, about Jesus, with followers of Jesus, to make much about Jesus, I want to hear about what God’s teaching them from the word that day, week, what they got out of their daily bible study. What God is doing through them, their part in the the mission, how God is fulfilling the great commission and Matthew 25:31-46 through them. I want to hear what God is saying to them in their prayers, a word they got from the Lord for the body. I want to Pray for one another, and I don’t mean for things like a promotion or raise at work, a better deal on a new house, but praying things like Ephesians 1:17-23 for each other.

I want to hear about their relationship with Jesus, hear what their part is in the mission is, not their pursuit of money and worldly things.

Yes there is a place and time for chit chat about the other things of life, about the kids and work, but the gathering of the church is not the place or time, no where in scripture do we see that.

When I meet someone for the first time at a gathering I don’t want to be asked, “What do you do for a living?”, “Where do you work?” , I want to be asked “How are you fulfilling the mission?”, “What are your Spiritual gifts?”, “What did God say to you in prayer this morning?”, “What did God say to you in your study of the word this morning, this week?” As you can see those questions can only come from someone who is walking with Jesus, can answer the same questions. They must be a person of prayer, one studying the bible, and living on mission,  a person walking in the light as 1 John 1:7 says.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:7-8, NKJV).

This verse leads me to see that  fellowship of the saints is defined by our walking in the light as Jesus did.

So then, if we as individuals are walking in the light of the Father as Jesus did, then we are also His sons as Jesus is and it is out of this fellowship with the Father that we also have fellowship with one another. Think how rich that fellowship would be if all were in tune with the Spirit of God as we should be. One person’s light, passion would be illuminating and kindling the other person’s, until all were brightly shining and freely moving under the anointing of the Spirit, and engaged in the mission.

I want to gather with those who are “walking in the Light”, I can only have the kind of fellowship I seek, that I see in scripture in the first church if the others are truly  following Jesus. How can I talking with them about their part in the mission if their not in mission. Talk about the word of God, if they are not diligently studying it daily. Get a word from God from them when they are not intimate with God, a person of prayer, spend time every day before the face of God on behalf of others. I can’t.

Read my 3 part post on

I’m Tired of Church in America

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 2

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 3

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How do I fix my eyes on Jesus, how do I behold His glory, gaze at Jesus? The bible,  community of Jesus, i.e. church, where we can make much to do about Jesus, talk about Jesus, the gospel, celebrate with one another who Jesus is and what He has done. Sing to Him and about Him to one another. This gathering, what we call the church should be where I can go and get all that, it is to be a profound boost to the soul, our spirit for the rest of the week.

I Love to set around with good brothers in Christ, have good food, good drink and just talk about Jesus, How God is moving in this, works in that. Dig into the word, and dig deep into the gospel.  That helps me fix my eyes on Jesus, keeps me on mission.

I want to be around people who talk about Jesus, I want to read about Jesus, think about Jesus, talk about Jesus, listen to things that point me to Jesus. I do Not want my conversation at a gathering of the body to be focused on worldly things, the cares of this world. Jesus said Don’t be like the gentiles in Mt. 6:31-32, don’t be concerned with the things they are.

That why when I gather with the body I do not want to talk about politics, work, money, material things. I want to talk about Jesus, the gospel, God, living for Jesus. I want to discuss Jesus, the gospel, Not how to make more money, or be the target for someone’s networking to make sales. I gather with the body to be in the presence of Jesus, and glorify Him, not ignore Him.

When I was at Calvary Chapel, what seems a lifetime ago, there was a group of us that went out for dinner after the Sunday and Thursday night services , with bibles in hand we had dinner while digging into the word, discussing the study we just heard. We would get into the nuts and bolts of life with Jesus. We where there sometimes tell one or two o’clock in the morning. Loved it, that’s where real fellowship in Jesus happens. That’s what a gathering should look like.

For me a gathering of the church must be like this, a place I can go and have fellowship with Jesus in the company of others doing the same thing. Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) if that is true, the reason we gather, then how can not every conversation be about Him?

Somebody point me to a gathering of believes that are madly in love with Jesus, are following Him, where all they do when they gather is talk about Jesus, the gospel, and I’m in.

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 2

I’m Tired of Church in America

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As one who is is passionate about a face to face relationship with God, through Jesus, who desires real relationships with other such passionate followers of Jesus. Who are actively living on mission with Jesus, spending their days preaching the gospel, making disciples, and fulfilling Matthew 25:31-46. Those who are truly seeking to “know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified”. Who are joining Jesus in his suffering for the cause of the gospel, to reach the lost. I seek to gather with such people, for the purpose of encouraging and equipping each other for the work. To pray with and for each other. To fall on my face, dance and shout before the living God of Israel in worship together. That’s a gathering of the church that I desire to be part of, seek.

I thought I was alone in my desires to gather with that kind of body, to read the bible and look at a church and see what I read, that looks like and is doing what I reading (especially Acts chapter 2). Then a follower of Christ whom had become my fave pastor for about 6 years, stated seeking the same thing, preaching the same stuff that was in my heart, he also is tired of what we pass off in America as church. Then in 2010 he left his church because he could no longer do church American style. His name, Francis Chan, he is my hero, we are on the same page, of the same heart, and I believe same leading of God. We both want to open the bible, read what it says and do it, live, just do it. And what the bible says about church, we want to have a church that is doing just that, that looks like that, what we read in scripture. Now others have joined us in our passion for real church, like David Platt (read his book Radical) whom is among a growing list of others join us in our quest.

I seek to gather with those whom are “suffering for the sake of Christ” and “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” they live their lives striving to fulfill the great commission, in making disciples, setting free the captives, feeding the hungry.

Gather with those who “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. Follower of Jesus are in an army, that is at war, and I want to gather with my fellow warriors, not those who in words alone claim they are, but who are actually living it out, daily. I what to live on mission and be surrounded by those whom are also doing so, also sharing in the suffering for the gospel sake, for Jesus.

I do not desire to gather with people to eat donuts and hear them talk about how much money they make, what they did at work that week. The new car or house they just bought or want. Politics, what this party did vs that party, or about who’s in office or should be, the cares of this world (that we are told not to get entangled with, 2 Timothy 2:4) . I want to talk about Jesus, the gospel, souls that where saved that week, the naked that where clothed and those need to be clothed, how they feed the hungry. How they are fulfilling the great commission and Matthew 25, and how can we this week.

I do not want to hear cute sermonettes, I want to hear the word of God taught Word by Word, in light of the gospel, that I am reminded of the gospel, and equipped for good works. Be reenergized after doing battle with the world proclaiming the gospel. Come in weary from my labors for Christ and be sent back out reenergized  that I might go back into the battle, go and tell the world what Jesus has done. I don’t what to be giving good coffee and a great guest experience. I want to gather with those that they and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, and in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples, and actual living it out daily.

I want to Pray with those who prayers are about being strengthened to carry out our work, for our brothers in chains for Christ around the world, that the captives in human trafficking be set free,  the needs of the poor, this sick, the starving billions. And not for the best parking place at the mall, a bigger paycheck to waste on themselves, a even bigger house, more expensive car.

I want to gather with the followers of Jesus who desire to “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”. not be entertained for an hour.

Like the saying goes “water seeks its own level”, so I  seek a true biblical church of witch the body is living at the level of life with Jesus that I want. That is “Going”, that are giving food, giving drink, taking in, clothing, visiting and going to. I no longer want to be brought down to the low level that the American church is at. I read the bible, the book of Acts and see what the church was doing, what the disciples where doing and say that’s what I want, the level I want to live at. So I seek a church at that level, and not just a hand full, or a few.

I do not need or want the American church, what I need and desire is to gather with my co-labors in the gospel, God’s coworkers in the gospel of Christ, as the Apostle Paul says.

Read Part 1 here

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It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.” Matthew 21:13 in that verse Jesus was referencing Isaiah 56:7 where God said “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Sadly I can count on my fingers how many churches I could walk into and say this is true of, and have fingers left over. And that is a sad testimony for the church in America. I thank God that I have the International House of Prayer (IHOP) here in KC when I can go 24/7 and both worship and enter into prayer with the brethren. I often go on Friday nights to the Encounter service, witch is 6 hours of Worship, Prayer and a study of the word. Love it, I usually spend 4 to 5 hours there in worship and prayer with others, giving and receiving prayer, and worshiping God, that’s what I talking about. That should be the norm for a church. If you cannot go to your church, especially on Sunday morning and engage in prayer with the body (and I don’t mean a 3 min prayer time), its not only a tragedy, but according to Jesus, its not His house, His church your in. Because His house, church will be a place of prayer, prayer for the nations. Prayer should be central to every gathering of the body of Christ, the church.

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I’m tired of going to church and seeing a big production. I’m tired of feeling like I’m at a rock concert or a funeral  when it comes time to worship in church. I’m tired of hearing shallow sermons presented with a flashy power-point and HD videos. Tired of message that are carefully filtered to be PC, not to offend anyone, so that it would Not Convince, rebuke, or exhort anyone. I don’t go to church to be entertained, I can entertain myself well enough on my own time. I don’t go to hear a sermon that sounds like a self help book. Of going to church that you do not need to bring your bible to. I feel that it would be too much to ask to simply have a pastor open the bible and expound on the word of God. I come to church to be with others on the same mission, Jesus’ mission He sent us on and to be equipped for that mission, to share the gospel and make disciples.

When I read the scriptures that is what I am longing for, what I read about in Acts, what I read church to be, is want I long for.

I want to erase everything I have learned about church in America, in bible college, seminars, books and the church. I want to open my bible and do what it say church is! Read what is God saying in the scriptures church is about and what the first church did, read it and go and do it. I want a church that looks just like that, what I see in the bible. I Would not come up with what we have in America as church by simply reading scripture, that’s not what would I come up with for what church is if I just read the scriptures, not what I see today. (more…)

img_3321 Shortly after God showed me though the book ‘ Not A Fan ’ that I was not only right in my choice to be a follower of Christ and not be a fan of Jesus. But also showed me to stand on my view on church, what church is to be and what I look for in one and not to compromise on that.

Idleman pointed out in his book that most church in America today are set up to cater to Fans of Jesus and not for followers of Jesus. The thought that came into my head was “Fan Clubs”, that they are, places where fans come to be fans of Jesus. Places where you Never have to make the commitment to follow Jesus. The sermons are tailored for fans, not followers. The services are set up to accommodate fans not followers, for entertainment not worship, for membership in a club, not discipleship,  for inward focus not outward movement. They are set up for weekend Christians, a place where you come to admire at best Jesus for a hour or two, then go on with your life. They are not where you go to become equipped to follower Christ but to be encouraged as a fan.

So I am sticking to my pursuit of biblical church, a gathering of Followers of Christ. Standing by my favorite pastor Francis Chan and his same view of church, “give me what I see in the bible, noting less will do”.

So what do I seek in a church, just that can I open the book of Acts read chapters 1 and 2 and then look at the church and see the same thing? Can I read the bible and every description of church in it and visit a church and say that’s it. If not, its not for me, and I refuse to settle for anything less.

I will not be part of a church that is a Fan Club, for Fans of Jesus, I will only be part of a biblical church, one that mirrors what I read in scriptures. I am not about planting Fan Clubs, but rather Churches that are gatherings of Followers of Jesus.

I am not a Fan of Jesus therefore I am not looking to join or start a Fan Club. I am a Follower of Jesus therefore I am all about biblical Church, that is a gathering of Followers of Jesus Christ.