Church

What does it look like to live out the gospel, the would gospel. This is what it looks like in this story shared by Richared Stearns in his new book The Hole in our Gospel.

Richared met a pastor of a house church of 83 people while in Cambodia and he asked him his story, how did he come to Christ, and his story is summed up was.

His encounter with Christ began with Christians with World Vision who came to serve the poor, nursing the sick, educating the children and helping increase the food fro the hungry. So compelling was this service that it provoked questions in the mind of the curious man: Why are you here? Why are you helping us? The answer to these questions was the gospel, the good news. And they took me to a pastor who told me all about Jesus. He opened his bible and told me all about Jesus, explained salvation in Christ. And I committed my life to Jesus that day.

When asked, now what about the 83 people who worship with at your house church, how did they come to follow Jesus.

“I was so excited to learn about Jesus, that I had to share this good new with everyone I knew.

Wow there it is, the gospel in action, the great commission fulfilled.

A group of Christians taking the whole gospel va the great commission into the world. They saw Jesus was hungry so they gave Him food; that He was thirsty so they gave Him drink; that He was a stranger so they took Him in; that He was naked so they clothed Him; that He was sick so they visited Him.

Then giving an answer as to why they where doing it, Jesus. And as a result one person comes to faith in Christ, then he immediately goes and shares the gospel with other in the shadow of what the others where doing for them, they also come to faith and then he starts making disciples and a church is born and he is their pastor. That’s the gospel in action.

So let it be said of each Christians life, like Jesus said as you have seen, read, go and do like wise.

Francis ChanTwo pastor and churches that have quickly become my favorites of late, love the teaching of these pastors and they way they do church. These guys are leaps and bound a head of every pastor and church in America, they get it, what it is and what it is about. The get the gospel, what it is and what it is about.

The number one position goes to Francis Chan and the church he pastors Cornerstone Community Church

The number two position goes to Jimmy Seibert and the church he pastors Antioch Community Church

And a close third place goes to Matt Chandler

And then there is my sure foundation pastors, that will always be there on my list. Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, he was my mentor, gave me my bible foundation. And Greg Laurie of Harvest church.

I would move to LA just to part of Francis Chan church in a heart beat if that where possible, he is quite possible the only pastor in the US doing biblical church. For example his church forsaked the building of a new 20 million dollar building and opted to give the money to the poor. They now give 50% of their income to the poor and missions. And he plans to get that up to 90% in the near future. I have heard many pastor over the years gilt people in to given to them by saying you can tell a man’s faith, commitment to God by his giving, where he spend his money. I now put that back on churches, show me how much they give to the poor and missions and I will tell you where their heart is. How much they love God. The national average is that churches give less than 3% of income to the poor and missions combined that is unexceptable. I will not support a church that gives less than 50% to the poor, and is also working to give 90% away.

Just listen to he message here on what church is.

oprahs big giveHow is it that Oprah is fulfilling Acts 2:34-43, James 2:16-15, Mat 25:31-46 and the church is not, why is she is known as the radical giver, the one who rescues the orphans and needy and not the local church. Why is she known for giving away millions and church as only a taker, the one who only wants your money.

Why instead of building super mega Christian entertainment centers and calling it a church, isn’t the church going out into the neighborhoods looking for needs and filling them. Finding the person who needs a wheelchair and buying it for them. Paying for the operation to save the life of a child, clothing the naked children, feeding the starving children, fixing leaky roofs. Giving away new cars to struggling families. Filling up the pantries of the widows. Building orphanages, schools and hospitals.

Fighting AIDS, malaria, and digging wells? Why isn’t the body the largest adopters of orphans? Why is Madonna and Angelina Jolie are seen as the rescuers of orphans, the adoption queens and not the church? We where commanded to take care of the orphans.

It should not be that people go to Oprah as the one hope for the needy, that the people are hoping that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition answers their prayers and comes to their rescue instead of God through the church. The church and God should be the first source of help on peoples minds not Oprah. Churches in the US spend less than 3% of their income on the poor, the needy and missions combined, Oprah gives away about 43% of her salary to the needy.

Oprah and the likes of her should not be fulfilling and getting the glory of Acts 2, James 2 and Mat 25, the church is to be doing that. The world should be crying over what God is doing through His church not watching Oprah and see her fulfilling Act 2 and crying over her and giving her the glory that should be God’s and His church.

The church needs to get back to the business, mission of being the church we see in Acts, doing what Jesus said in Matthew 25.

There is two churches doing it right, one is Cornerstone Community Church pastored by Francis Chan, read his story here.

While at first Friday, a monthly event in the art district here in Kansas City. Came across still another new church in the art district, the third one in a two block area.

I was amazed to find out while talking with the “pastor” that he said “we are not about reaching the area, we just want to gather here at this location”. He went on to explain they have no ambition or desire to reach the community in the area, just travel there from other parts of the city where they lived, because it is the cool and hip part of town and want to meet there.

I would not call him a “church planter”, and reluctant to even really call him a pastor, because he does not have the heart of the gospel or Jesus, for the heart of the gospel and Jesus is to reach the lost. Go and preach the gospel and make disciples is the call, mission of the church. Not to gather in in cool and hip places.

I am hearing such stories to many times these days, seeing no passion for the lost, no crying and weeping over the lost, no cry such as that of John Knox when he preyed “Give me Scotland or I die!”. I have a really hard time finding a “church planter” today who’s prayer, passion is that of John Knox for their neighborhood. Especial one’s who’s actions back up such a prayer.

spiritual gifts

“Going to church no more make someone a Christian than going to McDonald’s make one a hamburger”. Something well said by Keith Green in the 80’s. But it is also very true that going to church, attending church, does not make you part of the church. We are called to be the church not attend a Christian country club where a show is put on for us. Biblical church requires the participation of each and every member to happen, each is giving a gift for the edification of the body. Each is given a spiritual gift that makes up the body of Christ. If someone is not exercising their gift each time the church gathers, that gathering of the Church is incomplete.

We are to be an active part of every gathering of the church, no one is to be an observer, each is there to an to contribute to the functioning of the body.

We are to ” strive to excel in building up the church.” 1Co 14:12, every Sunday, every time the church body gathers each of us has a part to do to make it happen. From God perspective it’s pointless for anyone to be there that is not contributing to the function of the church, He has given each a gift, part, place in the body to make church happen. And He says that no part is “indispensable” (1 Cor 12:22). As a pastor I can tell you I would rather have a gathering of 10 people whom each is exercising their spiritual gifts for the good of the body every time we gather, that a stadium filled with 10,000 observers.

Read 1 & 2 Cor, learn of the gifts and the part each of us is to play in the church, and if you do not know your gifts, seek them out, and go to the assembling together of the church with the expressed intent of exercising them. Let me give you some help here no matter what someone tells you changing diapers, passing out programs or directing traffic in the parking lot are not spiritual gifts. They can be service to the institution of the church, but not what God has in mind for you or limits you to. Do not let anyone sell you short in believing that is your “calling”, service to the body.

People have really never seen the real church in action tell they go to one where every single person is exercising their Spiritual gifts for the good of the body. Where there are no observers only functioning parts of the body. It is a glories sight to behold, it is the fullness of Christ manifested.

The goal of community with Jesus and His disciples was not to just gather, study the scriptures and leave. It was family with a focus. Friendship with a purpose. It is all about life on life discipleship.

Here is a scale and simple test:

You do Not have community: If you miss church and no one notices, so no one calls you to see why you missed.

You might have Good community: If you miss church and people notice, and you get phone calls after church wanting to know where you where.

You might have Great community: When everyone knows why you where not going to be there a head of time because they do life with you daily and know what is going on in your life.

I believe that when is comes to being called to be a church planter and pastor, that the choosing should be up to God to decide who is, the churches job is to be able to recognize whom God has chosen. I think if a church of church planting organization wants to know who to back, ordain, send out. Simply look for the one doing it, yes I believe it is that simple. Looking for the one out fulfilling the great commission, who is out planting the gospel. The one that God is using to disciple the ones He is calling to follow Him. Look for the one who’s house if bulging at the seams from the number of new believers that fill his house every week to be discipled, feed the word and to have community together.

Look for the one whom God has anointed to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;” and is doing it, not just talking about it.

Look for the ones who weep over the lost, who are men of much prayer, who labor day and night for the gospel. The ones who nether need your permission to plant or pastor. Nor can be stopped by you in doing so. Not the one focused on money, buildings, programs and professional entertainers.

Look for the ones God is bring up gathering of believers our of the wake of his faithful gospel panting.

Look for the one whom the Spirit is upon and speak the word threw him, that others just natural flock to them to be shepherd, to learn from, to follow.

When you find such men, you have found God’s choice, the one God is using to plant churches, he is the one already doing it.

call of God

I have taken note of late how so many church planting groups have set up very long list of requirements to both be a church planter and pastor. But yet I find no such list or requirements by God in scripture. One group that I have a connection to takes the requirements for elders and bishops in the bible and applies those to planters and pastors, but that is not what the scriptures say those requirements are for are for. So they are taking it upon them selves to apply those requirements to being a pastor.

If one looks at scripture what one will find is God uses whom He wants to do His work in the top areas like prophets, pastors, leaders such as Kings. And He has always it seem used the worst sinners He can find. The ones He knows will screw up big time. Unlike so many groups today who say you must be not only sinless but can never at any time in your life sinned or have any faults at all. And if you every do sin, you are out, fired. But yet God has never done that, required such a thing.

When I look at scripture what I find is that God chooses whom He wish without regard to who man thinks should be the one. In fact through out history His people have overwhelmingly be opposed to His pick to sever and speak for Him. Like Jesus said, “no prophet is accepted in his time.” When He picked David He passed over David’s 6 older brothers for the one no one expected to the one. When He called Saul, out of all the Pharisees he pick the worst one, passing over the Nickodemus’ in lieu for the one who was against the church to plant churches.

God sums it up in 1 Co 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

You see God picks and uses sinners even the worst sinners to hold the highest offices in His kingdom, the most important jobs, He uses murders, adulterers, cheats, and liar’s, even men of the worst kind of sins. So that He and He alone gets all the credit for what the person does, so that unlike so many today do, take credit for what they are doing, or claim they deserve the calling based on their own righteousness. Bur rather they must claim it is only by the mercy and the righteousness of Christ alone, anything good they do is God not of their own merit or ability.

There was an article in this weeks Inc newspaper here in Kansas City, it was titled “Sex Sermons at Church? Yes “. The article was on two church here that recently had sermons on sex and it gave the high lights of them.

Both pastors endorsed premarital sex, said that it is old school Christian beliefs that used fear tactics to keep people believing that sex before marriage was wrong. “That one can not separate their sex lives from their spiritually. God crated sex for man to enjoy within a committed relationship and that is up to each to define committed relationship as they see fit for themselves”.

This is what happens when “churches” stop teaching the Word of God, believing and obedience to the Word of God always comes to an end. When church abandon the fundamentals of the faith for culture relevant life styles and beliefs.

I will leave you with the words of Jesus as to church that abandon the Word of God in exchange for a culture relevant life style, and the pastors who lead them.

Rev 2:20-23 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

I am both amazed and saddened a how many church that I have visited and during the entire message the pastor never mention the name of Jesus once, or only two or three times on a good day. There are pastors whom I have heard numerous sermons of, and have never heard them say the name of Jesus once even. The church gathering is all about Jesus, how can any pastor get up there and speak for thirty of forty minuets and not talk about Jesus. This really bothers me, deep in my sprit.

As a comparison, Mike Bickel pastor of Forerunner Christian Fellowship and head of International House of Prayer (IHOP), someone whom I hear often. I tried to count how many times he says the name of Jesus, I lost count after 60 times in one sermon, now that’s a sermon about Jesus, thats a true gathering of the church. I can say the same thing about Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie, you will have a hard time keeping count, they say His name so much.

I feel that if the apostle Paul was to go to most churches today he would be compelled to give the speech he gave at Athens, referring to the unknown god the people worshiped.

Act 17:23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

After all if the pastor is not naming Jesus, not identifying Jesus as the Lord and God whom the church is gathered together to worship, then, who is it he is worshiping up there, talking about if not Jesus?

Pay attention next service at your church and keep track how many times you pastor says the name of Jesus, how much of his teaching is about Jesus. And if you can count it on one hand, you must ask yourself this. What is this church really about, is the pastor really about Jesus or something else? If the pastor is not passionate about Jesus, all about preaching Jesus, then the church and those in it will not be ether.