This is so to the point, sadly so true, as for me I long, burn for the early church, the church in Act’s. That’s the church I want to be part of, the kind of Christian I want to be.
This is so to the point, sadly so true, as for me I long, burn for the early church, the church in Act’s. That’s the church I want to be part of, the kind of Christian I want to be.
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?
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
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.
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.
“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.
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…)
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.
More thoughts on the Reformed Theology craze, part one can be read here.
I liken all the focus on the teaching of “Reformed Theology”, going back to “Reformed Theology”, emphasizing the teaching of the “Reformers” as to what happened to God’s people before, with the Jews (something they still practice today). They became focused on the teaching of the Rabbis in a certain era, focused on the commentary of, “theology” of certain Rabbi’s than scripture its self.
At the time of Christ the Jewish leadership was focused on, divided by what Pharisee said vs. what the Sadducees said to believe about scripture, or in today’s vernacular Calvinists vs. Arminian. Or Reformed vs. Calvin. That is what Pharisee vs Sadducees was all about, two different schools of thought, or what we call today theologies.
God’s people had become focused on the teaching of the Talmud ( a collection of redinic teachings) rather than the bible its self, the teaching of the great scribes and Rabbis, like Rabbi Hillel or Rabbi Shammai. A book on Reformed Theology really is synonyms with the Talmud, and one could say that Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, is in many ways as well.
Just like how Pastors and Christians today set around and argue about Reformed theology or dispensational or Arminianism, about Calvin vs. Reformed, Aarminsion vs. Calvin. It’s just like the Jewish scholars of old, and today argue Talmud. Hillel vs. Shammai, Jerusalem Talmud vs. the Babylonian Talmud. I know, I spent my youth in a Jewish home, so I witnessed it first hand, just as I witness it among Christians today.
As for me When I talk with others about what I believe and why, I don’t quote Luther or Calvin, Tyndale, Piper or even R.C. Sproul. I quote scripture, what God said, what Jesus said. I base my beliefs on scripture not mans opinion of scripture or God.
I find no difference between what pastors, bible colleges, and Christians are doing than what the Jews have done, still do. Elevate man. I feel like name dropping has become more popular than scripture quoting. That learning what others believe about scripture is more important than studying and learning scripture it’s self.
I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 1:12-13
Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Today Paul would be saying:
Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Luther,” or “I am of Calvin,” or “I am of Reformed Theology,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Luther?
Like Solomon Said, “There’s nothing new under the sun” Ecclesiastes 1:9
There is so much reference to reformed theology today, so many pastors refer to it, claim it, and teach from it. So many books on it today, so many people and churches claiming, even bragging we are of a Reformed Theology, there’s even a New Reformed Theology and there is a host of other theologies out there as well, both new and old. My question is Why?
Let me start with what it is it if you don’t know, Reformed theology grew from the sixteenth-century revolt against the Roman church, lead by Martin Lutheran whom was rebelling from the wrong beliefs, theology of the Catholic Church. He was joined, followed by a group of other men whom became know as the Reformers, and the period known as the Reformation. To sum it up in a simple definition.
But my question is Why are so many wanting to stand, use the theology from this time period, use a “Reformed Theology”, follow the teaching of the reformers, the likes of Luther, Calvin and others. Reformed Theology came out of rebellion of the Catholic Church theology, beliefs, Luther’s teachings where just a modification of some of the Catholic Churches teaching, theology, 95 point to start with.
A friend of mine is in the process of finding a new church, one he recently check out the pastor is in to something he calls Eastern Theology. He is all about the Eastern Orthodox church vs. the Western church, a split that took place around a 1000 years ago. He is using their teaching to form his theology, beliefs about Christianity and a the framework for his church.
With so many pastors and Christians today being all about Reformed Theology as both their framework of their theology, what they beliefs. And also the framework of what church is and how do to church.
Why? I must ask! I don’t get it!
I do not, nor do I want to base my theology, what I believe on what a man or group of men said, 350 years ago, or 500 years ago or even 1000 years ago. Or how to do church ether. I go back 2000 years ago. I go back to the first church, to the teaching of the apostles, of God, Jesus. The master builder and His blueprint is all there in the scriptures.
If I want to know about salvation I read what Jesus said about it, what Paul, Peter, John and the others said about it, who ether learned from Jesus while being with Him or learned from those who did.
If I want a framework for church I open the bible read the New Testament, I can turn to Act’s read the first two chapters and there it is, the framework, the blueprint and what it is and how it functions. If I want to learn about pasturing a church, I read 1 & 2 Timothy to start with. Want to Learn about who God is, I read the whole bible, it just that simple. Yes I love to read what other men have learned from their study of Gods work, I can gain insight from them. But I do not build my theology on them. Say hay I base all I believe about God on what Jack or Fred at church says is true about God. To me that would be foolish.
So for as for my self I would say I am of a “Biblical Theology” or of a “Original Theology” you could say. I follow the teachings of Jesus, and Paul not Luther or Calvin. when I want to know about something I do not go to Luther or Calvin or any of the other reformers, I go to God, to Jesus, to the bible. The written word of God infused with the Holy Spirit is my source. The writings of the reformers are wrong on many points, the bible is wrong on none.
Its not that I have not studied these men and their work and lots of others from church history, because I have, even enjoy reading their work. It’s that I do not use them for the foundation of what I believe, framework of my theology, or church. It’s that I use the bible. I guess I would have to say I refer back to a great theologian whom is greater than Luther, Calvin and all the others put together, the Apostle Paul.
Just as Luther woke up and saw that the teaching of the Catholic church was wrong, so should the church today wake up and say lets go back to the bible, to the first church and get the truth. Why build on what might be faulty theology (Calvin was wrong on things just as much as he was right), beliefs of men of the past who lived many hundreds or years far removed from Jesus, when we can go back to the foundation of the word of God, to the first church and the words and life of Jesus Himself and those whom walked with Him.