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Church Tag

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

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!

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.

A lot of people debate the term “Missional” and “Missional Church”, being Missional.. And that I do not understand, missional simply means on mission, or on a mission which ever you prefer. Missional is not a program, a movement or even a mythology. It is both a command and a way of life, way of living, and for someone to say the church is not to be missional, is in essence calling Jesus a liar.

We read in Mat 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Here Jesus is sending His people, the church into the world with a mission to fulfill. We are to make disciples, baptize them and then teach them the word. There it is our mission, the life we are to live, the calling, purpose of our life in Christ. It was at that point the church was commanded to be Missional. Jesus gave His church mission, these marching orders just before His ascended to the Father.

Then just a short time later Jesus returns and tells His disciples Acts 1: 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In today’s time this would read, be my witnesses in your city, your state and your country, and to the end of the earth.

So why do so many not understand this command of Jesus, the mission given to the Church? He could not have made it any clearer. Not only did the early church understand the mission, they focused on living out that mission their entire lives. That is the first characteristic we see in the first churches, they where missional, they where on mission, and no matter what anyone says, that was not something for them back then, but Not for us today, that is a deception of Satan.

Christians should not have to debate why be missional, it should be enough that Jesus said GO into your neighborhood, city, state and the entire world. What more do we need to know other than our Lord said GO, said make disciples, said baptize, said teach the word, that should be all we need to know, GO! And Do!

There it is our personal mission, the church is to be on mission, live on mission, the church is on mission, mission is not a department, a program, it is a way of life, a way of being. The answer to why be missional? Jesus said to!

Every Church should have the mindset that they are on a mission today, on Missio Dei, God’s mission. That they are to Go! That they are sent into the world!

The second church that has it right that, that is following the lead of Pastor Francis Chan is a church gathering called Element in Nashville, TN. Their pastor Jared Wilson after hearing the story of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, see yesterdays blog. Pastor Wilson saidit grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and dreaming it. I was thinking about the ministry buzzword “missional,” and I began to think that, while Element has already been operating and teaching as such that “missional” is not just empty sloganeering for us, it could and should mean more.

So he went to his board and got them to voted to do the same, so Element will designate minimum 50% of its budget to missions, and 10% to church planting or to other gospel-driven ministries. This means that for every dollar we receive, 60 cents will go back out the door. Our operating budget will be 40% of our offerings.

Pastor Jared Wilson stated that We will give to both foreign and local missions, but more will go to local missions, because our idea is not just to write a check (or checks) and wipe our hands of it, but to be giving regularly to local mission agencies that we can actually visit, partner with, and do on-site service projects with.

Here’s what gets me: Jesus said to his followers that whatever they do to the “least of these,” they are doing to him. This means it’s not some nameless, faceless people out there who are shivering and starving and dying. It means it’s Jesus who is shivering and starving and dying. And while it shouldn’t matter if someone is nameless or faceless, while not seeing someone shouldn’t dissuade us from action, we are seeing this as a great way to bless Jesus, to worship Jesus.

Amen, see how one revolutionary can start a fire, as everyone knows California is being ravaged buy wild fires right now. And it is there that God has started a wild fire in one man, one church that has now leaped, like wild fires are know to do, clear across to Nashville. May this spread like the California wild fires through the church all across America, and go up to90% going to God, by giving it to the hurting, poor, starving, dying and missions and only 10% or less to building and salaries, Jesus said when you give to one of them you are giving to Him. Amen!

The United Nations estimates that the cost to end world hunger completely, along with diseases related to hunger and poverty, is about $195 billion a year. And that if the Church in America gave just 50% of its income to fight poverty it would bring an end to poverty, no one would go hungry.

The number one criticism of God is why does He allow poverty, starving children, that a lot of people refuse to accept God on that issue alone, they blame God for it, for not doing something. When the truth is God did do something, He commissioned, commanded His people, His church to do something about it, gave His people, the church the resources to do something, but they have chosen not to, to disobey Him. To spend the money on fancy building, programs and salaried staff.

How much the church would be a living, tangible expression of the love, compassion and mercy of God if they did what He said to do, and that is exactly what it is to be? No one could accuse God of being unloving or uncaring. The church would be the light to the world it is called to be, be the interment of Restoration, Renewal, Reconciliation and Redemption to our world that it is to be, reflect who God is to the world.

May a thousand churches follow Cornerstone and Element this year and more the next tell every church does as they are.

I blogged back in December about churches not giving the money they take from their members to God, giving only on average less than 3% to God,that they instead spend 97% of it on buildings, salaries and other worldly things. They do not use it for what God said, how we are to give to Him, by giving to the needy, poor, orphans, widows and starving, and as we read in the book of Acts, that no one in the church was in need because they took care of each other.

I just read about two churches that have it right, are doing it the way God said to. One of them is Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California.

Around nine months ago Cornerstone Community Church when the church was set to spend $20 million on a new facility the pastor Francis Chan said, “No” He said he could not in good conscience be the pastor of a church that spent $20 million on a building. Instead He suggested that they build a much, much cheaper facility, an outdoor amphitheater and community park. And the multi-millions left over? He said they should give it away. His board agreed. Apparently several hundred people left the church, because they where so outraged by this decision. Which I think goes to show that a lot of people give only to reap the benefits to themselves, amenities they can enjoy, you know a Starbuck in the lobby and cushy pews with cup holders and elaborate sound systems, the biggest building in the city. But Chan and his fellow ministers committed to giving away millions and millions of dollars. Chan said that one great benefit of the outdoor space is that whenever it was too hot/cold/rainy/windy, it would remind those gathered that there were many people around the world who never have a roof over their head.

So Cornerstone Church amended their budget to now give 50% to missions. Half of everything they receive goes right back out the door to the hurting, poor, starving, and dying. They even made an additional pledge to give $1 million to the Children’s Hunger Fund over the next year and they made that mark in April, in less than a year. And have committed to give as much every year.

Amen and praise God, a church that has it right, that has read the bible and is doing what Jesus said to, how God said to give to Him.

I applaud pastor Chan and his staff and the people of that gathering of the church, and there is so much more to this church, more to talk about later. Take note pastors, take note body of Christ, behold a real church that is doing it right. Tomorrow on the other church that has followed Chan lead after hearing his story. Read part two.