Thursday, January 30, 2014

Building the Local Church -part 6.5

   We're building that little church with intercessory prayer, evangelism, and teaching. Jesus said, "Feed My sheep." What do we feed them? Paul said Timothy was "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine". And I said we need to teach our disciples both solid Biblical doctrine and solid Biblical faith!
   "Can you recommend any good resources for a lesson guide?" Yes! It's called The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians. This wonderful book is only six chapters, but it's jam-packed with gold nuggets guaranteed to grow up believers. The first half or so deals mainly with what Christ has done for us and the remainder with how believers should treat one another. It's all good stuff, and there's enough material there to teach and train your congregation for over a year. Take it chapter by chapter, verse by verse, in some cases word by word! Don't dumb it down, but explain as plainly as possible deep theological concepts introduced here.
   Another excellent course of study is outlined in Hebrews 6:1, what the author calls the principle doctrines, or foundation doctrines of the church. They are : Repentance from dead works; Faith toward God; Baptisms; Laying on of hands;  the Resurrection of the dead; and Eternal judgement. These are the ABC's of Biblical Christianity, and you will do well to see your people are rooted and grounded in them.
   With my home Bible Study, I took one session just to go over the books of the Bible, breaking it down by Old and New Testaments, the sections of each, and a brief summary of the contents and theme of each book. You'd be surprised how many believers can't find their way around the Bible! 'Tis sad!
   Final note: please don't use the NIV; this version has so many passages left out, and many more translated in such a way as to leave the reader with just one possible interpretation or understanding. Give your flock complete Bibles, please! Love and peace always. Grow in grace.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Building the Local Church- part 6

  So we're building (not merely growing) the local church. So far, we've set down the blocks of intercessory prayer and evangelism. Good! We have prayer warriors covering our church and soul-winners seeking out the lost sheep. What next? Teaching.  Who said, "Duh"? In most congregations the Pastor is the Teacher, but most churches have other teachers as well. Ok, those of you who said duh (yes, I can hear you) WHAT do we teach????
    Two things: two completely different things, and we need both. 1) Sound doctrine. 2) Faith. By doctrine I mean the teachings of Christ and of the Apostles...theology, Christian conduct, End-Time Eschatology, Church ordinances...What we believe and Why we believe it! Basic Bible knowledge is so lacking these days. How many in your flock can name the 12 Apostles, or the 12 Tribes? If I  name a book, would they know whether it's O.T. or N.T.? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" Hosea 4:6 laments.
But God's people need more than knowledge. They need faith. By "faith" I don't mean name-it-and-claim-it, Jesus-make-me-rich faith. I mean old time standing-on-the-promises-of-God faith! Believing what God says even when we don't see it or feel it.
   Yes, faith can be taught: can and should be. You can grow faith in others. Share your testimony, tell how God moved in your life, proclaim answered prayers and miracles. Paul asked the Galatians if they received the Holy Spirit by the works of the law, or "By the hearing of faith" (ch 3:2 & 5). "So then faith comes by hearing" reads Romans 10:17.
   We must teach good doctrine and faith! Our people should be like Timothy, "nourished up in the words of faith AND of good doctrine (Timothy 4:6). God bless, and thanks for stopping by.

Building the Local Church - part 4

   We've been talking about building the church, and I said the first thing you need is a team of intercessors. I refer you to 1 Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;" The next element I said you need is a good evangelist or two. Why?
What are the benefits/ Why does it matter?
   Evangelism is the Prime Directive of the church; if your church isn't about fulfilling the Great Commission, what is it there for? Again, the Pastors can't do everything, and they shouldn't have to. The evangelist will not only reach out to the lost himself, but will train, motivate, and mobilize others in the assembly. Let's say he wants to head out to the Town Green for street witnessing. Send a couple college aged kids out with him; they don't have to do or say anything at first, just observe a master soul-winner in action! They'll catch the fire after they see a few sinners come to the Lord! Thus he will multiply his ministry.
   As Paul closes his epistle to the Romans, he gives instruction concerning a Sister Phoebe (no, silly, not the ditzy blonde from Friends ), and tells them, "assist her in whatever business she has need of you". She served in the church of Cenchreae---doesn't say she was an evangelist, doesn't say she wasn't- but Paul lists her ahead of Priscilla and Acquila- and says basically, give her whatever she needs. And I'm saying to you, give your evangelist whatever he needs: Bibles, tracts, transportation, people, money, whatever!
   He says, "Pastor, I want to do a prison outreach, can I borrow the Music Team?" You know what you do? You drive the worship team down to the Department of Corrections office and get them registered for visitation! Remember Jesus told us to pray He would send laborers into His harvest; ask Him to raise up an evangelist from within your flock or to send one from outside. Grace and peace...thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Building the Local Church -part 3

   Now whether we're building up a brand new church, or re-building an old one, our strategy is the same. We said that when God forms a child in the womb, He begins with the most vital organs, and works outward from there. Building the church is the same! So, without further ado, let's begin.
   The foundation of any work or ministry is prayer, and the footing of any church is its intercessors. Luke tells us of Anna the Prophetess, "Which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." Anna was an intercessor. Prayer warriors like her love to dwell in the presence of God, and enter easily into true, deep worship. They have a sensitivity to the heart of God, and want nothing more than to see the Kingdom of God.
   Your church needs, first and foremost a team of intercessors to lift up and cover the Pastors, to pray down God's will, and assault the strongholds of darkness. No doubt the Lord has already blessed you with two or three old gals like Anna dedicated to praying for you and your ministry- He's too faithful not to!
   Identify and get to know the intercessors in your midst,  and communicate freely the needs of the church, your vision for the ministry, and any direction you feel God is moving. If you don't have a set time for intercessory prayer, or an area designated for that purpose, get on that right away!
   Paul told Timothy, "Do the work of an evangelist", but if you're the Pastor of a small church, you're probably doing all the other work as well! You can get so busy, too busy with everything else you have to do, what time do you have to get out there and evangelize? "How shall they hear without a preacher?" asks Paul. Sure, each believer needs to share his faith in his own way, but Christ has called and anointed dear servants with a passion for the lost, and a gift to reach them. "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers", Jesus taught. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Building the Local Church -Part 2

    We're talking about building the small church, not just growing it. What good is it to have a hundred members if all they do is sit on the pews week by week? I'd rather have a couple dozen out there  shaking the gates of hell, making the devil's life miserable(r)! Remember, Paul started the church at Ephesus with just twelve guys , meeting day in & day out for two whole years before the big Revival broke out! I'm not just talking about building attendance here....if all you want is to one-up the other brothers at your monthly Pastor's meetings, check your heart, Bro, cuz God is under no obligation to cater to your vanity and pride.
BUT, if you want to reach the lost, change lives, heal homes, and bless your community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I guarantee the Father will commit all the resources of Heaven to back you, and the Holy Spirit and His angels will bring in everything you need to fulfill your call and vision! And may I add : )

   (yes, that's a smiley face.)
   So-! To build your church, what's the first thing you need? "Air conditioning!" "Comfortable chairs!"
"A pipe organ" "Someone who can do multi-media power points!" Yeah, that's all cool, but, NO. If you have just five guys in your congregation, do you need to set up your Men's Group right now? Nah, just get together informally. If you have only three singles in your church, and two of them  got engaged, is there a great need for a Singles' Ministry? "Duh, Matt"
   Look, when a fetus is developing in the womb, does God start with six-pack abs? Of course not: He builds up from a brain and spinal chord, a tiny heart, a basic skeleton, and so on! So it is with a baby church.
Certain stuff has to be there, and you build on it. Paul had that core group of twelve brothers and their families he built the whole church of Ephesus on...'cause he was "a wise master-builder".
So... vamanos!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Building the Local Church- part 1

    A newly planted church is a wonderful thing! It's like a newborn fawn or colt, struggling to find its feet! She lifts herself up, a bit wobbly at first, takes one step, another, more steady now...she grows, develops, learns, she's walking, trotting, galloping! Now let me make this clear: I'm not talking about GROWING your church. God knows enough has been written about growing, i.e. increasing the attendance numbers. But a football "team" of 50 players, having but one quarterback and forty-nine kickers is not a team!

   "But I want my church to grow!" First, Pastor, it ain't your church. Jesus told Peter, "Feed MY sheep".
Peter also told his disciples to "take care of the flock OF GOD over whom the Holy Ghost has made you overseers." Anyway, if the sheep are healthy, and well-fed, you know what will happen? They'll multiply. So let go of the growth part....that's God's problem, not yours. And it ain't a problem for Him.
Paul compared his job to that of an architect. Tons of brick and yards of lumber don't make a building. You have to have the right stuff in the right place at the right time.

   So maybe you took the plunge and upgraded your home Bible Study to a real church; perhaps you've inherited a congregation from another Pastor who's moved on; maybe you're picking up the pieces of a church split; or possibly you were chosen to plant a daughter church in your district. Whatever the case, you'll have some real challenges ahead. That's why we want to build the church! Let's say your now your flock consists of: you, your spouse, your kids, several random family members, a few close Christian friends, a couple of new converts, and a handful of brothers who've got nowhere else to go. THAT'S A GOLD MINE RIGHT THERE, believe it or not!
   Well, I'm a ministry-of-helps guy from way back, and I want to help you build that church! How? Stay tuned!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Postcards from a Church....

     Several years back, we got a card in the mail from a nearby church. The note gave a quick summary  of service times, ministries, yada, yada, yada. Come down, they boasted, we have coffee and great music! That was their pitch to get us out there: coffee & music. Ya know? If I want coffee & music, I'll go to Starbucks , thank you very much. From a church, I want more. Something I can't get anywhere else. Bad thing? The card never even mentioned JESUS! Hello! Is that what it's all about? Being "seeker friendly"?
    My point is, we still have something to offer the lost! Yeah, the world has changed, and attitudes have changed, but sinners still need a Savior! People who are hurt need healing, those who are oppressed need deliverance, those who've made a wreck of their lives need forgiveness and hope. And we've got Someone Who can give it to them!!!
   Let's not hide our candle under a bushel- or a coffee mug. It's true most people these days don't believe anyone goes to Hell, they believe we evolved from lower species or were created by aliens; don't wanna hear our moral absolutes. But we still have a message that's relevant, we still have the Answer to what's killing them inside. If our churches are going to spend money on advertising, LET'S ADVERTISE OUR SAVIOR!
   What I'm saying is, this dying world doesn't need more coffee & music; it needs Jesus, His power, and His Love! This should be our focus, the main point of everything we do...every song we sing, every tract we hand out, every sermon we preach, every ministry we provide, should be SATURATED with JESUS, HIS POWER, and HIS LOVE!

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD"

   What is that? It's JESUS, HIS POWER, and HIS LOVE. Everything else is secondary. We don't need gimmicks to lure unbelievers into our churches. Just tell them what Jesus can do for them...what He did for you! I am not shamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation. So many pastors cry out, "O God! Why isn't our church growing?" I hear ya. Forget everything else, get back on point. Tell the world straight & simple: Jesus cares about them, and can and will help them.

"And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to Me"

Grace and peace to all...thanks for stopping by.


About Myself...

   So who am I? Let me begin with who I'm not; Never attended any Bible School, I'm not affiliated with any denomination; I'm not a "Bible Prophecy Expert"; I don't read Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. (I'm fairly comfortable with English.) I'm just a regular guy who wants to share what's in his heart. I gave my life to the LORD in 1976, was Baptized in the Spirit in '84, enjoyed the Revival we had here in CT in the late 80's
(gotta luv those 80's), and was discipled and trained with various ministries.I was involved in leadership of several local churches.  I ran my own public access program for about 5 years.
     Now I won't here identify my Pastors and Churches by name; not that I don't appreciate what they gave me or give credit where it's due,
but rather, in case I say something stupid, I don't want to reflect negatively on them. So as to spare them any embarrassment, I won't identify myself as their disciple. Suffice to say, any opinions I promote here are my own, and don't originate with any of my old teachers. So don't blame them! 
    I don't do controversy for the sake of being controversial, but if something bugs me, I'm going to speak out. I don't jump on bandwagons, I'm not a hate ministry, I don't scratch itching ears, I don't candy-coat issues, I don't sensationalize them either. And that's what you need to know about me, and this blog.