In the beginning God
God birthed the Church in power (Acts 2:1-5)
God gave a mandate to the Church to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20)
God stated that the Church would do that by bearing witness to Jesus – especially His resurrection (Acts 1:8)
God gave us authority to make disciples (not believers) and bring them to maturity (Matthew 28:18-20)
God promised to go with us and back up His message (the gospel) with power so that the gospel would be fully preached (Matthew 28:20 and Romans 15:18-19)
We have messed it up royally!
Somewhere between then and now – Christianity became something to be practiced inside a building instead of being a pulsating, life-transforming encounter with the living God that spills over and impacts the unsaved world.
Christians have stopped having true faith in Jesus and have learned to rely totally on their pastors or priests. For some the only time they connect to the Lord is on Sundays when they assemble together with other believers (not disciples) to worship and hear the pastor or teacher share his thoughts on a few verses of the Bible. This is also the only Bible they feed on in any given week. Witnessing about their faith to others is obviously non-existent for most of today’s believers. And, miracles, signs and wonders don’t follow them as Jesus promised they would – they chase them by running from one conference to another.
Unless the Western Church returns to biblical roots, it will continue its rapid downward slide to irrelevance and oblivion.
Jesus will not tolerate a rebellious and dead Church for long, for the Church is meant to represent His Kingdom to the lost people of the world. He is warning all such Churches today:
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:5)
Up until 15 years ago I was a conference-holic. I needed my fix every three or four months. I just itched to attend a set of meetings, talk with other leaders, listen to the ‘big guys’ who had made “it” work (I never did define “it”). They had radio and televsion programs, published books and were in great demand as speakers. Successful. I just had to go and learn more (not a bad thing) and get away to exercise my brain and recharge my spirit. Again, not a bad thing!
Then I became involved in a course through my doctorate studies that took me for 10 days to Dallas, Texas along with 26 others from various nations around the world. This “course” was headed up by Leighton Ford and with the help of some tremendous men and women we did classroom “stuff” during the day and then, in the evenings and late into the night, we went on the streets to practice what we had been learning. We went out street witnessing. Change my life – permanently.
Since that time many years ago I have spent at least one full afternoon a week (usually 2) on the streets (and in coffee shops – it gets cold here in the winter) engaging others in conversation, working at presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since that time I work at sharing the gospel every day during regular life events – grocery shopping, walking the dog, buying gas at 2 in the morning as I return from an out-of-town ministry trip, supper out with my wife. The methods I use have changed at least three or four times but the actual getting out of my study and office, away from helping and listening to believers, and into the world (as Jesus commanded we do) has never changed.
Now I don’t go to conferences or specials. I don’t have the time as I am “about my Father’s business of seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10). And, I no longer have a need to go to these special events. Where I use to go to these conferences to exercise my brain and recharge my spirit – that now happens on a regular basis as I hit the streets and businesses sharing Jesus and as I talk to others on a regular daily basis as I go about normal life activities. It is definitely a lift to my spirit – and sorting out answers to the questions raised and thinking through what went wrong and what worked during the day’s outing is all the exercise my brain needs on a regular basis.
I was talking with a couple yesterday in the City of Moose Jaw (the hour-long coffee became almost three hours). They are constantly sharing Jesus so when we get together He is always the focus and we just have a great time. In the midst of our conversation we began to think about a good-size town that has absolutely no gospel witness and where there is not a gospel-believing Church. Well, it got electric in the coffee shop – well, at least in our corner of it.
So, this coming week we are getting together to drive out to this town to walk around and pray and see if the Lord wants us to plant a new Church in this area that will not practice it’s faith inside a building – instead it will be, from the start, a pulsating, life-transforming encounter with the living God that spills over and impacts the unsaved world.