Six Signs of a Struggling Church

As an apostle in our Network I visit many member churches as well as “friends” of the Network churches. Sometimes I am there to minister God’s Word through preaching and prophesying. Other times I am there helping the leaders determine the health of their church and how to turn it around so that it will begin to grow again.

These behind-the-scenes apostolic consultations usually look for six signs that a church is or soon will be struggling to stay alive, active, and relevant to the community through its outreach and evangelism strategy. 

Sign #1: We don’t emphasize Bible study anymore: When God’s Word is the not the foundation and the driving force of a church then the church and the people who attend it will inevitably wind up going down the wrong road. A healthy church focuses on, teaches and proclaims the Word of God in each and every activity that they pursue. A lack of deep biblical teaching is one of the most glaring signs of a struggling church.

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Principles for New Christians

1. Read the Word DAILY
A healthy baby has a healthy appetite. If you have truly been “born” of the Spirit of God, you will have a healthy appetite. The Bible says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” (1 Peter 2:2). Feed yourself every day without fail. Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food,” (Job 23:12). The more you eat, the quicker you will grow, and the less bruising you will have. Speed up the process and save yourself some pain — vow to read God’s Word every day, without fail. Say to yourself, “No Bible, no breakfast. No read, no feed.” Be like Job, and put your Bible before your belly. If you do that, God promises that you will be like a fruitful, strong and healthy tree (see Psalm 1). Each day, find somewhere quiet, and thoroughly soak your soul in the Word of God.

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Ukraine, February 2009

Direct Connections

Up at 6:00 a.m. and to the airport in my home city by 9:30 a.m. Coffee with some family members – actually I had a Diet Coke – and then I went through security screening and boarded the plane – with another bottle of Diet Coke.

Plane was late leaving as a bag had been checked and loaded and then the person who checked the bag was a ‘no show’. So, they had to unpack the majority of the baggage to find that person’s bag and remove it. Made us feel safer but also a little concerned as this meant we left to fly to Toronto 30 minutes late. The pilot did partially make up for lost time (regained 10 or so minutes) by going faster than normal. Helps with the connecting flights to be there on time or else you miss it and then you miss all the other connecting flights as well – finally not arriving when you need to. Read more

Principles for New Believers

1. Read the Word DAILY
A healthy baby has a healthy appetite. If you have truly been “born” of the Spirit of God, you will have a healthy appetite. The Bible says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” (1 Peter 2:2). Feed yourself every day without fail. Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food,” (Job 23:12). The more you eat, the quicker you will grow, and the less bruising you will have. Speed up the process and save yourself some pain — vow to read God’s Word every day, without fail. Say to yourself, “No Bible, no breakfast. No read, no feed.” Be like Job, and put your Bible before your belly. If you do that, God promises that you will be like a fruitful, strong and healthy tree (see Psalm 1). Each day, find somewhere quiet, and thoroughly soak your soul in the Word of God.

There may be times when you read through its pages with great enthusiasm, and there may be other times when it seems dry and even boring. But food profits your body whether you enjoy it or not. As a child, you no doubt ate desserts with great enthusiasm. Perhaps vegetables weren’t so exciting. If you were a normal child, you probably had to be encouraged to eat them at first. Then, as you matured in life you were taught to discipline yourself to eat vegetables. This is because they would physically benefit you, even though they may not have at the time, brought pleasure to your taste buds.

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It Is Time – It Is Time

There are a number of observations that I would like to make about the ministry of the prophetic in the Church today. These are general observations about the gift of prophecy and the calling of the prophet and not meant to focus on one particular individual or one stream of the prophetic ministry. I have noticed that those who minister prophetically – on all levels from prophesying when the Spirit of prophecy moves during worship up to and including the five-fold ministry calling of prophet …

1> Are often not submitted to those who are in authority within the local church. They seem to sense that the gift or the calling grants them permission to speak and minister even in situations where the gifts are not practiced either because of a theological understanding that does not support the gifts in the church today or the leaders have not granted permission for the gifts to flow. This also includes ministering prophetically in a worship service when a person’s gift has yet to be recognized and released; prophesying simply because they have a Word of the Lord (which somehow supposedly gives them the right to usurp God-given authority in the local body).

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Prophecy for a Local Church

In my last ‘Prophetic Insight’ article I mentioned that … “Recently I was in a local church and received nothing ahead of time – in spite of a concentrated time (in my hotel room the night before) of focusing on the church and the ministry to happen the next morning. I received nothing in advance. Then, at the service, I received nothing. It took three days after the event before I understood why – but that is another issue I will address in another ‘Prophetic Insight.’ ”

Well, let me speak to that issue in this edition of The Apostolic Approach’s ‘Prophetic Insights.’

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Ukraine, November 2008

Four Countries and Three Planes

Left home Thursday just after noon. Arrived Boyorka just after 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening. I’m being ribbed because on the trans-oceanic part of the flight I fell asleep for an hour. A whole hour. Wow! I travelled from Regina, Saskatchewan to Minneapolis, MN., and met up with my team there – Bob and Irene MacDonald from Saskatoon. Then a quick salad for supper (and gluten- free chocolate brownie) and off to board our second flight – 8 hours – Minneapolis to Amsterdam. A long walk covering a great distance in the airport (good to stretch after sitting -and sleeping – for so long. Then 2.5 hours from there to Kiev – capital of Ukraine. Read more

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A New Relam of the Prophetic

When I minister prophetically in a local church – the pastor or a leader of the church gives me a list of people they would like me to prophesy over. I call them up one at a time (or as a couple if they are married) and without any indication of what the Lord would have me say I step out in faith and say “the Lord would say…” and hear the prophetic word for them at exactly the same time they hear it. Read more

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The Coming Opposition and Then Persecution

I believe it was Dietrich Bonheoffer – a German pastor, seminary professor, and theologian who spoke often about “cheap grace” and “easy believeism”. His concern was that the Christian message was simply not being embraced because we lived with and accepted sin in our life – using the idea of grace to receive forgiveness as the reason why sin in its various forms did not concern us (cheap grace). And that the Christian faith was about taking up our cross daily and living a sacrificial lifestyle so as to invest in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations and people groups around the world. He believed (and I share that belief) that to be a believer and embrace the Christian faith meant willingly embracing sacrifice and being willing to die, if necessary, for what one truly believed. He did die at the hands of Hitler just as World War Two was drawing to a close. Read more

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“in Him that we live and move and have our being”

As we begin 2009 – the year of the Lord – I am reminded that it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28); that He is “the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8). So, everything we do in this new year must start and end in Him and with Him. We are to start a new year “in Him” and with “Christ in us” and we are called and chosen to walk each day of this new year the same way. Because of this, the good work He has begun in us He will bring to completion (Philippians 1:6). Read more