The Six C’s – Part Two

As God uproots and tears down (gently and in love) and plants and builds His Church will be formed upon the Earth. A powerful Church giving a powerful witness. A Church that is no longer preoccupied with itself, its programs, and the needs of the believers – but will focus on the mandate of the Church to win the lost and push back the spiritual darkness.

God is building His Church and it will fulfill His Great Commission telling the Good News from nation to nation unto the four corners of the Earth. All people groups (nations) of the world will hear of His glory and His offer of eternal life through His Church. This will be His Church and not man’s church. This will be a militant Church and not a complacent church. An apostolic Church and not an apathetic one. Militant to its very core and marching to the ends of the Earth; not resting if there is one person who has not heard the Gospel.

Those who belong to His Church will be called – captured – chosen – committed and commissioned. The 6 C’s of the Church that Jesus is building.

This will be a Church whose members have been:

Called – to leave spiritual darkness and sin. Called to be with Him, to walk with Him to know Him intimately. Called to live holy lives dedicated to serve the King of kings and not their own selfish desires and wishes, A new bread of believers who are truly “new creatures in Christ” and who have died to self and been raised to new life in Him.

Captured – by the Lover of their soul. I believe this is one element that is missing in the life of many who say they are born again. Jesus has never captured their soul. They have not fallen deeply and madly in love with Him. They understand the basics of the Christian faith and are attending a church on a regular basis but are not truly totally sold out for Jesus. He seems like a “good thing” and not the “only thing.” He is an addition to their life and not the center of every aspect of their life. They have not allowed Jesus to capture them. They are not captivated by Him as their Lover.

Chosen – to follow and become like Him. Once He has captured us then we choose to follow Him willingly no matter where He might lead us and what it might cost. He becomes more than Savior and Lover – he becomes Lord. The Bible says that they Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him – so these believers will walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and see miracles, signs and wonders as they chose to listen to His voice and then chose to obey. They are chosen by God but have also chosen to follow Him of their own free will. No longer simply dating – they are now the bride of Christ and thus committed (see next “C”).

Committed to the cause of Jesus Christ and to accomplish everything He asks them to do. They are instantly obedient and obey without question. They have placed their hand to the plough and are not looking back nor are they ever planning to. Committed regardless of the personal cost to them. They have become true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ – disciples.

Commissioned – to go out and tell others about Jesus. Commissioned to fulfill the mandate He left His Church – to go into all the world and seek and save the lost. Commissioned as ambassadors of the Living God. Focused, sold-out, winning the lost regardless of the cost. Apostolic (sent out) in nature and known as “fishers of men.”

This is the Church that Jesus is building. I believe the tearing down and uprooting has begun and that He is well on His way to building His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

Let Jesus capture your heart, your attention and focus so that you can be a vital part of this new and powerful evangelistic force upon the face of the Earth. The Church that He is building.

The Six C’s – Part One

I have been thinking about the Church a lot recently. This might seem a strange comment to make considering that I have given the last 35+ years to working for the Lord and in His Church. I have planted a number of churches, I teach leaders of churches, I help to lead a small Network of churches, and my life’s work, since my salvation experience, has been in the Church in numerous nations.

However, in spite of my involvement in the Church, I seldom take time to sit and think about “the Church.” I teach, I deal with problems, I work with leaders, I help bring churches back to health after they have suffered a setback or a decline. This keeps me busy enough dealing with “Church as it is.” But, church “as it is” is not always Church as God intended it. Nor, in any stretch of the imagination, is it “Church as it is going to be.”

God’s blueprint for His Church – and we must never forget that it is HIS CHURCH – is being revealed to apostles worldwide today and we are about to see some major shifts in the way the Church functions. That means the way we “do church” will be changing drastically. The daily “life” of the Church is about to go through some massive adjustments.

But before that occurs (or as that occurs) we will see some changes in the way we think of and view God’s Church. We need to come to a different understanding of what the Church is to be so we can then cooperate with the Holy Spirit in bringing change to how the church works. This will then help us to come to a new understanding about what it is to do. Notice the order – what we are to BE first and then what we are to DO. A change in our understanding of the Church and then a resulting change in what we do and how we do it.

I believe that the Church is broken. I believe that what we see today as “Church” is not one that the Lord has built. And, remember, He did say “I will build My Church.” I believe that many who sit in Sunday worship believing they are right with God – are not; they think that they are born again because they said a ‘sinner’s prayer’ but are simply “tares” growing next to some wheat. I believe that the heart of the Savior is not known nor therefore being expressed in the majority of churches today. I believe we have lost our focus and our raison d’etre.

I believe we have entered a season of radical change as the Lord (quoting Jeremiah) tears down and uproots what is so that he can plant and build His Church. I am excited about what is about to happen.

Part Two tomorrow….

Ignorance Is Not Blessed

As I travel and teach it has become obvious that many, many believers are not walking in God’s will for their lives. They are good believers, faithful, loving, wonderful people and they are most certainly “saved” but at the same time they are “lost.” They are directionless. They pray, read their Bibles, worship, fellowship, tithe, and help those in need. But, often they do not know God’s specific plans and purpose for their lives.

In most cases I do not see this as a failure of the individual believer but rather a failure of the leadership of the Church (apostles-prophets-evangelists-pastors-teachers) to equip them (Ephesians 4:11-12) to walk in what the Lord is calling them to do. Occasionally, the person has heard a prophetic word through the ministry of the Spirit of prophecy and has simply ignored it and done nothing to see it come to pass. In these cases, they should shoulder some of the blame. But, usually it is a failure of the leadership to equip the saints.

Here is what I believe every Christ-follower needs to know about their personal walk with the Lord.

1> Who they are in Christ?

This is their scriptural position and identity. This would include all the basics as discovered in the scriptures – a new creature in Christ, an ambassador for the King and the Kingdom, blessed, adopted, part of the royal priesthood, forgiven, accepted…. A complete list can be found on our main web site under resources/who you are in Christ (www.ralphhoweministries.com). This is the base upon which everything else can then be built – the foundation.

2> Who has He called them to BE?

When Jesus called His original 12 disciples the Gospel of Mark (3:14) states that the purpose was that “they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach.” They were to BE with Him first and then focus on ministry second. Relationship before ministry. In fact, I believe all ministry arises out of your relationship with Jesus.

The reason we are called to BE with Him is that God desires fellowship with us and that we would have a strong and vital, life-giving relationship with Him. As well, while we are with Him He is making changes in our hearts and lives. Although He loves and accepts us just as we are, He loves us too much to leave us like this. He wants us to grow and mature as He did (Luke 2:40) and BEcome all that He knows we can BEcome.

3> What has He called them to DO?

To know this you need two things – you need to come to know yourself better and then you need to know how the Lord has gifted you.

In Romans 12:4-8 we find listed seven basic motivational drives (gifts) given by the Father to each individual born on the face of the Earth. Each person has one or two of them as their basic motivational drives. These are the basic inner make-up of the person and determine what their hot buttons are in life and where their interests are. These are foundational to determining what God has called you to DO. He would not ask you to do something He had not already wired you (motivated you) to be able to do.

4> How are they to do it?

In 1 Corinthians 12 it states that there are 9 gifts given to believers who are baptized in the Holy Spirit. These are given to them by the Holy Spirit and everyone has at least one of these supernatural gifts. These gifts are given, according to chapter 14, to benefit everyone and not just the person who receives it. These are ministering gifts by which we can do the work of the ministry we have been called to do.

So, once you have received the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit you need to discover your giftings so that you know HOW you are to do what the Lord has called you to do. As well, God often speaks through a prophet or an apostle and gives a person a fairly detailed understanding of their ministry and what it is going to involve. Not to mention, as you listen to Him in your own daily time with Him He will give daily details to help guide and direct you during the next 24 hours as you go about ministering to others in His Name.

5> Where are they to do it?

As well, a believer needs to know where they are to accomplish what the Lord has called them to do. As a person begins to minister and fulfill what the Lord has called them to do, they should begin working in the local church under the direction of a mature and respected leader. Here they will can be discipled, trained, equipped and mentored. Then, if it is the Lord’s will, they can be released with the Lord’s blessing and the support of the local church into a trans-local ministry and ministering in other places as well as the local fellowship of believers. I believe the local church is the center and starting point for all ministry (see Paul’s ministry arising out of the Church in Antioch – Acts 13).

I believe that the Bible states clearly that every member is a minister. Everyone has a task to accomplish for the Lord.

A closing comment It is time for the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-18) to begin to disciple, train, equip and mentor people so that the members of every church are mobilized and sent forth into the world to fullfil their ministry and, in the process, the Great Commission. If you are already in a church that has a training system and where there are apostles and prophets (evangelists, pastors, teachers) then make yourself available to them and learn what your calling, gifts and ministry are. If not, then find those willing to train you and invest whatever it takes (time, effort, money) to learn and come into full maturity as a minister of the Lord. It is time to mobilize the saints – all of us!

Remember: one day we will all be held accountable for what we did with the “talents” the Lord entrusted to us (see the parable of the talents – Matthew 25:15-30)

Pleasing God Or Man – A Decision to Make

If no one applauds me but God, I’m a success. Whose applause am I living for? If you’re going to live faithfully and effectively for God and help to lead the Church in this world, you must make sure that you’re playing to the right audience.

Too often we are caught in the “performance trap.” We are trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Sometimes these people are part of the church we are in, part of the family we belong to, part of the small group that we attend. Othertimes they are no longer even in the land of the living having died years before. But, we are living our lives attempting to please or honor them in some way – measuring up to their expectations and demands. If we are doing this we are not going to be pleasing God because, as Paul makes clear, the choice is to please God or to please man – you can’t do both.

So, a decision needs to be made. That you will live your life before an audience of One – God, Himself. He is the One we are to please and to honor in our life – by our words, deeds, and attitude. It is His will that is important – not what we want or what others want of us. We are to seek His will and then live in the center of that revealed will for our lives even if it means disappointing others in some way. Rather disappoint others and please God than the other way around.

The Bible has a number of definitions for sin. One of them, found in the book of Romans, states: “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b) So, if I am doing things because others expect me to – for me that is a sin. If I am doing something because it will please others – for me that is sin. If I am doing something out of fear – sin. If I am doing something out of anxiety and worry – sin. I must be doing what I do because I am “doing all things as unto the Lord” (even your everyday job where you make an income to live) and because I am wanting to please Him first and foremost.

This, of course, does not go over well in the world in which we live where demands are constantly being made regarding how we use our time, what we are involved in, what we are doing … But, once established as the base upon which we are building our lives and managing our time – it allows us to say “yes” and “no” to events, activities and demands upon our time based on God’s will and His plans and His purpose and not based on what others want, need, or would like from us. It frees us to make quality decisions as to what we are involved in and what we are not involved in based on more than how we are feeling or how persausive someone is.

So, I play to an audience of One. And, although not easy most of the time, it is necessary if I ever hope to fulfill God’s plans and purpose for my life and hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Heart-to-Heart

When you enter your daily time with the Lord are you still and calm before the Lord listening for Him to speak. Afterall, He is God and really has the right to “go first?” In other words are you doing what the Scriptures state: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

When you enter your time with the Lord – who or what is your focus? Are you focused on your needs, your life, your hurts, your agenda? Or, are you focused on the Lord and planning to spend time with Him face-to-face as Moses did (Exodus 33:11)? Are you there to “taste and see that the Lord, He is good” (Psalm 34:8a) or are you there to tell Him a long list of needs and wants, hurts and circumstances that you desperately want His help with?

I discovered a long time ago that a healthy relationship happens when I go into that relationship focused on the other person. And, if they come into the conversation focused on what I am thinking and feeling (and wanting to really known about how I am doing), then we have a healthy relationship. However, if I go into the relationship and the time together focused on me and they are focused on me then this will not be a good meeting nor is this going to remain or become a healthy relationship.

For a relationship to be healthy I must focus on the other person and they should focus on me and then you have a two-way street and life can flow in that relationship.

When you enter in to your daily time with the Lord – His focus is always you! That’s because He is madly in love with you! He is interestd in you! He knows what you have need of even before you ask because He is constantly focused on you! So, if you go in to your time with Him focused on you and He is focused on you – you do not have the ingredients for a healthy relationship. But, if you go in to your time with the Lord focused on Him and on what He has to say to you and what He is doing (and might want you involved in) then you have what it takes for a healthy and meaningful relationship.

I know the Lord can meet your needs, move mountains, bring healing, work miracles … but what is even more precious then all of the above is that He simply wants you to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. This is what the Christian faith and our walk with Him is really all about. It was never about have some magic formula that summons the great genie in the sky to grant every wish and meet every need. It was and still is about having a relationship; and a healthy relationship requires us to focus.

Talking to Whom?

Acts 2 … “everyone heard the message in their own language” and three thousand people came to Christ that day. They understood the Gospel and with the Holy Spirit bringing conviction and godly sorrow, they repented, were forgiven and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they became born again.

Today we do not see multitudes being saved and the majority of churches do not see even one new convert a year. Let’s remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit still works today – His task has not changed and He is neither on holidays nor retired. So, the problem we have is that apparently we are either not sharing the Gospel one-on-one and from the pulpit or the way we are sharng it is no longer speaking to the people listening. In other words, they are not hearing it “in their own languge.”

Here is what I believe to be another major truth: There is no stopping the church from reaching people and impacting the world when they communicate God’s powerful truth and life-changing hope in the language of the culture with passion, focus, and faith. In other words, in order for people to genuinely benefit from and apply God’s truth to their lives, they have to hear it in a language they can understand.

Paul writes (the Holt Spirit is communicating to us through his writings): Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. [1 Corinthians 9:19-23]

It is time for the Church and individual believers to take seriously Paul’s comments and learn how to be with and communiate to the people they work with and live beside – family members, friends, fellow workers, and all others. We have become so accustomed to sharing the Gospel with each other (other Christians) that we often no longer know how to communicate it effectively to those who do not know the story (most of the younger geneerations today) and those who do not know the terminology of the Bible.

Add to that “language barrier” a general inability to even express the Gospel in a way that makes sense to anyone. In other words, maybe you are saved or born again but can you explain to another person why they need to be born again and how they would go about becoming born again. Often believers know the message in their heart but honestly are clueless in how to communicate the message in a way that will make sense to non-believers and help them to understand the peril of their spiritual condition.

Let me get personal – are you sharing your faith and the Gospel with others on a regular basis “as you go into all your world doing your daily activities?” Are you being obedient?

Let me get personal – if you are, how well do you know the Gospel?
Not asking here if you know it in your heart or head. I’m asking you – can you talk about it in a way that makes sense even to other believers? Many times we can know something “inside” and not be able to adequately express it in words.

Let me get personal – if you know the Gospel well enough to share it with others, are you doing just that – sharing it with others? Statistics prove most believers do not!

Let me get personal – if you know the Gospel and can communicate it in a decent way so that it can be understood – are you are working at sharing it with others, are you presenting it in words and phrases that a generation which has no Christian consciousness can understand?

In other words – it is one thing to talk with others who understand the need and the terminology but are you able to communicate to those around you do not go to church, many have never been in a church, they have not read the Bible and may, in fact, not own one. They do not base their lives on Christian absolutes or standards and, in fact, don’t even believe in “absolutes.” And, they don’t speak Christianese. How well can you communicate the precious truths that can save a soul from eternity in hell?

I believe it is time for each individual Christian to take a good look at their knowledge of the Gospel, their skill set in presenting the Gospel, their ability to speak in a way that they are being understood so that each can hear the Gospel “in their own language,” and to be serious honest with themselves about their lack of obedience in doing the one thing the Lord commanded His Church to do … “go into all the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples in all nations.”

Interesting and Stupid At the Same Time

From Charisma E-news … http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/28842-prayer-leader-supreme-court-decision-may-signal-onset-of-church-persecution#ixzz0sI5Vl1ru

Ralph’s Comment… Sometimes we can get ourselves tired up in knotes and really appear stupid by trying to be politically correct ….

News Release from Carisma Magazine…

A 5-4 Supreme Court decision Monday requiring Christian campus groups on public universities to accept gay students as members and leaders may signal the beginning of religious persecution in the U.S., says prayer leader Lou Engle.

“This is the first time in U.S. history where the Supreme Court has actually ruled that gender rights now trump religious rights, which means this is the beginning of the possible coming harassment and persecution of the church because it’s going to be clear that the true church will take a stand only on the Word of God,” Engle, founder of TheCall prayer movement, said today. “So these campuses will find out who the real Christians are, who is willing to take a stand and risk their status with the school as a club.”

In its split decision, the court ruled in favor of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, which barred the Christian Legal Society (CLS) from recognition and funding because it would not accept members who were engaged in homosexual relationships. The ruling states that campus groups cannot bar any student who wishes to become a member or move into a leadership position, even if that person does not agree with the group’s beliefs.

“The Hastings policy actually requires CLS to allow atheists to lead its Bible studies and the College Democrats to accept the election of Republican officers in order for the groups to be recognized on campus,” said Gregory S. Baylor, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing CLS.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “Hastings, caught in the crossfire between a group’s desire to exclude and students’ demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership.”

CLS says it welcomes all students to join its meetings and Bible studies, but requires voting members and leaders to sign a statement of faith that includes, among other beliefs, a line about “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle.”

Justice Samuel Alito, in a minority opinion, called the ruling “a serious setback for freedom of expression” and said he hoped the decision “will turn out to be an aberration.”

“The court arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups,” Alito wrote. Conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined his dissent.

Official recognition gives groups access to small grants, the college’s e-mail network and meeting rooms on school property. Now the Christian Legal Society will not have access to any of these things.

“This is an extremely disappointing decision that significantly damages the constitutional rights of religious organizations,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of several groups, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “The majority of the Supreme Court missed the mark in understanding that it is fundamental to religious freedom that religious groups are free to define their own mission, select their own leaders and determine their own membership criteria.”

Baylor said the case is far from over and that his group is considering further litigation. “This decision doesn’t settle the core constitutional issue of whether nondiscrimination policies in general can force religious student groups to allow non-believers to lead their groups,” he said. “Long term, the decision puts other student groups across the country at risk, and we will continue to fight for their constitutional rights.”

CLS attorneys said they do not expect the ruling to have an immediate effect because it knows of no other college with Hastings’ “all-comers” policy, which bars campus groups from excluding students from membership or leadership for any reason.

David French, director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, noted that the court did not rule on whether Hastings’ nondiscrimination policy trumped CLS’ right to free association. Instead, it determined that the all-comers policy was constitutional if it had been applied equally to all groups on campus.

That distinction opens the door for further litigation, he said. “Despite an unfavorable ruling on the all-comers policy, [CLS] can still prevail on remand if it proves that the university did not apply the policy to all student groups but instead specifically targeted CLS,” French wrote in a blog posting Monday. “We have powerful evidence that the university has, in fact, targeted CLS.”

Engle said his group is challenging students to begin campus prayer groups and stand against pressure to change Christian organizations’ statements of faith.

“We’re going to head into this thing and seek to raise up a standard of a radical stand for God, for truth,” Engle said. “We’re going to fuel prayer all the more. It’s going to be a great time for true Daniels to arise and get an opportunity to proclaim the word of Christ in the midst of this. I think the darkness as always is going to bring out the best in the light.”

It’s Time for Change

One Sunday morning the pastor of the church noticed a little boy standing in the foyer of their church. The boy was staring up at a large plaque on the wall. Small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The boy has been staring at the plaque for some tim. So the pastor walked up to him, put his arm around his shoulders, and said, “Good morning, young man.”

“Good morning, Pastor,” the boy was still focused on that plaque with all those little flags. “Pastor, what is this plaque?”

“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they just stood there together staring at the large plaque.

Finally, in a voice barely audible and trembling with fear, the boy asked, “Which service, Pastor? Morning or evening?”

What’s really sad is that, more than likely, you got that joke before you read the punch line. Unfortunately, the reason it makes people laugh is because it highlights a reality. Our services are killing us. They are boring, uninspiring, an embarrassment. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have given over 40 years of my life to the Church. But, there are times even I didn’t want to be in the services. I even led some of those services. There were times when I was bored and seriously uninspired and could not believe what was happening during the worship and the teaching time. Still happens today on occasion as I travel to various churches in nations around the world and occasionally have opportunity to sit and listen and not be ministering.

On my web site there is a resource for leaders of churches – discussing ways to definitely improve your Sunday morning (and evening) experience. From the many services I have attended over the years and from the many books I am currently reading on the subject of revitalizing the church in our world today – a number of ways to improve things so that we will not be hesitant to invite our friends and neighbors to attend our church with us. Look in the resourse section for a teaching on ways to improve your Sunday experience. (Sorry for the commercial)

We can do better. We must do better. We have what the world needs; we have good news; we have the answers to all of life’s problems; our message brings hope and healing to people… and yet, unless we can celebrate this in a way that is exciting, dynamic, inviting, and welcoming no one will even know.

It is time to change the way we “do church.”

Dumb Down God’s Power

Ever prayed for someone to be healed and it did not happen?
Ever asked God to touch someone’s life in a special way and nothing changed?
Ever attempted to cast out a demon and it didn’t budge?
Ever gone for coffee with someone you believed was ready to receive Jesus and they didn’t?
Ever led someone to the Lord and then they never came back and their lives remained the same?
Ever prayed for a miracle and ended up with a semi-disaster?

Sure, we all have. The only problem is that when these results are seen consistently we begin to “dumb down God’s power” (I borrowed the phrase and can’t remember from whom). We start believing for less; we start speaking less and less about God’s power; we begin to pray “if it is your will” prayers when we know the Word of God states it is His will. We talk less about the power and believe for smaller things. Or, worse still, we stop believing for and praying for miracles, signs and wonders.

Listen carefully as here is my point for today: We should never dumb down God’s power to our level in order to protect ourselves from disappointment. We should determine to offer people what God has promised and willingly deal with the consequences. We must believe God’s Word and not our feelings based on experience. We must believe God’s Word and not what we see or don’t see happening because of our prayers. Feelings are okay and must be dealt with – but God’s Word is established fact and never changes.

I would rather fail according to human standards by offering people the hope of the transformation God has promised, than to succeed by watering down God’s truth, insuring they never find it … I’d rather fail believing in God’s promises and power than succeed by diminishing them. But you might say: “What if nothing happens when I pray?” Well, what is something does? And, you will never know until you try, will you? You might say: “Yes, but if I pray and thus build hope in the person that something is going to change because God is going to move on their behalf and then He doesn’t, won’t they be crushed and walk away from God?” Possible – but, in my experience, not likely. People are usually simply thankful that you cared enough to pray.

But back to us – we tend to be the ones who experience the most disappointment and then we begin to believe for less, pray with fewer expectations, walk away from opportunities to stand in faith with someone and believe God is going to touch and transform their life or their circumstances. We go from praying with tremendous faith to praying with uncertainty to then praying with doubt. And, remember, that means you are unstable as a believer (James 1:6-7). Also remember, it’s impossible to please God apart from faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Unfortunately, I believe a lot of churches, even those considered successful, are not pleasing God. And, a lot of leaders are not walking in supernatural power because they gave up one prayer too soon and thus missed it … they stopped believing just as the victory was in sight … they stopped one prayer short of seeing God move powerfully. I know that this has been true in my life and then, if I let it, discouragement sets in and I find myself simply going through the motions of being a believer – praying, preaching, sharing, reading …. but expecting little to nothing. Of course I am seldom disappointed as I then receive little or nothing.

I have decided – this being the beginning of the second half of 2010 – that I am going to risk disappointment and “apparent failure” and begin again to pray for big things and powerful answers to prayer. I am going to take my stand on God’s Word because it has never let me down and has literally never failed me. I am going to continue to pray for the lost that they will find the Savor and that God might use me in some small way to help them to do just that. I am trusting that God still honors faith and answers sincere prayers offered from a heart that is right towards Him. I am chosing to believe that around the world God is looking for people who are loyal and committed to Him and His cause – and that when He finds one He moves powerfully on their behalf. I choose to believe that they that know their God will do mighty exploits.

To believe anything else would be to “dumb down the message” and that simply won’t do and never offers anyone any hope.

Gather to Worship – Scatter to Evangelize

Christians today for the most part don’t invest or burden themselves with reaching lost people. It’s not a driving force in their life. Of course, they rationalize this in a very spiritual way. They claim that they’re organizing the church to develop believers who will go out and reach unbelievers. In other words, the church gathers to worship and scatters to evangelize. But there are a lot of problems with this.

The biggest problem with this is that it is not happening and it won’t happen … This is simply an excuse for keeping their churches the way they want them. It’s an excuse for why they aren’t following Jesus. Remember, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” It’s an excuse for why they are not leaving their comfort zone in order to reveal God’s truth, love, and hope in the language and context of real people’s lives.

Oh, the training goes on and everyone feels good about it as they do learn to fish. But, in the lives of most believers, it never translates into actually fishing. Being trained and knowing how to fish and actually fishing are two different things. So, true personal evangelism seldom takes place – with a few exceptions, of course.

There are other problems with the way we have set things up … gathering to worship and scattering to evangelize… let me mention a few:
It was not the way the early church was organized. The early church would hold their large gatherings in the public square where a crowd would be drawn to their worship and teaching. This is where the gospel would be preached and thousands would come to faith. They then broke off for small groups in one another’s homes for going deeper into worship and teaching. The most successful and impacting evangelism took place as the church was publicly gathered. This is clearly seen in the Acts of the Apostles (and in most seeker sensitive churches).

Not to mention:

How are today’s believers going to successfully reach unbelievers if they can’t communicate God’s truth in the language of the culture? If the church isn’t culturally relevant – and in most cases it is not – the believers from that church won’t be relevent. No wonder the churches that make this claim of training them for personal evangelism later aren’t reaching anyone for Christ.

Not to mention:

If they ever do reach a person, where is that new believer going to learn about living for God in the real world? It won’t happen in a church that has no connection to or understanding of the real world. So, there are some serious changes needed in the “fishing boat” before the newly trained fishers of men can actually be effective in what they have been trained to accomplish.

So we need to be making some changes. Not change for the sake of change. But if it is not working – it is time to fix it. And, it is not working. Yes, we may like it the way it is – but the Church belongs to Jesus and it must be doing what He designed it to do and that is seek and save the lost. The church must value what He values – the lost. The value God has for lost people compelled Him to dramatically reorder His world in order to find them. It makes perfect sense then that He expects His followers to do the same.

God rejoices over one lost sinner that repents and turns to Him. What is it that we rejoice over? A good worship experience. A service that ends early? A teaching that actually went somewhere and said something? Jesus directed His ministry towards outsiders rather than insiders because this is what God valued. What so many churches and believers value and celebrate has nothing to do with what God values and celebrates. As a result the Church is not doing what it was created to do and believers are frustrated and unfulfilled.

It’s time for change.