Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians? | Desiring God

If we don’t make unbelieving people a priority, we’ll always gravitate toward the comfort of Christian cul-de-sacs.

A Personal Great Commission Number

“Wouldn’t it be great if we had an app that measured our engagement with unbelievers?” Something that kept a running total of:

Amount of Time x Depth of Relationship x Unbelievers

Sadly, for many, the product would be small, low, single digits. It is so easy to fill our time with the activity and fellowship of Christian life. Block out time for prayer, quiet time, worship, Sunday school, small group, committee meetings, accountability partners, Christian entertainment, political action, and socializing with your best friends with whom you just so happen to also attend church and, well, there really isn’t much margin left for, let’s say, evangelism.

Separation from the world isn’t really so hard. One could suggest it is a preferred and more comfortable course than engagement with it, especially if your love of God is strong. It is easier in many ways to be not of the world than it is to be in it and not of it.”

READ MORE:
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-you-too-christian-for-non-christians

US firm to try ‘reawakening the dead’ in Latin America | Daily Mail Online

“A US firm called Bioquark plans to test stem cell theory on brain dead patients
The method, which hasn’t been tested on animals, will be tested in Latin America
The team outlined a trial proposal last year to do in India, but were shut down.”

READ MORE:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4573914/US-firm-try-reawakening-dead-Latin-America.html

Reforming the Professional Ministry Paradigm

Followers of Lamb’s Haringer will recall many posts over the last 2-3 years, which call for a reformation of pastoral, professional ministry. For too long, American Christianity has followed the model set forward by Europe and Rome concerning professional clergy… a thing Jesus and the Apostles never demonstrated. The error has led to:

  • Denominations, Bible colleges and universities as centers of spiritual authority and sociopolitical influence above the local church
  • Lording over God’s heritage
  • A consumerism in church-goers
  • A dearth of spiritually mature Christians from quenching and grieving the Spirit (the One who directs and empowers His gifts to the Church)
  • A love/service of money & notariety among “men of God.” 

I merely call for a reformation of that corrupt model in exchange for the biblical one, as is detailed in the posts below:

The 5 Step Solution for the 10/90 Problem

The Other Master

The Greatest Sin in the Church: Lording

On Meddling & Professional Ministry

Abuse and Authority

12 Clearly Stated Facts on Biblical Church Leadership

Diagram of Biblical Church Leadership Roles

Spiritual Gifts: Discovering which Part of Christ’s Body God made You [Presentation]

The Scary Word: Give

A Portrait of the Church

What Really is the Church?

The Book of Micah (See esp. Part 2)

The 5 Step Solution for the 10/90 Problem

10% of the people do 90% of the ministry work

Whether it is an accurate statistic, it is one commonly expressed among all Christian sects. The Church has a motivation problem, so its leaders think. And, those 10% who do align with the “vision” of leaders often get “burned out” or “put out” by ungodly expectations. 

The leaders themselves are under extreme pressures by congregants…. to be, say or do what is expected at all times. Many of those expectations are beyond the biblical mandate for the role of pastor, (Ex: pastoral visits, when Deacons should care for the sick and needy until the elders are called by the sick for anointed healing). They also perhaps feel controlled by their being “employees” of a church governance, instead of being undershepherds, meant to care for the flock, as the Spirit leads and empowers their gift. Then, clergy often see themselves in a constant struggle and exhausting drudge to make their churches into effective disciple factories. “People just won’t hear sound doctrine anymore,” some say. Others who are frustrated to make disciples rely on the phrase, “It’s just hard here.” 

All of these lines of church sub-culture are interconnected, and there is a 5-Step Solution which will take some courage and time and talking to implement. But, the result will be worth it!

1. CLERGY WORK/PAY: We need more ministers like the apostle Paul, who can say, “You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” (Acts 20:34)

The Pastors / Elders / Ministers will not take a salary or any regular pay. Doing so would eliminate being a “professional minister” for filthy lucre’s sake. They will obtain a skilled trade or profession like their congregants, or (if you wish) like Jesus and His Apostles, who wanted everyone to know the Gospel is free (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15-18). Clergy will receive circumstantial and need-based gifts from collections to make up anything they may need, including study resources, retreat times and conferencing. Deacons / Deaconness will make sure clergy have what is necessary, just as they should be doing for everyone in the congregation. [A “transition package” might be arranged for leaders who will find a transition into “secular work” challenging, due to academic degrees or marketable skills limitations.]

Use the funds to pay off church debt. Or, meet the needs of the congregation (ex. pay fees for professional Christian counseling or drug rehab or financial management programs). Remember the poor, disaster stricken, orphaned and widowed, as well as missions / church planting efforts. Or, use the funds to hire multi-media useful for multi-site church and/or internet, radio and TV broadcasting. Be missional!

2. CLERGY FOCUS ON PRAYER & MINISTERING THE WORD [and passing the Apostles’ doctrine (NT letters) on to those who are teachers]: The Pastors / Elders / Ministers will cease from occupational administration, vision casting, initiative creating, “ministry opportunity” development, or crowd-attracting / maintaining hype. This kind of busy work replaces the genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit throughout the individual parts of the Body. 

Instead, serve / feed the Sheep by praying for & equipping the saints to know and interpret the Word for themselves… to build up the parts of the Body to have direct and vibrant and maturing relationships with God for themselves, so that the words and works of Jesus are being consistently produced in and through them; & so that they are not tossed about by false doctrines. [This will include instruction on essentials of the historical, biblicist Christian faith & apologetics.] Remember to empathetically and compassionately and meekly restore the failing, gently instructing those who oppose themselves. This is the true work of pastors and of all who are spiritually mature.

When preaching is being done, also teach exegesis/elements of interpretation and how to personally apply the exegesis. This cannot be done without teaching / preaching though entire books (including the context provided by  biblical theology), as well as topics. 

Devise a plan on how to train both teens and adults on whole Bible interpretation and Christian apologetics over the span of 3-5 years. Work the plan continually and repeatedly. There are so many excellent resources in these regards, one is sure to feel no overwhelm in accomplishing the task.

3. CLERGY EMPHASIZE THE PRIESTHOOD OF EACH BELIVER, SOUL LIBERTY & THE PERSON and MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Instead of clergy inadvertently or wittingly placing one’s self as a lord over God’s heritage, emphasize there is One Lord, and that, He is IN all (believers) and over all believers, including the “pastors.” The Spirit should be followed above men, because He is Lord and empowers and directs each part of the Body, as He wills. 

This will necessitate that we learn to view each other according to our spiritual giftings and how they function! 

It will also demand of pastors that they learn the Scriptures show always more than one man gifted as an elder or leader (ex. Missionary / apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor/Teacher) in any one church. So many churches use the atrocious and unbiblical “one pastor” model… which is seemingly always added upon the tendency to: 

  • Throw all spiritual (and administrative / coordinating) responsibilities on the pastor.
  • Not view believers according to their gifts and how those operate in/by the Spirit. It should be that the pastor(s) are aware of the gifts in their church, knowing the Spirit will work in and through them to help lead the congregation toward maturity in their relationship with God. Church leaders must learn to bow to the Holy Spirit functioning in other leaders and in all believers. We must kill the spirit of Diotrephes.

Therefore, teach and exemplify:

  1. The New Creature in Christ Identity, being  joined to the Lord as one Spirit. Conversely, expose the “old man” (the flesh), the world and the satanic forces of evil as the enemy of one’s identity in Christ.
  2. What it is to hear from the Spirit of God, in accordance to the Word. More importantly, instruct and show what it is to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in relationships, attitudes, actions and life choices. 

Explain and reinforce that the Holy Spirit directs us ALL to do the work of the ministry, both inside and outside the church. 

Inside the church, and no matter what gifting we possess, we edify one another in love at the prompting of the Spirit [not via officially organized, transactional & sterile ministry departments], and seek to honor one another genuinely, considering all others better (and worthy of more honor) than ourselves. We encourage one another to become more like Jesus. This takes time to build trusting relationships that are communication rich. Again, this cannot be done without teaching properly on spiritual gifts and their function. 

Outside the church, we show the works [acts of faith, love & mercy] and graciously speak the words [the Good News, 4 Gospels’ passages] of Jesus, so that wherever we have been called, there we are the Lord’s person… out in the world, where the real Ministry of Reconciliation is done. 

Devise a plan on how to train/encourage teens and adults over the span of 3-5 years on realizing and exercising their spiritual gift(s), as well as sharing/explaining the Gospel accounts of Jesus… and (like Jesus) living a life full of humble, just & merciful deeds as the Spirit leads. Work the plan continually and repeatedly.

4.  WORSHIP & PRAY^ TOGETHER (to be multiplied): So little corporate prayer is practiced in churches. Pray to learn/combat spiritual warfare in repentant intercession, for the Good News to have free course, for deliverances and healings (physical, emotional, spiritual), for anointings, for outpourings, for the biblical unity in essential truth of the Body of Jesus, for those in authority, for blessings on enemies, etc. 

Seek (as a result of prayer) to be reproducing churches as rapidly as healthy and mature Christians are readied.

^Worship is to come into alignment with our Head, Jesus. Prayer is to access the blessings of that Authority.

5. SHUT DOWN ALL “OFFICIAL MINISTRIES” NOT EXPRESSLY DOING #2, #3 & #4: They are superfluous, especially those dead ministries (held onto due to tradition), or those instituted by leadership & insisting on “cookie-cutter” Christianity or “brand specific” (non-essential, denominational) traditions and/or cumbersome, detailed teachings beyond the scope of Scripture; for examples, diet, personal finance and wealth management, medical advices, exercise and health, the “look” or style of home/family life, specifics on child rearing, etc. Instead, encourage each believer to know/interpret/apply the Word and function/operate in the influence of the Spirit both inside and outside the Church, as well as at home… and in all matters. 

If teachings and prophecies arise from within the Body, let the Pastors / Elders / Ministers recommend the teachings or prophecies, and let them correct errors ONLY when serious, essential-doctrine errors are present, so as not to hinder the Spirit. Warn against cliquish followings after this or that teacher/minister.