IS THE CHURCH NO LONGER RELEVANT?

What are the cultural realities that are crippling the church?

1. Not Holy Spirit led. It is rare to see anything like what you read about in the book of Acts happen in churches today. When’s the last time the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of your church? If you can’t point to something, that may be a sign of a powerless (Acts 1:8) church.

2. Not serving their community. Simply protesting against sin in the world without proactively working for good causes in the community creates a negative impression in the minds of those who drive past your church on Sundays. Also, consumerism has most definitely infected the church and it is reflected in how praise and worship is conducted. When you have Christians (no matter their age) content to sit and attend services (no matter the type) while refusing to stand up and serve others, you have an irrelevant church.

3. Bible knowledge alone equals spiritual maturity. Bible knowledge is foundational to spiritual maturity, but it does not in and of itself equal spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with obedience and love towards others. Paul warned about this in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

4. No John 17 unity. Jesus himself prayed (John 17:23) that his followers would be one, so that the world may know that we are his disciples. The early church brought men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free, all together under the name of Jesus. Do we see that same unity today, or is the church divided along racial, political, theological and socio-economic lines?

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Anglican church in the UK

Regardless, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still building his church. The Holy Spirit continues to do his work. My prayer is that the church will start being part of the solution.

Live a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

In Mark 9, Jesus modeled this for us:

  • Prayer = Jesus said His disciples couldn’t heal the boy because it required prayer
  • Care = Had compassion on the boy and his dad
  • Share = Jesus asked the boy’s dad to proclaim faith in Him before healing his son

Powerful Christians live accordingly, not content simply to invite people to church or stop at “telling their story”.  They understand that bringing people to Christ involves taking personal responsibility for all 3 – praying, caring and sharing.  

LAST DAYS CHURCH MOVEMENTS

Listen to this important, if not way out, story from Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church, Redding, California on how God spoke to Bethel church through His creation.

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Roadrunner with lizard in its mouth

“Here’s a wild story for you… One year, every time we would meet at Bethel Church to pray, a roadrunner would show up outside the glass door with a lizard in its mouth! This went on for months until we realised that the Lord was calling us to go out to the roads, the highways, and the byways and compel the lost to come in! One day the roadrunner managed to find his way inside the church. In a desperate attempt to get out of the building, he hit a window and died. The Lord showed us through this event that if we did not reach out to the lost, to “go outside of our fall walls” so to speak, that our church and movement would die.

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:14-19

2020 – TIME FOR A NEW HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT

Those that have been reading my posts for awhile now, know that my call from God is to provide videos and power point sermons for the last days church (http://www.powerpointsermons.net). Believing that the end times church will be a return to the church as described in the Book of Acts – a house church movement.

Francis Chan has taken a similar position having walked away from a church of 5,000 in 2010. He recognised that God expects every person in the congregation to use their spiritual gifts for the body not just show up and hear and see Francis use his gift. Moreover, the cost of running his show was millions of dollars.

Torben Sondergaad has reached a similar view of church for 2020 and I encourage you to view his video below explaining his journey to reach this position.

THAILAND – FREE IN JESUS CHRIST

In 2018, Free in Jesus Christ Church (FJCCA), Thailand brought in new Christians in numbers that would confound most projections, statisticians, and historical trends. In January, 2019 the group baptised 520 new Christians in an outdoor service in Chon Daen. It was the largest baptism national church leaders had ever seen, crowds waded chest-deep in a public reservoir with lush hills behind them.

Thai pastor Somask Rinnasak (left photo) prepares 520 new Christians for a record-setting baptism in the Kuttu Phra Reservoir near Chon Daen in January. Another 444 were baptized in the same waters last October.

In village after village, Thai people who had never before heard the name Jesus responded by the dozens to follow him. In a single day last December, 309 people began following Christ as FJCCA teams visited four villages for the first time.

It’s the fastest-growing church movement in the country’s history.

Founding pastor Somsak Rinnasak, a motorcycle mechanic and garage owner, has no seminary background or formal theological training. FJCCA converts start house churches in as little as six months and go on to plant “mother churches” in as little as a year.

When the house church planters were asked: “Who taught you how to do this?” They didn’t understand the question. After a pause, Khun Rajirot, Rinnasak’s wife, responded, “We just read what Jesus and Paul did in the Gospels and Acts and do the same thing.”

The FJCCA’s church planting movement in Thailand represents a success story amid a shifting approach to global missions as Christians rely less on evangelism led by Western missionaries and instead trust the Spirit’s work among their own people.

Put simply, “Thailand will be reached by the Thai.” FJCCA now plants more churches in two weeks than more than 300 evangelical missionaries with the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand do in an entire year.

Post taken from article in Christianity Today by Kate Shellnutt: Making Missions Count: How a Major Database Tracked Thailand’s Church-Planting Revival

CHURCHES MAKE DISCIPLES

The Importance of a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) – Communities of Disciples.

Paul was able to win the city not by joining a political party, but by making disciples and releasing these disciples to turn the world upside down.

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47

There was a healthy fear of the Lord in the community after the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.

Paul did not attempt to plant mere churches, but founded communities of disciples—which formed a kingdom ekklesia which can turn a city upside down!

They were not event-driven, but process-driven.

In his epistle, Paul wrote to explain to the Ephesian church (about four years after Acts 19) how they transformed Asia Minor and wrote in chapter 4 that the ekklesia is equipped by the five fold ministry to become a mature man—as the expression of the fullness of Christ and corporate son—who will manifest the government of God increasingly on the earth.

In Ephesians 4:12 we see both an inward and outward focus: one is missional and the other is focused on building the body of Christ.

The missional purpose of the apostles was to equip the saints to minister in every aspect of culture, according to Genesis 1:28, as His ekklesia, so the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

The focus to edify the church is seen in Ephesians 4:12-16 when it speaks about the church growing into the fullness of the stature of Jesus. This passage shows what the ultimate goal of discipleship is: to be like Jesus as a corporate community (a nation within nations that disciples every people group and subculture).

Consequently, to the extent the kingdom ekklesia looks and acts like Jesus, it will have governmental authority and influence because the government is on His shoulders and because it was He who defeated the powers of darkness!

Isaiah 9:6-7 says: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 says: “He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

As His corporate body, He called us to manifest His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven according to Luke 11:2. Moreover, Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the third person of the Trinity to be our Counsellor, Teacher and Comforter and therefore enable us to do the job He has called us to do. The Holy Spirit enables us to overcome the powers of darkness and manifest the fruit of the Spirit and operate in the gifts of the Spirit.

To those who have an ear to hear and a heart to understand, let me leave you with this quote from Rene Bates book God’s Glory: And the Exhortation: “What we begin to see now is the deathwatch of the gloomy, deceptive, organised religious system. It gave birth to nothing but a dearth of life, religious institutes (mistakenly called churches), and canons of human pride, turning many toward insincere piety. May the Lord Jesus Christ forever be praised within your hearts as He delivers us from the people-pleasing business.”

IS YOUR CHURCH FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERED PEOPLE?

Listen to this testimony and be challenged. The Gospel must transform lives so that they start to obey Christ and begin to share the Gospel and therefore complete the Great Commission.

In these “last days” as the world, exactly as prophesied, more and more rejects God and His word, God is raising up the Torben Sondergaads (The Last Reformation) and the Francis Chan’s of this world, to start churches exactly as those described in the Book of Acts. Churches that are actually raising up disciples of Christ.

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS – IRAN'S FAST GROWING CHURCH

We in the West are waiting for a move of God, and yet in many parts of the world, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is already taking place that rivals the Book of Acts.

Thank goodness God is revealing to Pastors like Francis Chan and John Comer – see recent post “Do You Really Believe God is in Control”, that the church has deviated from His design for the church, as outlined in the Book of Acts.

Non Biblical Churches, which include many, if not most, of the Institutionalised churches, Mega churches and Prosperity Doctrine churches, to name the principal groups, are not producing disciples of Christ committed to the call of God on their lives. Sadly, what most churches are doing has little to do with what the Bible teaches e.g “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, What about “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The model of the institutional church isn’t structured to foster close biblical relationships. In most, you can go on almost indefinitely enjoying your uninvolved routine merely consuming but never contributing to the community you call church.

The church is not a building or a place to go, but a body (ekklesia) of believers.

One of the places, where a great outpouring of God’s spirit is evident, is Iran, the most unlikely place from a worldly, so called natural viewpoint, but typical from a Biblical perspective. View the following video and be challenged or encouraged or both.

CHURCH GROWS UNDER PERSECUTION

For the gospel did not did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, … 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Missionary strategists have been reporting for some time that Iran is experiencing the most impressive surge of church growth on the planet. Elam Ministries in England says more Iranians have become Christians since 1979 than in the previous 1,300 years. Some organisations estimate that there could be as many as 800,000 to 1 million believers in the country.

The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts. Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. As Elam reported, more have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together.

But Iran is also one of the most difficult places on earth to be a Christian because of persecution from the hard-line Islamic government. Believers are jailed and tortured. Churches are forced to meet in secrecy. Yet one ministry there has reported that so many people are being converted they can’t keep enough Farsi Bibles in stock to give to new believers.

Iran-church

Elam Ministries says Iranian churches typically have between eight to 12 members only. To stay safely off the radar, the small churches multiply quietly. But this method of small-group discipleship actually produces stronger Christians than a bigger church would. Elam also reports that many people make decisions for Jesus after watching Christian television broadcasts.

In May of this year, Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Mahmoud Alavi, gave a speech to Muslim clerics in which he publicly decried the alarming growth of Christian faith. He announced that mass religious conversion to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes.”

Iran’s revival is also gaining more attention because of the new film Lambs Among Wolves, Vol. 2, a documentary produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios. One unidentified church leader in the movie asks: “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran.” If you have not seen Lambs Among Wolves Vol 1 & 2 then do so and spread the word amongst your Christian friends that these videos are great evangelism tools. Joel Richardson (Joels Trumpet and The Underground) works with Frontier Alliance and I am confident that I have promoted these videos on previous posts.

TODAY’S CHURCH NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE

This article by John Burton in Charisma News will not be well received by pastors of most churches. It reveals the truth about the sad state of the church even in those churches that see themselves as alive and well. Churches that are great places to raise a family, to connect with other believers and to worship and even grow in God. Sadly, they are not reaching out to the lost. Nor, disciples making disciples.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has given his support for transition within marriage (Picture: PA)

Fortunately, there are some, even in these churches, that realise there is something desperately wrong. The world around them is getting darker and the church is no longer seen relevant by the majority, in fact, the church is seen to be in opposition to all that he world sees as good; gay marriage, no longer male and female in a life long loving commitment before God., abortion on demand, sex whenever and with whomever, gender is fluid and a matter of choice, family is whatever you choose,

“And when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from the heavens and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests were not able to enter into the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. And all the sons of Israel saw when the fire came down and the glory of the Lord came on the temple, and they bowed their faces low to the ground on the pavement, and they worshipped confessing, “The Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

Prayer and sacrifice resulted in fire coming down from heaven and the glory of the Lord filling the place! When that dramatic, supernatural event impacted that building, nobody could enter. They all hit the pavement and worshipped and declared God’s goodness!

We need God to turn up and His power to be evident in church in this hour. A revelation-driven church will be filled with prophetic decrees, biblical declarations, groans of intercession and messages that shift atmospheres. The church as revealed in the Book of Acts.

WHEN WILL THE CHURCH BECOME AN ACTS 4 CHURCH?

When will the church in the west become an Acts 4 church? Only when the circumstances around us mirror the conditions of the early church. Fortunately, we are seeing many examples of it happening in the Middle East where the church has come under intense Islamic persecution. We are being given an example of what our Lord requires of us during the prophesied coming Tribulation.

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In Egypt, where more than forty churches were destroyed in the months following former President Morsi’s (Muslim Brotherhood) removal from office via a military coup in July 2013, Christians who had not fled the country continued to calmly meet for worship and show forgiveness to Muslims who broke the steeples of their churches as they screamed, “Allah is great”! As one church’s caretaker  said, sitting in front of a devastated church building, “Whatever they didn’t take they destroyed”. Believers met while sitting in front of a wall with graffiti proclaiming “Egypt is Islamic!”

Bob Simon reported on 60 Minutes that Egyptian Copts believe suffering deepens their faith. “We were surprised that there was no anger, no call for revenge.” he added, after attending a worship service in the one room not burned to the ground in one church. Bob Simon explored this further with Bishop Thomas , a Copt leader, who replied, “Forgiveness is a very important principle of the Christian life. When you are able to present forgiveness and love, you are able as well to ask for justice. One day, justice has to be fulfilled.”

Middle Eastern Christians have learned what it mean to bless those who persecute them, but also insist on justice where possible.

In other words, Copts are willing to die for their faith, but they also will continue to insist on constitutional protection of their people, as any Christian should. When Jesus said “turn the other cheek”. He said it in a society that guaranteed no rights for His followers. If we live in a country that does protect those rights, we should insist on them for as long as the legal code covers us, which it probably will in the early days of the Tribulation.

Christians in Syria have learned how to do this. many have chosen to stay in their towns and cities, even if Islamist’s rebels have overrun them and looted, tortured, raped and killed them. As Open Doors USA spokesperson, Emily Fuentes has reported, based on eye witness accounts:

There are some Christians who are fleeing because they have no other choice, but there are many Christians that have really felt God’s call to stay in town, even though they have been attacked and targeted because of their faith. They realise that God is using them, and are reaching out to their Muslim neighbours.” 

Can you put yourself in that setting? Close your eyes and picture that for a moment. What would you feel? How would you act? At least, say a pray for your Middle Eastern brothers and sisters that are living this right now.

Churches have become de facto refugee care centres in the Middle East, not houses of worship alone.

In the parts of Syria where church buildings have not been desecrated, they have become de facto relief agencies, providing clothes, food, and Christian teaching. These churches are seeing people come to faith in Christ as the congregants love everyone who has been made homeless, not just for Christians. This is in stark contrast to the Islamic approach to provide aid for Muslims only. What an amazing witness, to care for everyone in the midst of intense suffering. The church has done this throughout history and no doubt will do it again during the coming Tribulation.

What will we do when faced with a similar situation, will we run or stay? Will we stay to win our attackers and fellow refugees to Christ? Will we show grace to other Christians who choose differently to us? Maybe, we will be in a church where people go separate ways as persecution intensifies.

Can I suggest church, we need to start to pray and prepare now, to know what God will have us to do to help our brothers and sisters under persecution around the world, not only in the Middle East, but also to know what we should be doing to prepare, in our own church, community, and nation.