FUTURE OF AMERICA – Part 2

2020 has proven to be a challenging year for Christians. But I believe God is using Covid to get His church to move back to church as He had planned it as described in the Book of Acts, largely house churches. Good examples of how God has used catastrophe to refine His church are China and even more recently nations such as Iran. Persecution has refined His church to get it to be totally dependent upon Him, even for survival.

Christians must meet in person for corporate worship. On line communication is a dreadful replacement for real community. Come pandemic or martyrdom, we must find a way to meet in person. Isolated we are prone to wonder from the faith, tempted by the world’s allure, and even more prone to depression.

We were never promised safety in Christ. The opposite is true; we are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). A time is approaching when going to church will be dangerous (and I do not mean because of a virus). Now is the time to prepare and reinforce healthy habits. Instill in your children the need and benefit of attending church weekly. Go and be fed the gospel. Even if your church is not perfect (none are), be present and love others.

On the importance of attending church, it is helpful to look at Mosaic Law. While Christians are no longer slaves to the law. The law reflects the character of God. The law is good, valuable, and worthy of our delight. We can learn much about God’s holiness and desires in the law. Consider the absolute seriousness by which God treats the Sabbath, the day of worship, and rest: Exodus 31:12-17.

God cares deeply about the Sabbath. He cares about how He is worshiped. At one point in time, failure to honor the Sabbath as God intended was a crime punishable by death! Friends, corporate, in-person worship is non-negotiable for Christians. Go to church and do not stop.

If Christians are to spiritually flourish in a nation that hates them, they must dedicate time to understanding the significance of worldview, how it is formed, and how it can rightly engage our culture. The following summary of a Biblical world view is the only one that presents an accurate history of the cosmos:- 1. Creation by God of a perfect cosmos 6000 years ago. 2. Entrance of sin and death by man’s rebellion against God. 3. God’s judgement of the World with the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. 4. Confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel that established the nations. 5. God establishes his nation Israel that would birth the Redeemer, Jesus, God’s Son, born of a virgin. 6. Birth of the church at Pentecost. 7. 2000 year history of the church which is soon coming to its prophesied end with Jesus return, first to rescue the Saints at which time His wrath will be poured out on an unbelieving world. Then Jesus returns to earth with the Saints to rescue His nation Israel at the battle of Armageddon. 8.We then have the Millennium. Jesus will rule the nations with the glorified Saints with a rod of iron for 1000 years.

Part an extract from the article in Patheos: Persecution: The New Reality for Biblical Christianity in America by Jack lee

GOD IS USING COVID 19 TO SHAKE UP THE CHURCH

Parker and Jessi Green started feeling what they described as a Holy Spirit restlessness amid full-time ministry in New York City. Despite being well-compensated and “successful” by several measures, something was amiss and the couple could not ignore how God was tugging at their hearts.

A SALT micro church in Southern California

For the past four years, the Greens have been active with SALT churches, a network of micro churches they started in the region of Southern California. Earlier this year, they led Saturate OC, worship on the beach evangelistic outreach. 

If you ask Parker, a micro church is around 10 to 40 people reaching those who do not yet know Jesus, making disciples, and most importantly, are on mission together. That “being on mission” aspect distinguishes it from previous home-based church movements.

“Doing what Jesus is doing [in realtime], I find, is super helpful,” he said, chuckling lightly, in a recent interview with The Christian Post. Jessi added: “We definitely think that this is the trajectory that the Church is going to move in and it’s funny because I think especially because of social media we’re so afraid to almost innovate when it comes to church because we don’t want to appear like we’re bashing or against the current thing.”

“But if you look at church history, what we see right now is how many people would define ‘church’ is actually pretty new as of the last 100 years. What we see now as almost untouchable when it comes to church and how it’s done, most of the world would not define that as church at all.” And distinctly missional micro churches are actually closer to what is seen in the pages of Scripture, they maintained. The “traditional” model that has become the norm for many in the Western world is not as normal as many think.

As many of you know, I have said for many years that the church in the “last days” before Jesus returns will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. God is refining His church with tribulation which will only escalate as prophesied “birth pangs” increase. Francis Chan was the first pastor of a major church that I saw God challenge to walk away from the mega-church model. It has been wonderful to follow his walk since, Home Groups in the USA, then to Hong Kong and ministering to the unreached in places such as Myanmar (Burma). Moreover in Myanmar, for the first time, he has walked in the power of the Holy Spirit with healings and miracles.

WHY DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES?

Great to see God raising up young people who understand the purpose of the church is to make disciples who complete the Great Commission. Watch this young couple as they explain the 411 Discipleship Training Course. This is just one of the many initiatives God is raising up for His purposes in the “last days”. You will be encouraged as you learn what is being accomplished to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. I hope you embark on Troy’s 411 program with your partner. It asks the following four questions. WHY?, WHO?, WHAT? & WHEN? Go watch the video and find out why.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

The following article by Roger E Olson October 10, 2020 “What Should “Church” Be Like? Answering the Question” is excellent, it is reproduced here in its entirety.

Jesus builds His church

I believe a true Christian church should be one where God is very busy changing lives and influencing its social environment with compassionate actions.

I believe a true Christian church should be countercultural in the sense of resisting accommodation to secular and pagan culture while communicating the gospel in ways people of the culture can at least understand (but without letting go of anything essential to the gospel).

I believe a true Christian church should be an extended family where at least members and regular attenders know each other, share their lives with one another, share their property with each other (not as a common purse necessarily but with genuine generosity), and love one another in spite of differences of race, gender, ethnicity, economic and social status, educational level, etc.

I believe a true Christian church should be one where the preaching and teaching covers the whole of God’s revelation including judgment, conviction, repentance, and conversion—including the call to take great risks for God’s kingdom.

I believe a true Christian Church should be one where the people know the Bible well and are led by the teaching leaders into deeper understanding of its implications for being in the world but not of it.

I believe a true Christian church should select as leaders and teachers only persons deeply committed to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, Savior, and Coming King. The leaders should be broadly and generously orthodox in terms of belief in the Trinity, the inspiration and authority of Scripture, salvation through Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone without neglecting works of love.

I believe a true Christian church should practice loving discipline of members and regular attenders who fall into sin and who do not repent and seek to change.

I believe a true Christian church should require members (including leaders) to avoid worldliness in the sense of ungodly entertainment, conspicuous consumption, immodest dress, membership in organizations that require beliefs and/or ceremonies contrary to the sole Lordship of Jesus Christ (idolatry), sexual immorality, divorce (except in cases of abandonment, abuse, or adultery), identification with hate groups and ideologies, violence (except for self-defense or defense of vulnerable people under attack), gluttony, and extreme individualism manifested in lack of faithful participation in God’s people and their mission.

I believe a true Christian church should never hide its Christian identity.

I believe a true Christian church should preach and teach the Word of God, the gospel, faithfully and in all its dimensions and aspects, live life together in love, worship God enthusiastically, train members and attenders in Christian discipleship for everyday life, reach out to help hurting and vulnerable people live human lives, care for the environment, expect miracles to happen especially in response to fervent prayer, pray for the sick and the hurting, hold members and leaders accountable to their Christian callings, speak truth to power prophetically, encourage members to seek and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and never be ashamed of Jesus Christ even for the sake of attracting visitors and others to fill empty pews or seats.

Finally, I believe a true Christian church should celebrate the sacraments of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper regularly.

KENYA HOUSE CHURCHES MOVEMENT

The following email and pictures were received from Pastor Charles Otieno of Migori, Kenya. Charles is one of three House Church leaders that I have connected to in Kenya through this website http://www.livingeternal.net. I am pleased to say that I played a part in connecting them and now in supporting their ministries.

Recent email and photos from Pastor Charles Otieno of Migori, Kenya.

And to all our brothers and sisters who share with us the same faith, and are followers of living eternal now (livingeternal.net).

Greetings to you all in Jesus name!

I am pleased to inform you that we have concluded our three days meeting, for all our church group pastors, elders, and secretaries. All went away pleased they had come.

The meeting was held with the purpose of giving training to our church group pastors, elders, and church secretaries, to help equip them fully for the work of God and in carrying out the great commission. It was also held to give a clear road map for 2021, for our Kenya house church group movement (KHCG).

As you all know well, the church is people, not a place, and therefore we are one church, meeting in 8 houses in Kenya (Acts 2:41-46), no paid pastors and no church building.

We are a movement that is committed to preaching and teaching on the last day’s church, which will be like the church described in the book of Acts, and the end time signs of Jesus second coming, to reign and rule here on earth for a 1000yrs.

Appreciation: We want to give our appreciation to the founder of living eternal now, and our international team leader, pastor Ronald Edwards for the great work he has been doing, of writing and posting various teachings on the livingeternal.net website.

Kenya Church Home Group Pastors: Jacktone, Calvince, Jacob, Charles, Maurice, Julius and Alfred
Pastor Maurice ministering to home group church pastors and elders
Home Group leaders taking notes during the three day meetings.
Home church pastors and elders intent on listening to “end-times” teaching.

My next project for the Kenya House Churches is to equip each, Charles, Alfred, and Samuel to participate in Zoom Meetings with me and other parachurch organisations that can help them grow in the Lord and understand the times (last days) and the church model as described in the Book of Acts. Charles demonstrates in his previous email, that I posted on this website, that he does. In addition, they can start using the PowerPoint Sermons I provide on my other website http://www.powerpointsermons.net. Sermons to prepare the church for end times and Jesus’ second coming.

I would appreciate help with this (KHCG) project and you can help by using the donations link on the Home Page. If you would like more information please contact me on ron@bakb.com.au

The following picture demonstrates the impact Covid19 is having all over the world. Pastor Alfred’s wife and daughter were infected with the virus and sadly Alfred’s daughter, Angela died as a result. Pastor Maurice in the black suite on the right conducted the funeral service. Seated is Angela’s brother being consoled by Pastor Jacktone. Pastor Alfred’s wife can be just seen on the left in red dress with white stripes. Pastor Charles wife is next to her holding a red sheet with white stripes.

BACK TO CHURCH AS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS

“Apathy has killed us,” said Pierre Bynum, a chaplain at the Family Research Council, who was among speakers at the Washington Prayer March. “We’ve watched as prayer has been taken out of our schools. We’ve watched as Bible reading has been taken out of our schools. Where were we? What were we doing? What were we thinking?

“They took the Ten Commandments off the walls. They legalized abortion, they legalized same-sex marriage, defying the living God. … God has called us to be anything but apathetic,” he stressed.

Our country is imploding upon us and it’s all because of us. If the church had done its job all these years, if we had spoken out about the issues that we should have spoken out on and stood for them and stood in the public square, we could have kept this thing from happening.”

“But now we’re in deep trouble and only God can save us at this point in time. Even our repentance is inadequate if it’s just human repentance. We’ve got to have God intervene and deal with us,” he declared.

Jesus told us that in the last days before His return there would be a great falling away in the church and that lawlessness will abound just as in the days of Noah when God judged the earth. The only survivors, eight people and the animals that God brought to the Ark.

God will pour out His wrath upon this earth with the prophesied trumpet and bowl judgements but born again believers will not experience God’s wrath having been taken out (Rapture)

Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?Revelation 6:16

This Scripture is at the end of the sixth seal and it is at the trumpet blast when the seventh seal is opened, the Rapture occurs, simultaneously the wrath of God is poured out with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.

Rapture of the Saints – dead in Christ first and then those that are alive on earth

2% OF MILLENNIALS HOLD A BIBLICAL WORLD VIEW

Although 61% of American millennials consider themselves to be Christian, just 2% of them were found to hold a biblical worldview, according to a recent study released by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.

A biblical worldview, as previously defined by Barna, includes believing that absolute moral truths exist, and that such truth is defined by the Bible, as well as firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views are that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Considering the American Worldview Inventory 2020 study found that only 6% of American adults, in general, hold a biblical worldview, the fact millennials (18- to 36-year-olds) were at 2% is not surprising. Moreover, it helps to explain the degree of lawlessness erupting across the country.

Even a rudimentary understanding of the foundations of the American republic reminds us that unless the United States maintains spiritual unity under the hand of God, it will not be able to sustain the freedoms that have made the nation unique and desirable. The heart and soul of the nation pursue other gods and beliefs to its detriment as a nation. 

The existing church has not been able to stop the decline that has been evident over the last decade, the war is over and an escalation of persecution of believers is a forgone conclusion. As could be expected, God is raising up His church as described in the Book of Acts. Holy Spirit led leaders such as Francis Chan understood the call of God in this regard. For the past nine years, his family has been in San Francisco, where they started “We Are Church,” which has grown to 25 pastors. No buildings or paid pastors.

Francis is now in Hong Kong reaching out to the unsaved in countries such as Myanmar (Burma) and is seeing God work miracles as he never saw in his church of 5000 in California.

Francis Chan, joined by others in his Crazy Love Ministries, pray on a summer vision trip in Hong Kong.
Francis Chan, joined by others in his Crazy Love Ministries, pray on a summer vision trip in Hong Kong. (Courtesy of Kevin Kim)

MORE WISDOM FROM FRANCIS CHAN ON THE FUTURE CHURCH

Francis Chan, the Cornerstone Church founder said he believes God has given the Church an opportunity in the pandemic to grow and become “deeply intimate” with Him. Chan said he believes God is using the crisis to wake up Christians.

Chan questioned how effective the Church has been with religious freedom when compared to places like China where the Church is persecuted.

“When you look at the places where there is religious freedom and you compare those places to where there is not religious freedom, what have we done with the freedom? It’s just weakened the Church,” he said.

I’m grateful for the people who fight for religious freedom. I’m grateful to have it. At the same time, I’m not really afraid of losing it because I look at how the church is flourishing and how it actually looks like the Church of Scripture where there is persecution. And again, I’m not saying I’m wanting that or desiring that. But what I am wanting is to see a pure Church where people are devoted, they’re serious and they understand what it means to really follow Jesus. Then we can really be a light to the world,” Chan explained.

“God does not put us in a situation where we can’t be deeply, deeply, intimate with him and growing with one another. Man don’t miss this,” he said, noting that it’s a great opportunity for parents to become more hands one with the spiritual development of their children.

HELPFUL ADVICE FOR A VIBRANT CHURCH

It is interesting to read the comments of a pastor from  the Grace Capital City, which meets at the Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. It is a growing congregation, with Lead Pastor Chris Moerman estimating that about 80 percent of its membership is millennial. Whilst I believe church growth can be a problem and the ideal church is the one described in the Book of Acts which is home groups, Chris Moerman makes some useful comments on how to reach millennial’s.

“I would attribute this growth to a combination of genuine and authentic relationships, a vibrant spirituality expressed through worship, teaching and community, and a passion to give people a vision for God’s work in their lives that impacts not just their Sunday’s at church, but their everyday existence,” Moerman added.

“At The Table Church, we’re passionate about Jesus, we create ministry around peoples’ gifts and empower them to put those gifts into action. We also have fun, do our best to love people well and we’re obsessed with helping people experience community. All of these things resonate with millennial’s, but I think everyone is hungry for the same thing.” We’ve discovered that millennial’s are looking for the many things other age demographics are. They’re looking for a church where the mission is clear and the path to getting engaged in community is simple and easy,”

Lum told CP that “keeping a clear mission” and helping people “use their gifts in the context of community” have enabled his church to stay vibrant.

“Congregations should look like the cities where God has planted them. If you’re in a city exploding with young people, then your church should definitely be reaching young people,” said Lum.

“Pastoring millennials requires a different approach to giving, but I think it’s a healthy and much needed transition. Millennials don’t give out of guilt or obligation, but instead they want to know that their generosity is making an impact.” Lum added that a key feature of giving in his church was “transparency,” adding that “everything is an open book.” “We provide quarterly financial updates that highlight the impact of our congregants’ investment in our church and our community,” he said.

While some majority-millennial churches are thriving, others have become a source of concern for what some believe is too great a focus on reaching out to one generation.

Jessica Lair with New Season church, a multi generational, multi ethnic congregation in Sacramento, California, told CP about a time when she worked with a millennial-centred church in Los Angeles.

Lair argues that millennial-centred churches deprive themselves of good spiritual wisdom from other age groups. “We as a generation need to quit with the attitude of ‘we can do it better,’ because sometimes, we can’t do it better,” wrote Lair, herself a millennial. “We as millennial’s NEED the generation before us. I have learned more life lessons at a multi-generational church in seven months than I did at a millennial church in two years.”

CHURCH AFTER COVID19

Most of you know what I believe God has already revealed to us in His Word about church. He initially set it up as described in the Book of Acts. Church was held in homes and small groups which is ideal for making disciples who in turn will make disciples. This is how church will be, once again, in the coming tribulation prior to Jesus return.

Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM Pray Network has provided a useful guide for church leaders to use post Covid19.

This guide is all about what God calls the church to do: disciple its members and impact its community with the Gospel.

Resist the temptation to merely reopen your church. Instead, reimagine how a church lives out faith, hope, and love in the shadow of a pandemic. Invite the Holy Spirit to take you (pastors, lead teams, affinity groups, congregations) on a journey of rethinking by:

  1. Assessing how the new normal impacts the calling and gifting of your congregation
  2. Blessing your constituents but also the diverse peoples in your community
  3. Confessing your fear and declaring your faith to move into the future

Make a fearless assessment of the new normal.

  • Have we made meaningful connections with every member? Attender?
  • Have we developed systems to identify practical needs of our families? Our community?
  • Are we identifying the degree of difficulty each person/family has experienced?
  • Have we surveyed our membership to know how to serve their:
    • Practical needs?
    • Emotional pains?
    • Spiritual status?
  • Gather (virtual, if not safe to meet in person) leadership to prayerfully discern:
    • Strengths – what new capabilities have we discovered in our people?
    • Weaknesses – in what ways has our ministry capacity decreased?
    • Opportunities – which needs or new options are we facing?
    • Resources – what undiscovered, unexpected resources have surfaced?
    • Risks/Rewards – have we counted the cost of making changes? Doing nothing?

Begin to daily ask for the mind of Christ so that you (personally but also with congregational ministers) discern how to reimagine how to develop:

  • Experiential worship
  • Enthusiastic (“in; theos/God”) fellowship
  • Equipped leadership
  • Extreme discipleship
  • Extravagant stewardship
  • Engaging citizenship

Pursue a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed journey. God always wants to move you on to a new level of service. Therefore, it should lead you to begin a new chapter of ministry. Your congregation or team may be called upon to make a radical change or to re-calibrate systems or reorient programs. Focus on Jesus. Fear less. Fear wisely. Follow Jesus… to the places where Almighty God is already at work; He is inviting you to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. As you step out miracles will follow.