CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

Church Revolution Today

The first Christian leader who read this book changed what they had been doing in starting new churches. Following the Biblical model in Church Revolution Today, in 5 years they started over 6,000 house churches and saw over 60,000 new baptized believers. This book is indeed revolutionary.  

available from http://www.jimsbookstore.com for a donation

The author, Jim McCotter, has personally started countless house churches and a worldwide movement of churches. He has trained thousands of believers in how to win others to Christ and how to work together to grow and multiply churches in cities throughout the world. Some that Jim has trained internationally and that have read this book are now starting, on average, more than one new house church a week.
Jim has proclaimed the Gospel in person to tens of thousands in cities and universities all over the world. And through newspapers, radio networks and television stations, which Jim and his team have owned and operated, he has communicated to literally millions of people nationally and internationally advancing the Kingdom of God. Now Jim and his team are developing new media, interactive multimedia, to reach every nation in the world.

Think about it… without any modern-day transportation, communication, or technology the New Testament churches were literally fulfilling the Great Commission in their day. It was even the heathen that were saying, they are “turning the world upside down for Christ!” Yet today, Christians have not even turned one city upside down for Christ, much less the world! Something is wrong! The church and church leadership must dramatically change. We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that the churches, spiritual leaders and we are missing the mark. It is we that must be revolutionized. We need a spiritual revolution.

Charles Otieno Owino of the Kenya House Church Movement brought Jim McCotter to my attention and I am glad he did. Make sure you read it and bring it to the attention of all those who want to be obedient to God’s call to preach the Gospel, particularly to pastors in traditional denominational churches.

CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

As narrated in the Book of Acts, the New Testament Church is both a prescriptive and descriptive account that illustrates a pattern for contemporary congregations.

The following are 7 essentials the contemporary church must embrace for missional movement.

Acts 1 shows how 120 disciples of Jesus spent 10 days together in prayer, comparing Scripture and making leadership decisions. This ensured that the foundation of the burgeoning movement would be secure. Their goal was to work towards oneness as it related to the understanding and preaching of the Good News of the Messiah.

Without this period of waiting upon God and reflection, the massive spontaneous addition of 3,000 people after Peter’s first sermon could have resulted in chaos and destroyed the movement. The contemporary Church must take adequate time every season to wait upon God in prayer and biblical reflection in order to be ready for the Gospel’s movement.

Acts 2:42 says that immediately after the Day of Pentecost, the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Visitors to Jerusalem that converted, abandoned plans to go back to their homeland so they could sit under the apostles’ teaching.

This apostolic doctrine shaped their social gatherings, common meals, and corporate prayer. Without this, the activities of the Church would have been based upon subjective experiences and opinions of gatherers. The contemporary Church must also establish believers in the first principles of the faith if they are going to experience a prolific Gospel movement.

Acts 5:1-12 relay the narrative of the judgment upon Ananias and Saphira.

This illustrates how the standard of holiness and the fear of the Lord must be maintained to ensure the health of the Church. If God allowed them to continue lying, manipulating, and receiving honor deceptively through giving gifts (which amounts to dirty politics), it would have spread like yeast and eventually would have corrupted the Church.

It is not an accident that God began to do extraordinary miracles as soon as this couple was removed from the Church (Acts 5:12-14). The contemporary Church must understand that we limit the capacity for God to move through us whenever we allow unbiblical standards to permeate our Church.

Acts 6:1-7 Almost immediately after the birth of the Jesus movement, ethnic sectarianism and bias reared their ugly head. This took place when the Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked when food was being distributed. Peter had enough wisdom to appoint 7 men of integrity and wisdom who would oversee this ministry, resulting in every widow’s needs being met, the Word of God spreading, and the number of disciples multiplying.

Acts 7:54-60 The martyrdom of Stephen, demonstrates an amazing pattern for us to follow in the contemporary church. God cannot bless a Gospel movement if the saints are unwilling to give their lives to advance His kingdom. Even Paul said that he was always given over to death so that the life of Christ might manifest through him (2 Corinthians 4:11). A contemporary church filled with people who only gather to have their felt needs met will never advance the Gospel. Jesus said we would have power after the Spirit comes upon us to be His witnesses. The word witness comes from the word martyr. Hence, a faithful witness overcomes the enemy when he is not willing to shrink from death (Revelations 12:11).

Acts 7:58, 8:8 The early Church did not skip a beat but continued to thrive after mass persecution broke out against them. Even though they were forced out of their homes and lost everything, their mind was on spreading the Gospel! Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Word. This resulted in major churches being planted in the cities of Samaria and Antioch and resulted in their chief antagonist, Saul, being converted and becoming the greatest of the apostles. The contemporary Church must persevere amid persecution (similar to the powerful Gospel movement we see today through the persecuted churches in Iran, China, and India).

Acts 13:1-2 Instead of being bogged down with endless church committees and deliberations, the Antioch church elders spent adequate time ministering to the Lord and fasting. Giving God space to move upon them, released a divine strategy that changed the entire world. The contemporary Church must also prioritize seeking the Lord and waiting for the strategic Spirit to illuminate our hearts so we can labor for the things God ordains instead of asking God to bless our agendas.

Adapted from article ”8 lessons churches can learn from the book of Acts” by Joseph Mattera, Christian Post Feb. 20

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

The end-times church is prophesied to be like the original church in the Book of Acts, with no institutions, no expensive buildings, no paid pastors. The church will meet in homes and will be centered on making disciples that make more disciples.

Lecrae

I have posted many stories on pastors such as Francis Chan that have walked away from large institutional churches, in Chan’s case a church of 5,000 to set up home churches with no paid pastors or buildings. I personally support the Kenya Home Church Movement and am delighted to post stories here on its growth.

The following story about rap artist Lecrae reveals further what God is doing with His church in these prophesied “last days”.

Lecrae loses tour date after tweeting that he’s done with ‘institutional, corporatized’ Christianity.

Reach Records founder Lecrae revealed that he and his team lost one of their tour dates this spring after sharing an honest tweet about deconstructing from “politicized” and “corporatized” modern church culture.

“Once upon a time I thought I was done with Christianity. But the reality was I was just done with the institutional, corporatized, gentrified, politicized, culturally exclusive version of it,” the popular emcee tweeted on Tuesday.

The following day, Lecrae re-shared his tweet and wrote: “Just lost a show because of this tweet. Point proven.” The Grammy award-winning artist added: “Vulnerability gets people kicked out of exclusive tribes. Jesus welcomes the outcast and seeks to bring healing.”

Lecrae does not get all things right like all of us but he is right on point with this move.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES PRIOR TO JESUS RETURN

More than half of preachers in mainline Protestant churches are now “seriously considering” leaving full-time ministry a new study from Barna Group shows

.Joe Jensen, Barna’s vice president of church engagement, told The Christian Post that the growing number of pastors now looking to leave their full-time positions is cause for alarm. “This particular stat, this is the highest we’ve ever seen it,” Jensen said, pointing to the burnout he believes many pastors are experiencing in the wake of the pandemic. 

“We’re concerned with how this is impacting the overall health of the Church. I really believe that at the heart of every healthy church is a healthy pastor. So this is definitely, almost four out of 10 pastors in America seriously considering quitting full-time ministry in the last year, a cause for concern.” Jensen said he believes the pandemic has “had a significant impact” on the well-being of pastors based on data they have gathered amid the pandemic.

Jensen said in 2020 when the pandemic shuttered many churches, many pastors “were just in survival mode, trying to figure out how to get online when they weren’t, and how to connect with their people even when they weren’t there to connect with them.” In 2021, as people began to emerge from lockdowns and churches have begun to open up, pastors are now struggling with the slow return of many of their congregants. “As we went to 2021, especially as churches started to come back in person, we were starting to pay attention to, how did it impact their overall well-being when their people weren’t coming back? Like, they probably were expecting them to. And so 2021 has definitely had all these set of challenges for pastors,” Jensen said.

Jesus is refining His church, the institutional model of paid pastors and religious tradition is failing. The early home church model as described in the Book of Acts was able to survive persecution just as the underground church did in China and Muslim countries today. This will be the model for the end times church as Christian persecution escalates as prophesied. The author of Crazy Love, Francis Chan who walked away from a church of 5000 describes his new church model.

Francis Chan
Francis addressing employees at Facebook

Chan shared his reasoning during a talk at Facebook’s headquarters as far back as June 22. 2017.

“Everyone’s in these homes so that it cost nothing,” Chan described. “We have 30 pastors now that all do it for free. We send them out in twos. So we have 14/15 house churches. And we just plan on multiplying, doubling every year. In ten years we could have 1.2 million people. And free.”

According to the “We Are Church” website, Chan’s new church model is structured as follows:

1.) Each church meets in a home.

2.) Each church has two pastors, both of whom aren’t paid.

3.) Tithes and offerings are collected, but all are set aside to be used for missions locally and abroad.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHURCH

A major issue afflicting the Church is the “clergy-laity mentality.” It is a pervasive mindset where the paid clergy leads the church and they are called “pastors.” They do most of the ministry work and laypeople serve the ministry of that pastor.

The Apostle Paul writes that the Church, the household of God, is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

Paul continues that the Lord gave fivefold offices for the edification of the Church, specifically

apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12

All five of these gifts are needed and on a broad-based level, you need the apostles and prophets working together, hearing from God together. To use military terminology: apostles [are] the generals. The prophets being the seers, they’re the ones getting the intel [from God],

For a local church, there needs to be impartation from all those gifts, equipping from all those offices to equip people to minister to those who are not part of the Church, not just to minister to each other. The apostles are the builders, the church-planters, those who are trainers and equippers. And the prophetic is to come alongside them to help guide and speak to that — what is the Lord saying right now in the present. All five offices are needed to work together so that the Church can hear the full counsel of God.

 

Episcopal church ordains lesbian Bishop

Unfortunately, the institutional church came up with the model of training one man, then one man or woman and now transgender as well to be the pastor/leader of the church. This model is not Biblical and is in fact the apostate church Jesus (Matthew 24:12) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 ) spoke of as one of the “end times” signs. It has no understanding of the fivefold gifts working together to see each and every believer functioning and bringing the Kingdom into their workplace, in the marketplace, into their school, then a greater expression of Jesus is manifested in society. What is needed is small-a apostles?

Larry Kreider of DOVE International — an interdenominational global family of churches and ministries on six continents believes that an apostolically inclined small-a apostle is motivated by and is thinking on a macro, big-picture level, and wants to see the Kingdom of God extend across their city, state, region, nation and world. As with any other spiritual gift and vocations, this gifting is to be called out and affirmed by others in the Body of Christ. To function in these gifts, one needs to see the gifting’s in others, It’s not just someone who prophesies or carries a prophetic gift, but someone who trains up and pours into others so they can mature spiritually. 

This is truly the church as described in the Book of Acts and will be the church that overcomes during the tribulation in the last days before Jesus returns “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.Revelation 2:10-11

HOW GOD USES CATASTROPHES

The conflict in Armenia has taken the lives of many soldiers and displaced over 100,000 people. All the while, the world has kept silent and preferred not to know about it. In November a Russia-brokered peace deal was agreed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It ended six weeks of war in which thousands of people were killed and displaced. In these conditions, the role of the Church has increased. People just have nowhere else to go. The church becomes the only place where people can be helped. The churches have become the beacons of hope for scared and suffering people. They don’t do services on Sundays because of the coronavirus but they continue serving refugees every day sharing their bread and their homes as well as words of comfort and hope. Even before the war, more than 32% of the population lived below the poverty line. Now with the conflict raging on, these alarming rates are growing every day. Asatur Nahapetyan, pastor and general secretary of the Baptist Union of Armenia, anticipates this conflict to linger and asks everyone to get ready for a hard winter. Over 100 families from Karabakh have been placed by Baptists in their homes and 42 people were accommodated in a conference hall in Razdan.

The church with a symbolic name Noah’s Ark (in Ararat) is providing shelter for 40 people. At first, the refugees were really afraid of Christians regarding them as sectarians but now they don’t want to leave. Pastor Araik says that people from Karabakh are not very religious and many of them still retain the Soviet spirit, but there are no atheists in trenches. The church in Ararat has 700 members. They all minister to refugees as one strong united team. “It’s the only place where we are welcomed,” say women refugees, who didn’t want to know anything about God just yesterday. They learned to pray in the church and when their husbands who are on the front lines call their wives many now say, “We didn’t believe in God but it was your prayers that kept us safe” women and children say to their pastor often, “When you pray we sleep well and we stop having nightmares.” Everyone lives on prayers here. It all started on the first day of war when the pastor called the mayor’s office and said that the church was ready to take in refugees. It’s been filled with people since then. It’s important to understand that the church prepared themselves for this ministry even before. The pastor says that successful work with young people changed the way the society viewed the church. “We fed 40 people every Saturday and took hot lunches to 20 families even before the war. Everyone knows us as the ark of hope and salvation. For people, we are not just a religious organization but a charitable organization. Although it’s interesting to see how the state church starts to imitate us. Priest David started doing what we do, preaching the Gospel, visiting people in their homes, meeting them and talking to them. Even the police say to people, ‘contact the church; they’ll help you there.’ Everyone respects us now.” Pastor Vazgen from the church in Abovyan says something similar: “Almost all the refugees that we received in our church have made a decision to follow Jesus.” The church in Artashat is also filled with refugees and it’s also filled with the spirit of hope.

 While evangelical churches of Armenia are serving their people we have an opportunity, even responsibility to pray for this ancient Christian nation.

FUTURE OF AMERICA – Part 1

American Christians, who desire to live godly, conservative, biblically-oriented lives, need to prepare themselves and their families for suffering. The writing has been on the wall for some time, decades even, yet the church has done little to stop it. Instead, like a row of dominoes, she has fallen over on issue after issue. The church has watched while influential institutions and religious leaders denied the miracles of Jesus, rejected the inerrancy of scripture and its history of the Cosmos particularly Noah’s worldwide flood. The time when God judged the world destroying all mankind save eight people. Lawlessness brought on God’s judgement back then and lawlessness will bring it on again. The world is rejecting God’s laws with legalized abortion, gay marriage, adopting transgenderism and even embracing critical race theory. Additionally, we are witnessing apostasy in the church as it conforms to the new world’s standards. Also, we have witnessed many “celebrity pastors”, priests and pastors in denominational churches commit moral failures through affairs and sexual abuse.

Whatever circumstances befall the church in the coming years, we must keep in mind that we have a Saviour who was the perfect propitiation of God’s wrath. In Him, we are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). His blood has covered our sins and set us free from the slavery of sin and death. Regardless of where the world goes and what horrors the church may face, we can rest in these truths, knowing that our greatest and deepest needs have been met in Christ. No amount of emotional, mental, and physical suffering can dislodge us from our Savior’s embrace. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, the gospel will remain the power of God for salvation – your salvation. To thrive in a world that hates Jesus (and duly us), we must cling to Christ and His gospel. Before any worldly allegiances, we are Christians. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Should the world burn down around us, we can joyfully sing because we are eternally secure. There is no greater news than this.

Extract from article in Patheos: Persecution: The New Reality for Biblical Christianity in America by Jack lee

DANGERS CONFRONTING THE WORLD

The chief dangers that confront the world today are politics without God, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without the justifying work of the Holy Spirit.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed its Davos 2021 Agenda, confirming the annual gathering of political and business elites next month will be a digital event heralding the public unveiling of its Great Reset Initiative (essentially a one-world government). “This global pandemic has demonstrated again how interconnected we are. We have to restore a functioning system of smart global cooperation structured to address the challenges of the next 50 years. The Great Reset will require us to integrate all stakeholders of global society into a community of common interest, purpose, and action,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

What the world really needs is a “church reset”. Churches back to their New Testament roots as described in the Book of Acts. This includes upholding the inerrancy of God’s Word and its account of the history of the Cosmos including the miraculous. The miraculous events of creation, Noah’s worldwide flood, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel which created the nations, Jesus incarnation, and resurrection.

God does intervene in history to alter reality. He has done it in the past and will continue to do so in the future. His Word tells us that the catastrophic world events unfolding right now signal Jesus’ return to this earth is not too far distant.

It seems that for many liberal theologians those “mighty, saving acts of God and of judgement” are symbolic, images, rather than extra-mental realities. As a result, theology takes on a whole new nonsensical meaning. It no longer explains anything but only expresses the effects symbols might and perhaps should have in the spiritual lives of individuals and groups. Moreover, they are oblivious to the promise of Jesus second coming as are the scoffers described by Peter “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.2 Peter 3:3-4

Churches must undergo a reset that begins with getting back to the authority and truth of God’s Word and then obeying His commandment to complete the Great Commission to share the Gospel with others, to make disciples who will, in turn, make disciples. The church described in the Book of Acts and by Jesus in Matthew.

I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.Matthew 16:16

The “keys” signify the authority given to Christ’s church to stand against the powers of “Hades,” or Hell. The church needs to start walking in this authority

MAKING DISCIPLES IS THE BIBLICAL MANDATE

Where in the Bible are we commanded to plant churches?” The simple and obvious response is, “it is not commanded.” Indeed, J.D. Payne points out, “nowhere in the Bible is the church commanded to plant churches” (Apostolic Church Planting, 114).

So it seems that making disciples is the mandate and church planting is the outcome.

In the New Testament, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their theological knowledge of God. A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple then boldly declares the word of God such that more and more people become followers of Jesus.

This understanding of a disciple is highlighted throughout the New Testament. Through a study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see at least thirteen characteristics common to them all.

  • Disciples are respectful of people and culture when they engage in God’s mission (Acts 19:7, 37).
  • Disciples surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
  • Disciples declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
  • Disciples exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
  • Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
  • Disciples are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, employees and employers (Eph 5:22-6:9).
  • Disciples pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples stand up for the marginalized (1 Tim 2:8-15, 5:3-16; Rev 2:6).
  • Disciples learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who can teach (1 Tim 4:7).
  • Disciples are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
  • Disciples are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Disciples defend the faith against false teaching (Rev 2:2).

Extracts from an article “Is Church Planting a Biblical Mandate?” October 28, 2020 by Jackson Wu

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.