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.

WANT TO BE USED BY GOD? FOLLOW MICHAEL TODD’S LEAD

More good sense from Michael Todd on church. Michael says many house churches stream Transformation Church’s services and use them to supplement small-group discussions. He’s very encouraged by this development, saying it reminds him of both the early church and Netflix all at once.

“It takes me back to Acts 2:42, where people gathered in homes, shared what they had, read the apostles’ teachings and talked about it,” Todd says. “Well, that’s what they’re doing on social media. They’re sharing about it. Friends are finding out about it. … We’re not facilitating it or doing anything. The reason Netflix blows up is because they provide content, but you decide how you want to watch it and how you want to use it. And as we’ve done that, we’ve seen salvation skyrocket. We’ve seen people get baptized. We’ve seen people go from being drug addicts or in different lifestyles or shacking up to being convicted or getting married.”

Transformation Church

Transformation Church has been particularly effective at reaching a diverse cross-section of young Millennials and Generation Z, a group often described by demographers as uninterested in religion. Todd disputes that point; he says what they are really uninterested in are frauds.

“They’re leaving the church because the church, in many respects, is a big business and a facade,” Todd says. “That’s why they’re leaving. This is the most authentic, self-aware generation that we’ve had in a long time, and they can smell a fake from a mile away. I think that’s why I’m appealing to this generation: Because they see it’s real. It’s authentic. If churches and leaders would value authenticity more, their Millennial and Gen Z attendance would go up tremendously.”

Put simply, if young adults are going to do something, they want to be 100% all-in, without any reservations. They don’t want to play church politics, pretend to be someone else or compartmentalize Christianity to Sunday meetings. They want to be free to be fully who God created them to be and hold nothing back in pursuit of Jesus. Because of that, Todd believes they can represent a threat to some “old guard” Christian leaders, but that they can also change the world for God.

“Nobody can tell me Millennials are not interested in God,” Todd says. “They’re not interested in a big business with no power. They can’t do that. …These young people? If they’re committed to something, they’re getting a tattoo of it, they’re changing their license plates to “SOLD OUT,” they’re telling all their friends. And so, it’s a bigger decision because they can’t do anything halfway.”

Todd says the beautiful thing about Transformation Church is that it’s as diverse as the kingdom of God. Whether young or old, digital or in-person, black or white, the movement is united around loving and obeying Jesus. And Todd says it’s his honor to serve as their pastor.

FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH BUILT UPON APOSTLES AND PROPHETS

The bible says that the foundation of the church is built upon apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

Today’s religious system has primarily built churches on the three offices modern believers are comfortable with—pastors, teachers, and evangelists; as powerful as that is, this is not the foundation Christ established. Why? One reason can be found in a simple definition of the word apostle and prophet. The word apostle relates to a mission or sent one, and the word prophet relates to some type of vision. We need prophets and prophecy because it is how God chose to build his church.

“In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28

God’s plan all along was a generation of sons and daughters that could hear his voice, see like He sees, feel His heart, and know what to do. 

God has made it possible through the love of the Father, the sacrifice of Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower every human being so that they can share in fulfilling the prayer Christ taught us to pray that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Worth repeating: God the Father through the atoning work of Jesus has provided all believers with the indwelling Holy Spirit to equip us all for the good works He has preordained for us to do. He wants us all to be armed and equipped with a mission and a vision. 

“Why am I on this earth?” is one of the great questions of life. God has made it possible with the indwelling Holy Spirit to not only know the answer to that question but to be empowered to carry out the work He wants us to do.

However, each day we need to submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Just as Jesus said to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Your will be done”, likewise, we need to submit daily to the Holy Spirit so that we don’t grieve Him or quench His work in our lives

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20

Let me give a plug for my book to those of you who are called to business – Build a Kingdom Business – Empowered by the Holy Spirit, It is available on Amazon as a ebook or from me (ron@bakb.com.au) as a trade paperback book.

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.”

GOD IS PRUNING HIS CHURCH

More great wisdom from Francis Chan. Since Francis Chan walked away from the church he had in California boasting of over 5000 members I knew Francis was hearing from God. Church from then on for Francis was no more buildings, no paid pastors and accountability of all members.

God is using the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit,” ultimately allowing the Body of Christ to become more “fruitful,” according to popular speaker and author Francis Chan.

Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.

“I hear a lot of talk of people being concerned about whether their church is going to survive,” Chan, speaking via Livestream, told host Gabe Lyons. “The illustration I think of is, if I had a diamond right here, and I just smash it with a hammer, what would happen to that diamond? Nothing. If it’s a real diamond, if it shatters, it wasn’t real.”

He pointed out that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

“This is going to be a group that the gates of Hell can’t stand against,” Chan explained. “No virus, no government, no economic this or that, life, death, nothing. And so we as believers are supposed to trust the words of Jesus and go, ‘The Church is going to be fine. If anything, this is the time where God is going to prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but it’s only going to become more fruitful.’”

“And so with that type of confidence, we have to move forward and go, what’s the worst thing that happened to me? I die and receive the award I’ve been … longing for my whole life. We can be fearless.”

Statistics from a recent Barna Group survey found that six to nine percent of pastors are unsure or not confident that their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-two percent of pastors said giving was “significantly” down and 28 percent said it was “slightly” down. Only around a quarter said it stayed the same.

Additionally, nearly a quarter of American churches (22 percent) have already reduced staff hours, reduced compensation, or laid off employees.

In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, the Crazy Love author stressed that “God knew you and I were going to be alive at this time, adding: “We were literally made for this, prepared for this.”

BUILDING YOUR KINGDOM OR THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

An important video for pastors but also for all saints. It will help them understand what has happened to the church in becoming an institution. A long way from the church in the beginning, as described in the Book of Acts.

A great testimony from a former Methodist pastor who eventually had to resign from his church. A holy spirit filled pastor, speaking in tongues, and intent on taking the church out into the marketplace was not wanted by most of the church. The good news is that before he resigned many in the church became spirit filled believers and of course a church split resulted. You need to listen to his story and understand what is wrong with the institutional church. Hopefully, it will challenge many to get into prayer to find out what God is calling them to do at this climactic time in the history of His planet. The Bible reveals that we are in the “end times”. Two important “end times” signs given by Jesus to His disciples in the Olivet Discourse; 1. rebirth of Israel as a nation has occurred and 2. apostasy in the church is happening.

2020 – YEAR FOR DISCIPLE MAKING MOVEMENTS

Joseph Mattera joins the list of Christian leaders in the USA that recognise that God is bringing about radical change in His church. It is imperative that believers have truly died to self and live life directed by the Holy Spirit.

He says in an article in Charisma News entitled Five Ways God is Reforming His Church in 2020. “I believe 2020 is the year when more and more leaders will attempt to build “disciple making movements”. The corporate business model of doing church—which took off in the 1980s—has proven that, irrespective of the crowds they garner, they usually fail at disciple making. Jesus proved that focusing on disciple making was the key to building the largest and most effective movement the world has ever seen.

This will be the year when disciple making will gain the traction needed to eventually challenge the assumptions of the “CEO convert driven” model of church.

Image result for pictures of home group church

Luke called his historical narrative “the book of Acts” (or the book of Action), not “the book of theology or philosophy.” The Scriptures were written to tell the story of our missionary Father/God, who loved the world and gave up His only Son to save every tribe, nation and people. Those who are truly hearing the heart of God will read the Bible with a missional lens and desire to demonstrate the power of God to a lost and dying world!

In the context of the church, they will live to empower disciples for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12) and in the context of the world, they will desire to manifest His power in a way that proves Jesus rose from the dead. Consequently, many new evangelists will begin to arise (as we saw in the “voice of healing” movement in the 1950’s) and some will eventually fill stadiums, proclaiming the gospel and praying for the sick. (In the past decade, we have only seen a trickle of what is to come!)”

May the reformation of the church that started in the 16th century continue until the Lord Himself comes back for His bride. May all who read this post have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to His Body!

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.

THE COMING END TIMES AWAKENING

I am sure Ron Cantor is correct in his latest book that in the “end times” the church will operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit much as they did in the early church as described in the Book of Acts.

In the Book of Acts we see:
• The dead raised (Acts 20)
• The lame walk (Acts 3)
• Powerful, convicting preaching of the Gospel (Acts 2)
• Speaking in tongues (Acts 2, 10, 19)
• Holy Spirit Outpouring (Acts 2, 4, 10)
• Judgements against sin (Acts 5, 8, 12)
• Casting out demons (Acts 16)
• Miraculous escapes from jail (Acts 12, 16)
• Martyrdom (Acts 7, 12)
• Congregations planted southern Europe, Asia, Middle East (Acts 13-19)
• A sizeable remnant of Jewish believers who lived as Jews (Acts 21:20)
• Philip was transported from one place to the other (Acts 8)

Because of reports like those in my recent post, Church in the Last Days – Iran’s Fast Growing Church posted October 26th, 2019, we are already seeing a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus in the last days before His return.

Even in the midst of great darkness and tribulation this revival will overshadow the book of Acts. It has started in many places like China, Africa, Middle East , even India. While we are waiting for a move of God in many parts of the world, a great outpouring is already taking place in these countries where they are already experiencing intense persecution.

Sadly, Scripture tells us that in the last days we will also see a great falling away from the faith. In the west, we are already seeing entire church denominations compromising with the world, accepting gay marriage and homosexual pastors/leaders. In a recent post, I reported on Pope Francis declaring that Christians are not to try and convert Muslims or people of other faiths as “we are all children of the same God”.

Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, a leading authority for many Sunni Muslims signed a document on “human fraternity” and improving Christian-Muslim relations in February, 2019. The document insists on the basic human right to freedom of religion, appealing to both Christians and Muslims not only to tolerate the religious faith of the other, but to recognise the other’s faith as something “willed by God in his wisdom.”

This Pope is consigning millions to the Lake of Fire. There is NO way back into a right relationship with God other than by repentance, acknowledging the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross and accepting His Lordship over us and all creation.

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