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

A BIBLE IS LEAKING OIL BY THE GALLONS/LITRES! IS IT PROOF OF END TIMES MIRACLES?

Fall 2016 | The Lord Speaks

In the fall of 2016 the Lord began to give us markers. First we believed He told us He would give us more instruction after the presidential election. When the election was over, He instructed us to live, eat, and breathe Romans 12:1-2, which says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

November 2016 – January 2017

From November 2016 to January 2017 our time together became more focused. The Lord again spoke to us in January and said He would show us after the inauguration what He had been preparing.

January 23, 2017 | Holy Spirit Moves

The inauguration was on January 20th. We gathered together on Monday evening the 23rd. Normally our times together would end between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm. That night was different. Intercession and worship were very intense. Jerry was on his knees praying. Johnny and Leslie laid hands on him and began to pray. Jerry fell over on the floor and stayed there for about 45 minutes. Johnny and Leslie went over to the couch and did the same with Joyce, Jerry’s wife. After praying, Joyce said the Lord had done something so deeply in her that she would never be the same. We continued worshipping until around midnight. Jerry and Joyce were so affected by what happened on Monday night that they stayed home the rest of the week reading their bibles, praying, and worshipping God.

January 27, 2017

Friday morning, January 27th, Jerry’s granddaughter and great granddaughter came to visit. When they left Jerry picked up his bible to read. He had been reading in Psalms all week. His bible fell open to Psalm 39 and and he noticed a wet spot on the page that had soaked through to Psalm 63. He asked Joyce if the great granddaughter had spilled something on his bible. Joyce told him the baby had not had anything to drink. Later that afternoon Jerry and Joyce took the bible over to Johnny and Leslie’s home. They all agreed it was oil.

February 2017 | The Oil Begins To Flow

Over the next couple of weeks the oil moved through the bible from Psalm 39 through the book of Revelation and even into the back of the bible on the maps and the concordance. The oil stopped then appeared at the front of the bible in Genesis 1. It continued to move through the Old Testament to where it started in Psalm 39. It then began to saturate the whole bible. Jerry placed the bible in a gallon size Ziploc bag. When the oil began to fill the bag, we then placed the bag in a plastic container. Once in the container, the oil began to flow even more, filling that container.

April 2017 – Present

The bible is now in its fourth container. As the container fills up, Jerry takes the oil and puts it in containers until we get together and fill vials. We believe the Lord has instructed us to not advertise, to not market the oil, to not “knock” on doors, and to not try to convince people what it is.

His word to us was to give the oil away so He can replenish it. (story of Elijah and the widow with the jar of oil, 1 Kings 17:14) He instructed us to share the story, share His word, give the oil away, and the miracles will happen “outside the building.” And they have. His word was, “The church is leaving the building!” The oil has gone all over the world. We have given away over 150,000 vials. We receive testimonies everyday of the miracles God is performing in the marketplace, in the hospitals, in the workplace, in the streets, in almost every country of the world.

SEEKING AND FINDING THE ONE LOST SHEEP

In the Lord’s economy, seeking and finding one lost sheep is more important than protecting the ninety nine who are living safely in the sheepfold. Seeking one lost sheep ultimately produces more heavenly joy than protecting ninety nine sheep who are not lost. How much more should we feel the burden when we realise that not one, but billions are lost?  But only a single penny out of every mission dollar is spent to reach these lost sheep and only a handful of shepherds are searching for them.

Image result for picture of parable of the lost sheep

The church spends untold billions of dollars building bigger and better sheep pens for people who are bored with the Gospel. We say we want to live like Jesus and spend our money wisely. But these cold, hard statistics betray our perverted priorities. If we’re honest, we are the ones He is so lovingly chastising in Luke 15. For us to faithfully live out our mandate to make disciples of all nations, we have to actually spend our time, money, and manpower going to the places that are completely unreached but also to the lost in our own neighbourhood. We have to care and share. We have to prioritise unreached people with our intercession, time, and money.

PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH IS TO COMPLETE THE GREAT COMMISSION

Sadly, church as we know it, is largely: we gather together once or twice a week and worship a little and pray a little (usually very little) and listen to teaching. After saying hi to friends and small talking with others, we head out into our world until next week.

May I suggest that one of the problems is the structure of the denominational church and the Bible Colleges it has spawned. Few now believe and teach the inerrancy of Scripture and hence have compromised with the world on major issues such as gay marriage and  the transgender movement.

This prophetic word that Pastor John Burton delivered to city pastors in Detroit several years ago is revealing.

“He said, I don’t believe it was received well, as most remained silent after I shared it. I do believe it was the Lord, however. It was a word of warning and a strategic call.

I saw an ocean beach on a sunny day. There were many people on the sand, a good number splashing in the shallows and a handful of people swimming in deeper waters.

Those who were on the sand were mostly happy building sand castles, tanning and enjoying the afternoon sun as the cool mist from the crashing waves blew over them. Some were curious about the water and even took off their sandals and walked where the waves met the sand. Others would slowly venture out and start splashing in the shallows, but most were satisfied just where they were.

The people in the shallows were having a good time. They were together, jumping, splashing and swimming. They were in waist-high water and were able to stand on the sandy bottom. They were also satisfied.

I then looked out at the small number of people who were in the deep. They couldn’t stand as the water was well over their heads. They were so hungry to explore the wide-open seas. It made no sense to them why anybody would be satisfied to experience so little. However, these people had nobody to lead them into the deeper waters. You see, the people on the sand, in the shallows and in the deep all represented a single local church.

What I saw next brought clear, obvious revelation to the situation.

I saw a man, the pastor, in khaki pants, a dress shirt and a tie. His shoes were off and his pant legs were rolled up. He had one foot in the water and the other on the sand. He was not dressed for the deep. In fact, he wasn’t dressed for the shallows or the sand either. He determined to remain anchored between the sand and the shallows where the majority of the people were, yet unable to really reach any of them.

The pastor was under great stress, as he would look upon those on the sand, then those in the shallows, and he’d then squint as he saw those who were drifting out to sea. His eyes continually darted between the three groups, attempting to maintain some sort of control over the spiritually diverse congregation. However, he couldn’t. Those in the deep became a nuisance. He found it easier to allow them to go and to focus on the sand and the shallows. He knew those in the low water would not go deeper, and those on the sand were safe. Maybe someday, they would jump in and splash around with the others.

Pastor Burton summed up with: I believe the strategy of the church must radically change. The pastor, the leader, must be in the deep ahead of the people. Just as the priests in Israel led the armies, usually with praise and certainly the blowing of trumpets, understanding that victory will come from the Lord. The priests are called to step into the waters and to lead people into miraculous situations.

Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform wondrous deeds among you'” (Josh. 3:5).

The Gideon Church Growth Principle

Churches have too many people, or at least they have the wrong people. Church missions have been compromised.

Churches and pastors will benefit from applying the Gideon principle, though it will be scary, painful and humbling. Death to self, rejection of selfish ambition and mighty faith are required. I believe God is about to invite leaders into divine wrestling matches as they renounce their fabricated and confused identities and adopt their divine callings and discover their identities in Christ instead of success.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour!
Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6;12-13

We know that Gideon was still not convinced God was going to use him to save Israel and He tested God twice with the fleece. God did not get angry with Gideon and He obviously convinced Gideon to trust God no matter what, as he was prepared with only 300 men, to take on the “the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, who were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude (Judges 7:12)”.

How desperately we need pastors/leaders who will cry out to God to know His call for their lives, to seek  confirmation, to hear God’s voice, to discover their new identity and emerge as a true leader.