MEGA CHURCHES ARE NOT GOD’S IDEA

Darrin Patrick, a megachurch pastor, author and speaker, has died. He died of what appears to be a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to a statement from the church. No official cause of death has been released.

Sadly this is not the first, I know of four in the past two years. Jarrid Wilson at 30 years of age was probably the most tragic. One has to ask what is the reason for this large number of suicides. Read what Darrin Patrick had to say about celebrity pastors -” It was recipe for disaster“.

Patrick had been a rising star among Reformed evangelical circles and was serving as vice president of the Acts 29 church planting network. He was fired from Journey for what church elders called misconduct including “inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women” and an abuse of power.

Darrin Patrick

Patrick talked about losing his church in a podcast interview that was published this week. He talked about being part of a group of young pastors who became celebrities with book deals, speaking gigs, fame and money but little spiritual maturity.

It was a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Patrick said his early success led to an obsession with keeping up his image rather than his soul. “I was spending a lot of energy creating and sustaining my image,” he told podcast host Charles Smith. “It’s so subtle; I am trying to influence people for the gospel—you have to have a social media presence, you have to speak at conferences.”

Patrick said he eventually became isolated from many of his friends when he was pastoring Journey Church. “I stopped pursuing friendships,” he said. “Another way to say that, I stopped being known. And that was the beginning of the end.”

THE REMNANT CHURCH

The authentic church is totally confident Jesus is on the throne and that God’s purposes for His elect and His planet will unfold exactly as prophesied in His Word.

His church is Holy Spirit empowered, anchored in God’s Word (not tossed about by every “wind of doctrine”) and Kingdom focused.

Such churches are made up of remnant people. Jesus Himself, in His great prayer for His disciples in John 17, indirectly reveals their characteristics:

  • They know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. It is a personal relationship and above all else they want to make Him known. They trust and obey Him.
  • They understand the role the Holy Spirit has in their life to be their counsellor, comforter and teacher and they seek His guidance in all things.
  • They cherish God’s Word. It is truth, the way of life.
  • They are commissioned to make disciples.
  • They are not “of” this world but in it to complete God’s set purpose. They are set apart, dedicated to the work entrusted to them.
  • They are hated by the world because of their total commitment to Christ and the Gospel.
The Way of Life

BOOK OF ACTS CHURCH IN OUR DAY

During a sermon delivered at Moody Bible Institute’s Founders Week Conference, Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, revealed what God is now calling him and his family to do. A trip to minister in a village in Myanmar where there were no believers , no not one, and seeing God turn up to heal not one person but everyone Francis laid his hands on, has changed Francis and his families lives. This is a story you need to hear, so I have attached his sermon, hopefully it will change your life too.

“At one point, we were in this village that had no believers, like zero. Not a single one,” he recalled. “And this lady had built a relationship with the head monk and the village leader and somehow was able to work out that we could go into the village.”

“My translator told me he had been in that area before and was chased out with knives and stones thrown at him, so he was terrified,” Chan continued. “But the entire village showed up, and I had the honour of sharing the Gospel through a translator, to be the first one to lay out the Gospel and explain that they had a Creator and explain that He had a son and explain what He did on the cross and the resurrection.”

“There’s no way I can communicate to you how much peace I felt,” Chan stressed. “I am sharing the Good News with a village of people who have never heard of this before. I can’t tell you how right it felt.”

Later in his message, Chan revealed that while in the village he asked God to help him heal those suffering. 

“I’m going, ‘God, please, please hear,’” he recalled. “People started coming forward for healing.”

“Every person I touched was healed,” Chan declared as the audience applauded.

“You guys, OK, this is craziness to me,” he added. “I have never experienced this in 52 years. I’m talking like a little boy and a little girl who were deaf. We laid hands, she starts crying and smiling. These are not Christians who have even heard about Jesus, and she’s freaking out. We lay hands on her little brother, we lay hands on him, and he starts hearing for the first time.”

Chan admitted that the entire process was out of his “comfort zone,” adding, “This is stuff I’d read about, but I’m going, ‘Man, it happened. It happened.’ Stuff left and right.”

“I thought I had faith, but my faith was at another level, and I think there are some things that contributed — some of it was just faith in His word, that when Jesus says, ‘I am in you and you are in Me,’ to take that literally,” he declared. 

Francis admitted that when he walked in the village, he had a “little bit of fear,” adding, “I said, ‘No, no, this is no different than if You walked in the village, and I know what you’d do, Jesus. You’d proclaim the Good News and you’d heal.'”

“I started having this mindset again of going, ‘No, no, this is what the Word of God says. You said I would do the same things that You did, and even greater things. Jesus, I know what You would have done in this village.’ I believe there was something about that faith, I believe there was something about the unity that we had as a group there,” he explained.

Chan said that although he disagreed theologically with some of the individuals on his team, he believes God was “honored by this fight for unity, and I believe God was honoured by this pursuit of the unreached, and obeying the Great Commission and we saw power.”

“And I don’t know that that means it will happen every time,” he clarified. “My theology says I don’t think it will happen everywhere … but best I understand Scripture, He wants me to believe in my unity with Him, this power that I have because He and I are one. He wants to believe that you and I can become perfectly one.”

Chan revealed that in three weeks, his family plans to move to Hong Kong and go to “some places that are pretty sketchy, dangerous.” The reality of persecution, he said, has caused him to “evaluate” his beliefs. 

“Do I still believe that my life has no value outside of accomplishing what God wants me to do?” he asked.

The pastor said that while he loves to preach the Word of God to believers, it’s “nothing like” preaching to people who have never heard the name of Jesus. 

“So I’m excited. In a couple of weeks, we’ll be moving, Lord willing,” he said. 

During the service, Chan also compared Americans to “spiritual foodies,” adding: “All of you are. … We’re just picking it apart. And I just go, ‘I don’t know if I can do that anymore when there are people who have no spiritual food, who have never heard the name of Jesus.’”

“I say this because there’s a crowd of young people here, and you’re thinking about what to do with your life,” Chan continued. “Just think through the calling of Scripture, because I want that peace that I felt there. I want that for your life, and I know what you’re going to face your entire life here. You’re going to hear a lot of lies and a lot of those are going to come from within the church.”

“If I had listened to those voices, I would’ve missed out on so much of life because so many people, even in the church today, they’ll reason with you from their logic rather than from the Scriptures,” he warned. 

Chan said it is “crazy” to him that it’s “perfectly normal” to be a Christian in America and be “obsessed with staying alive,” citing John 12:25: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

“Is that what you really see in the Scriptures?” Chan asked. “The only thing I’m trying to do with my every breath is complete the ministry He gave me. If I’m going to breathe another day, it’s to finish the task that He’s given me, which is to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. I just want to get out and explain the grace, what God has given me, through Jesus Christ.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCIPLE MAKING CHURCHES IN THE LAST DAYS

As mentioned many times previously on this website, I believe the end times church will be like the church described in the Book of Acts and it is wonderful to see many Disciple Making Movements starting up. I have promoted Francis Chan (Multiply Movement), David Platt (Radical) two of the most notable Disciple Making Movements as well as Oikos Australia in my own country.

This article from Oikos and a short video from DMMS Frontiers Mission are worth considering for your church.

At Oikos, we are thinking about multiplication. With 25.5 million Australians, only 52% identify themselves as Christian – this opportunity is one we are passionate about impacting!

Did you know that one pair of rabbits can end up with 4 million offspring in only 4 years time? That is rapid growth!  Does your group, simple church or disciple-making strategy – have a clear plan where those in your group, clearly know how they can train to equip others to disciple new people and plant new groups/churches.

“If not, your strategy may need to be adjusted. Everything you do in disciple-making must pass the test of reproducibility. When we make things too complicated, we don’t get rabbit churches that multiply quickly” – DMMS Frontier Missions

Does your group know how to share the gospel, invite people to Jesus and know what to do if someone says yes? Do you have a vision for growth & raising up others?

2 Timothy 2:2 is our guide. Paul trained Timothy. Timothy trained faithful men. They trained many others.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 

That’s multiplication. That’s generational growth. It’s what we do to see Oikos become a Disciple-Making movement!!
Who are you developing as under you? Who are you passing the baton too? Effective disciple making involves multiplication of simple churches and disciples.

WHAT DOES GOD WANT FOR HIS CHURCH?

Francis Chan does His best to try and answer that question. His walking away from a church of 5,000 to seek God’s answer to that question, demonstrates his heart and desire to know what God wants for His church.

Image result for pictures of Francis Chan

Francis admitted in an interview about his new book “Letters to the Church”(available later this month), “I spent years doing “whatever works” to get people’s attention. I had joined millions of Americans in being too quick to speak and too sure about my opinions. Over the last few years, I have spent time crying in the presence of God, confessing my arrogance. 25 years after launching that first church, I’m asking myself, “Who cares what Francis Chan wants?” Is there anything less significant than my opinion of what church should be? Could anything matter less than the kind of church I want to create? The good news is that by the grace of God, some of us are seeing our failures now and are training ourselves to prioritise His desires. Scripture is our starting point, not desire or tradition. Rather than thinking of what we would enjoy or asking others what they would like, we ask the simple question: What would please God most?

Q & A with Francis Chan – By Voices Contributor to Christian Post, 

Q: Fans of your books may not be aware that you are in a new season of ministry and church planting. How are things going?

A: Things have been going great. Do we have the perfect church? No way—we’re people. But I think we are on to something.

While I believe I have loved Jesus for years, it feels totally different now, and I love it. The strangest part about this season of my life is that my intimacy with God has been directly tied to my connection with the Church. This is really weird for me because for years, I felt closest to God when I was away from people and alone in my prayer room.

For the first time in my life, I actually feel closer to God while praying alongside my church family! It’s like I can sense His actual presence in the room with us. It makes me want to stay in a room with them all because I want to get as close to Jesus as possible. Just the other day, a one-hour teaching session spontaneously turned into thirteen hours of prayer! We were enjoying His presence together so much that no one wanted to leave! It is an awesome thing to experience God’s presence in a room full of people who truly love Him.

Q: You write passionately about God’s desires for His church. Does 30 years of ministry change your sense of urgency?

A: Yes, I believe it does. I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot over these 30 years of ministry. I became a grandpa recently. (It’s weird to say that sentence.) The older I get, the more aware I am that the end is near. There is no time to care about what I want in Church. There’s no time to worry about what others are looking for in a church.

Typically, when I speak at a conference, there is a countdown clock letting me know how much time I have remaining on the stage. Sometimes I pretend that the clock is a countdown clock of my life. I imagine that I’ll be standing face to face with God when that timer expires, and I try to say everything I think He would want me to say. If I really was going to die, I would care very little about people’s complaints.

I have the same thought now. If I knew I was going to die right after writing this book, what would I write? But even more than that, the warnings in Revelation are very real and we need to take them seriously. Over and over, His message was repent or else. Repent or else.

Jesus is coming. We should be urgent about eternal things. I tried to write the book from this perspective.

Francis says that the pattern for an effective church is given in the Book of Acts and it is simple: God is present in His Word: As we read, we encounter God and allow others to do the same. God is present in fellowship: As we join together for the mission, people see God. God is present in Communion: As we break bread together, we proclaim the sacrifice of Jesus. God is present when we pray: As we cry out on our knees, we will see God act.