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.

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.”

IRAN: GOD IS WORKING IN MIRACULOUS WAYS

Hormoz Shariat, president and founder of Iran Alive Ministries says, “Christianity has more credibility and respect among a large number of Muslims than Islam itself”. “Iranian Muslims used to say, ‘Islam is good, and it’s just the government that has a problem.’ No, Iran has passed that point. It has come to the point that many say, ‘Islam has major flaws and problems itself.’ People are fed up with the hypocrisy of what Islam has done to this society. And every time things happen [in the news], another layer of the veil of Islam is removed. People look at what Islam is, and a greater number of people will be abandoning Islam and coming to Christ.”

Shariat told Charisma Magazine, one Iranian Christian called to tell him that he got arrested after starting house churches. He had to seek medical treatment for the beatings he received. But the man told Shariat, “Pastor, do not give up. Don’t worry about us. I had the honour of being tortured for Christ. Do you remember Psalm 23? I had the honour of experiencing that verse in the torture chamber. How can you experience that if your enemies are not there? My enemies are there, but my sweet Jesus was there also.”

Shariat has spoken to many Muslims through his work with Iran Alive Ministries and says many of them are frustrated with Islam. Mosques across Iran are reportedly emptying.

VISIONS AND MANIFESTATIONS

Iranians’ increasing rejection of Islam has made them more open to other religions, including Christianity. And Jesus is utilizing supernatural means to reach some of these former Muslims, sources tell Charisma.

Though many American Christians don’t believe Jesus physically appears to people anymore, Joel Richardson, who co-produced Sheep Among Wolves, Volume II, describes a recurring phenomenon in the Middle East that challenges that belief. Multiple people describe remarkably similar encounters in which a “man in white,” identified by many as Jesus, appears to them.

While interviewing a woman from Afghanistan, Richardson referenced cessationist theology: “John MacArthur, a well-known preacher here in the States, says that Jesus is not really appearing to Muslims. What do you have to say about that?”

The woman responded, “I don’t know who John MacArthur is, but I do know the man in white who has been appearing to Muslims.”

Henry says he’s met many Muslims in Iran who report seeing this “man in white.” He even says one Muslim he met wrote down the entire Gospel of John due to the “man in white” appearing to him and telling him to do so. This Muslim—who lived in a mud hut and had no electricity, gas or phone line—had never even heard of Jesus.

The man told Henry, “A man in white knocks on my door every night. And every time I open the door, I can’t look at his face, but he tells me to write these things down.”

“How long has he been coming?” Henry asked the man, and the man gave him the notebook containing the words he’d been commanded to write. Henry was astonished to discover it was the entire book of John, verbatim. He concluded that Jesus had been visiting the man every night. Eventually, Henry says, the whole city came to Jesus because of this man’s testimony, and he was forced to flee for his life.

Bagheri says these kinds of miraculous visitations by Christ are actually the main way Iranians come to faith.

Hope the trailer inspires you to get both films

DISCIPLESHIP

Richardson says discipleship in Iran is the main reason why their churches are flourishing. That said, the Western model of church—such as the typical Sunday morning services—doesn’t work well in Iran.

“The way that we in the West do church is not always conducive to discipleship,” Richardson says. “In that sense, I would say it’s the focus on Sunday church that can be the problem in the West. ‘Christian’ [in America] is defined by someone who goes to church regularly, whereas biblically, a Christ follower—a Christian—is a disciple; it’s someone who’s actively engaged in an obedience-based relationship.”

Evangelical efforts within Iran are strictly based on reaching individuals, such as family members and close friends, as opposed to large groups. One-on-one evangelism is the safest and most effective model for the Iranian community.”

The leadership is decentralised and it’s distributed. It’s not based around a particular individual or skill set or gifting. It’s built around an Ephesians 4 framework of empowering everyone in the body [of Christ] to be all things to all men with the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit being manifest through all of us. … The entire body of Christ should have the yoke of leadership upon them for disciple-making, for the apostolic, for the prophetic, for the evangelistic, for the pastoral and for the teaching.”

“Virtually every woman in Iran probably has faced some level of sexual harassment or outright rape or abuse, either by bosses or by family members, ” Joel Richardson says. “In a place of profound brokenness in that culture, the Lord is using the most broken. These women—in their healing and their restoration—are among the most deliberate and passionate [evangelists], now that they have been set free from so much of the pain they’ve had to endure.”

Women have not risen to power in the church out of a desire to rebel against authority, according to the documentary. They are gentle and submissive—and willing to risk their lives to obey the Great Commission.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE LAST DAYS

This video series by Nelson Walters on How to Prepare for the Last Days is much needed by the church so I encourage you to circulate the series widely to friends and families.

Most Christians believe we’re in the end times , but do nothing to prepare. That is why Nelson put together this video, “How to Prepare for the Last Days. It first answers three fundamental questions:

1. Have the end times begun?

2. I’m saved, what else do I need to do?

3. What are God’s purposes for the end times?

Once these questions are answered, everyone will want to see the rest of the video to learn Jesus’s special commands for the last days and the believers’ role in them.

God uses catastrophes for His purposes. The book Mystery of Catastrophes is a great resource to show what God is doing in these last days through catastrophes such as what we are seeing in the Middle East. God plans to bring more catastrophes across our paths to provide us with opportunities to present the love of God and the Gospel to the lost.

I have a power point sermon – The Mystery of Catastrophes (based on Joel and Nathan’s book) up on http://www.powerpointsermons.net for Home Group/Church use.

The following video is video 3 in the 9 part series. The whole series is about 2 hours in duration. I recommend of course that you schedule to watch all 9, but this video is a good starting point.

END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND

Peter gives clear instruction on what believers need to do at the time of the end of all things. 

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God (Holy Spirit) supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7

Note that Peter concentrates on the state of church, how important it is for individuals to be serious and watchful in our prayers, to have fervent love for one another, no grumbling, no gossip, to not grieve the Holy Spirit nor quench His work in our lives so that “God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever”

Peter understood that fiery trials will come during the end times:

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4: 12-14

Jesus warns us to expect tribulation and even death but also tells us that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24: 9-14

The powerful cry, “Jesus is coming!” is seldom heard in God’s house today. Very few Christians live with a sense of expectancy, looking and yearning for Jesus’ return. How has this happened? The New Testament gives many warnings that mockers will appear in the last days, ridiculing the doctrine of Christ’s coming.

Peter writes, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” 2 Peter 3:3-4. This mocking can be heard today: “What does anyone have to fear? All things continue just as they always have. There is no reason to fear a Judgement Day, because it simply isn’t coming.”

Jesus gives a warning to church leaders. 

““Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.” Matthew 24: 45-47

It is the reason I am posting this warning here on http://www.livingeternal.net and putting up resources – power point sermons and videos for the end times church on http://www.powerpointsermons.net

 

 

TOWNSVILLE DISASTER– GOD’S PEOPLE RESPOND

Monday (4th February) Townsville Queensland, Australia woke to the devastation that had occurred.  100’s of homes and businesses flooded.  1000’s of people had been evacuated by police, SES (State Emergency Services) and the army.  Townsville was in crisis and declared a catastrophic situation.  On Friday the 8th February the rain stopped.  Many areas of Townsville had over 1,500mls of rain (60 inches).  It was time for the Church to shine and God to reveal himself.  Amazing stories of care and love flooded the airways, the radio, TV, Facebook and the paper.  People caring for people; random acts of kindness; heroic stories; incredible generosity; and at that stage, not a life lost.

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The Church leaders responded (John 17 unity) and began to strategise how to meet the needs.  Each Church took on a role for which they were they were uniquely equipped.

  • Rev Bruce Cornish (Townsville City Central Mission) was appointed Liaison person on the relevant committee of the local disaster management board;
  • Willow’s Presbyterian ran a children’s programme because schools were closed and kids were going ‘stir crazy’;
  • North reach Baptist established a Facebook page and mobilized there young adults in the clean-up.  They also took on a role in coordinating accommodation for those who had nowhere to live;
  • Salvation Army provided food at the evacuation centres;
  • Calvary Church provided hot meals for people with no power and no homes;
  • Aitkenvale Uniting ran an information night;
  • Northreach Baptist started collecting donations of clothing etc;
  • Samaritan’s Purse came into the city and provided training and set up teams with local Church folk to help in the clean-up;
  • YWAM with the Combined Churches, Council, SES and other Christian organisations established ‘Team Townsville’, whatever it takes.  This was a programme to visit every affected house in every affected suburb and ask “How are you going?”  And then to direct appropriate resources as required.
  • The intercessors prayed.

What a great opportunity the Church of Townsville has had to love the people of this city.   It truly has been a chance for the Church to shine and the character of God to be revealed.

Let us give thanks to God that the Church, the community, and businesses have really stepped up to be good neighbours and also pray that the church will continue to respond in this way, as disasters and persecution increases in these “last days” before Christ returns.