WHY DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES?

Great to see God raising up young people who understand the purpose of the church is to make disciples who complete the Great Commission. Watch this young couple as they explain the 411 Discipleship Training Course. This is just one of the many initiatives God is raising up for His purposes in the “last days”. You will be encouraged as you learn what is being accomplished to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. I hope you embark on Troy’s 411 program with your partner. It asks the following four questions. WHY?, WHO?, WHAT? & WHEN? Go watch the video and find out why.

2% OF MILLENNIALS HOLD A BIBLICAL WORLD VIEW

Although 61% of American millennials consider themselves to be Christian, just 2% of them were found to hold a biblical worldview, according to a recent study released by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.

A biblical worldview, as previously defined by Barna, includes believing that absolute moral truths exist, and that such truth is defined by the Bible, as well as firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views are that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Considering the American Worldview Inventory 2020 study found that only 6% of American adults, in general, hold a biblical worldview, the fact millennials (18- to 36-year-olds) were at 2% is not surprising. Moreover, it helps to explain the degree of lawlessness erupting across the country.

Even a rudimentary understanding of the foundations of the American republic reminds us that unless the United States maintains spiritual unity under the hand of God, it will not be able to sustain the freedoms that have made the nation unique and desirable. The heart and soul of the nation pursue other gods and beliefs to its detriment as a nation. 

The existing church has not been able to stop the decline that has been evident over the last decade, the war is over and an escalation of persecution of believers is a forgone conclusion. As could be expected, God is raising up His church as described in the Book of Acts. Holy Spirit led leaders such as Francis Chan understood the call of God in this regard. For the past nine years, his family has been in San Francisco, where they started “We Are Church,” which has grown to 25 pastors. No buildings or paid pastors.

Francis is now in Hong Kong reaching out to the unsaved in countries such as Myanmar (Burma) and is seeing God work miracles as he never saw in his church of 5000 in California.

Francis Chan, joined by others in his Crazy Love Ministries, pray on a summer vision trip in Hong Kong.
Francis Chan, joined by others in his Crazy Love Ministries, pray on a summer vision trip in Hong Kong. (Courtesy of Kevin Kim)

WHAT GOD IS DOING IN THE USA

God is at work using individuals who are humble and committed to doing His work, His way. In the world’s eyes they are usually “nobodies” but in His eyes they are “somebodies”.

Take a look at this short video and be inspired to step out as God intends for you to complete His mission where He has placed you.

NIGERIAN CHURCH IS AS THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. He explains how the Nigerian church has failed to pursue the Great Commission and why.

The mandate of the Great Commission has been abandoned by Nigerian churches; we are no longer interested in advancing the kingdom of Christ to areas where Christ has not been preached. Western missionaries sacrificed their lives to give us the Gospel but we now merchandise it and all our churches are concentrated in cities and towns where offerings and tithes are large. This empire building and money making agenda in our churches have hindered the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.

Our inability to reach the North with the Gospel and love of Christ is responsible for insurgency and terrorism in our country. While we were busy with selfish and prosperity messages in our churches and fellowships, the enemy went ahead of us with AK-47 and bombs and equipped our prospective target group with the instruction to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria.  The Church today is now a sitting Church instead of a going Church.  The true greatness of any church should not be measured by how many it seats but by how many it sends.

We have abandoned the going agenda and now engrossed so much with increasing the seating capacity of our churches. According to Roland Allen, missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual belief nor out of theological argument but out of love. Lack of love is responsible for this criminal negligence. We have monopolized Jesus for so long; let us start sharing His love, mercy and saving power with others. He did not die to save us alone; he died to save all, including terrorists. In Mathew 24:14 Jesus said that He will not come to take the saints until the Gospel is preached to all nations of the world. I strongly believe that no one has the right to hear the Gospel twice while there remains someone who has not heard it once no matter the race, tribe or tongue.

The knowledge of Jesus has saturated the southern part of Nigeria while the northerners are Gospel-starved. The place of electronic media in evangelism cannot be denied but many churches and men of God have been deceived by the devil to replace the going agenda with the broadcasting agenda when the Word of God is preached on television and radio.  Who do we really want to reach out to? Who are our target groups? Majority of the unreached in Africa continent do not have access to electronic media and the few that do, do not have any business with Christian programs and networks. The only veritable tool to be utilized in reaching the unreached is GO YE. Until we start going or sending missionaries to reach the unreached, the Great Commission remains an abandoned project.

It might interest you to note that about 64 million Nigerians have not heard about Jesus and we are comfortably building human kingdoms and empires. Churches have gone commercial.  Gospels are now for sale.  Multibillion properties are developed for sale. Banks, hotels, schools and universities are built to make money for the church and nothing is invested to reach the unreached. How many mission schools and hospitals do we still have in Nigeria? The bitter truth is that many of Nigerian pastors went through mission schools constructed and managed by Western missionaries with minimal payment or no school fees at all. Why can’t we extend this kind gesture to others and attract them to the saving power of Christ? Mission is not a ministry of choices for a few hyperactive Christians in the Church.  Mission is the purpose of the Church and the reason for the existence of every Christian.

We have two options to the Kingdom tension in Nigeria:  To aggressively pursue the mandate of the Great Commission and push the Gospel further North, or to remain in our comfort zones and show indifference attitude to the salvation of over 64 million Nigerians who are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus. Whichever choice we make, there is a reward.  We are supposed to go back to the drawing board and bring out missiological strategies aimed at reaching to the dying souls in the world for lack of the saving knowledge of Christ. Churches should go back to the old time religion and act like the apostles in the book of Acts.

I believe that many churches and pastors are not into mission because the brand of their religion is not worth propagating. How do we preach prosperity to impoverished naked people? It is obvious that seed sowing will never work in such environments because they do not have any offering, seed or tithe to give.

The Gospel is only good news if it gets to the people in time.  We are supposed to do God’s business in a hurry because delay is dangerous.  For how long will this project remain abandoned? 

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.

END TIMES CHURCH WILL BE FOCUSED ON BRINGING OTHERS TO JESUS

Are churches preaching Jesus as a means rather than as the end? “Come to Jesus! Jesus will bless you! Jesus will heal you! Jesus will help you! Jesus will prosper you!

Now, all these things are true. Jesus is concerned about us. But according to the New Testament, these promises are the byproducts of the gospel, not its central message and core. The gospel is not about me. The gospel is about Him.

Loaves and Fishes Christians

“Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26).

In John’s Gospel, the miracles that Jesus performs are called “signs” because they point to who He is as the Son of God. He is their long awaited Messiah.

In this context, it is obvious that Jesus rebukes the people for seeking Him out of self-serving motives. They are not seeking Him because they recognise who He is. They are seeking Him for what they think they can get from Him. They see Jesus as a means to their own personal comfort rather than as the end and goal of life.

Because we have preached a man-centred gospel, our churches are filled with self-centred, immature Christians. They can speak in tongues and prophesy, but they have no real power to counter the forces of darkness so evident today.

Ephesians 1:10 says that God will “gather together in one all things in Christ”. The phrase “gather together in one” is the translation of a Greek word that means “sum” or “total.” In other words, when all of God’s activity in time and eternity are totalled, it will add up to Jesus Christ. He is the end and goal of God’s plan and purpose.

Repentance is the refocusing of a person’s life so that self is no longer the end or goal.

Let us, therefore, repent and take “self” off the throne and enthrone Jesus as Lord. Let us not be afraid to present the demands of His character and grace to this generation. As we proclaim Him as the end and goal of life and eternity, I believe we will see the church refocused on the Great Commission – It’s all about bringing others to Jesus as declared by Australia for Jesus.

LOVE 2 LIVE 2 LOVE: REFLECTION ON CHURCH BY MAN OF GOD

In an interview with The Christian Post, the longtime pastor of the multi-campus Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois, Pastor James MacDonald, candidly shared what he’s learned and continues to learn about the heart of Jesus, and where he sees the Body of Christ going amid profound cultural changes.

With three decades now behind him, MacDonald is already vision casting and planning for the next 30 years, alongside his three children who are also active in ministry. MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Chapel in 1988 with 18 people and today hosts 13,000 at their seven Chicago-area campuses every week.

MacDonald shared that only more substance (Biblical) makes better disciples. And it’s really hard work. Jesus was more gifted than any person on Earth and He spent three-and-a-half full years on 12 people and didn’t get all of them to the finish line. So, it’s really a time consuming, exhausting thing making disciples, and I think I’ve seen the church swing back toward a focus on quality. We’ve said for years in our church “not a quantity of disciples, but quality of discipleship.” And more and more, I hear pastors leaning in that direction.

The primary type of evangelism that we see in the Scriptures is one-on-one. Jesus with Nicodemus, Jesus with the woman at the well, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. And that does not in any way negate mass evangelism. In Acts Chapter 2 we see a mass evangelism situation with the coming of the Holy Spirit. But was that normative or an exception? I think typically we see one-on-one evangelism and to subjugate the Sunday morning, which is so needed for infusion of spiritual strength through proclamation [of the Word], through worship, through fellowship, from giving and serving is, I think, increasingly seen as  inadequate to sustain in a strong, growing church. All of those things stoke the fire of a Christ follower’s vertical relationship [with God].  That’s the reason why in 2012, I wrote the book Vertical Church. We have to come back to that as our primary focus.

James MacDonald’s response to this question is enlightening. “What do you make of the credible allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse within influential churches and Christian ministries over the past two to three years?”

Scripture says “He who sins in the presence of all, rebuke in the presence of all that others may fear.” And you look in the book of Acts when they lied about their tithe, Ananias and Sapphira were taken, “and great fear came upon the Church.” Also, the only response to public exposure of private failure should be to look in the mirror, even when disaster strikes. In every instance when calamity strikes, when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror. We should be saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” We should be deepening our own reflection and repentance. And most of all, we should not be piling on and shaming others but we should be responding with grace and with genuine reflection upon the needs of our own heart. Because none of us are all that we have articulated to be important. And I’m not saying leaders shouldn’t be an example. Of course, leaders need to be an example, and if they are not an example of the believer, then they should step down.

We’re talking a lot in our church right now about what we call “love 2 live 2 love.” You’re not living until you’re loving God. That’s the first great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And then “live 2 love.” You’re not really loving God unless you’re loving others. And Jesus said the second is like the first. And not like it because they are both great, and not like it because they are both about love. But like it because he was only asked for one and he gave two because they are inseparable.

CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

Watch this 15 minute presentation by Peter Sutton on church. What can happen when pastors realise that they are just part of God’s church and the denominational barriers come down.

People don’t go to church, they are God’s church, wherever He has placed them in the marketplace. Only then, does the church start to impact communities and cities.

REALITY OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

Good to see this video from Torben about the reality of his experience when sharing the GOSPEL on the streets. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples His instructions were:

EXPECT PERSECUTION

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Matthew 10:16-25

HAVE NO FEAR

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 10:26-33

NOT PEACE BUT A SWORD

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:34-39

ETERNAL REWARDS

?Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.Matthew 10:40-42