Last Wednesday night I got back from England and I still find myself processing all that I did and learned while I was there. I am amazed how beneficial my time was in regards to me and my view of church. The picture to the right is of an old church building in Calais, France. Actually it was one of the very few that we saw there. The building is quite impressive and I remember that when I saw it I was amazed. I thought much about what had gone on in that church and found myself wondering what the circumstances were around the time it was built. What is it that makes it so impressive? What inspires the awe? As I ponder those questions I realize it is the complexity and size that inspires the awe. Can you imagine what all it took to build it, the skill and time that it took. Especially considering their lack of machinery that we have today. My mind is simply amazed. I know that it is nothing that I could duplicate or accomplish.
While in Bicester I spent time with a small church, a house church of sorts. The church is in its early stages of starting and growth. The leadership is committed to keeping the main thrust of the church small and in simple groups. Even though they currently have around 20 people a part of the church they are going to multiply into three smaller groups with a larger group get together every three weeks. I was blessed to spend one night of worship with them and during that time I was greatly encouraged and challenged in my walk with the Lord. The greatest thing about the church was its simplicity and with the simplicity the great amount of impact for the kingdom. To do what this small church is doing is not rocket science, anyone could do it.
When considering much of the churches I have been a part of I realize that they are like the picture of the church above. They are complex and awe inspiring because of there complexity and size. I realize that the average church goer is intimidated for one reason or another and think there is no way they could do it. They feel as though the work of the ministry must be left to the professional clergy. There is all the programs we run and the large budget that comes with the programs. Many end up in larger and larger buildings as they grow. The ability of the musicians and the amount of technology involved requires so much money and skill. The crazy thing is that as much significant work of the Spirit happens in the little church I got to go to as the large complex and expensive churches.
Coming away from my experience in England I realize that we make church way to complicated. In Acts 2 it says the early church met in the temple and daily in their homes sharing meals together. That is so simple and yet the models we have developed are so complicated that we read book upon book trying to figure it out. Please do not take that I think that what we do in America is totally wrong and we should jump from the building before it falls. What I am saying is please don’t think that the music, technology and other things we do are essential to being a church. Those are nice things we do but are not essential. Rather we are to come together to help one another grow in the faith and practice the ordinances together. Church is not rocket science it is fellow believers in community helping one another know Jesus more and live out the mission We have been called to.
So friends as we go to church be in awe concerning the work the Spirit did in your life that day through the Word and through other sojourners not because of the complexity and hugeness of the building or of the things that went on in the worship service.
Filed under church, England
Amy, Alexa, and Emma had a girls night last night and sent me this crazy picture! As a father away from home I am so grateful to get pictures like this that allow you to see your family is not only okay but doing great while you are away from home.
As I woke up and looked at this picture that was waiting for me I could not help but be thankful for the church we are a part of. This week when I would call Amy there have been numerous times that the church has been there or been encouraging Amy in some way. They have done things like staying the night with her, watching the kids, going out to eat, including her and the kids in mother’s days plan, and just plan hanging out. These things have made the trip go much faster for Amy and helped the kids have a lot of fun. These are truly the things that make the bride of Christ so beautiful and amazing. Praise the Lord for not only saving me but also bringing me into a new family.
I know for some the church brings back painful memories for some reason or another or it brings back memories of long and boring services. To the second I would say I am sorry that you have not been able to experience the beauty and wonder of the bride. To the first I apologize that you have been through such a painful ordeal with the church. To both I would encourage you to go back to the Bible to see what it says about the church and what it is to be like. Then begin being the church recognizing that it isn’t a service or social club but rather it is us who have come to Christ. When we come to know and trust Jesus not only is our relationship with God restored but we are also given a new family that we are to invest in. Be the catalyst that gets your church loving each other more and gets them to spend time together doing the things they do in everyday life. Do something as simple as invite someone to dinner this week.
Lord thank you for the Bride that my family and I are a part of. Thank you for the church I have been fellowshipping with this past week in England. I have learned much and been encouraged to grow with Jesus more.
A friend shared this with me today. Thought it was funny but reminded me that it is important that we teach people the correct view of what church is. Too many see church as a Sunday service instead of as the bride of Christ who is called to make disciples throughout the world.
Last night I sat down and watched Robin Hoodand really enjoyed the movie. Honestly though I wasn’t surprised. Most movies that have action and adventure I enjoy, the kid in me comes to the surface. I especially like those kind of movies when I walk away inspired to live life better. Movies like Gladiator, The Patriot and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are some other good ones that have at the same time entertained and inspired me. Those are the best movies.
While watching Robin Hood I could not help but be inspired by how the common folk came together to be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunatly this didn’t work out to well for them in the movie and Robin ended up being outlawed but the idea moved me still. The quote from the movie that resonated with me as soon as I heard it was, “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions!” Pastors are in the business of helping lambs become lions by the grace of God. Each week we need to rise up and pursue the raising up of disciples who are engaging their communities with the boldness of lions so that some might come to Christ. Without this passionate pursuit we can expect that the people in the pews will remain lambs who are comfortable with being a part of a club. While pondering this there were a couple of things that came to mind that must happen in order for the lambs to become lions.
1. Growth in the gospel- I know that we would say the people in the pews have said the sinner’s prayer and and trusted Christ as their savior. My response to this would be are they learning everyday what it means to live out the gospel? Are they growing in the knowledge of the holiness and greatness of God? As they know God more do they understand more how depraved they are? Then are they turning to Christ again everyday praising Him for the work He has done? This will result in men and women who are falling more deeply in love with Jesus everyday because they are growing in their understanding of the significance of the gospel. The gospel provides the motivation and the power to live for the glory of God. In 2 Peter 1:3-11 we learn that the gospel has given us everything we need to be fruitful as believers. If believers are going to move from being lambs to being lions they need to understand the implications of living the gospel and begin living it. This means if you are a leader in the church that every time you teach you must make sure that the gospel is central. This is why Martin Luther said to beat the gospel into their heads continually.
2. Love for People- At another point in Robin Hood, Robin is talking with the young boys who were essentially poachers and thieves and He told them that if they wanted to be more than theives that they needed to have a cause. Have the people in your church come to understand the great cause they have been called to? 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 teaches believers that they have been called to the ministry of reconciliation. God has given us a cause that is worth dying for. If you doubt that then simply ask yourself why is it that Jesus died? He believed the cause was worthy to die for. We are commissioned to go to the world with the message that they can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Believers need to see and understand how broken the world around them is, if they don’t they will forget how desperately people need Jesus. Another thing we should be doing is praying often that the people in our churches would have an enlarged burden for their community. As they grow to love people more and understand their call to take the message of reconciliation to their hurting community they will begin to grow from lambs to lions.
You want to see the church work to have gospel change in your community, to move from being lambs to lions then work hard at helping them to grow in the gospel and to grow in their love for people. When these two things happen they will have the motivation and power needed to radically impact their community for the glory of God. You will have lions!
Yep all that from Robin Hood. I am thankful for the time to watch it last night.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
Last night as I sat and listened to my pastor and friend Mark Simpson teach out of John 15 about Jesus being the vine I couldn’t help but think about something that happened a few years ago.
I believe it was when Alexa was just over a year old. She came down with a virus that led to her throwing up and as a result she stopped eating and drinking. No matter what we did she wouldn’t eat or drink. This didn’t go on very long when see became very lethargic and her body just started to shut down. We got in the car and headed to the ER because we weren’t sure what was going on and we were scared. At the hospital we learned that she was dehydrated and that things could have gotten much worse if we hadn’t gotten her to the hospital. They quickly got an IV in her and began pumping fluids. Before too long she was reenergized and ready to head home. Amy and I look back on this and are so thankful for God’s grace and protection in Alexa’s life.
Followers of Christ are to abide in Him so that we might receive His grace and His strength so that we might bear fruit and be sanctified. If we do not abide in Christ, remain connected to the vine we will stop bearing fruit and essentially shrivel up and die. At these times followers of Christ become vulnerable to bitterness and apathy that will draw them further away from the Lord.
As Alexa’s parents we could provide her food and nourishment but she rejected it because of the virus that was attacking her. She lost energy and eventually could have died. As her parents we didn’t let that happen instead we took her to the hospital where they inserted an IV that provided the nourishment that she needed. She got her energy back and was quickly back to full health.
God has called His children to live in community, to be connected to the body, His church. Alexa’s story in addition to Jesus being the vine helps us see why. At times as we are pruned by God or attack by the evil one we begin to want to run from God and the church. We lose connection to Christ and begin to spiritually shrivel. When we have the church in our life and they respond as they are called to respond then they will stick the IV in the child and help it receive the nourishment it needs. When we run the encouragement and prayers of the church can help us walk through the viruses that come into our lives. They will come and church is to help you walk through those times.
Friends abide in Christ and stay in fellowship with the church so that they may help you stay healthy in Christ. At times we all need a spiritual IV.
Today I met with a friend and had a great conversation learning about where he was at and where he saw himself plugging into the church. I would have never known where he was at or what he wanted to do except for our conversation today. His desire has been there but no one has taken the time to find out or ask him to get involved. Way to often we miss out on getting people involved because we don’t take the time to sit down with them and ask.
Many times in the church we feel as though we struggle to find people to get involved and help out. We even get frustrated and think very judgmental thoughts about brothers and sisters. Now as I reflect on my conversation with my friend I realize that often we get frustrated and get no help because we mistake announcements for asking.
The process may go like this. I can’t believe that no one wants to help. Then someone says, “Have you asked people?” We respond, “Well yeah, we have announced it the last three weeks and no one has volunteered.” In our minds we have asked people and they have not responded. The thing is when we take time to personally ask people they often are excited to get involved and help out. The personal connection helps them feel valued and know that they are truly needed. With a general announcement it is too easy to think that someone else will come forward and help. We easily rationalize away our responsibility to help out.
If you are struggling to get people to help out and find yourself getting frustrated then take time to stop and think, “who should I take the time to go to and personally ask to help?” You will be encouraged and they will feel valued! Then you can truly say that you have asked people and not simply announced it!
Recently I preached a message on discipleship and leadership development. As I studied and prepared I really came to the conclusion that although content may be different the process of developing leaders and disciples is the same.
In my few years of life one of the things I have noticed is that the church is not very good at discipleship. We either want a program to accomplish it or we want the paid church staff to do it. I think this is both the fault of the church leadership and the members. I find it to be the members fault because they have not been diligent at knowing the scriptures and realizing that they are to be raising up disciples. Secondly it is the leaderships fault because they have allowed members to sit back and watch. I am so excited because of the movement in churches to once again empower and hold the saints accountable to the great commission. Not that we just expect people to tell others about Christ but that we expect them to raise up disciples who reproduce. This will begin to pay off big time for the church.
As I studied and preached I realized that a disciple who does not disciple others is like a coach who does not coach his team but instead goes and sits in the stands and does nothing. Saints need to be engaged helping others mature in Christ. I thank Jesus for how he is teaching me and giving me a greater passion everyday to help others know Him more.
My friends be a disciple…be obedient to the mission!