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This past Sunday was our annual meeting. We had a great time of fellowship. The music was phenomenal and the spirit was great. We had the distinct privilege of getting to listen to John Mark Clifton a new employee of the North American Mission Board.  John Mark was just called full time to the board on October 1. We were his first official meeting since his transition. John Mark has an impressive resume in the area of church starting and church revitalization.

He came to share with us about the need for all of our churches to be “spiritually healthy, vibrant, growing churches. One of the things that stood out to me was when he shared with us that our churches are not small churches but “normative churches”. . Churches with an attendance under 200 is the normal size church in America. We are the norm!

But here is the key, being the norm is not supposed to be an excuse for us to be or become a stagnant, plateaued church. It means that we must be about the task of making disciples and starting more normative churches.

What do you think about this? How can we be a normative church but not be the norm? How can we be more than what the normative church has become in America today?

Next blog we will address: How can we be an effective “Neighborhood Church?”

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I have been asked to write this blog for our churches to consider.  The request came as the result of a conversation that we had at one of our team meetings.  The conversation revolved around how we as the church need to become more missional and less attractional in our approach to outreach.

Since that conversation, I watched a YouTube video about how fishermen in Brazil are catching a particular species of fish in the back areas of the Amazon.  They discovered that this particular fish when startled will jump out of the water and into the boat. These fishermen go out in their boats after dark and use spotlights and megaphones to make all kinds of noise in order to scare the fish into their boats.

When I saw the video it made me think that is how many churches are doing evangelism.  Jesus called us to be fishers of men but instead of going out and fishing we are sitting in the boat waiting for the fish to jump in the boat.

The combination of the conversation and the video helped me to visualize how we need to be fishing.  We need to go to the fish and not wait for them to jump in the boat.  The days of that type of fishing are quickly waning. We have to be aggressive fishermen and go the “fish”.  But when we do we need to realize what the “fish” are thinking.  Because what they are thinking dictates how we reach out to them.

Here are the three questions that everybody is thinking when you meet them for the first time.

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Can you help me?

Non-believers are all asking these questions whether consciously or unconsciously.  Therefore we must be able to develop relationships with them that will answer those questions in the affirmative.  It cannot be done by sitting in the boat or by having the best worship service, or the fanciest building, or the best technology.   These questions can only be answered through deep caring relationships.  The problem is these types of relationships take time to develop.  We have to make the commitment to invest in the lives of people.  To love them even when they seem to be unlovable.   We need to show them that we can be trusted, that we do care for them, and that we know the one who can help them.

The days of the “Billy Graham Era” are gone.  Even the days of the “Seeker Sensitive” Churches is rapidly receding.    Today is the day of being on mission for Christ everywhere we go including our own community.  It is time for us to invest in the most important commodity the world has to offer –PEOPLE.  Stop waiting for the fish to jump in the boat.  Go to the fish and love them with the love of the Lord.

Have you ever been tired?  I mean just plain tired!  I have been feeling that way the last couple of weeks.  Just plain old fashioned tired.  It has nothing to do with work load or life stress, I just feel tired.  I thought maybe my back injury was causing me to lose momentum. Or the maybe the steroid injections in my spine has caused a chemical response of being worn out. But then I was reading “Missional Renaissance” by Reggie McNeal for our book reading in Ottawa and I came across a statement that he made about “dialing time off and Sabbath back into your life.”

It was then that I started thinking that how many times we as Christian leaders have forgotten to take time to “remember the Sabbath day”.  How many times have I just spend time with God resting in His presence allowing Him to restore my soul?  How many times do I just bask in the warmth of His love in order that I might have more of His love to share with others?  How many times do I rush about doing His bidding but never taking time to relax in His presence?

The Bible reminds us that we are to remember the Sabbath day but so often we are busy serving on the Lord’s Day that we have forgotten to honor God and restore our strength by keeping the Sabbath Day with the Lord.

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever been just bone tired?  Was it because you failed to remember the Sabbath day?  Or am I just getting old?  J

 

That’s right! Do not have a heart attack!  I am going to try blogging again this year.  Since my last blog on this site I have thought about many different things that I wanted to blog about but just never got the time or maybe it was the energy to sit down and write. 

But for the past few weeks, God has been talking to me about the need to create a venue by which we can discuss issues, ask questions and maybe even vent attitudes about things that are happening in our ministry and ministry settings. 

Today I wanted to pose to you a question because I know that your responses to this question will be a big help to our Leadership Development Team as the work on developing a Leadership Strategy for our association. 

LDT has been praying, researching and is getting ready to develop a skeletal outline of how a church can develop both disciples and future church leaders. So in spite of some pressing issues that I want to talk about I have chosen this as our first topic.

 Here is the point of discussion for us: “What are the convictions and what are the competencies of a mature disciple?”

Let me get us started.

Conviction #1

  • The church is commissioned by Christ to make disciples.
    • Matthew 28:18-20 (RSV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Competency #1

  • A disciple needs to be able to present the Gospel in a clear and compelling way.
    • 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

I think that these are two very important items to start our discussion with.  Jesus has called and commanded us to make disciples of all nations.  This is not just making converts but it is our responsibility to take these new believers and mature them into gospel believing and gospel sharing followers of Christ.  There is no exception to this command.  We have been mandated to “Go” and to “make disciples”.  It is a true statement that “disciples are made not born”.  It takes work to be a disciple and it takes workers to make disciples.  God has called us to be and do both of these.

The making of disciples requires that we have the competencies required to live out and share the gospel message.  This message not only needs to be shared but it must be shared in a way that people can see it in us and understand it is for them as well.

So let’s start this blog thread.  What convictions do you see are needed?  And what competencies must a disciple master in order to be a mature follower of Christ?

Luke 10:2 Prayer

Recently our Association held our almost monthly prayer meeting.  At this meeting we were introduced to our new prayer coordinator, Michele.   She is a great new asset to our prayer life.  She has a heart for prayer and a spirit that is strong with the Lord.  Pray for her as she assumes this new role and as she challenges us to fall on our faces before the Lord.

At this meeting, we were challenged to begin praying the Luke 10:2 prayer strategy.  You remember this was where Jesus told us that the field where ripe unto harvest but that there were not enough laborers in the field.  This was said in spite of the fact that He had just sent out 84 pairs of laborers into the harvest.

The challenge for us is to ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers.  We examined the fact that this is not a simple sending by God but an aggressive thrusting of motivated men and women into the harvest field and not just into any field but into specific communities.  Jesus sent laborers into the villages that we was about to visit.  I believe that God is about to visit our harvest fields and that we need to ask Him to send out laborers into these fields.

But what does this mean for us?  It means that we need to start praying daily that Christ “thrust out these laborers into the 12 counties that He is about to visit.  It means that we need to allow those laborers to go into the harvest.  This will mean that we will lose some of our helpers as they move from helping us to serving Him.  We need to not only we willing to let them go but we need to encourage them as they are going and maybe even encouraging them to step up and step out.

Since we started praying this request, I have seen a few strangers appear on the edge of the field.  They are peering into the harvest looking and deciding is this God’s calling?  Have you seen them looking in?  Have you heard the voice of God whispering to your people?

Are you willing to pray Luke 10:2 with me?  Are you willing to let his people go into the harvest?  What are you thinking right now?

Well it happened

Well, it happened just like I knew it would.  I have gotten super busy and the blog has ground to a definite halt.  As I told you in the beginning, I am not a writer.   But at the same time I know that communication is the strongest tool we have to develop and maintain unity of the Body.

So I am back. Attempt number two is about to begin.  Pray for me as I renew my commitment to keep you informed and updated to God’s activity in Three Rivers Baptist Association.

Today, I want to address the issue of God’s power.  I recently discovered a new church assessment tool based upon the medical APGAR test that our children received immediately upon being delivered.  The medical staff in the delivery room wanted to make sure that our children were responding properly to their new environment so they used the APGAR test. (For more information about the medical APGAR test Google it.)

The Church APGAR test is built upon Acts 2 and Revelation 2.  The Acts 2 test evaluates 5 important aspects of a healthy church. One of those areas is the area of Power.  This test asks you to evaluate whether or not your church is experiencing on a regular basis the miraculous signs and wonders that God is known for.

So I ask you today,”Is your church filled with awe because of the many wonders and signs that God is doing in your midst?”  If not, why not?  What is missing?  What is wrong?  What needs to change?  What do you need to do in order for God’s power to be released in our church?

I have seen it at work in many places throughout TRBA.  I see His power at work as He consistently produces new believers at Erven Avenue.  I see His power at work in a survival mode church that is willing to give their church back to Christ.  I see His power in a pastor who is in crisis and turns to Christ rather than the ways of the world.  I see His power in the hearts of His people who are following Him even when others refuse.

Do you see His power at work?   In your life?    Where?

Let me begin by asking that if you are reading this blog to please take the time to make a comment.  I am not looking for praise but rather a headcount.  I would like to know how effective  this tool is for communicating with you the members of TRBA.

Having said that let me ask you another one of those thought provoking questions?  “When did being a Christian become all about me?”  It has always been my understanding that being a Christian  has never been about me.  But in today’s church it has become all about me. (You do know that I am talking about the generic “me” not “me” specifically.)  It seems that in today’s church it is no longer about Christ but about “my wants” and “my desires”.  And in doing so we have lost something very significant — the Lordship of Christ.  Today we no longer  show the kind of reverence and fear of the Lord that is needed and required.  It is more about “our” preferences, “our” wants, and “our” comfort than about serving and worshipping a Holy God.

For example, “How many times have we heard people argue about worship music?”  The arguments rarely concern how the music glorifies God.  It is more about what kind of music “I” like.   Or what about church having to be comfortable and non-threatening or I won’t attend?  I have literally seen situations where people would rather have their church die rather than return to it being about Christ.  Remember, I attend a lot of different churches — not just TRBA churches but many churches from other places as well.  So maybe I have seen more of this than some of you may have noticed.

Is it only me that sees this or do you see it as well?  If so what are some of the things that you see? (Without being negative or derogatory to anyone in particular)  What steps can we take to return to it being about Christ and not about us?