Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Will the TRUE Church please STAND Up!!!!......#7

We live in a Christian tshirt and bumper sticker culture in church. Most are Christian's on the outside but not on the inside. We are Christians only on Sundays. That is all that is required of us to attend church and maybe Bible Study and we are checked off for the week.

#1: With his practical, positive, unpretentious, and down-to-earth teaching style, he has grown the church to an attendance of nearly two thousand each weekend.

What is the "growth" focus on? Physical growth, not spiritual. This is the key to the downfall to many pastors and churches. Some pastors like this one his ridden on the coattails and success of the physical growth of the church. The idea is that when you have critical mass, you can really do something. Like what, build more buildings, hire more staff, go on more trips, etc. I even had a pastor tell me once that physical growth equals spiritual growth. You get one as a result of the other? Do you really think so?

Which is better? Growth in numbers in Worship Attendance or in Attendance of Small Groups/Sunday School? If we are to make disciples, where is that really beginning at this church?

#2: The main priority of Pastor John Doe and his beloved wife Sally is the home. Their emphasis and commitment to their family have resulted in the strength and growth of XYZ Ministries and ABC Church. Currently, ABC Church is one church in eight locations.

The pastor and wife focus on their own family, not the family of God. But according to this statement, this results in the growth of the ministry and church they are in charge of. Shepherding the flock is the calling of the pastor. To care for the flock you have been called to not just physically, but mainly spiritually. Preaching and teaching the Word of God and the ministry of prayer is to be the means. The ends is to equip the saints. (Eph. 4:11-12)

Hey, we have eight locations because of this physical growth. Nothing is mentioned of salvations, discipleship through Bible Study, missions education and sending missionaries or church planters, ministries that people have been called to and are serving in, etc. The bread and butter of discipleship, the equipping of saints.

#3: What makes the BCD Denomination unique from other denominations is the fact that while it strongly affirms the clear teaching of the Word of God, it allows believers the personal freedom to have varying interpretations on theological issues that are not clearly presented in Scripture.

So, you be the disciple you want to be. You have the freedom to interpret how to be a disciple on your own....its your personal freedom. Nothing in this statement leads to interpret Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. And to say that there are many interpretations of a passage of Scripture is absurd!!

We are turning our back on true discipleship!! In Luke 9:23, Jesus says that one should "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." The Great Commandment says that we are to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This focus is denying of ourselves type of focus, where you are submitting and serving to the Lord God with all that you are and serving others and putting them in front of yourself out of your love for them.

Changing our lives is taking up our cross. Facing temptations is taking up our cross. Working and living in the world is taking up our cross. Declaring the name of Jesus higher than any other name in our life is to face this evil world, go against the grain, and stand firm for Christ. But by taking up our cross is showing that we would die for Him if our life was required. Paul said it and was very clear on this matter!!

And finally, we are to follow our Lord no matter the cost. Forsaking All I Trust Him. The acronym for FAITH!! Hallelujah!!


Gene Pool said...

Pastor Brian said, “We live in a Christian tshirt and bumper sticker culture in church. Most are Christian's on the outside but not on the inside. We are Christians only on Sundays. That is all that is required of us to attend church and maybe Bible Study and we are checked off for the week.” and “What is the "growth" focus on? Physical growth, not spiritual.”

Pastor Brian, your comments beg the question, how has the visible church arrived at this state? The answer is, congregations follow leadership--and the so-called theology that is presented. People of our culture are looking for products to buy, even when they “go to church” for their weekly dose of religion. And preaching and teaching has accommodated with a sellable product, one that is simple...one that promises prosperity... one that doesn’t require commitment, obedience, or personal sacrifice-- aka “easy believism.” Let’s face it, the church as it was intended by our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks to us, has failed. It does not produce disciples, nor does it intended to, because congregations don’t want to be disciples...and preaching and teaching doesn’t press it out of fear of the congregation. Heaven forbid, it may leave along with its pocketbook. And when preaching does confront sin, or is so indirect and quick that it can be missed, the results are “Christian's on the outside but not on the inside...Christians only on Sundays.” Church attenders.

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And ‘twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.

Pastor Brian, that little poem was written by Daniel Defoe over 400 years ago, so the problem you speak of is not a new one. The question is, what do we do about it? And what do we do about it at ground zero--where each of us are today--in our individual churches, standing behind our individual pulpits, and in our individual Bible classes? As we preachers and teachers look into the faces of those in front of us, we must ask, “whose congregation am I looking at?” If it’s Satan’s, we must take it back.

Gene Pool

Anonymous said...

1=no, physical growth or 'numbers' do not equal spiritual growth.
2=bumpersticker mentality. A sharp wit can be a stumbling block and not the kind that stumbles someone into the arms of Christ. yes, I admit to being guilty of this one as well, with 'one-liners' and comebacks that do not address the issue or question.

How do we address it? How can *I* make a difference in *my* local church body? Since I am not one to gritch without offering a solution or path to improve, here's what I suggest:
study. There are several going on in the area, and out here, we're all family anyway. So ASK and then, do it. It doesn't matter if it's at the local coffee shop or at a church building or at someone's home, STUDY and actually participate rather than wanting someone else to do it all for you.
look at your neighborhood. Out here, our neighborhoods are quite different than in the metro area. But you know what? People are hurting out here. JOIN TOGETHER TO PRAY. Pray for what? Pray for our president. He needs it. Whether it's God's purposeful or permissive will, Obama is president by GOD'S WILL and we are, as Bro Craig pointed out Sunday, called to submit to authority where it doesn't go against the Bible. (yes, I grit my teeth on the submission, but.... I do not have a problem praying for the man) Pray for our pastors. You guys need it. Specifically I'm praying for the pastors at Ivanhoe, Duplex, Elwood, Telephone and Lamasco. I pray they guard their time in the Word, their witness for Him, their message to their flocks be from the Bible and where toes need to be stepped on (mine included) the Holy Spirit would lead you to step on them.

I'll back away from the soapbox now. I must get back to work, since I've phone line now.

Unknown said...


One thing about physical growth is that it can be put on a board, and acknowledged by men. I think that this is one of the stronget reasons that churches run this way. Physical growth can be seen on the back page of the Standard, so other people can see it and think "well, old brother so-and-so sure is doing a good job out there." The problem with spiritual growth is that sometimes the only one who knows about it is the Lord, and certainly he is the only one who can receive any credit. Pastors, WE MUST STRIP OUR NAME AND PRIDE FROM OUR MINISTRIES AND BEG GOD TO MOVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BE CREDITED. That is where the true church growth comes. When God is healing the broken, restoring the fallen, teaching the faithful, and building intimacy with His Church, He is the one that gets the credit, and it truly is all about Him. Its easy to say "Its all about you" in a praise song, but in real life that means its not all about about me. That takes a true hunger to do His will, and not merely a desire to give God lip service while we tout our style and programs. Right on again Brian. This one is on the shepherds. Stand up, stand up, for JESUS, not us.

Sleepy Disciple said...

A friend emailed me this comment:

Just a comment on your blog, I agree if i go to one baptist church I've gone to 99.9% of them. They are all the same and it is always "church lite" for 17 years now i have spiritually shrunk and I am now in my own study, I have been for some time. I can not depend on any church around here to cause me to grow spiritually. I have my own study and get into the greek and hebrew look into comentaries. Its like my own gourmet spiritual food!.

Ergatees said...

WOW! This blog has really been awesome to read and discuss. I really appreciate those that contribute to it, because they seem to not only identify with the points that you have made, but they appear to have a desire to do something about all of this.

Gene Pool,

I really appreciate the passion that you have for this matter and it appears that you are as frustrated with this situation as I am.

However, I don't think that the Church can ever really fail. God will always have a remnant. God can never be defeated. While things look dark and grim now, we need to realize that this is not a new problem! This problem has been going on since the late 1800's and early 1900's (at least in its current form). Sure, it looks just a little different from back then, but the issues are pretty much the same. People are losing their tolerance for longer sermons and for sermons with real meat. You know sermons would regularly go over an hour and sometimes for two hours back then. Now look at us. We get a bent out of shape with Church services go past 12:00pm! That is so sad! I hear it here and I heard it when I was in the country outside of Dallas, and I am sure it is still going on.


I really appreciate your proposal and I agree with you. I have a suggestion though, why don't all of those church let each other know when and where those studies are taking place so as to help build up the body there? I mean that sounds reasonable to me?! How hard would it be to get Telephone, Lamacso, Duplex, Ivanhoe, and Elwood to announce each other's Bible studies? They could announce the times, places, topic, leader, and sponsoring church.

I think you made another great point. We really need to seriously pray for our leaders (secular and spiritual), our assemblies, the assemblies around us, and for our country. I really appreciate your conviction on that matter and I think it is a great point!


Right on! The under-shepherds really need to make sure that they are doing all that they can to get the pride out of the equation. We really need to humble ourselves and seek for the Lord and NOT OURSELVES to be glorified and lifted up!

I am so encouraged by you and I want you to know that I am praying for you all there and for Fannin County as a whole. God is stirring up the pot, you might say over there and we all need to be prayed up and 100% submissive to the will of God.

I look forward to the next post or response.

In Him,

Gene Pool said...

Brother Brian,

As we come upon Easter Sunday, my studies and meditations have been on how the ancient Jews had utterly convoluted their religion--how they had convoluted the Law of Moses and the Torah God had given to them--how they had failed at being God’s priestly people chosen for revealing Him to the nations. In the end, when confronted by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, they believed Him to be under the power of Satan so they killed him.

Your blog painfully brings all that forward to us today, how we have done the same thing in convoluting our witness as well as the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have compounded our convolutions upon themselves--institutionalized, denominationalized, and mandated those convolutions, and have become of little difference than the Jews 2000 years ago. If God had chosen His first coming to be today in America instead of Israel of the first century, the major denominations would be stumbling over each other in the rush to crucify Him. They would see His threat as being of the Devil.

Considering that, I have to wonder how long your speaking out about churchanity will be tolerated:

“Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest... and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.”

Brother Brian, least it not be forgotten, there is an establishment, you know.

Gene Pool

Eklektos said...

He is risen, indeed, he has risen. A simple 7-word statement that has turned the world upside down for 2000 years. What amazes me is that the whole world, and we, as Christians have been working on who Jesus was and is and we still have not gotten it right yet. We are one messed up God made creation.

I have read Brother Brian past blogs, responded too a few of them, and have read all of the current comments that have been left installment #7. And for the most part I am in agreement with all of them; from Gene Pool, nthesticks, Ivanhoe and Ergatees.

I do disagree with the person who wrote the private email to Brian about “church lite,” not getting spiritual growth from church so he strikes out on his own, forsaking the gathering of the local body to study and grow spiritually. “Not being involved in the local church” is the same as saying “I don’t need the local body which is “God’s system.” It is God’s will that each Christian be a member of a local church and to withdraw is take away an important member of the Bride of Christ. Who prayed for you today? Who did you pray for? Who did you fellowship with, encourage, teach; what mission did your giving support, and who did these things for you? A Christian gains strength and knowledge from other Christians. Why would a devoted Christian not take what he has learned and share it with a local body of believers, to teach other Christians if he thinks they, as he was, are withering spiritually. In my neck of the woods that is called self-interested. Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied.

This Easter evening as I ponder the risen Jesus and think about the people he walked among; it was a simple message for a simple society, mostly agrarian, poor and persecuted by the Romans and yet it flourished. Why? The message was uncomplicated and not convoluted with church growth, new buildings and all of the other junk we focus on in today’s “Hot Tub, bumper sticker, make me feel good religion.”

I don’t want to trivialize the problems of today’s church but the early church had major problems also. I imagine many, if not most, are the same problems we have today with the exception they could loose their life for their beliefs in Christ. (Perhaps we don’t have it so bad.) In my opinion Paul addressed those problems in the letters he wrote to the various Churches’, can we not learn from history.

Perhaps I can sum up our problems with a definition of what a Christian is.

A Christian can be described from many viewpoints but everything can be covered by saying; true Christians are a people who acknowledge and live under the word of God. We submit without reserve to the word of God written in “the Book of Truth” (Daniel 10:21), believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. Our eyes are upon the God of the Bible as our Father and the Christ of the Bible as our Savior, not on the man made problems.

We, Christians, will tell you, if asked, that the Word of God has both convicted us of sin and assured us of forgiveness. Our consciences are captive to the Word of God and we seek like the psalmist, to have our whole lives brought in line with it. “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wonder from thy commandments.” “I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.” “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.”
“Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.” “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.” (Psalms 119:5, 10, 26-27, 36, 38, 80, KJV). The promises are before us as we pray and the precepts are before us as we go about our daily tasks.

We know that in addition to the word of God spoken directly to us in the scriptures, God’s word has gone forward to create, and control, and order things around them; but since the Scriptures tell us that all things work together for our good, the thought of God ordering our circumstances only brings us joy. We are an independent folk, we use the word of God as a touch stone by which to test the various views that are put to us, and we should not touch anything which we are not sure that Scripture sanctions.

Question? Why does this description fit so few of us that profess to be a Christian in today’s world? I think we would find it useful to ask our conscience, and let it tell us.

I believe that if we lived by the definition of a Christian and focus on knowing God and His Word and the solutions that are provided within, we probably would not have so many man made problems, and people would pack our church buildings because they would want what we have. Christ is real and he wants a deep personal relationship with us, to love us, convict us of our sin; not to allow a shallow feel good for the moment religion. It is up to the true Christina to be faithful to our calling thereby showing other people and the world we are a special people, Sons of God, royal blood runs through our veins, halleluiah.

A true Christian simmers, the Holy Spirit bubbling within him. When you meet him, you sense that he keeps himself tightly reined in – a passion for Christ yoked with the discipline obtained from the Bible.

“Theology becomes therapy. . . . The biblical interest in righteousness is replaced by a search for happiness, holiness by wholeness, truth by feeling, ethics by feeling good about one’s self. The world shrinks to the range of personal circumstances; the community of faith shrinks to a circle of friends. The past recedes. The Church recedes. The world recedes. All that remains is the self.” (Wells, “No Place For Truth,” p. 183)

One more cliché: “A dog in the hunt doesn’t know he has fleas.” If we are in the hunt to know, teach and obey God through his Word with all of our ability and do the same for other people we will not see the insignificant problems, God will solve them. It is when we take our focus off God is when we see our fleas.

End of soapbox.


(Christian definition paraphrased from “Knowing God” by J. I. Packer)

teresa said...

You are all right we believe that if we go to the lords house on Sunday we have done our job, I would like to think I do my job everyday, I try and help people in need at all times, I listen to the problems and make a determination, There are alot of chucrch goers that just don't understand the outside world. I have a conversation from a lady at another church this last week, she had decided to stop watching hder show because there were gay men on it, Well all I can say it does not bother me it is our society we live in, It doesn't mean they are contagious, that is for the ignorant to believe in. Mt theory is what if there is just one kid at church hearing he is going to hell be cause of the thoughts he is having, 88 % of all teens commit suicide in America and 88 % of that is homosexual young men, In my good book God said love everyone, so if that is a sin the buble also says Divorce is a sin and look at our society today at the amount of adults that are getting a difforce, what does that teach us. I am just giving you something to think about,.

Til later
God Bless and be open with your heart