ReThinking Church, Part 2 – Church is not a Building

The problem is not that we have buildings but that we have substituted them for the meaning of church.

When we examine the New Testament, the first glaring difference between the first century concept and our modern concept of ‘church,’ is that to the early believers the term ‘church’ never referred to a building. The early believers had no ‘church buildings,’ and yet, they shook the Roman Empire with the gospel. They thrived, flourished and had exponential growth of church plants…all without having a single building program or permanent facility.

In the NT account of the expansion of the Christian faith, we are looking at the infancy of the movement. It is easy to explain away the lack of cathedrals and religious monuments, mainly because Christianity was an illegal religion and believers were not allowed to construct buildings for worship within the Roman Empire. But the model they were forced to use brings up several questions: Did their lack of permanent facilities actually enhance their outreach by decentralizing their gatherings? Was the explosion of outreach linked with their inability, both legally and financially, to create the monuments which glorify man? If they had Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 2 – Church is not a Building”

Freedom to Question

The best disciples are made when those in training are really free to question the positions and beliefs of their teachers. Depending upon how secure the teacher is to receive such questioning will determine its fruitfulness. However, the freedom to challenge, investigate and question every belief will determine whether we are creating puppets of man or followers of Jesus. Cookie cutting disciples will not endure the test of this postmodern and post-christian age. Questions from unbelievers and heretics will rock their faith axioms if they haven’t challenged them with ferocity and are convinced of the soundness of their own doctrines.

Jesus allowed it… (John 3:4)

Paul applauded it… (Acts 17:11) Continue reading “Freedom to Question”

ReThinking Church, Part 1 – Dangerous Questions

If we are going to reach our generation, especially those growing up in our post-christian culture and homes, and falling through the cracks of our outreach programs, we must rethink church. Our Western culture has inbred in us, and passed down to us, a view and model of church which appears to be foreign to what we see in Scriptures.

This is not an ‘anti-establishment’ diatribe of what most of us have called church. Neither is it an attack against denominationalism. I’ve pastored, ministered and spoken in various denominations for nearly 30 years. I love God’s people and the promise Jesus made to “build His Church.” (Matt. 16:18) And therein lies the impetus into the questions we will examine. It starts with the simple and honest question, “What exactly did Jesus promise to build?” Does our modern concept of Church in the West resemble what Jesus intended to build? Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 1 – Dangerous Questions”

Preaching Without Power

Today, many of our pulpits do not lack the latest in technology, biblical scholarship or homiletics. We’ve become masters of rhetoric, cliches and stories. We perfectly control every area of our services. However, in the midst of our advancement in communication possibilities, it is obvious many care more about the lights than the Light, more about the laughter than the Love, more about the presentation than the Presence. Sadly, many leaders have become masters of contentless sermons.

“Evangelicals are masters in entertainment and minimalists in thought.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

We are men of our times…and that can be our greatest failure. Thank the Lord for modern technology and innovative ways to share the gospel. However, let them not become our substitution for what gave birth to Christianity. We need to lay before the Lord, in humility and brokenness, and allow the Lord to fill us afresh with the Holy Spirit. Many ‘strange children’ are being born from our messages which focus on Continue reading “Preaching Without Power”

The Danger of Unforgiveness

Woe to those who take a flippant or casual attitude toward unforgivness. According to Jesus, it is one of the sure ways of facing torment and spiritual prison.

We meet them every day, even on Sundays; men and women wandering around under torment and living in spiritual bondage. Oh, they sing, “It is well with my soul,” but it is obvious they are lying to themselves and to those around them. Their lives are a hidden mess, their marriages are broken, and no amount of self help gimmicks or coping mechanisms can hide the tragedy of their lives. They may be lonely in a crowd or a social butterfly, but the reality is the same; their life is filled with pain and inward torture.

Here is the promise Jesus gave to us detailing what will happen if we fail to forgive, from our heart, those who have wronged us. (Matt. 18:34-35, please read)

  • We will be in prison until we pay the debt
  • We will be turned over to the tormenters

Prison and torment. I don’t know about you, but I do not like either of these. Let us keep our hearts pure by appropriating the grace of God for the wrongs performed against us. Continue reading “The Danger of Unforgiveness”

The Gospel – The Answer for Church Diversity

Here in Mississippi, the epicenter of the Civil Rights struggles from the past generation, the Gospel alone proves to be the answer for civil rights and church diversity. No, not the answer which the political pundits and flame throwers promote. But that which is real, eternal and offers change from the inside!

While many still make their living off continually discussing ways to create church diversity, the answer is simple. We don’t need another book, another conference, another Continue reading “The Gospel – The Answer for Church Diversity”

My Best Friends Are Drunk

I don’t need ‘beer buddies.’ All my closest friends are already drunk…drunk with the Holy Spirit. We gather all the time and the best thing about it…we offer the same drink to anyone who wants it. It’s free of charge. Business is always open. The tab never goes over. The drinks are always refreshing and they never leave you with a hangover.

Beware though, some people try to sell a form of it with gimmicks and false promises. Others claim to have the drink, but it is obvious they are only pretending to be drunk. I’m sure you’ve seen them; they show up every week but never display the characteristics of those who are really enjoying this beverage. Their ‘drink’ has no real kick, it only makes them appear acceptable within their social club.

The intoxication from the real fountain has several earmarks. They are: Continue reading “My Best Friends Are Drunk”

4 Keys for Successful Outreach

Before entering into full time ministry in 1985, I was in sales. Immediately I noticed that some salesmen were more successful than others, even when they operated within similar conditions and geographical locations. I inquired, gleaned and learned from many older salesmen on the secrets for their success.

As Christians, things are somewhat different. We are not asking people to choose our ‘product’ over other similar products. We are offering the only means for finding forgiveness of sin and acceptance by the God of creation. Also, we are not selling faith. We are offering the message of salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus on Calvary’s cross. This great message seems to good to be true; that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

Though there are obvious differences between secular sales and sharing the gospel, four of the principles definitely apply when we are attempting to reach out to the lost.  Continue reading “4 Keys for Successful Outreach”

The 3G Network of Leadership Failure!

The 3g network refers to more than an advertisement for a cell phone company. After more than 27 years of full time ministry, I’ve also seen a 3g network of failure among Christian leaders. This network should be recognized and handled with extreme caution and discretion in order to preserve the integrity of leaders and their ministry. It has been the downfall of many leaders when not taken seriously.

The Gold – Leaders should avoid personally handling the finances. A finance team should be in charge of handling all monies and cheques. The freedom of financial impropriety is necessary to avoid being linked with the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ charlatans.  Continue reading “The 3G Network of Leadership Failure!”