Church Planting – Reproduction of Life

People groupsWe have to love the re-emphasis of church planting the past several years. It thrills the heart of every believer to hear about men and women laying their life, and their stuff, on the altar of service for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord has allowed my wife, Susanne, and me to begin and be part of Church Planting in an unreached area of India. She oversees support and help for an orphanage we have while I train church planters, write tracts for evangelism, provide messages for the spiritual growth of new believers and help raise basic support for the church planters.

The work is hard, not very appreciated among nominal church members, but very fulfilling with the Lord. Thinking about church planting and the emphasis it places upon the gospel (when properly focused), made me think long and hard about what it ‘really is.’ Continue reading “Church Planting – Reproduction of Life”

Changing Hurdle Jumpers

hurdleWe have been rapidly moving toward a post-Christian culture. That can be daunting to those, like myself, who are old enough to remember the Christian dominating culture and have lived through the transition. However, if we embrace one important dynamic, it does not have to be the hurdle we think it is.

In order for many of our neighbors in our culture to ‘come to church,’ they must jump many hurdles to get to our services. Some of those hurdles are:

  • Meeting times – do we worship a day or a person?
  • Dress codes – do ties and dress slacks make us more spiritual?
  • Meeting protocol – why 3 songs, an offering, a sermon and a prayer?
  • Bible linguistics – why heavy theological language which most don’t understand?
  • etc.

The average ‘posty’ (my term for a post-Christian person) must jump over these and many other hurdles in order to ‘fit into’ our puritanical and centralized pattern of church. Continue reading “Changing Hurdle Jumpers”

Why It’s Good to be the Minority Sometimes

Rick's GranddaughterI love to share what other leaders in the body of Christ are saying. As many voices as possible need to be heard from men who understand culture and who are using their gifts and talents to reach others with the gospel. Here is a great article by Rick Whitter. He does a good job of relating the experience of his granddaughter to our call to be strangers and pilgrims. Let us all be sensitive and wise as ambassadors for Christ. Well worth the read. Here is the link:

Why It’s Good to be the Minority Sometimes | Thoughts on Life and Leading.

Go and Tell…

recording4A young man sits in an outreach meeting in a rural village in India. His name is Babu.* He listens as the Gospel is proclaimed in his village with clarity during a street meeting. Conviction comes upon his heart and he responds to the call to repent of his sins and surrender to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. When he does, his life is changed forever as God washes away his sins and makes him a new person in Christ. (2Cor. 5:17)

This story is unfolding time after time through the work of Project India, as we have seen nearly 4,000 come to Christ in the past 14 months and planted 41 churches in previously unreached villages. However, the story of this young man will help explain some of the phenomenal results we are seeing.

Soon after his conversion, Babu is praying and senses the Holy Spirit directing him to action. He obeys and is immediately thrust into action in the kingdom of God. What does he do? Babu is very poor, but feels he is to take all his money and buy a video camera and Continue reading “Go and Tell…”

Jesus Still Protects His Church

What if Jesus revealed Himself today as He did in the book of Acts? What would it look like? Would we recognize it? Last week I received another testimony from the front lines of church planting through our Project India ministry. In it, two Hindu ladies write telling of how the Lord appeared to them in a miraculous way. They described in detail what was going through their mind and their intent to destroy the local church because of the preaching of the gospel.

Jesus intervened in a very special way and they share what happened to them. I pray it encourages everyone, especially church planters, to look to our resurrected Lord to provide what is needed in our most desperate times.

**Some of the English is rough as it had to go through translation and names have been changed for security reasons.**

“Hello, my name is Sura and my friend’s name is Daga, we live in the village where Pastor Yohn has planted a PROJECT INDIA church.

We both are very bad people, we always enjoying sin and speaking very bad language. At the same time we are worshipers of 30,000 goddess and 67,000 gods. We are very strong worshipers of god ANGENAYA (MONKEY GOD) we also strong believers of  lord GANESHA. We never love any other religion, only Hindu gods. We hear about Jesus six months back and were so anger towards  project–India church believers. We used to think that jesus is not a god of India, but only god to the white people. Even we have seen many images of Jesus he never look like Indian. Our question is, “when we have 330 million gods and goddess, why do we want worship other nations other people god?”

When Pastor Yohn  is sharing  the gospel we asked him stop sharing about Jesus. We told him, “If you do more about Jesus we will kill you!” Continue reading “Jesus Still Protects His Church”

Idolatrous Festival Director Comes to Christ

The power of the Gospel never fails to amaze me. The truth of God’s Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit can penetrate the depth of any darkness in the heart of man. Jesus alone has the power to change a person’s heart and give them purpose and fulfillment in life.

Here is a testimony received this week of God’s redemptive grace. Some of the English is rough, but the message is precious. We are witnessing testimonies like this every week of people coming to Christ through Project India.

Hello, I am Seriva B__.  I just want say what the Lord  Jesus has done in my life. I grew up a very strong Hindu idol worshiper. We have mother goddess in our family  and I used to worship 15,000 goddesses  every day. I used to worship and pray to them since my childhood. The last 35 years I was also zone goddess festival director, but not now because I have resigned.    

Last 3 months I could not find peace. Something was happening in my heart. My burden was very high and I was even planning  to drink to poisons because I did not want live any more. I had prayed to all my 15,000 goddesses to give me peace but I could not hear anything from them. My friend, Raja shared about Continue reading “Idolatrous Festival Director Comes to Christ”

Restorative Church Discipline: Rescuing and Healing the Wounded

Hopefully one of my books will ready for print by the end of January ’13. Here is the Preface, which I just finished before sending the manuscript to editors. I feel it reveals my heart in writing it. Pray the Lord will use it to help and encourage young pastors and elders.

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If you are considering employing the steps of church discipline within your church—DON’T DO IT! That is, until you have taken the time to read and pray through this book. There are dangers, problems and pitfalls which await you if you do. The issue of church discipline is too serious to rush out and begin implementing without a thorough understanding and personal evaluation of our motives.

I knew an Elder who was young and full of zeal. He was elected to lead a church and extremely excited to do so. As the case with many young pastors, he soon began to see the lack of moral restraint and brokenness over sin in his congregation. Rampant immorality, gossip, slander, and backbiting were present and became known over the next couple of years.

Then one Sunday morning, after enduring all he thought he could, he addressed the church. He preached through the passage in the gospels (Matt. 18:15-17) about church discipline in one service. He closed the service saying, “From this day forward, this is how we are handling sin in this church.”

After the service, he retired to his house and enjoyed lunch with his wife, feeling he had delivered his heart and God’s heart to the church. As he finished his meal, he sat and reflected upon the service. Then suddenly he asked himself, “What have I done? How do I do this? Who are the witnesses? Which sins do I confront? How far do I take it? How do I restore someone? How do I handle them if they refuse to repent? Etc…”

Many questions overwhelmed his thoughts about the passage. He wondered how to carry out the words of Jesus faithfully. He had preached out of his frustration over the condition of the local church. His zeal, warning, and declaration to the church had gotten ahead of his understanding. The Holy Spirit arrested his heart and prompted him to slow down.

That young man was me, many years ago. If you feel frustrated with the condition of your local church and feel called to do something, I understand. I feel your pain and have felt your heart. As a fellow pastor and elder I have two basic words—slow down.

Before taking any steps, I plead with you to read and pray through this book. I cannot guarantee wisdom for all situations. However, I can offer some help in many of them. If you are a pastor or elder and feel the burden to see the local church walk in the power and purity of the Holy Spirit, I have written this book for you. It comes out of years of ministry experience, heartache, errors and a sharp learning curve.

I pray the words in this book will save you from some of my early errors, and that it will be a resource of help for understanding and employing restorative church discipline. If it helps one pastor, the years of writing and editing will be worth it. If it helps one congregation to be a loving group of believers who begin rescuing and healing their wounded, that is even better.

Nothing is as heart breaking as seeing the destructiveness of sin, especially when a believer refuses to repent. Equally so, nothing is a joyful as seeing a brother restored through repentance. There is hope for all—even you and me.

I have a dream. It is a dream that our local churches can be the shining light on the hill and the salt of the earth. It is a dream that she can be a chaste virgin with eyes only for Jesus. It is a dream that all of us who name the name of Christ would love other believers the way Jesus does. It is a dream that we would stop shooting our wounded, and instead reach out to rescue and heal them. They need us…and we need them!

Because of His Grace,
Terry

Don’t Dumb Down The Gospel

This past week I had the privilege to speak to a youth group at First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The crowd was high school, college and a sprinkling of older adults as well. A great crowd of youth came with expectant hearts and lively minds. I was asked to share about the work in India with the orphans and church planting. Seeing their faces as I shared power point photos of some of the work was golden. I’m praying for the Lord to continue to burn a desire in the hearts of these young people for missions and church planting…not just overseas, but in their neighborhood.

After that, I shared a brief message, “What is Truth?” Prodding and probing the hearts of those in attendance with how each of us answer the postmodern challenges to the gospel. These youth took the message to heart and were filled with questions. We opened the floor for the Q & A session and the real ministry began. For over an hour in the ‘official’ service, and then for 3 more hours after that, questions were constantly asked and discussed. I barely had time to grab a slice of pizza. In fact, a friend had to bring it to me, as I could not tear away from the constant stream of questions.

These youth wanted to understand how to answer their friends who object to the gospel because of difficult questions. They wanted to know, from God, how to reach their lost Continue reading “Don’t Dumb Down The Gospel”

The Lord Reveals His Power to a Village

Over the past year the Lord has performed some astounding acts among rural villages in India. These villages had never heard the wonderful news of Jesus Christ before we reached them. They were no believers or church in their midst. This week I received a phone call of an event which demonstrates how the Holy Spirit is working among our church planters.

One of our church planters, Amand*, and his wife held an outreach service. (Pictured to the left along with their 3 boys.) They have planted two churches in two villages since January of this year. In preparation for outreach meetings, the believers give themselves to diligent prayer and fasting. Also, they pass out tracts and invitations to villagers who have never heard the Gospel. This particular outreach meeting was going to feature a DVD of one of the messages I shared at one of our Church Planters Conference. The subject was on “The Cross.”

The government leaders in these villages are upper caste Hindu. One of them, Bram*, suffered from serious heart conditions. He attended a physician and was told there was not anything which could be done to help him. He was sent home to die.

Bram received news about the outreach and, as a village elder, came to investigate what is was about. He listened to the message about “The Cross” and became convicted Continue reading “The Lord Reveals His Power to a Village”

Persecution and the Power of Forgiveness

Christians have always been persecuted…it is part of our call. (Acts 14:22) The call to plant churches and reach the unreached, will cost us. It will cost our time, our resources, and possibly even our life. We easily forget that all but one (St. John and excluding Judas) of the original Apostles were brutally martyred for the sharing of the Gospel. Their blood and lives were offered on the altar of God’s grace toward mankind. They did not die in vain.

In our day of “at ease in Zion” religianity (my word), we know little of sacrifice, death or persecution. However, this is not the case in other countries and it will eventually find its way into the U.S. in the not too distant future. Church Planters in foreign lands and with limited resources are laying their life on the altar of sacrifice for the gospel’s sake.

In the midst of persecution the Lord is offering us the opportunity to demonstrate the power of grace and forgiveness. Instead of retaliation, it is an open window to be an example of truth and grace. Yes, let us stand for the equal rights of all men. However, if we proclaim the name of Christ let us never fail to offer forgiveness and mercy.

The early church saw persecution as a norm for proclaiming the gospel…they expected it. (1Thes. 3:3-4) Paul viewed it as a ministry opportunity to proclaim Jesus and advance the message among another class of people. (Phil. 1:12-13 – Kings, Governors, soldiers, etc.) After all, Paul knew from his initial calling into ministry that his life was destined for persecution. (Acts 9:15-16) When we adopt their attitude by surrendering to God’s highest purposes we will realize that rejection and persecution is a biblical norm. Then we will also discover the power of communication it offers to us. Continue reading “Persecution and the Power of Forgiveness”

The Death of the Prophet

God has always spoken to men through prophets…He still does! Recent generations have seen prophetic men such as J. Gresham Machen, A.W. Tozer, Vance Havner, Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson. However, today’s landscape of evangelicalism is creating another type of speaker–politically correct and side stepping weak males who desire popularity over truth. In our generation we are witnessing the death of the prophet.

This is not to justify the crude, the rude or the arrogant presentation of truth we have seen in some circles by those recognized as prophets and from previous generations. Intimidation and coercion are not elements of a Spirit-filled and anointed message. However, one extreme never justifies the opposite extreme. For every road there are two ditches, therefore let us avoid both errors. The life and health of the local church depends upon the ministry of all the five-fold ministry gifts the Lord has given to the church. (Eph. 4:11-14) Let us not sit by in silence and compromise, and watch the death of the prophet.

We greatly need men who will:

Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)

Remain faithful to the Biblical text (2Tim. 2:15)

Unapologetically declare God’s absolute truth (Rom.3:4) Continue reading “The Death of the Prophet”

ReThinking Church, Part 10 – Biblical Leadership

America was born out of the seed of representation and democracy. It has given us the greatest freedoms of any civilized nation. Of course, baggage and error always comes with liberty and freedom, but that is the price for genuine freedom. Along with the secular government given to us by the trials of the forefathers, there is another pattern given to us. Unfortunately, it was given to the Church. That pattern is that the American church, for the most part, adopted the same forms of secular society and imposed it upon the ecclesiology of the church. Many fellowships take a vote from the local members to decide just about everything, or at the very least, have a board of Deacons who run the church on all matters. (physical and spiritual)

Is this the New Testament pattern? Is this the way Paul and the early apostles established leadership in the expansion of the church? Is this the polity we should use in our local churches?

Upon a casual reading of the NT we find the biblical pattern for church government to be quiet different from the American version. Here are the constants we find throughout the survey of the New Testament.