Five Healthy Meals for a Church Planter

“Five Healthy Meals for a Church Planter”

By Ed Compean

Consider the meal. The second statement God made to humanity was about food. Eating was an element in the fall of humanity. Food is was made an Intrigal part of the Passover and Levitical offerings. Jesus dined with sinners, provided thousands of meals and instituted His New Covenant with a supper. We all eagerly await another supper with Him.

 

Food is fellowship and an important part of church planting. This is played out in numerous ways, but there are at least five healthy meals church planters should partake of.

 

Community Leaders

Once a core group is established and discipleship is happening, make appointments to break bread with the mayor, high school principal and other civic leaders. You will be surprised how many will be willing to at least meet for coffee. Share the vision of the church plant, ask how you can serve the community and be sure to ask how you can pray for them personally.

 

View this meeting is similar to getting an annual physical from your doctor. You may not have anything wrong, but when there is a need you already have an established relationship. When a civic leader is looking for spiritual leaders, they will already know you.

 

Other Pastors

Unless you are working among an unreached people group, most communities have some type of pastoral alliance or fellowship. If possible, seek them out and eat together.

 

These men, and sometimes women, will not all have the same philosophy of ministry as you. That’s okay because the suggestion is not to partner in ministry as much as join in prayer for your community. These people will have incredibly valuable insight into the spiritual strongholds and challenges of your community.

 

Leaders in the Church Plant

Beginning as soon as possible and continuing as often as possible, share meals in homes with the church leaders. Don’t eat out or meet at coffee houses, but make it a point to break bread in homes.

 

A restaurant is a missed opportunity for true fellowship that is usually only found in a home setting. Being in a potential leader’s home allows interaction and observation family dynamics which will never happen in a restaurant.

 

The Church

Two goals are being reached in having food and beverages after every church gathering. The first is creating an entry point for people to exercise their spiritual gifts as they serve others in hospitality.

 

The second goal is a simple pause. As people pause to enjoy a coffee or baked good, you and other leaders have an opportunity to engage them before they get into their vehicles. It’s a time people can share a moment and hopefully plan for more time together.

 

Jesus

As often as the church plant takes communion they join together to remember the importance of our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. As soon as the first baptisms are held and the church is formalized, it is time to eat of the Lord’s Table on a regular basis.

 

It’s important for the church plant to early on understand the language of 1 Corinthians 11 explains the communion meal is to be taken together. It will not only unite the body together with each other, but with Christians around the world and, of course, with Jesus Christ.

 

Digest

Psalm 34 tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. The post resurrection appearances of Jesus always included meals. At the birth of the church they broke bread from house to house. It follows that eating together is strategic in establishing of fellowship and worshiping communities.

 

 

Three Reasons Why He Must Increase and I Must Decrease

Three Reasons Why He Must Increase and I Must Decrease

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO site

He must increase, but I must decrease. Jn. 3:30

There is something about our flesh that thinks, “While Jesus increases I can increase too.” Have you ever desired your influence to expand while expanding Jesus’ kingdom? Perhaps more people involved in your small group, or any area of ministry in or beyond the local church? Many of us have, and I confess that I have too.

John 3 records when Jesus came to Judea, multitudes received Him and were baptized. John the Baptist’s ministry was established and thriving, but now people were going to Jesus rather than John. John’s disciples were concerned. From their perspective John was “The Guy;” John, however, knew he wasn’t. John’s mission was to proclaim and point to Jesus who is the Christ – The Guy. John realized the ministry success he experienced was the result of God’s blessing and not anything inherent to himself, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” [27]. John likened himself to the best man at a wedding (in this case the marriage of Jesus and His Church) who understands that the groom is to be blessed, and that the best man’s joy flows from helping to bring the bride to the groom and the groom’s contentment [29].

Then John declared the Kingdom principle, “He must increase, but I must decrease” [30]. The reason for this principle flows from John’s next declaration, “He who comes from above is above all …” [31]. The reason Christ must be preeminent or exalted is because He is above all or has all authority. This all seems very reasonable to us as church leaders – He mustincrease. The stumbling block is the condition “I must decrease.” For us to be effective leaders, we need to become less visible or prominent. It must be both He must increase and I must decrease.

The consequences of failing to decrease are truly significant. Here are three reasons why he must increase and I must decrease:

  1. First, as a church leader, you compromise experiencing the joy John the Baptist discovered. The formula: He must increase and I can increase too – does not produce lasting joy, only intermittent glimpses of happiness that are connected to the church leader’s perception of ministry success or prominence.
  1. Second, but more important, is the negative Kingdom impact. Failing to decrease hinders the growth and development of other Kingdom leaders. The longer we continue to hold onto the illusion that we are “The Guy” or “The Gal,” the longer we keep others from being used by the King for His Kingdom purposes.
  1. Third, and most important, our failure to decrease hinders the contentment of Jesus. When the best man or friend of the Bridegroom fails to graciously take their rightful place in the background, Jesus’ contentment is impacted for Christ and His glory are obscured.

When we decide to live the principle, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” we are declaring our belief that He truly has all authority. That step of faith is likely to be tested. When our local church made the transition to a teaching rotation, some people who had been part of our church for years left for other local churches. Of course, our leadership was concerned, and some expressed that we should leverage my teaching to correct the decline. Nevertheless, we determined to stay true to the conviction that developing Kingdom leaders was what we were called to do. At the end of the first year the average attendance was the same as the preceding year (actually a one person variance). God was gracious indeed as He brought people who were blessed by the vision of a teaching team and the development of Kingdom leaders.

Again, in the second year when the growth of the church appeared stagnant, some urged me to become more prominent in the teaching ministry and leverage the gifts God had given me. I recognized that if I returned to a more prominent role I would not, in fact, decrease, as I believe God called me to do. So we remain committed to a course of developing Kingdom leaders and God has graciously blessed our transition towards being a more Kingdom minded local church.

The transition to Kingdom leader development requires a commitment to live the principle, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” that will inevitably be a challenge of faith and a struggle for some, or perhaps many, church leaders. For example, imagine a plan to develop multiple worship leaders and teams. The best worship leader and team are clearly ready for the big room – or Sunday morning gathering, but on the other hand, the other leaders and teams are gifted and anointed but clearly not as capable as the best. Putting the B-team on the platform is likely to be perceived as a potential risk to the local church. You can imagine the concerns: people won’t be attracted to the church, or people will leave. Those concerns tend to put a chilling effect on developing Kingdom leaders because of presumed threats to the “personal kingdom.” Nevertheless, you can’t develop Kingdom leaders without choosing to decrease and trust God.

If it’s all about Christ and not about you, choose to decrease so that He can increase. Come to grips with your own desire to be “The Guy” or “The Gal.” Decide to discover an area where you can decrease, then develop, share, and implement a plan to live the principle.

Three Essential Truths About God’s Building Plan

Three Essential Truths About God’s Building Plan

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page

I have a certain admiration for handy people. The kind of people that rise early on a Saturday to gather building materials, tools, and supplies at their local mega-home improvement store, and then complete a home building project before the sun sets. There is a satisfying allure to the do-it-yourself [DIY] mystique. That message seems to be particularly attractive in a western culture that values individual achievement generally more than communal accomplishment.

I’m not a handy guy, but through the years I’ve discovered that God has called all of us to be builders. We are called to build with God in every realm of life. In considering the relationship between the labor of God and man it can be challenging to discern the proper balance or division of labor generally. Even more challenging is to understand that balance in the context of the various realms of life: personal, marriage, family, career, community, and calling. In an effort to discover the labor of God and man in every realm let’s contemplate Ps. 127 – a psalm for builders. Here are three essential truths about God’s building plan, or the FYI on DIY:

A. God must build: Unless the Lordbuilds the house, they labor in vain who build it [Ps. 127:1]. Without God’s divine leading and blessing, all of Solomon’s wisdom, wealth, workers, and wives were futile for what he was called to build. Man’s effort apart from God is vain or useless to produce any eternal or godly good. Earthly wisdom and resources are inadequate to build the house that God has planned. We are instructed to look to God and depend on Him for all that we are called to build. People tend to neglect God in the areas where they are strongest. Where I am most gifted by God (talented) I am likely to be lulled into thinking DIY. Similarly, as a result of experience and gaining a certain comfort level in any endeavor including marriage, parenting, career, or serving in a local church believers can engage in those routines without an awareness of our need for God.

B. Man must build; It is vanity for man to work to build the house [1], guard the city [1], or work long hours generally [2] apart from God’s blessing. Nevertheless, man is to work in the building endeavors that God has called Him to. Where I struggle to build I am most likely to avoid my work. I can justify my lack of building effort by pointing to God’s sovereignty [“His perfect will is going to happen regardless of what I do or don’t do”], or His grace [“It’s all about what Jesus has done, so I don’t have to do anything”]. Accordingly, we can attempt to justify our lack of building, and essentially shift all of our work in some areas to God. In every realm, the labor of God and man is called for.

C. The house is big: What does “the house” refer to? Certainly Solomon had experience building the temple and royal palace, and David would have instructed his son about the building of the temple. But the Psalm also refers to family [3-5], and the city [2]. There is clearly more than the temple or royal palace involved. Let’s consider the need for God and man to build in every realm:

  1. Personal: Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with an exhortation to be wise and build your house upon the rock [Matt. 7:24-27]. The wise man hears the teaching of Christ and does them. The greatest foundation for life is found in dependence upon Jesus and obedience to Him. Our labor is to do what Christ commands.
  1. Marriage: God has ordained marriage, created the institution of marriage, and blesses marriages. Yet a good marriage does not happen without effort. Married couples experience a unique reward for their labor, because there is no other human relationship where two become united as one [Eccl. 4:9-12, Gen. 2:24]. A good marriage takes work but a bad marriage takes more work. Thus it is wise to make the effort to bless your marriage along with God.
  1. Family: Ps. 127:3-5 reminds us that children are a heritage and reward from the Lord, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them …” God has established and blessed the family to pass the Christian faith from one generation to the next [Mal. 2:15]. Parents are responsible to model a healthy Christian life and transmit their faith to their children. Although a local church should support the family, it is primarily the parents’ responsibility and blessing.
  1. Career: Ps. 127:2 warns of the futility of excessive labor that is not required by God, It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Working to advance in your career or gain material wealth that jeopardizes personal and relation health with God and others is unwise. God will give us the strength to accomplish all that He has called us to do. And whatever we do should be done to please God. But God has called us to a balanced work life, “He gives His beloved sleep.” We are to enjoy the Sabbath, and a healthy measure of sleep each night, as we trust God’s provision.
  1. Community: Ps. 127:1 draws our attention to the community, “Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” God is the ultimate source of protection and blessing for a community. And God’s people are called to love their neighbor’s as they love self. It requires effort, sacrifice, and margin to invest in befriending and building relationships where we live, work, study, and play. We are to be the ambassadors of Christ to our communities to transform our neighborhoods with the gospel.
  1. Calling: The house of God is a place where God’s people gather to worship. Jesus has assured us that He will build His Church [Matt. 16:18]. Yet each of Christ’s followers has received gifts to be used to build up the Body of Christ. The calling realm is where we advance God’s kingdom beyond the home and career spheres. Our labor in the calling realm is often connected to a local church or Para-church ministry.

What have you discovered about the labor of God and man?

Four Revolutionary Ideas For a Revolutionary Church

Four Revolutionary Ideas For a Revolutionary Church

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page

Jesus’ life, ministry, and teaching are profound and marvelous. They are full of life, and intended to inspire a revolution. Jesus is not an anarchist, but He is a revolutionary. And Jesus intends His church to be revolutionary. Revolutions are always sparked by an idea. An idea that is so clear, compelling, and catalytic that masses of people are inspired to overcome the inertia of the status quo. Jesus challenged the status quo of religious observance in countless ways. His death, resurrection, and Spirit are what give life to the revolution, but it is His clear, compelling, and catalytic idea that is the essence of the revolution.

Jesus’ revolutionary idea is the essence of all the declarations of God (the law and the prophets) as follows: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … And … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” People called to lead the masses to realize the ideas of the revolution in order to experience the ideals of the revolution, must never lose sight of the idea that sparks the revolution. When the idea is lost or obscured, the revolution fails. Here are four revolutionary church ideas:

  1. I must radically love God: The revolution begins when I respond to God’s amazing love for me with amazing love for Him. As I consider the cross and the gracious sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf, it is reasonable for me to respond with love for God. To love God with all that I am – all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength – is truly a radical idea and a glorious ideal. To experience this ideal, I must confess and repent of my love for this world. I must be led by His Spirit and not controlled by my flesh. I must discover more and more the extent of God’s great love and love Him.
  1. I must radically love my neighbor: Jesus linked the idea of loving God and neighbor not as a revolutionary manifesto. He was making it clear that you don’t truly love God unless you love our neighbor as you love yourself. How did this clear idea become obscured? Well meaning leaders of the revolution started to think and declare that the way that we proved our love for God was as follows: regularly read your Bible, regularly gather to worship, regularly pray, regularly serve the Lord, regularly give, occasionally share your faith, love one another. The leaders of the revolution forget to declare and demonstrate the idea: I must radically love my neighbor as I love myself. Imagine for a moment treating yourself as you treat your neighbor. It is not too attractive an idea to ignore, neglect, and not genuinely care about yourself.

Revolutions become institutionalized, and then the leaders of the revolution become distracted by seeking to maintain the institution. Unfortunately the desire to preserve and advance the institution generally obscures the ideal of the revolution. In the context of the local church, the programs and ministries that are intended to help people to love God and their neighbor become so consuming to the leaders and the congregation alike that there is no margin to befriend and build relationships with my neighbors where I live, work, study, and play. Until we create margin in the church, and our lives generally; and love our neighbors like we care about ourselves, the revolution is lost.

  1. I must decrease in a revolutionary way: John the Baptist understood, “Jesus must increase, and I must decrease” [Jn. 3:30]. Many of the leaders of Jesus’ revolution affirm this idea, but there may be a tendency to think, “Jesus must increase and I can increase too.” Our flesh is a constant foe and the desire for significance can be an idol that impedes Christ’s revolution.

Imagine a world where Christ’s followers gathered in groups in a local neighborhood and learned to love God. As a display of their love of God, they befriend and build relationships with neighbors where they live, work, study, and play. The extravagant displays of love stir people to interest in Christ and His gospel. Ultimately people are moved by the Holy Spirit and receive Jesus. In this scenario, the priesthood (role) of individual believers is elevated and celebrated. It is a revolutionary paradigm when compared to most local church experiences that tend to elevate and celebrate a gifted leader. The more “successful” a leader has been, the more challenging it becomes to decrease. All the institutional forces pressure a leader to continue the status quo. Instead the revolution requires church leaders to change the dynamic so they and others are on the same level – loving God and their neighbor.

  1. I must encourage and equip revolutionaries: The church leader who embraces Jesus’ revolution creates margin in the life of the church and their own life. They begin to shift their attention from the church to their neighborhood; they befriend and build relationships where they live, work, study, and play; they discover the challenges and blessings of having meals with people they are in proximity with who have a different worldview; they create time to ask neighbors, “How are you doing?” They have time to listen to the reply. They ask, “Can I pray with (or for) you?” They ask, “What can I do to help?” If possible, they do what is asked for. And they even volunteer and do the Christ-like thing without even being asked. The church leader who does those things has become a revolutionary leader who can encourage and equip revolutionaries. Until church leaders live revolutionary lives the revolution is unlikely to prevail. Once leaders can model the attitudes and behaviors of Christ’s revolution, then others can be encouraged and equipped to do the same.

How are you living a revolutionary life?

Do You Know His Voice?

Do You Know His Voice?

By Laura Williams

Do you ever wonder if you have ever heard God speaking to your heart? Really heard Him for yourself? Or have you ever had a thought come into your mind out of the blue and thought, “Is that my own imagination? Is that God speaking to me?” Those are questions that I think we all ask. How can I know when God speaks to me? Or, on the other hand, what if I THINK God is speaking to me, but really it’s just my own thoughts?!

The verse we hear most often in reference to “hearing the voice of God” comes from Jesus in John 10:27 where He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” This has often led me to wonder why it is that I don’t always know when I am hearing God speak to my heart. I’m left wondering how I can be His sheep and still not know His voice. But notice that Jesus said that not only do the sheep hear His voice, but He KNOWS them.

Jesus knows how to speak to each one of us, and He does this differently for us all. For example, in the Bible we can read about how the Lord spoke out loud to Abraham, but a burning bush is what caught Moses’s attention when He first heard from God. He directed the children of Israel with a pillar of fire at night, but He called Samuel in a familiar voice when he was sleeping.

It is important to know that God doesn’t want to play games with us–He is not a God who wants us to struggle to hear Him and then laughs when we make a mistake. You can read in Matthew chapter 7 how Jesus compared the love of our Heavenly Father to that of our earthly dads. He wants to bless us, He wants us to hear and know Him, and He delights in His children. You can trust that God will speak to you as a loving Father who intimately knows the way you think, the doubts you may have, and the inmost person of your heart.

Another important thing to consider is HOW we come to recognize His voice. Just as with anyone, we LEARN to recognize His voice the more we listen to Him. And the primary way that we can hear God’s heart, His voice, and His words is through the Bible! As you spend time reading His Word, you will become accustomed to the quiet way the Holy Spirit teaches you in it. When you read a passage of the Bible, and sense God’s conviction and are reminded of His promises to you, this is the voice of God speaking to you!

To become familiar with the voice of our Savior is to let His Word penetrate our hearts on a daily basis that we might begin to recognize His voice!

 

Another beautiful part of spending time in the Bible is that we also receive a firm foundation of truth–Jesus said to His Father in Heaven, “Sanctify me by your truth–Your WORD is truth.” So as we read and study the Word of God, the truths He teaches us will also resonate with us when we hear His voice outside of our reading time. You may be at the grocery store on your way to the car when you see an item in the cart that you forgot to pay for by accident. And a voice in your heart says, “Go back. It doesn’t belong to you. Be honest.” And perhaps this may follow with in inward dialogue on the ethical benefit of paying for the item–“Really is it worth that much anyway? I mean, Walmart already has bazillions of dollars, do they really need the $2.27 for this dish soap?!” (may or may not have been me stalled with my cart in the middle of the blazing parking lot debating this with myself last week 🙂

So, in those moments (that we ALL have, I know) we will be able to recognize the voice of God in us as the same voice we hear in His Word! Does the voice in your head match the heart of God you see in the Bible? When you feel “prompted” (a Christian word for a hunch or thought that isn’t exactly your own) to go and tell someone God loves them, or maybe to ask your waitress if you can pray for her, ask yourself, “Is this consistent with the heart of God?”It would certainly make sense for God to want to use you to share His love with someone, or to reach out and pray for a stranger. However uncomfortable that may be! 🙂 But the truth is, because God is such a loving Father, even IF it were only your own thought and you acted out of obedience to what you believed to be God speaking to you, He loves you! God is never disappointed in us for acting in faith! 

We won’t be perfect–that day is saved for Heaven, but take comfort in knowing that you have a Father in Heaven who has made His voice known to you in His Word, who KNOWS how to speak to you, and loves us even when we make mistakes. There will certainly be times we hear God telling us to take a step of faith in our heart (like speaking to a stranger or even returning dish soap) and we may not always obey. And as the Holy Spirit gently convicts us of our lack of faith or our unwillingness to listen, He always restores us and speaks to us again.

Be comforted knowing that Your Father in Heaven delights in you today. And spend time getting to know Him and His voice in His Word today. He always speaks to us there. 🙂

This post is shared from the Redemption Church Blog.

Five Reasons Why We Should Gather In the Temple and House to House

Five Reasons Why We Should Gather In the Temple and House to House

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page

Some of us like the intimacy of a small community group gathering. Others like the experience and dynamic of a larger gathering associated with weekend worship. Most of us have a preference. If we had to choose the small group experience, or the large group experience, we have an idea which one we would choose. Furthermore, week after week, month after month, and year after year people make preferences known by participating generally in one or the other.

What if God wanted us to experience the benefits of both the larger gathering and the small group? The early church met in the temple and house to house [Ac. 2:46]. This may be more than a mere description of their activity, but may be prescriptive for us. Here are five reasons why we should gather in the temple and house to house:

  1. The larger assembly of people can magnify and manifest the Presence of God. The larger assembly (temple experience) can magnify and manifest the Presence of God in a way that is distinct from the smaller group. In both a small and large group, believers assemble and God’s presence is manifest. But in a larger assembly the experience and dynamics may be different because of the critical mass. I love the experience of gathering with hundreds and thousands and praising God together. The early church continued with one accord in the temple [Ac. 2:46]. The Greek term homothymadon refers to being of one mind, with one passion. The word is used only twelve times in the Bible and ten of them occur in the Book of Acts. The word is a compound of two words meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image of a larger community of faith displaying common passion for God and one another is beautiful to behold.
  1. The larger assembly provides a setting for all to share their talents, and amazing gifts to be leveraged. Again, the larger assembly provides a setting for all to share their talents, and gifts to be leveraged that is distinct from the smaller group. One aspect relates to the diversity of people and gifts, and the generally much greater opportunity to use them. Another difference relates to the opportunity to receive form very gifted leaders. The people who have special gifts of hospitality, intercession in prayer, ministering to young children, serving youth, teaching the Bible, and leading worship, are available for us to receive from. Together we can be blessed in a united experience that glorifies God as the giver of these gifts.
  1. The small group helps to develop encouragement to love God and live His word. The New Testament contains more than twenty-five distinct exhortations to “one another.” We are to love, serve, and pray for one another to name a few. The small group (house to house experience) provides an ideal setting to grow in biblical knowledge and develop biblical character – they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine [Ac. 2:42]. It is an ideal setting to grow in our love for God. In a small group we can test our love for God by how we treat and relate with one another. Small groups can be messy, because they should compel us to grow by revealing that others are messed up, and we are all messed up, and need to grow in Christ. When I think poorly of another person in my smaller community I am often convicted that my attitudes are wrong, my judgment is inappropriate, and that they are a gift from God who is highly valued by Jesus. These experiences help me to discover where I need to submit to Christ and grow in order to actually live His word.
  1. The small group helps to develop community and accountability. The house experience is likely the best place to create intimate community (koinonia or fellowship). The sharing of Christ, meals, prayers, praise, doctrine, resources, and life builds bonds of unity [Ac. 2:42-47]. More than twenty-five years ago I was in a home Bible study where I learned to love God and live His word, and where I experienced biblical community. Despite the passage of a quarter century, and moving to a new area over twenty years ago, many of those people are still dear friends. Their love and community, and the accountability to show up and grow up, helped me to mature as a follower of Jesus. Smaller groups tend to create better accountability because they promote relationships where we know one another. In a larger assembly (temple) people may not realize whether you are there or not. But in smaller community (house to house) people know if you are there or not. That accountability can help us to grow.
  1. The small group provides a platform to saturate a geographic area with the gospel and to more effectively love neighbors. The temple can draw a larger group but the temple has a limited geographic focal point. In essence, People have to come to the temple. On the other hand, the house approach of smaller groups creates a platform to saturate a community. Instead of saying, “Come and see” we can “Go therefore and make disciples.” We can love our neighbors as we have been commanded. We can love where we live, work or go to school, and play. If we join with others in geographic proximity to us, and discover God’s love, then we should love God, one another, and our neighbors. That love is radically attractive and helps people to desire Christ and respond to His gospel.

When we gather in the temple and house to house we are likely to discover the added benefit, And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved [Ac. 2:47].

What other benefits of gathering both in the temple and house to house have you discovered?

What Does It Mean To “Serve The Body”

What Does It Mean To “Serve The Body”

by Laura Williams

As a believer in Jesus, His follower, and a child of God, I find myself wanting to know Jesus more deeply every day. I want to understand His heart. I want to see the people around me as He sees them. And I want to see God’s hand working in and through my life! If you are a lover of Jesus, you know what I’m talking about. We all want more. And as His child, I want to share with you one of the most wonderful lessons I have learned about knowing God more deeply and seeing Him working in and through me.
It starts with understanding His Church, His Body.
If you are a new Christian, you may have heard someone refer to the people in the church as “the body.” We talk about ways to serve “the body” or bless “the body.” In fact, using this terminology so frequently may cause us to forget its significance even to those of us who have been a part of the church for a long time! Do you know why we use this term? Why don’t we just say “serve the church” or “bless one another?”
I want to share what brought this to life for me and has radically changed why and how I serve.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 12, goes to great lengths discussing our relationships to one another as members of “one body.” The point being we are all different, valuable, necessary, and designed to work together! Romans 12 is a wonderful encouragement that no matter what gifts you have or do not have, God designed you to be a special part of the church you are in. You are designed to contribute, to give of yourself, to use your gifts, to love and suffer and live life as a part of a family. A body. You are not alone. And what you do or don’t do for others has a tremendous impact on other people.
We serve one another in so many ways. When we do, we see our relationships with each other grow deeper. The closest friends in my life even from many years ago are still those built during times serving with each other. It’s amazing the way Jesus uses our simplest times—like making coffee together before an event, planning a game night, or even time praying for each other’s needs—He uses each of these for OUR good! Just as Romans 8:28 says, He works ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him. Even our simple or small acts of service wind up being a blessing to us.
And here is the greatest thing.
As we serve the “body,” we are in fact serving the BODY OF JESUS. It is Jesus Himself we are serving! Can you grasp that along with me? When I serve those around me, I serve Jesus Himself. When I bring a meal to someone in need, I bless my savior. It is all worship to Him! Using the term “the body” has become so meaningful to me since I connected that term back to Jesus Himself. Maybe you’re thinking that this is obvious—well, for me, it changed my heart and my inward attitude toward serving.
Colossians 1:18 says: “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
Jesus Himself demonstrated this beautiful truth—that we are designed to worship God in everything we do! Singing songs of praise, yes! But also by living in a way that puts others before ourselves. Jesus said, “…the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many people.”

I want to be more like Jesus! I want to see His power at work in me. I want to worship Him in every way I can, and to see His Church as His Body. And I want to see how God will use all these things for my good and teach me more and more simple truths as I do.

Whether you are a brand new Christian or have known Jesus for many years, I want to encourage you to serve others with this understanding! Whether it is serving guests in your home, teaching children about Jesus, helping with set-up or tear-down on a Sunday, or simply reaching out of your comfort zone to start up a conversation to help someone else feel comfortable—God will show His power and His presence to you in those moments.
If you are wanting to see more of God presence in YOUR life, see what happens when you begin to serve others as though you are serving Jesus Himself!
“And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Jesus Himself.” –Colossians 3:23-24

This post is shared from the Redemption Church Blog.

Why Do You Believe That?

Why Do You Believe That?

By Trip Kimball

What’s the most visited page on a website? The About (Me/Us) page. It’s true for my site, as it is for most others. Is it because our culture is so voyeuristic?

While this might be true to some degree, mainly it’s because we want to know someone before we trust what they say. Christian believers also need to know the validity of what they say they believe.

Over the next several weeks, I want to take a look at why we believe what we believe. This includes a look at the 5 Solas, the basic pillars of the Protestant Reformation, from my own point of view as a follower of Jesus.

A very brief history

Every evangelical church, or evangelical community of believers, is rooted in the Protestant Reformation. Many people in evangelical ministries may not realize this, or if they know it, may not know why.

“Evangelical believers are rooted in the Protestant Reformation” @tkbeyond

The Protestant Reformation (PR) started when men such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin, over a period of 200 years, objected to the sale of indulgences (kindnesses) and other practices of the church.

As a means of raising money, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) provided a way to pay for forgiveness, even for people already dead. There’s more to what paying for indulgences includes, its origin and history, but it worked like a get-out-of-hell-free card.

The reform movement formalized

This led to a movement that set out to reform the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). When it was clear the church—the only recognized church at that time—would not change, the Protestant movement separated from the RCC.

Initially, three primary churches developed, then a fourth, for mostly the same reasons—

  • The Lutheran Church— started by followers of Martin Luther’s leadership and influence
  • The Reformed Church— started by John Calvin’s followers
  • The Presbyterian Church— started by John Knox in Scotland
  • The Anglican Church— this included the Reformers in England, but was formalized when King Henry the VIII broke away from the Pope

Luther’s 95 Theses

Although many people had similar concerns, Martin Luther is most well known for his Ninety-five Theses posted on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Luther was a monk who taught moral theology at the University of Wittenberg.

The original intent for his 95 Theses was to promote discussion not dissension, but the church didn’t see it that way.

There’s much more to the story, but the essence is that Luther and other reformers challenged the authority of the pope and certain practices of the church that were not biblical.

The driving force of the Protestant Reformation was to bring the church back to its biblical roots. The Scriptures are to be the final authoritative basis governing all doctrines and practices of the church, not the pope nor other church leaders.

“The Protestant reformers wanted to bring the church back to its biblical roots” @tkbeyond

The roots of Protestantism

Protestantism is a broad term that includes churches or communities of believers who are not part of the RCC, but who hold to a biblical foundation of faith.

Other churches grew out of the four primary ones mentioned above because of other distinctions in theology, doctrine, and practices, but the essentials of the Christian faith remain the same.

The primary tenets of the Protestant Reformation are summarized in the 5 Solas (originally in Latin)—

  1. Sola Scriptura– Scripture Alone – The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice.
  2. Sola Gratia – Grace Alone – “Salvation by Grace Alone.” Salvation is proof of God’s undeserved favor; we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone, not by any work we do.
  3. Sola Fide – Faith Alone “Salvation by Faith Alone.” We are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by the works of the Law.
  4. Sola Christus – Christ Alone “In Christ Alone.” Salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone; no one and nothing else can save.
  5. Soli Dei Gloria – Glory of God Alone “For the Glory of God Alone.” Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone.

Why we need to understand what we believe

Pure and simple devotion

We need to be aware of deceptions perpetrated by the enemy of our soul (the devil). As Paul points out, we need a pure and undivided devotion to Jesus.

But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. (2 Cor 11:3 NLT)

It’s always about Jesus! He’s the Head of the Body of Christ—the church. He’s the Core of the Gospel. He’s the Alpha (first) and Omega (last). He’s the only Son of God—Savior, Lord of Lords, and Returning King.

“A pure and undivided devotion to Jesus keeps us from deception” @tkbeyond

A strong and deep relationship

Our relationship with the Lord Jesus needs to deepen so we’re not so vulnerable to clever arguments, deceptions, or anything else that would draw us away from a pure, uncomplicated commitment to Him.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments… And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him… Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Col 2:4, 6, 8 NLT)

Spiritual maturity

We need to pursue spiritual maturity, not by gathering more theological knowledge, but through deepening our understanding of Jesus—who He is and what He’s done to redeem and restore us.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. (Eph 4:13-14 NLT)

It’s who you know, not what you know

We need to be rooted and grounded in our relationship with Jesus, not just gain more knowledge about Him. We need to understand what He says.

“We need to be rooted and grounded in our relationship with Jesus” @tkbeyond

The four gospels are the bedrock for our faith, as they were for the early church. Jesus is the one who interprets the truth of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms for us. He did this personally for the apostles (Luke 24:44), and He will do it for us by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).

Jesus is the Cornerstone of our faith (1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:4-6).

Jesus is our plumb line, our spiritual point of reference. As Jesus said to His closest followers—

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)

If the truths we hold about Jesus and the Christian faith don’t line up with what He says, then we’re on shaky ground.

“If what we believe about Jesus doesn’t line up with what He says, we’re on shaky ground” @tkbeyond

Do you understand why you believe what you believe?

 

Helpful links for the history of the Protestant Reformation and the 5 Solas—

Protestant Reformation

Protestant Reformation History

5 Solas

Cambridge Declaration–Alliance–Confessing Evangelicals


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com

How Jesus Taught

How Jesus Taught

By  Trip Kimball

Our family moved to the Visayan region of the Philippines, in the summer of 1990. I joined an existing ministry that trained pastors and leaders how to study the Bible inductively. My wife had vision to care for abandoned babies and children, which became Rainbow Village Ministries.

Although I planted and pastored a church in Southern California for twelve years prior to our move, I learned how to teach in the Philippines.

Learning to teach

I was challenged to reexamine how I taught after several months in the Philippines, while traveling and teaching seminars. How I learned to teach before wasn’t wrong, but it seemed less effective than in my pastoral experience in the US.

I stumbled into a new way to teach without any strategy for learning it. This pretty well sums up my learning style for most everything I’ve done in life, including marriage and parenting.

All I know is, the more I became engaged in the learning process, the better I learned to engage others in teaching. At the same time, I developed a passion for simplicity. The challenge was finding a way to teach in a simple way without compromising the depth of truth in God’s Word.

Little by little, I learned how to teach in a more simple, effective way. Studying and teaching through the gospels was critical to my learning process, as I saw how Jesus taught.

Jesus’ style of teaching

How did Jesus teach the crowds, His followers, and even those who opposed Him?

Yes, of course, the Holy Spirit empowered His words and enlightened the people. But even when the people and His disciples didn’t understand what Jesus taught, they marveled at it. Even those who opposed and challenged His authority had to marvel at Him (Matt 22:15-22).

So, what was it about His teaching that carried so much authority?

If we look at the greater context of Matt 7:28-29, we see Jesus taught on many subjects. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chaps. 5–7). Much of this teaching seems to be a reframing of the covenant law to its original intent. Jesus would say to the people, “You have heard… But I say to you…” (Matt 5:21, 22).

It’s a great example of what’s commonly called exposition.

Some basic observations

Two things stand out to me about Jesus’ teaching—He told a lot of stories (parables), and taught in an interactive way with His disciples.

A friend shared an article with me that sums up what I learned in the Philippines, and what I see in Jesus’ teaching.

“Jesus provoked thought so that truth could be understood and internalized.”@tkbeyond

I’ve come to value biblical storying for its simplicity and power. Two sources helped me gain this insight—a Filipino pastor whom I’ve mentored for many years, and ministries connected to the International Orality Network.

My Filipino brother is planting churches and training leaders using the training he received from Simply the Story. This pastor trains people who are well-educated and those without education.

One of his students, who is an oral learner (non-literate), pastors a church he planted in a remote mountain area. My friend trained two other leaders to be missionaries in Hong Kong. Their method of evangelism and discipleship is biblical storying. I could go on, but you get the picture (I hope).

Interactive discipleship

We gain insight to how Jesus trained His disciples within the narrative of the gospels. Sometimes He explained parables to them (Matt 13:10-17), other times He used situations and simple illustrations (Matt 18:1-6), and chided them when they lacked understanding (Mark 8:14-21).

“Jesus interacted with people, He didn’t just lecture them.”@tkbeyond

This became a major change point for me. I began to be more interactive with students, whether in a seminar, classroom, and in more informal settings. I probably learned more from my mistakes than my observations of Jesus’ way of teaching.

Several years ago, a missionary friend shared another valuable piece of my learning process. He shared on several things, but one stuck with me—how Jesus learned as a young man.

The example of young Jesus

Let’s go back to the time when Jesus was young. In Luke 2:41-52, we find Him in the temple with the Jewish teachers. They were all amazed at His understanding and answers. What does it say He was doing? He was “listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

“Early on we see the foundation for Jesus’ interactive style of teaching.”@tkbeyond

A few weeks ago, I shared something similar with some alumni from the Bible college I founded nearly 20 years ago. How did I do it? Interactively, of course—I asked questions! They were familiar with that, but then I shared something else.

I asked them, “How do you think I develop my questions? How do I ask questions that engage people so they will answer?”

Then I told them that I need to listen to those whom I’m teaching. I need to see if I’m connecting with them, and if they are understanding what I’m trying to explain.

It’s my responsibility as a teacher to communicate the truth so those who hear it can understand it.

Are we listening?

I have a couple of questions for pastors, leaders and teachers to consider. Are we listening to the people we are serving, or are we too busy speaking? Are we asking questions only to answer them ourselves?

These are questions I had to ask myself, and still do.

In last week’s post, I expressed the concern that something was missing in spite of all the resources available for Christians. I don’t know that it’s just one thing, but I’m concerned that inner, personal transformation is one thing that’s missing.

I believe that intentional, personal, and interactive discipleship is essential to meet this need. And, it’s how Jesus taught and discipled people.

 


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com

Teaching Like A Pharisee or Like Jesus

Teaching Like A Pharisee or Like Jesus

By Trip Kimball

When Jesus walked the earth during His time of public ministry, people sought Him out. They were amazed at His teaching, and likewise, by the miracles.

No placards or banners were set up to announce His coming, in fact the opposite was true. People would go out to wherever He was, whether in a town, a seashore, or a remote field—even when Jesus tried to be alone. No one persuaded them to come. They were attracted to Him.

Today, much is made of the distinction between attractional and missional ministry. Jesus was on a mission, but He also attracted people. So, what’s different today?

Real authority

People marveled at the way Jesus taught, because He taught with real authority, not like their religious leaders (Matt 7:28-29). What made the difference?

They drew from the same Scriptures, which would be our Old Testament, so it couldn’t be a Bible version issue.

What caused the crowd to see a difference between the professional teachers of their day and how Jesus taught? Was is it the miracles? Perhaps to some degree, but it was more the way He taught them.

What caused the crowd to see a difference between the professional teachers of their day and how Jesus taught?

What about us?

Yes, of course, Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, but He said we (His followers) were to teach as He did—with His authority (Matt 28:18-20). But are we?

Do people throng to mega-churches because of the authoritative style of the pastor? Certainly, many fine teachers can be found. They write books, speak at conferences, and offer podcasts.

But do we see the same passion in their followers as seen with the followers of Jesus in His time?

Are believers so stirred by the truth that their lives are radically transformed? This is what we see in the Book of Acts with the first followers of Jesus and those they discipled.

Are believers so stirred by the truth that their lives are radically transformed?

Resources galore!

Incredible resources are available today—in print form, online, mobile apps, and more. There’s no shortage of Bible knowledge these days, not in America. But are all these resources, and all the teaching that takes place in churches, conferences, books, DVD’s, and podcasts, transforming people?

trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: ©Time Inc.

Are we penetrating and transforming the culture, or are we just trying to keep our heads above the cultural tide of the world around us? It doesn’t seem like we’re making a lot of progress at present.

Are we penetrating and transforming the culture, or just keeping our heads above the cultural tide around us?

I came to faith during the Jesus People Movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Yeah, I’m old. I remember how much impact the movement had on the culture of that era. It was enough to make the cover of Time magazine. It was a phenomenal time.

But that was then, and this is now. Something is missing, even with all that we have.

What’s missing?

I have my own thoughts on what is missing, but how about you? I’d like to hear from you on this subject.

I’d like to ask some questions to get the discussion going, are you game for that? If so, I’ll do it the way I’d ask my students in class.

First of all, I want you to answer in your own words (IYOW), not Christianese. Second, don’t just quote Bible verses or give pat answers, do your own thinking and reflection on these questions. And third, give answers based on your own life experience, this will make it less theoretical and more practical.

Questions

Why do you think people saw Jesus had greater authority than the Jewish leaders in His teaching?

When has your heart been stirred by the truth? What were the circumstances?

If someone was teaching, what do you remember about how they presented their message?

What do you think is important for effective and authoritative teaching?

Remember… no Christianese and no pat answers!

 

Next week I’ll do a follow-up post with observations I’ve made of how Jesus taught. Hope to hear from you!


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com