Ministry For The Long Haul

Ministry For The Long Haul

By Travis Sinks

To minister to someone literally means to “attend to the needs of [a person]”. It’s not an office held by the few, but rather a call for Christian’s everywhere to serve and love as Jesus has loved us.

 

Sometimes we get a glorified version of what being a “minister of the Gospel” really is. We can imagine it as having great status or power. Or we can imagine getting a great response from people: that they’ll change tomorrow, turn over a new leaf, follow God with all their heart and never turn back.

 

BUT THIS IS OFTEN NOT HOW IT WORKS.

 

Instead, it’s a process. There’s a timetable of events in God’s plan and allowance, that doesn’t match up with ours. We desire to see outward change TODAY, while God desires change in people from the INSIDE out – which usually takes time. God’s time table works as those we minister to continue to grow, oftentimes slowly, and with set-backs along the way. But eventually we look back and see a great distance of change.

 

We are called to “ministry” not to a “change factory”. We are called to love people like Jesus did and to offer them the life giving power of His Gospel and Spirit, but it’s up to them to accept it. That acceptance is usually built up over time.

 

We can get discouraged when we haven’t seen someone for 6 months and wonder where they are. We can sometimes get even more discouraged when we see them again, because we wonder if they’ll actually stay this time. We can get discouraged as we wonder if God will ever truly change their heart and bring them into a steady relationship with Himself. But this isn’t our position of authority or responsibility. We are called to love, not to save. Only Jesus is Savior, and it’s best for us to remember this.

 

People will come and go in our lives, for good and bad reasons, but know that your job, as a Christian, is simple: “attend to the needs of… whoever.

 

WHOEVER IS AROUND.

WHOEVER GOD BRINGS.

WHOEVER CROSSES YOUR PATH.

 

We have a holy calling as Christians to love everyone we can with the love God has given us: regardless of how they respond, and regardless of where they end up.

 

So let us not forget, lest we give up: We are in this for the long haul.


This article was originally posted on the Redemption Church Blog. You can view the original article here. Travis is the assistant pastor of Redemption Church Delray Beach in Delray Beach, Florida. You can read more from Travis on his blog at travissinks.com.

Pastors and Bankers – an Unlikely Kingdom Connection

Pastors and Bankers – an Unlikely Kingdom Connection

A friend of mine recently said to me that there is no way that he would have a banker who did not understand his business. In fact, it is why he left his former bank. “A new bank officer who does not understand my business is both unresponsive and dangerous,” he said. “When he did show up, he never came alone…I think he was embarrassed about how little he knew about us…and without that knowledge, he could not make a decision.”

While the Church is not a business, it certainly has financial and operational characteristics that are unique and must be understood for a banker to adequately serve its needs.

My thoughts here are essentially an admonition to the Pastoral community to form a relationship with a banker that is Kingdom oriented, Christ-honoring and built for the long-haul. Too many Pastors take the stance that “its money…and I don’t really deal with those issues,” or, worse yet, “it does not matter where we get the money to build…it’s just money.”

 

In Praise of Counsel

The Scripture is clear; By wise Counsel plans succeed… (Proverbs 11:14, 24:6, 15:22). A banker who understands the church, cares for the Pastor and is motivated by the thought of seeing plans for the Church succeed can be a valuable asset for the wise Pastor. By this, I do not mean the banker who is dedicated to the funding of every project that the Pastor proposes. There are many pitfalls to construction, from being over-ambitious, to poor project management to incurring too much debt (and you can live with this for a long time). A thoughtful, prudent and informed banker can save your ministry a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish.

 

Relationship is Key

Too many Pastors view the bank loan as purely transactional in nature. The risk of this is disconnecting the knowledge and focus of the bank from the purpose and needs of the church. Right now, there is a plethora of cash available for loans and many banks looking for transactions. When cash gets tighter, the tendency of banks is to retreat to their core competencies. Remember my friend above? Clearly his business was not a core competency of the original bank, or, if it was, they simply did not have the right personnel in place to communicate this competency. As you search for a bank to fund your project, or simply handle your cash, make sure that the bank is committed to the Church (many have an antipathy for the Church and are suspicious of its purposes) and has personnel who are familiar with how churches operate and are committed to the integrity, safety and success of the local church. In short, people make the difference. Be linked in heart and in purpose.

 

Think Long-Term

I have been at this for 22 years and have many a Pastor friend that I have served alongside for a decade, or longer. The commitment of our bank to provide services that meet the needs of the Church and keep a Pastor free from financial worry is a great source of personal satisfaction for me. I have understood my call clearly over the last 20 years…to protect Pastors. With all of the brokenness that exists in the world, the last thing that a Pastor needs is financial worries. This is core to our approach and if it is not core to your bankers approach, you have another cause for worry. In summary, find a good banker who cares about you personally and Kingdom values in general. Befriend him and walk the long ministry road together. You will be thankful you did.


Chris Dimond is the Senior Vice President of CASS Commercial Bank. CASS has a longstanding relationship with the Calvary Chapel movement and occupies ground floor space at the Logos building in Costa Mesa.

Christmas: Daniel Williams Meals Matter

Christmas: Daniel Williams – Meals Matter


Once you have known the love and mercy of Jesus in your life, there is no greater joy than sharing His love with someone.

Jesus commands us to go into all the world and make disciples,and nothing brings greater fulfillment than stepping out and helping a person grow in their relationship with Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:21) I want nothing more than to obey my Savior and tell someone else about how much He loves them and what God has already done for them! But have you ever found yourself feeling ill-equipped or maybe you just don’t know where to start when it comes to discipling someone or even sharing Jesus? ! !

When my family came to Florida to start a church, we did not know anyone. We had no team, no church to invite people to, and wanted a way to form relationships and share Jesus with people who so desperately need Him. We had always loved having people over to our house to eat, and we decided to continue using this approach to building relationships and see what God would do through it! ! !

Meals are a practical and powerful means of connecting with people. ! ! Jesus used meals as an opportunity for ministry throughout His life. Robert Karris said, “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.”! !Luke 7:34-35 says, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.” ! !

God is constantly using the everyday world around us to show us things about who He is. So, it makes sense that Jesus used every opportunity to teach those around Him, including meal times. It is amazing to note the number of times we hear some of the greatest teachings of Jesus come from a time sitting around a dinner table.

The act of inviting someone into our home is becoming more rare as people are busier and connecting more and more through social media and texting rather than face to face. We have had many people tell us that our home was the first “real home” they had been to in years! Tim Chester wrote a book on this subject called “A Meal with Jesus.” “Few acts are more expressive of companionship than the shared meal….someone with whom we share food is likely to be our friend, or well on the way to becoming one.”!! ! We eat an average of 21 meals per week.

It is a reasonable and attainable goal to plan out 1-2 of these meal times each week to connect with someone for the sake of discipleship! In a natural setting, eating a meal is an intimate and comfortable environment for real conversation.! ! So be encouraged that this is something you can do! Sometimes we may feel like what we are doing is not enough, or we feel at a loss in how we can better pour into someone’s life.

This is a great starting point. Just as Jesus used meal times to pour into those around Him, we can begin to look for ordinary opportunities to do the same!


Daniel Williams started Redemption Church Delray Beach in 2012 in Delray Beach, Florida. Where he lives with his wife, Laura, and their two children.

He currently serves as the Lead Pastor. For more information about him or Redemption Church visit www.redemptionindelraybeach.com

Church Planting in Mexico Pt II: Austin Bodiford

This is a continuation of Austin’s testimony of God bringing new churches to bring Christ to the fix the impossible to fix in Mexico. In the first part he developed the need and challenge of planting churches in the Zone of Silence, a five-state portion of the country with almost no gospel witness. In this final portion he speaks with experienced church planters.

I sat down with Pastor Mike Vincent from Calvary Chapel Rosarito to discuss what God is in doing in regards to church planting in Mexico and how the local church is able to train men to be sent out. Pastor Mike said Calvary Rosarito invests 15% of it’s funding directly into Church Planting. Aside from his role as lead pastor, Mike spends a majority of his time discipling other men. He said of the discipleship, “Since the beginning I knew that we would be a church that plants other churches. Our first church plant was six years into our time here. I thought it would have been sooner, but God knew what He was doing.”

In 13-years Calvary Chapel Rosarito has planted 11 churches, seven of which have a building for Sunday services, two are in home fellowships, and two that have opted out. “If I could do anything different in planting the church, I would have trusted God more and had a bigger vision. I stressed more in my early years but I see now that it really is God’s church. It’s His deal.”

Purposeful Training

Clearly the approach in Rosarito to see Mexico reached is having impact. The church is multiplying. So then, how are men practically trained for such an endeavor?  To see that planters would have practical training and hands on knowledge, Calvary Chapel Rosarito offers a program designed to equip participants with the ability to step onto the streets and expand the work of the church. Every Monday prospective planters preach fifteen minute messages with follow-up critique with the last hour of the two and a half hour instructional consisting of lecture and mentorship. Pastor Mike explained, “Church planting isn’t for everyone. Not everyone that completes the program is sent out. It’s a long term commitment and they’re guaranteed to make mistakes, but that’s how they get better.”

Further along the Baja coast, lies another Calvary Chapel whose bloodline is rooted in church planting. From Juan Domingo, a missionary for thirty seven years in Mexico, to his son Jonathan who now serves as the lead pastor, multiple churches have birthed out of Calvary Chapel Horizonte. Including plants such as Mérida that has blossomed into fifteen other churches, a bible college and outreach in Cuba. In addition, a church plant in Querétaro that has a congregation of 1,200 and five other churches planted.

Organic Training

“We take more of an organic approach to planting churches.” said Pastor Jonathan Domingo, who along with Pastor Mike Vincent is part of the Calvary Church Planting Network. Calvary Chapel Horizonte established an affiliate campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College in 2007 with the vision to see disciples rooted deeply in God’s word to reach the world for Christ. As CCBC Mexico continues to grow both numerically and in campus capacity, graduates return to their home states throughout the nation with 80% of them remaining active in ministry.

“In the past, foreign missionaries were more effective and educated in coming to Mexico, but that has changed.” said Pastor Jonathan, then explained, “Today, Mexicans are better educated and don’t have to adapt to culture and the language barrier.”

As a port city that rests two-hours south of the U.S. border, Ensenada is a very churched culture. Though it has roughly 450 churches, many have begun out of division. Explaining the situation further, Pastor Jonathan said, “Many want to get out of a situation but churches that are planted out of discontent are doomed to discontent. Churches should begin out of vision not division. Men need to be connected and naturally propel outward as they grow from within their church.”

John Piper said it well, “…All the while we are called by Christ to go to them, love them, sacrifice for them, bring the gospel to them. The Great Commission is not child’s play. It is costly. Very costly.”

God is doing much throughout the nation of Mexico. Men are being raised up to be sent out. Churches are being planted where there has never been a church before. Yet many still have not heard. Literally millions in desperate need of the gospel. “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”


You can follow Austin at @AustinBodiford and read more from his Austin to Mexico blog. Pastor Mike Vincent from Calvary Chapel Rosarito often has church planting updates on his Facebook page. Pastor Jonathan Domingo from Horizonte in Ensenada can be followed at @jonathandomingo

Four Reasons Our Church Does Not Stand and Greet

You were there on Sunday. The worship team finished their powerful set, the upbeat and informative announcements concluded, and to avoid that tense transition for the pastor to quickly arrive on stage, you were exhorted to rise out of your comfortable seat and to turn to those around you and smile, shake a hand, and “greet” one another.

Pastors feel it is a great transitional element in the service. Regular churchgoers appreciate a moment to make their way back to their normal seat because they arrived late for church. And first-time guests consider it the most horrific moment of their week, and a great reason why they won’t be coming back to that particular church.

Here’s four reasons why our church doesn’t do the “stand and greet one another” moment:

1. It’s Awkward

Does anything more need to be said here? Consider what it’s like to be a visitor at a church you’ve never attended before. You’re coming to worship with a congregation of people you’ve never met. You’re listening to a teacher you don’t recognize. Ideally you would be evaluating your experience based on how God moves and speaks to you. But the level of uneasiness you feel in this new environment causes you to seek what is comfortable and recognizable. Visitors are anxious and apprehensive about everything in your church: the location, the style of music/preaching/prayer, the kids’ ministry, the theological beliefs and philosophy of ministry, and if the mission of the church is something they can get behind. But more than anything, visitors are nervous that they won’t connect with anyone in this body.

But more than anything, visitors are nervous that they won’t connect with anyone in this body.

Requiring someone in this position to stand up and randomly say hello to someone under compulsion creates a very awkward moment, to say the least.

2. It produces a culture of disingenuous courtesy.

My wife and I love to visit churches while on vacation because it is always encouraging to see how other people are doing ministry in a different context than we are. One time while visiting a church in the foothills of North Carolina, we attended a small enough church that it was pretty obvious we were first-time visitors. On cue, we stood during the “greeting” time, and not a single person greeted us. I was actually offended that no one would extend the courtesy to say hello to me, and had a hard time appreciating the rest of the service.

To build honest courtesy at our church (Shoreline), we have parking attendants welcoming visitors as they arrive and park. As people walk through our doors, they are welcomed with a smile and a fistbump. We have a table set up in our foyer called a “Welcome Center” where there are various information cards about different aspects of our church. In the back of our Worship Center we have a “Guest Center” where we encourage guests to bring their connect card and exchange it for a gift (a coffee mug and helpful information about our church). And rather than taking the time to informally greet, we utilize those 30 seconds each week during our announcements to thank people for visiting our church. We address them as our “guest” and point them towards our information class that we host on the last Sunday each month so people know exactly how to get plugged in and how to get involved in our church. So our church culture all points towards considering guests as a primary focus, not an afterthought.

 3. Hospitality is more than a handshake.

The Bible mentions greeting one another a lot. In fact, in Romans 16 Paul mentions “greet” 22 times! When we consider the New Testament church’s greeting, it was much more “awkward” and “invasive” than a handshake. It was actually a kiss, and is mentioned in five different places and by both Paul and Peter (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14).

Vine states “There was to be an absence of formality and hypocrisy, a freedom from prejudice arising from social distinctions, from discrimination against the poor, from partiality towards the well-to-do.  In the churches masters and servants would thus salute one another without any attitude of condescension on the part of or disrespect on the other.  The kiss took place between persons of the same sex.” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E.Vine).

The word ‘Hospitality’ means to show love to strangers. In the Old Testament, it was a command for Israel to extend love to the outsider (Leviticus 19:33-34). In the New Testament, it was a central part of Christian worship (Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9, 3 John 5-8). This is why hospitality is a core part of who we are as a church. We make sure that every “stranger” is welcomed, loved, and received by our church so we can honor Jesus and reach our community.

We make sure that every “stranger” is welcomed, loved, and received by our church so we can honor Jesus and reach our community.

4. People need an environment of true depth and intimacy

Thirty seconds of handshaking doesn’t create an environment of depth and intimacy. It actually creates the opposite. People who aren’t greeted (like my wife and I on vacation) may end up feeling slighted. When people say, “Good morning, how are you?,” and you don’t know them (or you only have 30 seconds) chances are you aren’t going to really divulge the stressful details of your week. You’re just going to force a smile, shake their hand back, and say, “Good, how are you?”

In today’s churches we are seeing an increase in slick production and “professional”-style ministry. There is a wide gulf between the elevated stage and the audience, both literally and philosophically. People are used to following celebrities with big personas and retweet their short catchy statements to their own followers. Worship becomes an emotional event about us rather than being about the Gospel. Our relationships are becoming reduced to text interactions that require minimal risk and minimal reality.

Our relationships are becoming reduced to text interactions that require minimal risk and minimal reality

I actually heard about someone giving their “two-weeks’ notice” over text!

In social circles, people seem to be more “shallow” than ever before. What we need is more genuine koinonia and life-giving relationships in the place where people need it most: the church of Jesus Christ. So take my advice, drop the “greeting” time, and start building true community this Sunday. I promise I’ll give you a fist bump the next time I see you.

 

Pastor Pilgrim is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church, a new church in Southwest Florida. You can check out his blog or follow him on Twitter at @pilgrimbenham.

Kevin Utile: Calvary Chapel Aurora Roundtable

Pastor Ed Taylor from Calvary Chapel Aurora recently hosted a Calvary Church Planting Roundtable with 38 pastors and wives which he described as, “Fruitful and encouraging.” Below is the takeaway from church planter Pastor Kevin Utile from his experience at the Roundtable just days after a church launch.

As I sat at my table listening to each pastor introduce himself I was so blown away that I was actually there. The Lord had removed every obstacle so that my wife and I could come to the CCPN Roundtable, a mere two days before we had our first service at Reach Boulder beginning this journey of church planting.

Pastor Ed of Calvary Aurora and Pastor Eric of Rocky Mountain Calvary shared from the Word and then opened it up to the group for discussion. After hearing everyone’s questions and listening to the wisdom from the pastors that were there it seemed there was a common thread throughout the whole meeting. Towards the end of the meeting pastor Ed said, “The two things every pastor will struggle with and battle through is the Fear of Man and Insecurities.”

Despite all of the questions I brought and hoped would get answered, the Lord ministered to my heart in a different way. He wanted me to know that HIS opinion is what matters most. I should not value what other people think above what the Lord thinks. Waiting to hear Him say the words “Well done, good and faithful servant,” must be what motivates me and causes me to run this race.

He wanted me to know that HIS opinion is what matters most. I should not value what other people think above what the Lord thinks.

As I continue to follow the Lord and plant a church in Boulder, Colorado, a place that most say is the “graveyard of churches,” I have to rely on the Lord and be secure in Christ. When I focus on Jesus and fear Him all of the insecurities and fear of man fade away.

I am so grateful to have been encouraged and equipped in this way right before our church was planted. God is moving in Colorado and I’m hopeful that when we have our next meeting there will be new faces of passionate men that want to reach the lost and plant more churches.
Pastor Kevin Utile and his wife were used of God to launch Reach Boulder, a new church near the University of Colorado Boulder. You can follow the church on Facebook.

Financial Gift Resource for Church Planters

We had a great time at Re:Engage 2014 just a few months ago! What a blessing it was to join with so many pastors from around the country and beyond. Through the conference we were able to get the word out about HaloPays’ partnership with CCPN.

First and foremost, we are here to assist church plants in getting set up with online giving. For new church plants who started meeting within the last 6 months, we are covering ALL of your processing fees for the the first year. That means you keep 100% of your online donations and your website is up and running with online giving.

For churches who aren’t new church plants, we offer our flat rate pricing starting at 3% for credit and debit and 1% for ACH (electronic funds transfer). Let us do an assessment of your current processing and see how we can help you keep more of your donations.

You also receive the benefit of event registration within our BlueFire software for free! This allows your church to take registrations and payments completely on your website, post a QR on your event flier that links to the registration page on your website, and even take sign ups and payments on an iPad or iPhone with our mobile swiper. The possibilities are endless. This month we also launched text giving to make giving even more simple.

We hope you partner with us so we can provide the best online, kiosk, text and swipe giving solutions to your church. Our mission is and always has been to keep giving simple and help you keep more of your funds. Give us a chance to do that for you. Visit us at GoBlueFire or sign up

here today!

Julianne Gavin wears many hats. She is the wife of church planter, Pastor Trevor Gavin, the mother of an infant and representative of BlueFire. You can check out Nexus Portland on the web and follow the Gavins in their journey on their blog.

Missing Part

Download this and share it on your social media!

Download this and share it on your social media!

Something missing

We returned to the US after fifteen years in the Philippines, and I sensed something was missing in the church in America. I wondered what happened, but after a while realized it was more about what didn’t happen.

In the early days of the Jesus People Movement, young people were disenchanted with the status quo and shallow life of middle class America. Social unrest, fueled by issues that ranged from civil rights to anti-war protests, helped accent an emptiness that cried out to be filled.

Great interest in eastern philosophies and religions, coupled with a surge of psychedelic drugs and “love-ins,” intensified this emptiness. The political scene and economy also contributed to it.

God’s Spirit began to flow into a broken and lost generation, to fill up this emptiness.

A generation found and filled

No specific leader started the Jesus People Movement or headed up the Jesus Generation. It was a sovereign move of God’s Holy Spirit.

Some people did have influence in this move of God, but because of God’s favor, not their expertise at leading. Young people began to gather in public and private places, as well as in many churches. They were hungry and sought to be filled with the truth of God and God’s power.

A generational revival began to grow across the nation, which led to the raising up of evangelists and disciple-makers. They had no special training and needed no prompting to spread the gospel. This was not the product of a well designed program.

Simple, but mighty

Simple Bible study, often led by non-seminary-trained teachers, was a core element of the movement. Pastors and teachers who did have training were also swept up in the movement. My first pastor, Chuck Smith, was one of those teachers, but he was one among many solid teachers of God’s Word.

The gospel was preached and the Bible was taught in a simple way. Theology was simple in the early days, mostly born out of an organic biblical framework. Praise and worship was typically a blend of folk and rock music led by young people with long hair and buckskin. It was simple and genuine, and seemed innocently spiritual.

Even prayer had a simple power to it. People were set free from their brokenness and bondage.

Communal life and mindset

In much the same way as the early church, communities began to spring up where everything was shared. Communal life seemed to thrive off the flow of people being set free. Houses, ranches, and even apartment buildings became homes to people who had fulfilled lives with broken pasts.

These communities were inclusive, non-discriminatory, and often had strong leaders. It was a shared life with shared resources. My wife and I lived a few blocks from one in our first year of marriage. It was called Mansion Messiah located in Costa Mesa, CA.

They became models of biblical discipleship. Because Bible study was a core value, it spawned young people who were grounded in the truth of God’s Word, filled with God’s power, and released to share their faith with others.

What changed?

In much the same way as the radical activists of the 60’s, the Jesus Generation became more and more mainstream. Where once they were anti-establishment, they became the establishment. Once shunned by society, and many churches, the blended with the culture of the times.

When Christian believers don’t seem very different from the culture around them, something gets lost. But what was that something?

The missing part

In a word discipleship—intentional, relational, organic discipleship led by the Holy Spirit. In the past several years, even the last decade, discipleship has once again become popular. But I wonder if it’s just the next thing to catch people’s attention. I hope I’m wrong about that.

The difficulty with intentional, relational, and Spirit-led organic discipleship is that it’s hard to package. So, it is by nature hard to control. It also takes considerable time to do well, and requires genuine commitment. Commitment not to the task, but to the person discipled. Commitment is also needed on the part of the one being discipled.

Do you see the dilemma? Genuine commitment isn’t very popular nowadays, not in this distracted ADHD-culture of ours.

We can’t go back

It’s easy to long for the good old days, but that genders useless nostalgia. We need to look forward, not backwards.

God hasn’t stopped being God. He’s supernatural and sovereign. He alone is the one who stirs up a revival that produces something like the Jesus Generation. But believers do have a part in what God does upon the earth. He’s chosen us for such things (Eph 2:4-10).

 

About Trip:

With Trip Kimball’s permission this is a repost from his blog, Word-Strong. Along with his family, Trip planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

“I don’t need God!”

Trevor Gavin pastors Nexus Portland in Portland, OR. For more info go to nexuspdx.org.

We have a lot of conversations with people who say something to the affect of “I don’t need God.” The task for our leader was to respond in roughly 500 words. Below is his response… 

This is a question I’ve pondered considerably in the past two years.  I’ve met secular moralists who seem to have it all figured out.  They’re happy, healthy, have loving families, don’t battle addictions, enjoy their jobs, and the list goes on.  It is indeed confounding, at first, to confront people who seem to live successful lives apart from trusting Jesus.  Although such an existence may seem genuinely fulfilling, I would argue that it is not pursuant of truth and therefore, ultimately, not.

Every man entrusts his livelihood to something.  The spiritual man trusts in God.  The bureaucrat trusts in the government.  The anarchist trusts in chaos.  The secular moralist trusts in himself.  Or his family.  Or his job.  Or his bank account.  Or his morality.  The problem is, none of those things are failsafe.  None of those things are perfectly reliable.  None of those things are eternal.  There is no true rock, no unshakable foundation for such an existence.  The secular moralist, therefore, is his own god.  He worships himself and his surroundings, which are, in a hundred years’ time, ashes and dust.

The secular moralist, therefore, is his own god.  He worships himself and his surroundings, which are, in a hundred years’ time, ashes and dust.

Because no man can perfectly trust himself or his surroundings, I would argue that the secular moralist, ultimately, trusts chaos.  He is an anarchist in denial.  Those in this category who are introspective often perceive the utter hopelessness of such a worldview: our existence is mere chance; everything is transitory; truth is arbitrary; morality is but a necessary byproduct of civilization; everything is hopelessly dying; we are not unconditionally loved.  Therefore, the happy secular moralist lives in denial and the secular moralist pursuant of truth lives in utter despondence.  Many of the great geniuses of our time fit into the latter category: Robin Williams, Steven Patrick Morrissey, and Ian Curtis, to name but a few.

The term “secular moralist” is, in itself, a conundrum.  Morality apart from a higher power, apart from absolute truth, is a mere contrivance, a party piece for NGO groupies.  Why on earth should an atheist expend effort to live a moral existence when he isn’t cognizant of an eternal goal and assigns no real significance to sin or virtue?  He is obstructing his pursuit of pleasure and wasting his time!

Morality apart from a higher power, apart from absolute truth, is a mere contrivance, a party piece for NGO groupies.

So why is it necessary for the moralist to believe in God?  Because God created morality!  His very existence is perfect righteousness and He never changes.  He is the solid rock that we can cling to at all times, the only one we can always depend upon, in every situation.  And he sent his only son, Jesus, to save us from the futility and despair in which we are, otherwise, hopelessly mired.

So why is it necessary for the moralist to believe in God?  Because God created morality!

Signs of Irrelevance

Pastor Terry McNabb pastors Calvary Chapel Portland. For more info, go to calvarychapelportland.com.

With all the discussion of relevance in ministry I began to think about my own struggles with staying fresh in the ministry over twenty years. Like it or not, if you are in the ministry long enough, you risk becoming irrelevant. People that loved you suddenly feel the need to change churches. Culture changes and you didn’t notice. Losing the ability to effectively influence the culture around us is gradual and by the time we notice it can feel too late. When I came to Portland, Oregon I had only known ministry in Southern California. Evangelism was generally street witnessing or a concert where the gospel was preached. In the Northwest people didn’t come to Christian concerts and sharing Jesus on the street is difficult when people are inside most of the time. It rains a lot.

I was so fixed on methods I knew that it took me a while to figure out that I needed to change. My discouragement was a waste of time as the fix was simple. It seems obvious but I needed to adapt to Oregon and go to the people. I suddenly realized that I was in the land of a thousand coffee shops. Starbucks started here. People responded to small groups and one on one situations much better than church events. All I needed to do was go to Starbucks, put my Bible on the table and wait for a nibble. Now it’s common to see Bible studies in coffee shops.

Here are two common signs of irrelevance… 

Inflexible

Pastor Chuck wrote about becoming an old wine skin. The main thing about an old wine skin is that it is inflexible. It shows itself in irritation. Becoming inflexible and irritated at suggested changes in method is a sign of becoming an old wine skin. Attaching morality to technology is losing sight of the main point. Methods are simply a means of communication. It’s like our parents saying that hymns were more spiritual than choruses. If methods are used to wow people instead of communicate then we have a problem. I have heard Greg Laurie say that we should use all available methods to preach the gospel. I think he has some fruit to show for his methods.

Isolation

Another sign of irrelevance is isolation. Irritation leads to isolation. You don’t seek out fellowship with other pastors because it challenges you too much. Can you rejoice when God blesses another church? Can you learn from other pastors? One blessing of getting older is that our kids get old enough to tell us we’re wrong. Richard Cimino mentioned that his kids told him it was time to lose the Hawaiian shirts. My kids have recently done the same for me. At first I was challenged to hear their suggestions but I knew they were right. They wanted to see God do a fresh work and He is.

In the 60s and 70s Calvary Chapel was relevant because Pastor Chuck allowed the kids he was reaching to influence the style of ministry but Chuck used it to deliver the Word of God by the Spirit of God. Relating to our culture is Calvary Chapel. Let’s not forget that is our method. Aside from any discussion of methods you disagree with, for me the bottom line is fruit. People’s lives are changed or they aren’t. Staying fresh in ministry and life is what God does for those who wait on Him. A Spirit-filled life enables us to not be threatened by change. Jesus said, “Behold I make all things new.”