What’s The Real Problem?

If one’s greatest problem is loneliness, the good news is that Jesus is a reliable friend. If the big problem is anxiety, Jesus will calm us down. Jesus is the glue that holds our marriages and families together, gives us purpose for us to strive toward, wisdom for daily life. And there are half-truths in all of these pleas, but they never really bring hearers face to face with their real problem: that they stand naked and ashamed before a holy God and can only be acceptably clothed in His presence by being clothed, head to toe, in Christ’s righteousness.

 Michael Horton 
(Joel Osteen and the Glory Story: A Case Study, 2007, Westminster Seminary California.)

Wrong Direction

Sadly, the influence has been in the wrong direction, as we see evidence that our culture has begun to permeate our churches. The church is seduced by the social agenda of wealth and pleasure, and has condoned sinful compromises. There is moral decay within the church, with highly publicized scandals involving ministers, and divorce statistics which are not much better than those outside the church. Think of all that we and our churches would have to repent of if a spirit of holiness began to captivate us. How can America be influenced by an inconsistent and hypocritical church?

 Erwin Lutzer
America’s Spiritual Crisis, Revival Commentary, v. 1, n. 2, p. 11.

 

Churching the Unchurched

Churching the unchurched is an absolute fallacy – it is like purposing to let the tares in. It is absolutely bizarre to want to make unsaved people feel comfortable in a church. The church is not a building – the church is a group of worshiping, redeemed, and sanctified people among whom an unbeliever should feel either miserable, convicted and drawn to Christ, or else alienated and isolated. Only if the church hides its message and ceases to be what God designed the church to be, can it make an unbeliever comfortable.

 John MacArthur

2009 FRAC (Front Range Alliance Church) Conference

Ligon Duncan Explains the Charge of Calvinists as Poor Evangelists

Via Provocations and Paintings

It has been said time and time again that Calvinists are poor evangelists. I just listened to a sermon this morning where a preacher said, “Well, if you believe that half the people are damned to hell, then why in the world would you go and evangelize?” The Caner brothers charged Calvinists believing in election as an excuse to be lazy, to not knock on doors, that it saps the evangelism of every church it infects, and so on. Ironically so, Mark Dever points out the following stats:

14.8% decline in the United Church of Christ
11.6% decline in the PCUSA
6.7% decline in the United Methodist Church
5.7% decline in the American Baptist Churches
5.3% decline in the Episcopal Church
5% growth in the Southern Baptist Convention
18.5% growth in the Assemblies of God
21.8% growth in the Christian and Missionary Alliance
40.2% growth in the Church of God
42.4% growth in the PCA
57.2% growth in the Evangelical Free Churches

* Statistics from the last 10 years in denominational life found in Dave Shiflett’s book Exodus.

The SBC saw 5% growth where the PCA saw 42% growth. Looks like those of us in the SBC can learn something from that disease-infested, lazy Westminster boys who sit around and see how “hyped” they can get. Even with all our megachurches, “million more” campaigns, decisional regeneration emphasis, and dishonest statistics one would think that the SBC could at least make it to 10%. But I guess that the Founder’s fault right? That’s what they want us to believe. It’s those Calvinist’s fault that over 10,000 churches didn’t baptize one person (all of which we must presume have been eaten away by the doctrines of grace).

Here’s where Ligon Duncan responds. While Duncan gives a seven-point response in his post, I want to quote him on number three:

“Calvinists are often considered poor evangelists because of historical ignorance. The standard fare of anti-Calvinism (Calvinism kills evangelism and missions) so often served up in the SBC and in wider evangelicalism is, of course, wrong. Dead wrong and demonstrably wrong. The greatest evangelists and missionaries of Protestant era have been Calvinistic or Reformed. That is, they have embraced and preached the doctrines of grace. Whether it is Bunyan or Spurgeon, Carey or Nettelton or Whitfield or Duff or Stott, that you are talking about – the Baptist tradition, the Congregational tradition, the Anglican tradition, the Presbyterian tradition and so on – find the hall of fame evangelists and missionaries and you’ll find folks who live, breathe, teach and preach the doctrines of grace.”

This reminds me of Steve Hays’ recent post “Ahistorical Theology.” In response to why he believes the PCA has seen such growth, Duncan replies,

“the growth of the PCA (and other strong reformed churches like CHBC and CLC and GCC and BBC) is not because we are better evangelists but because we have a better evangel (that is, a more biblical one) and a gracious, sovereign God who is at work changing hearts by his Spirit.”

Not better evangelists but a better evangel . . . if only we could only embrace that reality.

History of Modern Gospel

Many false gospels exist in the United States. The History of the Modern Gospel series explores the root of these errors. Here are 6 short video series by RTM (Real Truth Matters). Pray that this will be helpful!


INTRODUCTION

SESSION 1: THE ROOT ERROR


SESSION 2: TOXIC INTELLIGENCE


SESSION 3: WELCOME TO THE CIRCUS


SESSION 4: I GOT A FEELING


SESSION 5: REPEAT AFTER ME


SESSION 6: GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE

 

Wake Up, CHURCH!

 Matt Chandler (Senior Pastor of The Village Church, Dallas TX)

A Seeker-Sensitive Church vs A Healthy Chruch

A great panel discussion! If you are not familiar with this term Seeker-sensitive church, you need to listen to this video. Two fundamental problems with Seeker -Sensitive movement. 1. The unbelievers outside are desperately seeking for God. 2. The purpose of corporate worship on Sunday morning is to reach the lost. — RC Sproul. The big churches are built on this method and their back doors is way bigger than their front doors — Al Mohler.

If Seeker-Sensitive is not the way to go, what should a healthy church looks like? I am thankful for the book written by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne: The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything. This book is by far one of the best book on the topic of building healthy churches. I recommend this book to you, especially to the lay leaders. This book will give you a biblical perspective on a healthy church. Here is a review of the book:

March 31, 2010
Review by Aaron Menikoff

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything. Matthias Media, 2009. 196 pages.

It is too easy to lose focus, to become distracted, to forget why we committed our lives to pastoral ministry. We can so easily become overwhelmed by the daily tasks of ministry. At most churches there are emails to return, there are services to plan, there are reports to read, there are letters to write. Some of this work is hugely important. It is difficult to oversee a church without doing the work of administration. Still, I don’t know any pastor who signed up for this ministry because he wanted to see letterhead and logos change—he committed his life to the ministry of the church because he hoped to see lives change!

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne of Matthias Media (an excellent, Christian, Australian publishing company) have given the church a great gift with their recent book, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything. Here, they clarify the goal of Christian ministry. It is, they argue, both simple and measurable: “Are we making and nurturing genuine disciples of Christ?” (14) Too many Christian workers are involved in “trellis” work—building the structure of the church, when they should be involved in “vine” work—personally investing in the lives of others.

Don’t we know this? I’ve never met a pastor who intentionally puts programs in front of people. Then why should Christian leaders read this book? Here are five reasons:

1. We are too tempted to create flash-in-the-pan growth. Well-intentioned attempts to bring people into the church can quickly distract us from the more laborious work of training disciples who will go into the world and make disciples. It is not always easy to find a balance between “bring them in” and “grow them up.” Certainly both can take place. But Marshall and Payne are right when they argue that it is easier to plan an evangelistic event than work to make the culture of a church more evangelistic.

2. Because in an attempt to plug people in we can wear them out. Marshall and Payne mince no words: “We need to care for people and help them to flourish and grow in ministry, not squeeze them dry in the interests of keeping our programs running” (20). Are you sure you never do this? Let me ask you a question: do you love the members of your church for what they do: help in the nursery, keep problems away from you, go-with-the-flow, or for who they are: sinners saved by the blood of the Lamb?

3. We talk more about church growth than gospel growth. Every pastor needs to be convinced that God will not ultimately judge the success of our ministry on the size of our church but on the spiritual vitality of the sheep in our care. “We talk these days about church growth. And when we think about our lack of growth, we think of the lack of growth of our particular congregation: the stagnation or decline in numbers, the wobbly state of the finances, and possibly the looming property issues” (37). These are real problems facing most pastors. But how often do we fail to measure gospel growth: the spiritual fruit growing in people’s lives, an increased passion for God, a growing fidelity to truth, a renewed commitment to evangelism?

4. We are tempted to withdraw into public ministry when we should persevere in private ministry. Perhaps this sounds strange, but the reality is pastors can hide behind public preaching and teaching just as they hide behind a stack of papers in their office. If the pastor doesn’t give himself to training others he runs the risk of creating a church that is merely a reflection of his own personality. Marshall and Payne put it this way:

Perhaps the most striking disadvantage of this way of thinking about ministry is that it feeds upon and encourages the culture of ‘consumerism’ that is already rife in our culture. It perfectly fits the spirit of our age whereby we pay trained professionals to do everything for us rather than do it ourselves (95).

What a danger! Public preaching and teaching is the God-ordained means of growing the church. But it does not replace every pastor’s responsibility to see every member involved in doing the work of the Lord. Yes, the pastor must preach. “But crucially, the pastor is also a trainer. His job is not just to provide spiritual services, nor is it his job to do all of the ministry. His task is to teach and train his congregation, by his word and his life, to become disciple-making disciples of Jesus” (99).

5. We want to make disciples but may not always know how. Discipling is better “caught” than “taught.” Still, if anyone can teach discipling it’s the people at Matthias Media. Materials like Two Ways to Live and Just for Starters are fantastic, easy-to-use, theologically rich resources that pastors can implement in one-on-one or small group environments.

Every pastor, every Christian is faced with the question, “how should I best use my time?”  There is no simple answer, it will differ from person to person. Still, Marshall and Payne used Scripture to remind me how valuable it is to meet regularly with new and growing believers who can eventually turn around and meet with others. They explained the importance of giving over a portion of my schedule to discipling individuals and small groups. It may take time for me to see the fruit, but I have every reason to be confident that it is time well spent.

Aaron Menikoff (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
 

Mark Dever Talks about the book

 

 

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