News Letter May 15 2018

May 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition


* What Is The Church?

* Leading Transformation

* Links to Fruitful Deliberation

* Pastoral Placement – FIT

* for Ministry Support

* Book Review – Christian Ethics – Grudem

* Pod Cast – – Thrive

* This Date in History – America Launched

* BLOG – What Is The Church?



What Is The Church


“The Church is puzzled by the world’s indifference. She is trying to overcome it by adapting her message to the fashions of the day. But if, instead, before the conflict, she would descend into the secret place of meditation, if by the clear light of the gospel she would seek an answer not merely to the questions of the hour but, first of all to the eternal problems of the spiritual world, then perhaps, by God’s grace, through His good Spirit, in His good time, she might issue forth once more with power, and an age of doubt might be followed by the dawn of an era of faith.”  (J. Gresham Machen)


On Saturday morning, April 28th I received an early morning call. The caller was a member of my first pastorate back in the 70’s. The purpose of that call was to solicit wisdom on the callers planned departure from the church they had been attending for a number of years. The essence of Machen’s quote frames the multiple reasons for this caller’s departure from that church. Machen’s quote is now nearly 100 years old. Imagine what he would write today.


The sermons in that church are vacuous. They are largely devoid of exegetical substance that produce transformation in the lives of the congregants. They give no evidence of diligent personal study and scholarly research. The caller discovered that the sermons were in fact copied word for word from a ‘popular’ public speaker – I hesitate to describe him as an Elder/Pastor. In fact, several years ago this individual declared that the term Pastor/Shepherd is now passe. This same individual recently declared that ‘oneness in the faith is more important than being theologically correct’. The music in this assembly is often popular songs from the culture, not hymns that teach theological Truth as the congregation worships the True and Living God.


The caller said – ‘Pastor, you taught us well.’ Be encouraged men. When you honor God’s word and proclaim it line upon line with precise exegetical accuracy and genuine compassion for those you lead, it does equip your people to live with discernment that honors Christ.


This article is endeavoring to answer the question ‘What Is The Church?’ My prayer is that this material informs, encourages, and equips you to lead with integrity in the Church, The Body of Christ and the Family of God. My prayer is for you as a pastor that you find incredible JOY in your leadership. There is much that is needed under each of these headings but this is a News Letter not a dissertation. I leave my readers to flesh out these issues. Remember, the Church is a Theological entity/organism and ministry must be shaped by ‘what the text says!’


I begin with a declaration of what the church is NOT.


The church is Not merely a ‘Preaching Station‘. Preaching is vital. The word of God transforms his people. But the church is much more than Preaching. Perhaps this is part of our problem. Many have the attitude that ‘I went to church and listened to preaching’ therefore I have paid my dues for this week.The church fails to understand that Special Revelation is not mere information. It is to produce Transformation!


The church is Not a Social Agency servicing all the material needs of the community. We do well to provide a Food Pantry and other similar beneficial functions but never let the tail wag the dog.


The church is not A Christian School. I support Christian Schools. I believe in teaching TRUTH to children from the day they are born. But, be careful. Do not permit the school to run the church, or the tail to wag the dog!


The church is Not a welfare agency. We do well to provide assistance to needy people but the focus of the church is the redeemed of the Lord, not every citizen in a given community.


The church is Not a Country Club. In a Country Club you pay your dues and participation is optional. Tithes and Offerings are not dues and participation is not optional in the church. Contributions do not purchase power to be wielded in the decision making process.


The church is Not a Democracy. No where in the text of the NT can it be demonstrated that the church ever voted on anything. The church does not make decisions by ‘popular opinion’ and God is not impressed with nor will he ever bless a 51% majority. The practice of ‘voting’ in the church is imported (may i say syncretized) from the culture at large and has no exegetical validation. The people affirm decisions the Elders have reached. They must be well informed, always treated with dignity and respect, but, that does not mean they vote. cf. the issue of those who are members but clearly unregenerate.


The church is Not a belong – then believe assembly. This mentality is driven by a false Metric for effectiveness – Numbers! More is better and Biggest is Best. Wrong and lethal!


What the church Is. (The issues are simply listed. No order of importance is implied.)


The church Is the gathered body of God’s chosen redeemed people. A characteristic of the true church through the ages has been one of regenerate membership. There are numerous people today that have membership in a local church – BUT – they are tragically not redeemed.


The church Is the Bride of Christ, The Family of God, and The Temple of the Living God.


The church is rooted and grounded on the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture.


The church Is the household of God, the pillar and buttress of the truth.


The church graciously and consistently practices church discipline. The design of this is restoration of the offender, not punishment.


The Church Is Elder led. The offices in the church are Elders/Pastor Shepherds and Deacons. No where in the NT are Deacons shown to be a Board of Governors. Their function is to serve the congregation as set forth in Acts 6:2-3. (cf. Acts 14:23 & Titus 1:5)


The church Is to display true Life in Community. There is genuine Transparency and Vulnerability among the members. They exhort, encourage, rebuke, bear with one another, and bear one another’s burdens. Jesus said the world will know we are his disciples by the way we love one another.


The Purpose of the church Is to make Disciples who make Disciples. This is the singular imperative verb (command) in the Great Commission.This tasks is the privilege of every believer.


The church is a place in which there is a continuous process Of Leadership Development that trains and equips men for future leadership roles in the church that are capable of planting healthy churches.


The church treats all people with dignity because they are created in the image of God.


The church recognizes, affirms, and requires expository preaching. There is a place for exception but this principle is the norm for week to week exposition of God’s word.


The church embraces with passion and consistency the practice of Intercessory Prayer. The church openly petitions God with the confidence that he hears and responds to their petitions.


Conclusion – Every dysfunctional ministry practice diminishes the prospects of the church being and doing what God has designed His church to be and do. Teach your people the true profile of church. Do this exegetically, graciously, systematically, and persistently. Those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells will delight to learn, honor, and obey the LORD!


Leading Transformation


The decline of the American Church is an indisputable reality. Many pastors and church leaders are profoundly aware of this decline. The quandary they wrestle with is ‘what must we do to address correct this persistent reality?’


When you have a cavity, you go to the Dentist. When you have a foot injury, you go to a Podiatric Surgeon. Such actions are reasonable and lead to a favorable resolution to your problem.


The IgniteUS Transformation Process provides abundant resources that bring exegetically supported correction to the existing dysfunctions in ministry. Each church presents distinct challenges. Our Process is tailored to the church you are leading. We have helped many pastors and churches go from decline to robust effectiveness in making disciples. Individual people and the church as a body are transformed. The Process begins with an objective Assessment that enables you to know the true condition of the church you serve. This makes it possible to effectively address the causes of decline.


We will come alongside of any church that has a high view of Christ and a high view of Scripture. There is no long term contract. There is a very modest monthly fee. .Continuous decline is not the only option. Give me a call to investigate this process for implementation where you serve.. You will be very glad that you did. (800 472 3764 or


Links To Fruitful Deliberation

The two links that follow display with integrity the theme we are addressing – What is The Church? The Link from Challies contrasts two ministries that clearly display the profile of a true church, Matt Chandler (The Village) & Steven Furtick (Elevation). The second link displays the significant changes taking place in our nation. These changes have a profound impact on the church.


Pastoral Placement


Leadership is crucial. When a church is seeking a Lead Pastor there are multiple critical areas that must be considered. Tragically the traditional approach to this process has produced brief pastoral tenures (3 1/2 years is the current average) and less than robust effectiveness. A positive trend is to seek the services of a proven Consultant and Process. IgniteUS provides such a service. Our goal is to guide the church to a man that fits the church and the church fits the man. Contact us @ 800 472 3764 or


Ministry Support $$


We are asking you to give – $10 a month. These funds enable us to provide  Scholarships to Pastors & Churches. Christ gets the Glory!  On our Home Page ( click on the banner labeled Online Giving and follow the prompts. THANKS to each one who gives! Appreciated!


Book Review –


Book Review. Wayne Grudem. Christian Ethics – An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning. Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2018,  1225 pp.  Available June 30, 2018. $60 Hardcover.


Grudem poses questions that serve well in providing justification for this title. How should Christians live when the surrounding culture is increasingly hostile to moral values? How can they know God’s will in the ordinary decisions of life?


This title has the endorsement of many Christian Leaders. Here is the affirmation of Sam Storms. “This nearly exhaustive treatment of Christian ethics is destined to become the standard evangelical text for many years to come. It is wide-ranging, thoughtful, and unafraid to engage with controversial issues and with those who take a different approach.


Grudem presents the material under seven headings. I provide them as follows.


Part One – Introduction

Part Two – Protecting God’s Honor

Part Three – Protecting Human Authority

Part Four – Protecting Human Life

Part Five – Protecting Marriage

Part Six – Protecting Property

Part Seven – Protecting Purity of Heart


Don’t let the price deter you from securing this title. If you turn to the Subject Index (p. 1216) you will be provided with a plethora of resources that have exegetical substantiation. This volume will aid the serious exeget in sermon preparation by supplying credible data in the areas Grudem has researched and that provide focus for the issues of the day  Your people will benefit and be equipped by possessing current research with exegetical validation on the multitude of issues swirling around us in the culture in America today. You will be equipped to preach with authority that transcends mere personal opinions.


Pod Cast – THRIVE


The title of the Pod Cast is THRIVE. That is our desire for every pastor and every local church. We want you to thrive in making disciples, and developing leaders, all of which is to Glorify Jesus Christ. There is a banner on our web site – – – – just click on that banner. This Pod Cast has the potential to reach 35,000 listeners. If you listen and find benefit in the content, encourage folks in your sphere of influence to listen as well, then contact us. THANKS. I want to hear from you; or 800 472 3764.


IgniteUS APP Coming Soon – Stay Tuned! I anticipate this will be available by June1st (??)







This Date in History

1787 Constitutional Convention delegates begin to assemble

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