June 15 News Letter

June 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Date in History

1607 – Colonists in North America completed James Fort in Jamestown, VA. (I have a very informative Power Point on this Fort. Contact me!)

BLOG – Who Shares the Gospel?

Read and respond. THANKS!!

Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “Who Shares the Gospel?“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

News Letter June 1 2018

June 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition

 

* The Judgment Of God

* Leading Transformation

* Seminary @ Expositors.Org

* Pastoral Placement – FIT

*Tithe.ly for Ministry Support

* Book Review – ‘Unhitched’? – Nope

* Pod Cast – - Thrive

* This Date in History – Harbor Closed

* BLOG – The Judgment of God

 

 

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The Judgment of God

 

The past several weeks (May 1 – May 25) have been an absolute blur of indictments on the Evangelical Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention specifically. The link following this paragraph is an article addressing this circumstance written by Dr. Al Mohler. The SBC is not alone in the American Church scene to which God’s judgment may be rightly applied. Read Dr. Mohler’s post first.

https://albertmohler.com/2018/05/23/wrath-god-poured-humiliation-southern-baptist-convention/?mc_cid=45b3897781&mc_eid=d299093093

 

The three words that describe our conduct considered in this article merit God’s Judgment. There are many more Covenant violations we are guilty of as we express daily the sin nature imputed to us as a result of Adam’s willful disobedience. Pray for Repentance, Reformation and Renewal.

 

In Isaiah 53 there are numerous words in the English language that express sin; iniquity, transgression, transgressions, etc. These terms in the original Masoretic Text of the OT convey a much more graphic portrayal of our sin. When you read this article and comprehend the messages conveyed by these words, you will readily understand why the church and sinners deserve God’s Judgment!

 

I included the original language in this article but IContact will not accept them so the best I can do is a transliteration of the words. In most cases I cite lexical sources so the reader may do further research if desired. The sins delineated in this article surely merit God’s judgment.

 

Word #1 – Isaiah 53:5 - (avone) (used 215 times in the OT) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

 

Isaiah 21:3  - (avone), to bend or twist, used 215 times in the OT = crooked perverse behavior. Used as a Portrait of the anguish of a woman in labor.

 

Isaiah 21:3 Therefore my loins are filled with anguish; pangs have seized me, like the pangs of a woman in labor; I am bowed down so that I cannot hear; I am dismayed so that I cannot see.

 

Someone distressed, bent double; NKJV – distressed

 

The parent verb, (avone), means ‘bend, twist’, making the noun mean ‘crooked behavior, perversion.’ In the total vocabulary of sinfulness, it is the “internal” word – strictly, therefore, the warped human nature from which all wrongdoing derives. . . . (J. Alec Motyer, Stricken for The Transgression of My People, Chapter 10, From Heaven He Came And Sought Her, p.257) This word gives clear expression to our twisted conduct and motives, the consequences and resulting guilt of our deeds.

 

That which is injustice, false and idolatrous – LOGOS7 word studies

 

The remarkable ambivalence between the meanings “sin as an act” and “penalty” shows that in the thought of the OT sin and its penalty are not radically separate notions as we tend to think of them.  Rather in the OT the action of a man and what happens to him are presupposed to be directly related in one process within the basic divine order (TWOT, Vol.II, p. 651)

 

…the total man, the whole sum of human life and being, is perverted; that all the faculties of man are more or less twisted out of shape by sin; that each man, from the whole is turned from God rather than toward God; so that the whole nature of man, as it now exists, is warped and twisted by sin. (E.C. Dargan, SBC 1900 ish)

 

Man is both in mind and heart, in purpose and in deed apart from God, lost and straying. (Dargan as quoted in By His Grace and For His Glory, Nettles, p.210)

 

?Have you ever confessed your ‘iniquity’ (crookedness) to the LORD and sought His forgiveness for your warped sinful nature?

 

Word #2 – Isaiah 53:8  (pasha) Used 90 times in the OT The fundamental idea of the root word is a breach of relationships, civil or religious, between two parties. It expresses the ‘casting off’ of allegiance’. The verbal form indicates a casting off of allegiance, a rebellion against rulers (TWOT, Vol. II, p.741) Sin is rebellion against the reign of Jesus Christ in your life.

 

Israel was accused of rebelling against her divine king and the established Covenant between them.

 

Isaiah 48:8  You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel.

 

Hosea 8:1  Set the trumpet to your lips! One like a vulture is over the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law.

 

Acts of transgression, going beyond the limits of God’s laws, have the impact on inner attitudes which create deceitfulness or a distorted love for this “independence” from God.

 

Amos 4:4  ”Come to Bethel, and transgress (rebel, break away from legitimate authority); to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days.

 

No matter how much we make an excuse for the fallen nature which prompts actual sin, the fact remains that in cases far too numerous to recall, a choice was presented to us and we chose the path of deliberate, conscious, willful rebellion. We sinned because we wanted to!!!

 

?Have you ever confessed your ‘rebellion’ to the LORD and sought His forgiveness for your wicked rebel nature?

 

Word #3 – Isaiah 53:12 - (katah) (used 34 times in the OT) This word focuses on the fact of sin as a short-coming, missing the mark.

 

In the moral use of this word, ‘sin’ is the specific matter we find that we have to confess – whether thought, word or deed, inward imagination or outward act. We have “missed,” fallen short of the Lord’s command.

 

Judges 20:16  Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

 

One of our grandsons took up archery in High School. Each shooter fires 30 arrows at the target from increasing distances resulting in a total possible score of 300. Our grandson scored about 210 in the beginning. He progressed and qualified for the National Championship held in Nashville which we attended. He shot 289. The young man that won that competition shot 299. But – that still misses the mark of 300.

 

The fall rendered all of us poor marksman. We consistently miss the mark.

 

?Have you ever confessed your ‘missing the mark’ to the LORD and sought His forgiveness for your failure?

 

Summary & Application

The Fall rendered us all:

1. (avone) crooked, twisted, idolators

2.  (pasha) rebels, we rebel against the reign of Christ in our lives

3.  (katah) poor marksman, we miss the mark consistently

 

What is God’s standard?

 

Matthew 5:48 -You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

?? How can a crooked, rebellious, poor marksman live up to, accomplish this perfection?

 

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

 

Luke 9:23  And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

 

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 and 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.. I have an article titled Measuring What Matters Most that will facilitate genuine Transformation that I will send to all who make such a request You will be very glad that you called. (800 472 3764 or info@igniteus.net).

 

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 info@igniteus.net.

 

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 (www.igniteus.net) click on the banner labeled Online Giving and follow the prompts. THANKS to each one who gives! Appreciated!

 

Book Review –

Book Review – Motyer, Alec. 6 Ways The Old Testament Speaks Today – An Interactive Guide. Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2018, 240 pp. $19.99 ISBN # – 978-1-4335-5851-1. Available May 31, 2018.

Recently Andy Stanley stated that the church, specifically pastors in their preaching ministry, need to ‘unhitch’ from the Old Testament. This comment unleashed a flurry of criticism. To be fair, this comment was in the third message in a series of three. He insists that if taken in context of the three (3) messages, not to worry.

 

I’m not so sure. There are no new heresies, just new heretics. Marcion was perhaps the first to promote the bifurcation of the Old Testament from the New. He lived from 85 – 160 AD. He was excommunicated from the church in 144 AD for cause. His specific comment on this issue was:

 

. . . we need to distinguish between the “stern law-giving Creator God of the Old Testament and the good merciful God of the New Testament.”

 

I will accept Pastor Stanley’s explanation regarding the context of this comment. Having taken the high ground and being gracious, I will state that such a comment at the very least is profoundly unwise and he should expect the furor that followed. Now we turn to the content of Motyer’s treatment of the Old Testament.

 

This is the second edition of this title. It was first published in 1994 under the title A Scenic Route through The Old Testament. From the Introduction:

 

Actually, it is a rather spectacular piece of countryside, full of interest, and wonderfully speaking directly to us, our situations, and our needs. Did you ever notice a striking thing Steven said in his speech in Acts 7:38, that Moses “received the living oracles to give to us” – the vital word of God itself relevant to each successive generation right up to “us”? Paul insisted on the same truth in Romans 15:4: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.”

 

And when we turn to the highest authority of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, what do we find? Well, if we had asked him, “why do you keep quoting the Old Testament? “He would have replied, “the old what?” And when we explained, he would have corrected us: “you mean the word of God (Mark 7:13), the Scriptures, (John 5:39)” –  nothing old about that as far as Jesus was concerned, for it is actually the applicable truth of God by which he was content to plan his life and accept his cross (Matthew 26:53-54). The big word he used was “The Law” (Luke 10:26), a word that actually means “the Teaching”, and “the living directions of a caring parent to a beloved child (“instruction,” Prov. 4:1) in the case of our Lord, his heavenly Father’s voice in his ear. Should we not prize –  and go all out to understand – what was so precious to our Savior?

 

The author presents the very beneficial text and readings in six headings as follows:

I.               The Voice of History pp. 15-36

II.               The Voice of Religion pp. 37-54

III.              The Voice of Worship pp. 55-76

IV.              The Voice of Prophecy pp. 77-100

V.                The Voice of Wisdom pp. 101-120

VI.               The Voice of God pp. 121-142

 

There is then an Appendix that supplies ‘daily readings’ in each of these subject areas; pp. 143-208. I suggest that a pastor will be encouraged and equipped in his study of the Old Testament by purchasing and applying this material in his sermon preparation and personal study. This material will be very beneficial in establishing biblical literacy in the lives of the people a pastor serves.

 

In closing it would be profoundly foolish and heretical to discard the rich history and background of our faith by ignoring the Old Testament. Read it. Study it. Apply the Truths recorded in it to inform, encourage and equip God’s people. This title is a wonderful tool any pastor may use in that glorious task.

 

A testimonial regarding the value of this title in the life and ministry of a pastor.

I have lost count of the number of times I have read this book. Priceless wisdom and exquisite summaries of Old Testament genres, with the added bonus of Motyer’s wit and wisdom, make this a book a treasure in deed. ”

Derek Thomas – Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church – Columbia, South Carolina

Pastor Tom Fillinger

 

Expositors Seminary

 

Expositors Seminary is truly cutting edge in the Theological Training & Equipping of men for ministry. Those that attend and complete the required courses receive a full M.Div. in four (4) years complete with both languages. Students attend Tuesday AM through Wednesday at 2PM. The cost is $200/hour. The men attending are able to continue their current ministry and do not need to relocate their families. They have 9 campuses around the country housed in local churches. They have the most current technology which facilitates the instruction. Dr. George Zemek is the Academic Dean and one of the Professors.

 

I encourage you to go to their web site and examine what they offer. Their web site is www.expositors.org.

 

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 – - www.ignitues.net – - 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; info@igniteus.net or 800 472 3764.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Date in History

1774 – The British government ordered the Port of Boston closed.

BLOG – The Judgment of God

Read and respond. THANKS!!

Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “The Judgment of God“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

The Judgment of God

May 28, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Judgment is a recurring theme throughout the Bible (see Psalm 82:8). God’s plan includes a final judgment on the wicked and all who reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment for their sins (Matthew 10:15; Romans 2:2; Hebrews 9:27; 10:26–27). A cursory reading of 1 Peter 4:17 seems to suggest that Christians may face God’s judgment, too: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” Is the “judgment” that begins at the house of God the same as the judgment of the wicked?

The context of 1 Peter 4:17 explains more about the judgment that begins at the household of God. In this chapter Peter is exhorting the church—the house of God—which was facing persecution, to persevere. The believers were also struggling to separate from the former worldly sins that had once enslaved them (verses 1–4). Peter reminds them that the wicked will face God’s judgment (verse 5) but that believers in Christ must hold themselves to a higher standard than they once did. The “fiery trials” that they were facing were to help refine them like gold (verse 12).

God allows difficulties and suffering in the lives of His people to purify them. When we are persecuted for the cause of Christ, we share in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13–14). And when we share His suffering, we know Him a little better (Philippians 3:10). Paul echoes this theme in Romans 8:17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Part of God’s judgment upon sin is physical suffering. When His own children experience such suffering, it is not for our harm but to make us more like Jesus. “Judgment” for the children of God can be considered discipline (Hebrews 12:4–11). It is designed to purge the sin from our lives and teach us obedience.

A loving father does not discipline the kids down the street, because they are not his. A father disciplines his own children. Likewise, the discipline of our heavenly Father begins at His own household, with His own children, the church. He is reserving for the wicked an ultimate, final judgment that His children will never experience (Romans 8:1). Scripture makes a distinction between God’s purifying discipline of the church and His ultimate condemnation of the wicked: “When we are judged . . . by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32).

In this present age, God allows painful circumstances in the lives of His own household, not to condemn but to mature, convict, and bring repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Through suffering we learn patience (James 1:2–4). This kind of judgment is to encourage us to abandon selfishness and draw nearer to Him (James 4:8). The ultimate, final judgment for unbelievers will be eternal separation from God, from life, and from all that is good and beautiful (Matthew 8:11–12; Revelation 21:8).

The judgment that begins at the household of God also includes church discipline. Church discipline is not for unbelievers but for believers: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). Believers are commanded to take responsibility for other followers of Christ who may be slipping or headed toward sin (James 5:20). First Corinthians 5:11–13 commands us to avoid fellowship with anyone claiming to be a brother or sister in Christ but who insists on maintaining a sinful lifestyle. Jesus lays out the process for church discipline in Matthew 18:15–17. Someone who has been confronted multiple times and warned that the choices he is making are in opposition to God needs to repent. If he refuses to listen to the church, we are to turn away from him in the hope that this drastic action will bring about repentance (see 2 Corinthians 2:7 and Galatians 6:1). As believers, we are to pursue holiness and encourage each other to pursue it, too (1 Peter 1:15–16). We are to judge ourselves as God’s household (1 Corinthians 11:31). In this way, judgment begins in the house of God.

There will be another kind of judgment for all those who have been redeemed by God’s Son. Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (cf. Romans 14:10). This judgment for those who are “in Christ” is not to determine eternal destiny but to give rewards for godly service and faithfulness (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12). Jesus commanded us to store up treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33). This treasure will be revealed at the judgment seat of Christ. This glorious day will be more like an awards ceremony than a trial, because everyone present has already had their eternal fate secured when they were born again (John 3:3). Jesus Himself will give us crowns and treasure to enjoy for all eternity according to what we have done with all He had entrusted to us (Matthew 25:21).

God’s desire is that His people learn to walk in holiness and fellowship with Him (Romans 8:29). As any loving parent would do, God will bring unpleasant consequences upon His children for rebellion. He expects the ones He has redeemed by the blood of His Son to set the example for the rest of the world. If the church is not in pursuit of holiness, the world sees no need to change its allegiance.

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

*Tithe.ly for Ministry Support

* Book Review – Christian Ethics – Grudem

* Pod Cast – - Thrive

* This Date in History – America Launched

* BLOG – What Is The Church?

 

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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 info@igniteus.net).

 

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.

 

https://www.challies.com/articles/matt-chandlers-radical-reminder-that-god-is-for-god/

https://www.amren.com/news/2017/09/americas-changing-religious-identity/

 

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 info@igniteus.net.

 

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 (www.igniteus.net) 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 – - www.ignitues.net – - 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; info@igniteus.net 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

BLOG – What Is The Church?

Read and respond. THANKS!!

Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “What Is The Church“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/ 

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

 

What Is The Church

May 14, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return. The body of Christ is comprised of two aspects:

1) The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—what we call local churches. A Baptist church, Lutheran church, Catholic church, etc., is not the church, as in the universal church—but rather is a local church, a local body of believers. The universal church is comprised of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.

In summary, the church is not a building or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Local churches are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Characteristics of False Teachers

April 14, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)

There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That’s a matter of history. False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people.

In the same way Peter says, “There will be false teachers among you.” Notice the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There will be false prophets among you.” So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.

There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:

Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).

Authentic or Counterfeit?

How would you recognize counterfeit Christianity?

In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.

1. Different SourceWhere does the message come from?

Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different MessageWhat is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).

Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different PositionIn what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian “escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: “They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different CharacterWhat kind of people does the message produce?

The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

5. Different AppealWhy should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word. The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2:18). So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?”

6. Different FruitWhat result does the message have in people’s lives?

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is “like a spring without water” (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different EndWhere does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11). The false believer will experience “swift destruction” (2:1). “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21). Who are these people? Surely Peter is describing them in this passage.

Don’t Be Naïve

We must not be ignorant: “There will be false teachers among you” (2:1). So how do we apply this warning?

First, Peter’s plain statement reminds us that the church needs to be protected. Among the many wonderful people who come to through the doors of the church each year, some would do more harm than good.

They may seem the nicest of people, but they do not believe in the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ. We welcome such people, because they need Christ as much as we do, but we must not allow them to have influence in the church.

Second, skeptics will always be able to point to hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church. They’ve always done it, and they always will. One of the strangest reasons for not following Christ goes like this: “I’ve seen people in the church who are hypocrites.” So you will not follow Christ because some people who claim to do so are hypocrites?

The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, “Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don’t be naïve! Don’t miss what’s real simply because you have seen the counterfeit.”

Point to 2 Peter 2:1 the next time you meet someone hiding behind this excuse.

News Letter April 1

April 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition

 

* What Is An Evangelical?

* We Serve The Risen Christ

* Tithe.ly for Ministry Support

* Book Review - Biblical Theology

* Pod Cast – - Thrive

* IgniteUS APP Coming Soon

* This Date in History – Persecution of Jews

* BLOG -  What Is An Evangelical?

W

What Is An Evangelical?

 

What and Who is an Evangelical? What is the Gospel?  What and Who is truly orthodox? As the American Culture swirls in the grip of moral corruption and the decline of precise theological inquiry, these questions plead for an answer that has clarity and theological integrity.

 

About 1900 the evangelical community produced what came to be known as The Fundamentals. I have a four (4) volume set of books by this title in my library. This material was produced to counter the corruption of sound theology being promulgated by those correctly labeled as Liberals. The concerns of the leaders of the Fundamentalist Movement were validated in 1923 by the publication of Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. Machen’s book has long been a classic defense of the orthodox Christian faith against Liberalism. Published at the height of the Liberal onslaught against orthodox faith, Machen established the traditional teaching of the church on Scripture, God, humanity, salvation, and ecclesiology. The theology  he promoted is not only defensible but orthodox and preferable to those propounded by Liberals

 

In 1978 the Chicago Statement On Biblical Inerrancy was produced. It begins – - The following statement affirms the inerrancy of scripture, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God’s own word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians (??) and misunderstanding of this doctrine in the world at large.

 

Since the first century the attacks on orthodoxy have focused on The Inerrancy of Scripture and The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ. This onslaught has not changed to this very day. Once the veracity of Scripture is abandoned, those that embrace such a posture are on a slippery slope to apostasy. One need only look at the current condition of what historically have been labeled the ‘mainline denominations’. The links that follow provide examples of this scenario in the present day. I urge my readers to read each of these articles and discern the core theological corruption that each portrays and/or warns against. Forewarned is forearmed.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/belief-jesus-is-only-way-to-heaven-is-insanity-megachurch-pastor-michael-a-walrond-jr-says-221123/

 

https://www.challies.com/articles/what-counts-as-a-gospel-issue/

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/march/excalibur-conservative-underground-taylor-university.html

 

http://www.heraldsun.com/opinion/article206682209.html

 

Elaine Heath is the Dean at the Duke Divinity School at Duke University. Since 2016 she has promoted what she calls Generous Orthodoxy which is in fact absolute theological corruption. Beware of such Apostasy and the people that promote it!

 

The following link takes the reader to a list of eleven (11) titles that provide a path for your faith that is orthodox. The battle rages and the intensity in this struggle to preserve orthodoxy will only escalate as we go forward. I leave you with the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.(1Cor. 15:58)

 

https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/11-classics-every-christian-should-read

 

An additional source that provides insight into this struggle to preserve and serve with orthodox integrity. Evangelicalism Divided – A Record of Crucial Change In The Years 1950 to 2000 by Iain Murray.

 

We Serve The Risen Christ

 

Luke 24:1–9 (ESV) – The Resurrection

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

 

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 (www.igniteus.net) click on the banner labeled Online Giving and follow the prompts. THANKS to each one who gives! Appreciated!

 

Book Review – Biblical Theology

 

Book Review. Roark, Nick and Cline Robert. Biblical Theology – How The Church Faithfully Teaches The Gospel. Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2018, 158 pp. $14.99, ISBN # 978-1-4-335-5606-7, Available April 1, 2018.

 

This title is timely and makes a much-needed contribution to the current confusion in the evangelical community. Questions swirl such as ‘What is an Evangelical?’, and ‘What is The Gospel?’. This title provides clarity on both of these issues. This is one of the titles in the series produced by 9 Marks – Building Healthy Churches.

 

The church of Jesus Christ is a theological organism and ministry that is effective and honors Christ must be ordered and directed by theological constructs. In my ministry as a Consultant I encounter a host of principles that pastors and church leaders apply that have little or no foundation in the text or in sound orthodox theology. This title provides a refreshing corrective to such unorthodox and syncretistic corruption of the Gospel.

 

The authors are both engaged in ministry, Roark as a pastor and Cline as a denominational leader with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

In the opening chapter (The Need For Biblical Theology) Roark addresses a salient reality that pastors and preachers face today. People are missing the point. Biblical literacy is in precipitous decline. Words are symbols and when the listener has no proper understanding of what those symbols represent, the message conveyed by those words is lost. Roark offers the following to make his case.

 

When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates gave a book report about a story written by CS Lewis featuring four children, a lion King, a white witch, and a hidden magical land accessed through a wardrobe. I was mesmerized. So I purchased the Chronicles of Narnia for myself and read them with pleasure. But years later after my conversion to Christ, I realized I had been missing the author’s obvious intentions to point his readers to Jesus.

 

The chapter titles are:

1 The Need for Biblical Theology

2 What Is Biblical Theology?

3 What Is The Bible’s Big Story? Part 1

4 What Is The Bible’s Big Story? Part 2

5 Biblical Theology Shapes a Church’s Teaching

6 Biblical Theology Shapes A Church’s Mission

 

A weakness from this reviewer’s personal perspective – end notes rather than footnotes. A strength is the eight pages of Scripture references provided which is beneficial.

 

The appendix section (pp. 119-139) provides numerous correctives to faulty interpretive methods applied by ”Prosperity Preachers’ and other less than Orthodox pseudo theologians.

 

Roark provides a brilliant example in the conclusion that paints a portrait of where we are as a culture in relationship to hearing the message of the Gospel. He tells of a world class violinist, Joshua Bell. He played classical music in the Washington DC Metro Station for 43 minutes at morning rush hour. His instrument is a $3.5 million dollar Stradivarius violin. Yet, only a handful of people stopped to listen that morning.

 

The music played in Biblical Theology is of far greater value than those classical pieces that Bell provided. Yet, very few are listening. Theology was once accorded the status as ‘Queen of the Sciences’. It still is but few are tuned in. This title provides a genuine corrective to the message of the Gospel delivered by sound theology.. May the Sovereign God of the Ages bring the symphony of salvation to the USA and the nations of the world as shaped by the theological substance in this title

 

Reviewed by Pastor Tom Fillinger, CEO of IgniteUS Ministries.  www.igniteus.net. info@igniteus.net or 803 413 3509 (cell).

 

The Title to be reviewed in the April 15th News Letter will be 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me. Foreword by Dr. Al Mohler, Edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson. 15 Contributors and very beneficial.

 

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 – - www.ignitues.net – - 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; info@igniteus.net or 800 472 3764.

 

Be sure you go to our Web Site (www.igniteus.net) and listen to the Pod Cast for 03/27.. You will be encouraged to have and be a true friend to others in pastoral ministry.

 

IgniteUS APP Coming Soon – Stay Tuned! I anticipate this will be available by April 15th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Date in History

1933 :Germany begins the persecution of German Jews by declaring a boycott of Jewish owned businesses

BLOG – What Is An Evangelical?

Read and respond. THANKS!!

Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “What Is An Evangelical“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

 

Ten Year Trends

March 10, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

These Trends are posted by Ed Stetzer. I do not agree with everythin he has written (tcf)

3 Important Church Trends in the Next 10 Years

Christianity in the United States may look very different in 10 years. |Ed Stetzer

 

As someone who both cares about the mission of the church and leads a research organization, I watch the trends in the church and the culture. Occasionally, someone asks me to share some thoughts on the big picture, in the case of the North American context, questions related to “streams” of Protestantism.

Based on research, statistics, extrapolation, and (I hope) some insight, I notice 3 important trends continuing in the next 10 years.

Trend #1: The Hemorrhaging of Mainline Protestantism

This trend is hardly news—mainliners will tell you of this hemorrhaging and of their efforts to reverse it.

Mainline Protestantism is perhaps the best known portion of Protestantism, often represented by what are called the “seven sisters” of the mainline churches. Mainline churches are more than these, but these seven are the best known, perhaps:

  • United Methodist Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Episcopal Church
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • American Baptist Churches
  • United Church of Christ (UCC)
  • The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

They tend to fall on the progressive side of the theological continuum, but there is diversity of theology as well (Methodists, as a whole, are probably most conservative, for example).

Mainline Protestantism is in trouble and in substantive decline. Some are trying to reverse this, through evangelism and church planting initiatives.

However, this is an uphill battle and, as a whole, mainline Protestantism will continue its slide.

According to the General Social Survey (GSS), about 30 percent of Americans would self-identify (through their denominational selection) as mainline Protestants in 1972. Now they are down to 15 percent. In other words, based on the GSS, they lost half their people over 40 years.

Now, the GSS is not the same as membership rolls and attendance numbers, but it does reflect people’s connection. And, if that trend continues, the math does not look good.

Trend #2: Continued Growth of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement

The second thing I think you’re going to continue to see is the continued growth of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement. The Charismatics and Pentecostals have already won the worship war—most churches are now comfortable with what would be “Calvary Chapel” worship in 1980. They are in the process of winning the spiritual gifts debate concerning cessationism, a view which seems in decline in the next generation.

Yes, that growth has slowed in North America and the charismatic practices (both inside and outside of the movement) have also been tamed.

In other words, Pentecostals and charismatics are growing and influencing, but they also look a lot less like the Pentecostals and charismatics of a few decades ago.

Many in the movement are shying away from the oddities and excesses of Pentecostalism, while evangelicals are moving towards the theology of Spirit-filled and Spirit-led ministries.

I see both of those trends continuing.

Trend #3: Networks will Explode in Number and Influence

Denominations still matter—and they actually, for example, do most of the church planting in North America. However, networks are growing in influence and impact.

Ironically, some networks are going to become denominations (or denomination-like). For example, both the Vineyard and Calvary Chapel, some of the early forerunners of networks, basically function like denominations today.

Networks are predominantly made up of nondenominational evangelical churches. The fastest growing category in North America is nondenominational evangelicalism—so growth here is inevitable.

The future is less mainline denominations or flat evangelical denominations, and more nondenominational evangelical networks.

All of these trends have implications—some good, and some not so good. But, facts are our friends. As we look to the years ahead, we need to do so with discernment and hope about what God is doing in the world through his churches.

 

Can Ministry Effectiveness Be Measured?

February 25, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

How do you measure effectiveness in ministry? Among church leaders, the gauge has shifted in the last 20 years.

In the early 1980s, when I began observing ministry closely and editing a journal for church leaders, the prevailing assumption was that effectiveness equaled attracting a crowd. Leaders would downplay the eternal significance of counting “nickels and noses,” but increased attendance and offerings were seen as evidence of success.

“A healthy church is a growing church,” we heard repeatedly.

In the last 20 years, however, we’ve witnessed plenty of ministries that touch lots of people but leave no discernible mark upon them. Some pastors have confessed, “We can attract a crowd but not know what to do with them, other than invite them to come back next week.”

More recently, church leaders have been seeking better ways to gauge whether their ministry is faithful and effective.

ARE LIVES BEING CHANGED?

The most obvious indicator is lives that are transformed.

In a recent Christianity Today column (“A Healthy Cult”), Charles Colson provides a snapshot of effectiveness, in this case, in a prison ministry. Most prisons, he writes, are dirty, depressing places. “Men and women shuffle around listlessly with vacant expressions and their heads down. Anger, bitterness, and corruption are prevalent; one seldom hears laughter or sees signs of mirth.”

But in a prison in Newton, Iowa, the environment is different. There, after several years of Christian ministry, inmates “have a sense of purpose — people are busy with work or classes from early morning to lights out. There is little time for TV or lying around on bunks. They are building community, helping one another, and willingly obeying the rules.”

It’s a case of a culture being transformed. “The process begins when the believers band together in a loving fellowship, a “church,” really. Then they evangelize … Though in the minority at first, the Christian prisoners take biblical teaching to heart and boldly live it out. Others begin to follow their example and soon they reach a critical mass.”

In time the whole group, almost unconsciously, adopts different standards. Thus, Colson concludes, “we tend to evaluate churches by the classic marks: preaching, the sacraments, and discipline. But a fourth might be added: its impact on culture.”

Colson’s vision of ministry changing an entire culture is breathtaking in its scope. On a more modest scale, how can individual congregations monitor their progress toward that kind of impact, even if their entire city or county isn’t totally transformed within a few years?

DISCIPLESHIP BY THE NUMBERS

Here are vital signs that pastors are monitoring (measured in percentages):

  1. Pre-Christians in worship services and outreach events (start with a goal of 15 percent and work up).
  2. Church members trained in sharing their faith (25 percent and up).
  3. Worship attenders who are part of a small group for prayer/Bible study (60 percent and up).
  4. Church members who have identified their spiritual gifts and are exercising them in some way for God’s kingdom (aim for 60 percent and up). Such “by the numbers” approaches to measuring effectiveness are helpful, but some harder-to-quantify intangibles also help describe a church’s fitness.

HEALTHY ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS

Recently Leith Anderson, in a Leadership article (“7 Ways to Rate Your Church”), listed several tests of a healthy church atmosphere:

  1. Do people sense the presence of God here? “Experiencing the supernatural dwarfs everything else in rating a church’s atmosphere,” says Anderson.
  2. Is the church others-centered? Are people interested in new people, in what they need, and how they can help?
  3. Will guests see someone “who looks like me”? The more diversity of race, income level, and age, the more accessible the congregation will be to a range of seekers.
  4. Does the church manage conflict? What makes a healthy church is not the absence of problems but how problems are handled.
  5. Is there a sense of expectancy? Listen to how people describe the church. Is the primary verb tense past, present, or future? Healthy churches don’t focus on what God “used to do” around here, but on what God is doing, and on dreams for the future.

Ultimately, of course, we won’t know until we hear God’s “well done, good and faithful servant.”

February 15 News Letter

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition

 

* Actuarial Assessment For Church – Part 2

* Tithe.ly for Ministry Support $$  IGTAM

* Book Reviews – Crossway Publications

* IUS Purpose – Inform-Encourage-Equip

* Pod Cast – WKUL.com/IgniteUS

* Links to Beneficial Articles

* This Date in History –

* BLOG-5 Reasons Churches R Dying Fast

 

Actuarial Assessment For Church Part 2

 

“The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to stanch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.”
–David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), p.30.

 

In the February 1 issue of this News Letter we began a consideration of Actuarial Assessment of the church. In this edition of the News Letter we provide a partial list of  issues causing the decline of the church. We provide a proven process and resources that develop an accurate and clear portrait of the “life expectancy” of the church in which you serve. Facts are Facts. To ignore them is to cast yourself a victim of the issues that are rendering the church impotent. Intentional refusal to confront these issues will lead to  a church closing the doors sooner rather than later. Guaranteed.

 

What do we call people that have a serious life threatening malignancy yet refuse to seek treatment? FOOLISH – - and dead very soon! The number of churches with fewer than 100 in Sunday AM Services went up 9% from 2010 – 2015. There has been a 61 year unbroken decline in participation/attendance in the American church since 1956.

 

Please listen to the wisdom provided by Jim Collins, author of How The Mighty Fall. (All Pastors and Church Leaders would benefit greatly by purchasing and studying this book!) This is a study he completed on “Why some organizations embrace the change necessary to thrive and others die”.

 

I’ve come to see institutional decline like a disease – harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages; easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution (Church – tcf) can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall..

 

The following is a partial list of causal issues producing rapid and persistent decline in the American Church. If the church you lead has the majority of these issues it is already impotent and headed for hard times soon.

 

A Faulty Metric - Nearly ALL churches determine ministry effectiveness by numbers and activity. How many attend, how much do they give, how many did we baptize? This is due to embracing the wrong PURPOSE. The purpose of every church is Make Disciples! Just reading the bulletin in some churches will produce absolute exhaustion. The proper measure of ministry effectiveness is Transformation. Are people becoming more like Christ in Character and Conduct? Is there an objective process that equips people to measure with accuracy their transformation?

 

Demographic Age – The average composite age of many congregations is 65+. The ideal age of a healthy assembly is 36-42. When a church has an average Demographic Age of 65+ – their days are numbered. They may well close the doors in 3-6 years. Some will hang on for many years, but, they are impotent and ineffective. Yet, the refusal to focus on Transformation increases as the average Demographic Age goes up.

 

Absence of Conversions – Reliable research reveals that fewer than 5% of professing Christians ever share the Gospel with even one person in any given year. I challenge every pastor to systematically discover the reality of this fact in the congregation in which you serve. Pastors must both train their people and monitor their participation in the ministry of evangelism. Life produces life. No reproduction means ? ? ?

 

Community Connection – It is quite common in assessing the ministry of local churches to discover that they have little or no connection with the people and communities in which they exist. No connection results in no Christ-centered relationships and few if any genuine conversions.

 

Impotent Pulpits – “The broader problem is that a great deal of popular preaching and teaching uses the Bible as a pegboard on which to hang a fair bit of Christianized pop psychology or moralizing encouragement, with very little effort to teach the faithful, from the Bible, the massive doctrines of historic confessional Christianity”. (D. A. Carson)

 

Biblical Literacy – It is impossible to obey the Word of God when you have no knowledge of what God’s word says. Recent research on this topic reveals a continuing decline among professing evangelicals regarding a functional proficiency in applying Truth to life and ministry. Catechism 101 is a good place to begin.

 

Leadership DevelopmentLeadership is both caught & taught. When there are no leaders being groomed and prepared, it is not surprising that the church flounders for lack of Leadership. Credible leadership must be Modeled. Pitchers & Catchers are reporting to Spring Training in the next week or so. Professional Baseball has a strategic approach to discovering the next Sandy Cofax, Bob Feller, or Corey Cluber. They have a Farm System in which they prepare men to perform at the highest level. The church must encourage and equip men with competence for Leadership roles. Failure in this realm insures that the future of such a church is bleak.

 

Funding – Inadequate Funding is the cumulative impact of all of the above. When churches reach this plateau, several key factors come into play. They postpone or totally ignore facility maintenance issues. Major systems become inoperative. The aesthetic condition of the facility declines. They invest nothing in outreach and evangelism. They often reduce support for ministries outside of their own local church. They ‘survive’ by reducing the compensation of Staff. They become a poor imitation of what a church is designed to be and do. In this condition they disgrace the church and Christ Jesus as they flounder along in this pathetic state. Yet, their favorite theme is ‘We Shall Not Be Moved!’

 

Resource – Collins wrote an article titled The Silent Creep of Doom. This reveals the five stages of the death spiral that leads relentlessly to closure. I will send this to those who make such a request.

 

Tithe.ly For Ministry Support $$ – IGTAM 

A major challenge for every no-profit ministry (501-c3) is funding. Ministry is not money, but, it does require funding. We must generate additional revenue to fund travel as an important part of ministry expansion. When we are face to face with pastors and church leaders the prospect of them engaging the Leadership Development and Intentional Disciple Making Process we provide goes up exponentially.

This reality requires that we raise funds. We do this by appealing to people that believe in the value, importance, and Kingdom contribution of our ministry. They want to participate in the transformation of people and churches from cultural lethargy and spiritual impotence into maturing disciples and thriving assemblies. These churches grow numerically. Most importantly, people in these churches are transformed into the fullness of the image of Christ in Character and Conduct. That is the purpose of the church. That glorifies Christ.

Permit me to share a funding process employed by Clemson University. This simple process has raised millions of $$ for scholarships at this University. This has benefited many thousands of students. Read the following paragraph.

 

Originally, the letters IPTAY stood for “I Pay Ten a Year.” Begun in 1934 to give the Clemson athletic program the support it needed, IPTAY is now one of the most successful athletic fund raising organizations. IPTAY donors provide millions of dollars in scholarships for student-athletes and non-athletes alike. It also has provided substantial support for programs and facilities that help Clemson Athletics stay competitive in collegiate sports.

 

We are launching an important funding initiative for IgniteUS Ministries. This initiative is titled IGTAM = I GIVE TEN A MONTH. Most people reading this message can do this with ease. I once received this advice on Fund Raising – - “Never ask people to consider giving – - Ask them to give!” So, I am asking you to give – $10 a month. When each person receiving this message does so, our ministry, the pastors and church leaders we equip with leadership and disciple making skills, will be the benefactors. Churches will thrive and Christ will get the Glory! 

 

Here are several convenient ways to do this. Two of these are on our Web Site – www.igniteus.net.

 

1. On the Home Page click on the banner at the top labeled DONATE. Follow the Pay Pal Prompts.

 

2. On the Home Page click on the banner on the right labeled Online Giving. Follow the prompts. There is a process at this site that enables you to set up Automatic Monthly Contributions – very useful, simple, and user-friendly.

 

3. You may also mail contributions to IgniteUS PO Box 865 Cullman AL 35056. Thanks you for becoming a donor-partner in IgniteUS Ministries through IGTAM. Your greater reward will come from the Lord himself when you stand before him face to face. We believe the resources and encouragement you receive with each issue of our News Letter make this a very reasonable exchange. Thank You for being a faithful reader and a faithful leader in the Lord’s church. KUDOS!
Book Reviews 

Crossway Publications sends me pre-publication titles. I will write a review in the IUS News Letter of each title. I will publish a review in the March 1st News Letter of John Piper’s most recent title – Expository Exultation – Christian Preaching As Worship. This will be available in April. All those who love exposition and preaching will celebrate this resource. Piper makes a compelling case for the priority of expository and exegetically based preaching. This title will enhance your pulpit ministry and bless your efforts in this vital ministry. It will also cause you to rejoice in the privilege of preaching!

 

* IUS Purpose – Inform-Encourage- Equip

 

The ministry of IgniteUS was founded for the purpose of equipping pastors and other church leaders to lead with competence and excellence in every aspect of local church ministry. The purpose of every church is to Make Disciples fully formed in the Image of Christ in character and conduct. The persistent decline of the church in America is an undeniable fact. The vast majority of churches fail to measure ministry effectiveness with the proper Metric – Transformation. The evidence of regeneration is continuous transformation. No transformation should alert pastors to the probability that there has been no regeneration. Cf. the link below that addresses this issue. Are the pews filled with sheep or goats? Where you serve the Metric is?????

 

 

Pod Cast – WKUL.com/IgniteUS

 

IgniteUS began Pod Casting in January. These are posted on our web site every Tuesday. The content is a mix of resources for revitalization and interviews with Evangelical Leaders and pastors that have found the courage and stamina to embark on this risk-filled journey to ministry effectiveness. The radio station (WKUL FM 92.1) that broadcast my M-F and Sunday Radio programs is our host this for this endeavor. You will benefit by this resource.

 

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, developing leaders, all of which is to Glorify Jesus Christ. There is a banner on our web site – - www.ignitues.net – - 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. The address for the Pod Cast is www.wkul.com/igniteus. These messages are shaped by four factors. 1) Focus – each post will feature one single issue. 2) Theological Substance – our desire is that we provide information, encouragement, and equipping for ministry. 3) Just Plain Fun – it is wise and prudent to laugh and sometimes at ourselves. 4) Dialog – real communication is two-way. I want to hear from you; info@igniteus.net or 800 472 3764.

 

Here are some of the Christian Leaders that have agreed to participate in this endeavor and provide information, encouragement, and equipping to those who listen.

Dr. Don Whitney, Southern Seminary, Author and Professor.

Dr. Tom Ascol, Founders Ministries.(interviewed on 1/23)

Dr. David Wells, Gordon Conwell Prof. & Author of six titles from 1993 – 2014.

Dr. Nathan Finn, Prof. of Church History at Union University.

 

Numerous courageous Pastors who will share the truth about Reformation & Renewal in the local church – both success and failure. This ain’t for sissies folks! God can and will cause your ministry to THRIVE – - if and when you embrace and apply the ministry initiatives that the text requires for genuine transformation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to Beneficial Articles

This post by Thom Rainer fits hand in glove with the theme of this Newsletter.

http://thomrainer.com/2018/01/dying-churches-common-revitalized-replant-025/

 

This post by Tim Challies on music is excellent. My Philosophy of Music is “If it is not TRUE – DO NOT sing it! Tim agrees!

https://www.challies.com/vlog/how-to-choose-worship-songs-three-minute-thursdays-14/

 

This post by Thom Rainer is intended to be optimistic. You decide if his points are valid.

https://thomrainer.com/2018/02/nine-reasons-im-hopeful-church-revitalization-replanting-north-america-revitalize-replant-027/

 

A thought provoking article from Tim Challies regarding the distinctives of a Reformed Perspective. Read and respond.

https://www.challies.com/articles/themes-or-challenges-for-reformed-christians-in-2018/

 

Are your pews filled with SHEEP or GOATS? David Platt speaking.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_GDUZKuSOw

This Date in History

1798 The first serious fist fight occurs in Congress.

BLOG – 5 Reasons Churches R Dying Fast!

Read and respond. THANKS!!

Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “5 Reasons Churches R Dying Fast“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

 

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