Let’s Resurrect the Church
By Mark Barnes
Copyright 2017 Mark Barnes
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by Permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are from The Amplified Bible copyright 1965, 1987 by Zondervan Corporation.
Scripture quotations marked (WEB) are from The World English Bible WEB copyright 2012, by Edimedia di Fabio Filippi e C. Sas via Orcagna 66, 50121 Firenze.
This EBook is free because I use many quotes from the books of Theodore (“TAS”) Austin-Sparks’. TAS’ books are FREE on the Internet and at the front of each of his books, it says:
“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.”
TAS’ books have had a huge impact on me by bringing me to a much deeper and clearer understanding of important kingdom principles. Therefore, I have included quite a few important excerpts from TAS’s books with the hope that his insight is used for generations to come.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– What’s wrong with the Church?
– 20th Century Church Governance
– How to prepare for your own Church
–How to start your own Church
– 21st Century Church governance
– Educating the congregation
– Music and other ministries
– Overall aim
The church is very unwell. (Truth Decay, by Gary Bates) It is like a beached whale: still alive, but always seemingly close to death (e.g. McNichols, 66). If the church is not dead yet, it should be retired forthwith, so it can be started again from scratch. No use rebooting it because its hard drive is frozen in time along with the woolly mammoth it killed with boredom!! Unfortunately, the ineffective and moribund ^^1^^ 20th Century church has crawled over the line into the 21st Century with little change. Despite the efforts of realists such as Rick Warren, Paul Washer and Theodore Austin-Sparks (‘TAS’), the Church continues onwards and upwards to nowhere.
In 1968 TAS wrote that “… there never was a time when there were more divisions amongst the Lord’s people than there are today. This great work of schism is spreading over everything …”^^2^^ and way back in 1931 TAS said: “… we are living in Judges’ conditions today spiritually. There is a state of weakness and failure where the enemy is not cast out …”^^3^^ Leanna Fuller says “… conflict in faith communities is a ubiquitous feature of contemporary religious life …” (Fuller, 5). “… Hope and Wenger report that the stress of dealing with conflict is one of the two main reasons that clergy leave pastoral ministry …” (McNichols, 55; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3; Miller-McLemore)
In 2013 Rick Warren said “… when I wrote The Purpose Driven Church (in 1995), I predicted that church health: not church growth would be the primary concern of the 21st Century Church. I believe that prediction is proving itself true …”^^4^^ Try to start a conversation about Christ with Christians, and most of them look at you dumbfounded.^^5^^ TAS says “… That ought to characterize our coming together, that we are not only able to say that He is our Lord with one voice, but we ought to be able to speak of what He is to us personally in a particular way …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 106).
And this problem has been around a long time because in 1953 TAS wrote “… There is everywhere today an immense amount of definite or tacit admission of the failure of Christianity; the asking of the question: ‘What is wrong with Christianity or the “churches” …’” (TAS, Keeping Christ in View). In 1969 TAS wrote that: “… I am more and more convinced as I travel about the world that there is a very great need of recovering the true meaning of Christianity. Even Christians everywhere do not understand what they have come into. I believe that 90 percent of all our troubles are due to that. If we went to the Lord with many of our troubles and asked Him to tell us why it is we’re in this trouble, He would just say, ‘Well, this is just exactly what I told you; you have not understood what I told you’ …” (TAS, Right Standing With God, 15).
Although many Christians struggle to understand the Christian faith, you mention flowers in the church garden, priority parking, a bigger church building, or the annual church fete, and they are all over it like a rash.^^6^^ Guess what? I can teach a Boy Scout to do all that. With the assistance of the timeless insight of TAS, and the wisdom of dozens of other modern Christian authors (all fully referenced), I am going to do my best to bring the Church into the 21st Century, because at the moment the Church is like a light on a hill (Matt 5:14), but instead of producing the spectacular light of Christ’s glory, no one can see it because it uses energy-saving light bulbs!!^^7^^ It is supposed to be the salt of the earth (Matt 5:14), producing a purified Christ-like culture.^^8^^ But, instead, it is using sugar coated methods that are rotting the teeth of the Gospel, and covering it with layers of impenetrable fat!^^9^^ This includes ALL the churches I have ever attended, and I am sick of it.
People have provided wonderful formulas and books to help the Church, but no one is taking any notice. That’s why I am not going to pull any punches. I call a spade a spade. This book may upset many in the Church community, but so be it, otherwise nothing will change.^^10^^ In any case, I will ‘hide’ behind the Bible as my first line of defense against anyone who wants to lynch mob me!! The Bible urges Christians to “… consider how to spur (NIV) / provoke (ASV) one another on toward love and good deeds …” (Heb 10:24) Microsoft word synonyms for provoke include: irritate; aggravate; inflame; push; press; spur; goad. Now don’t try and tell me that they are not tough words.
Robert Martin says “… In word, action, and personal presence, ecclesial leaders (both individuals and groups) not only bear forth the image of Christ, they invoke/evoke/provoke the Spirit of Christ within persons and communities, such that they are more fully transformed by the Spirit into Christ’s likeness as the body and blood of Christ given to and for the world …”(Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 133).
The Bible does not say: ‘backslap’; ‘smile as if nothing happened’; ‘give each other high fives’; ‘do nothing and the Holy Spirit will magically make it all better’; (TAS, Spiritual Maturity 12-14; Tilstra, 50-51) or bottle it all up and create a big scene at the church Annual General Meeting (AGM). Provoke is a verb; an action word; a doing word. Elliot Grudem says “… The author of Hebrews reminds us that our perseverance requires encouragement from others (Heb 3:12-14). We need the continual provocation from others to do the work God called us to do (Heb 10:24-25) …” (Grudem, Pour it Out). So, if you are a pastor or experienced Christian, have you ‘provoked’ or ‘spurred’ on another Christian lately? If not, why not? So stay with me as I ‘biblically’ provoke and irritate a lot of Christians for their own good.
I left no stone unturned in my first book titled “How to be a Christian: A Beginners Guide” (HTBAC), and that book is tame compared to this one. Why? Because Jesus Christ considered His Eternal Church^^11^^ so important that He DIED for it.^^12^^ Jesus died for it not us. The mainstream churches have become stodgy institutions^^13^^ paddled upstream by play-it-safe bureaucratic administrative superintendents with no raw passion for Christ.^^14^^ Yet “… everything related to human destiny is bound up with the knowledge of Christ …” (TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 4). In 2007 George Barna said “… a quiet revolution is ‘rocking the nation’ … and adds that ‘scholars are clueless about it’. His research has revealed that there is a growing sub-nation of over 20 million people [USA] who are devout Christians but ‘have no use for churches that play religious games’ …” (Russell, 77).
Please help me prevent the 20th Century Church falling into the 22nd Century!! (Zscheile, 163-166, 173) Barna predicts that church attendance in the USA will decline but says “… there is an opportunity for ‘faith to become more real and personal’ and the Bible can become ‘a true book of life-giving wisdom’ …” (Russell, 78; 1 Thess 1:9-10). Michael McNichols is not “… promoting the wholesale deconstruction of denominational systems of government and strategic planning …” (McNichols, 73), but I am. I say it is time to completely bury this system of Church and build new churches on foundations made of raw passion for the things of Christ (Long, 35-36, 48-49; Matt 7:24-27; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). Martin says “… So much of leaders’ responsibilities have to do with communicating and living out an impassioned and vibrant vision, exhorting the community to faithfulness in its mission, and disciple-ing others …” (Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62; Long, 35-36; 1 Thess 3:2-5 AMP; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6 & 5:11-14).
TAS says “… The good foundation is Christ … as long as we have not grown together with the Crucified in the likeness of His dying, we can know nothing of a life of resurrection. Where there has been no resurrection, there may be some knowledge, but no life …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 67). The apostle Paul said “…For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection …” (Rom 6:5). “… Here is One [Christ] who, by reason of His self-manifestation and of the great work that He has done for our redemption and salvation, is worthy to have everything that we count worthwhile in life. That is very fundamental …” (TAS, The Foundations of an Exemplary Christian Life).
TAS says “… many good Christian people are absolutely in bondage to a traditional system … which is simply barring the way to spiritual revelation, and the Cross of the Lord Jesus represents the liberty in the spirit for God to lead into the fullness of His life and light. That is the whole purpose of the letter to the Hebrews … that the Lord Jesus had taken the place of the temple and the priesthood and the sacrifices and the ordinances … and the Sabbath was no longer merely a point of time but related to a Person; God had reached His rest in Christ … to know the Lord in life we must be free from the grave clothes of outward systems …” (TAS, Christ the Power of God, 69-72).
TAS says “… The Body, the Church, was never meant to be something in itself, but from eternity was always intended to be ‘the fullness of him that filleth all in all ’ (see also Zscheile, 170) … But how is it possible for us to fulfil it … to have its fulfilment and its expression in us? Only on the basis of the one life by the Holy Spirit in all. That is what gives force to the exhortation in this very letter to ‘… be filled with the Spirit …’, that gives the real meaning and value to the whole teaching concerning the Holy Spirit: the receiving of the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit; because only so can that which has been produced by the mind of God, concerning His Son, and which is to have its full realization in the Body of Christ, be reached. How necessary, then, for us all to live in the Spirit …”^^15^^
Way back in 1929, TAS wrote that “… The experience of the great majority of Christians is not that of constant victorious progress^^16^^ … there is a very widespread ineffectiveness on the part of the Christian body …” (TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 17) In my experience, nothing much has changed. But it has to change. More recently, in 1995, John Piper said “… the church is shot through with imperfections, lost sheep are still not in the fold, needs of every sort in the world are unmet, sin infects the saints. It is unthinkable that we should be content with things the way they are in a fallen world and an imperfect church …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader)
Yet, Donald Miller says that in North America there is “… a yearning for a transcendent experience of the sacred which conveys the self-transcending and life-changing core of all true religions … [and] people want to participate in congregations that place the expectancy of a transforming experience of God at the heart of the community’s life, worship and mission …” (Jinkins, 1, 20). I believe Australian Christians want the same: that is, to go to churches where the main focus is to help people become more Christ-like, and to keep Jesus Christ at the center of everything. The apostle Peter said “… in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy: acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord” (1 Pet 3:15). In paraphrasing David Kelsey, Robert Martin asks “… are the practices of leadership helping us to understand God and everything in relation to God more truly?” (Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 101).
Michael Jinkins says that since Seward Hiltner’s watershed book in 1958, there has been so much focus on dissecting and describing pastoral ministry and church leadership that “… What has sometimes been neglected … and, at times lost … is the … radical … theological perspective of awe and majesty and transcendence of God and the overwhelming and ultimate significance of Jesus Christ … “(Jinkins 3-6). Martin says that “… two interdependent themes have emerged as central to Christian leadership: a) an ecclesial leader is first and foremost a Christ-conformed disciple b) in whose life others encounter Christ and sense the meaning of the divine life in their own. That is to say, ecclesial leadership should not be understood as a category one puts alongside the category of discipleship; rather, ecclesial leadership is a special form of Christ-like discipleship …” (Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124). So let’s do something about this spiritual malaise.
I am not a recognized academic and my highest Christian academic achievement so far (year 2016) is a Certificate in Theology through Morling College, Sydney. But in my first book HTBAC, I list sixty academic books, and about three hundred academic articles that I have read and researched in the first eight years of my Christian journey. I also reference dozens of Christian TV Shows. And in the Appendices in this book, I have included a copy of a 822 word assignment I submitted to Morling College in 2012, and the assessment e-mail reply from Rev Dr Graham Hill (DipMinHHons, BTheol, PGCertTESOL, Cert1VTAA, MTheol, Phd), which was almost as long as my assignment!
This does not make me a genius, but I think Rev Dr Hill’s comments show, at the very least, that reinventing Christian leadership has been a passionate focus of mine for several years. I am a retired thirty-four veteran of the Tasmania (TPS) and Queensland Police Service (QPS). I worked at twelve police stations. I received a distinction for a Human Resource Management assignment in the QPS in the year 1999, which qualified me for the rank of senior sergeant, and I spent the last thirteen years in the QPS as a police sergeant. So I hope you think I have been some places, and learnt some things. So, fasten your seat belts and follow me as we try to resurrect and reinvent the Church!!!
ONE – WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CHURCH?
Christians keep on asking that ridiculous question: ‘Can the church have a revival?’^^17^^ They are wondering whether they will see the sudden mass conversions and breathtaking miracles of the early church we read about in the book of Acts (Bates, Truth Decay). Well, if you are actually asking that question, and you have been a Christian for at least five years, you haven’t studied your Bible enough, or you are not close enough to God, (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40).
Bishop T. D. Jakes wanted a revival in his church but says the Lord spoke to him and said ‘I don’t want you to have a revival until you have a funeral’.^^18^^ Paul Washer calls for a reformation (Washer 6-12). I call for a resurrection: that is, having every Christian fully crucified and living on the resurrection side of the Cross (McNichols, 73) as I explain throughout this book with the assistance of the timeless writings of TAS.^^19^^ If you ask a mature, devout Christian: ‘will there be a church revival’, they should automatically answer along the following lines: ‘Don’t worry about revivals; just ensure that you and your congregation are becoming closer to God through devout worship, prayer and knowledge of God,^^20^^ and leave the timings to God’.
In any case, we should not feel like Christian failures if we don’t see the miracles and mass conversions in the book of Acts. TAS says that God used those “… supernatural, extraordinary … phenomenal …” miracles and “… conspicuous …” events to let people know that He was establishing important spiritual principles through His Apostles (TAS, Life in the Spirit, 30-33). Therefore, God does not need to continuously repeat these extraordinary events over and over again. For example, Ananias and Sapphira violated one of God’s principles, and they died on the spot (Acts 5:1-11). TAS says, “… many … have done exactly the same thing through this dispensation and have never been smitten in the same way …”
But, as Clinton Parker says “… the community of faith as portrayed in Acts of Apostles serves as a model church and provides a narrative of the communal nature of Christian discipleship that fosters robust spiritual formation …” (Parker, 164). TAS says “… at the beginning of the Christian era it was the Lord Jesus Who was the one in view; engrossing, enrapturing; not fellowships or movements, but the Lord Himself. That was the day of power, and we have to come back there…” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 87)
Another ridiculous question is ‘what can we do about dwindling church attendances?’ This is like putting the cart before the horse. Build EVERYONE up to become great Christians.^^21^^ Then they will start to see everything from God’s perspective and they will focus on first things first such as placing Christ at the center of everything.^^22^^ TAS says “… and righteousness, we have been seeing, is just the reverse of that: no longer ‘I’ but the Lord, the changing of the center of things, from the self-center to the God-center …”^^23^^ Karl Vaters says “… when we put church attendance ahead of knowing Jesus, even chronologically, we can unintentionally send people the wrong message: that salvation is about church attendance …” (A Better Way to Invite People to Church: And to Jesus, by Karl Vaters).
You see, just hoping or praying or wishing for a revival will not bring about a revival.^^24^^ In 2004 Craig Van Gelder said: “The past several decades have seen a seemingly endless obsession with trying to discover strategies to help denominations and congregations become more effective or successful …” (Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 41). Yet, the answer is absolutely obvious to TAS who says “… If we want to be in the good pleasure of God we must make everything of the Lord Jesus. If we want to know why it was that God was so wonderfully with the first Christians and Apostles, the explanation is that they only had one Person in view, and everywhere at all times they were magnifying the Lord Jesus …”^^25^^
When Jesus instructed the eleven disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, did they wish, dream, mumble, grumble, gossip, complain, ponder and wonder if there would be a revival (Lk 24:49)? No: they (1) WORSHIPPED Him; “returned to Jerusalem with great (2) JOY; they were continually in the temple (3) PRAISING GOD” (Lk 24:52-53); and “they all joined together constantly in (4) PRAYER …” (Acts 1:14). Parker says “… the early church … followers practiced commitment to three disciplines: teaching, fellowship, and prayer … spiritual instruction was of foremost importance to church life …” (Parker 176-179, 184; Acts 6:4).
So the Bible gives us the ingredients for the recipe to ‘attract’ the Holy Spirit (Zscheile, 167): (1) worship (2) joy (3) praise (4) prayer.^^26^^ Therefore, the main duty for the corporate church is to motivate the congregation to become closer to Christ through (1) worship, (2) joy, (3) praise and (4) constant prayer (Parker, 161, 181-183). And that is the main point of this book: I believe the structure of the three main types of churches, prevents them from motivating their congregations to high levels of spiritual maturity.
But I go further into my reasons as the book progresses. And please read all the reference materials that I cite in this book. Most of them are free on the Internet. Joyce Meyer says the problem is that most people do not want to do the HARD WORK of constantly sacrificing their flesh^^27^^ to get closer and closer to Christ. Keep in mind ‘flesh’ does not only mean your body, it also includes ‘fleshly desires’ such as being “selfish … very self-centered, self-occupied, [and] self-interested …”^^28^^
TAS says “… We know Gilgal. It is the place where the new generation was circumcised; the place where the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. What does this mean? It means the putting aside of a life in the flesh. Speaking figuratively, it is about the separating work of the Cross. Here all personal interests have come to an end. Every personal standpoint, all holding fast to the ‘I’ is finished. Only where the flesh has been judged and the old man put into the grave, can God turn to us and make us co-workers in His plan. This is easier said than done. This sounds ‘edifying’. But it costs a lot. It costs that which we are. It costs our life … ‘if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me’ (Lk 9:23 ASV). “… What God has made us to be in Christ, we must learn to work out in daily life …” (Rom 8:12-17 vide Wilcock). If we want to be His instruments, if we want to be available for Him, so that He can have His rights through us, then let us come over to His side. Let us give up all our rights (1 Cor 15:31 AMP). This is the first step towards heavenly fullness …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 66-67; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought).
When a church has members who “… stay in in the flesh, there is no fellowship, there is no communion, you are all in bits and pieces, all flying at one another … but when you come to the supreme end and deepest work of the Holy Spirit, you find it in the oneness of believers. It takes the deepest work of the Holy Spirit to bring that about, seeing that we still have a nature that is an old nature. We still can be Christians, and yet Corinthian Christians … seeing the self-life is still lurking in some form or another, it takes a mighty work of the Holy Spirit to unite indissolubly even two believers, but to unite a whole church like that is something stupendous …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 33-35; Tumblin, esp. 71-73; Col 2:2, 3:5).
And what is the benefit of ‘unity’ among church members? “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe …” (Ps. 133:1-2 NIV; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16; Fielder, A Spirit of Harmony).
Parker says “… the term ‘fellowship’ conveys a sense of harmony and inseparableness created by the Holy Spirit … as the life-transformative instruction purged and purified their hearts, the people of faith developed a deep sense of life and allegiance to each other …” and “… when modern day congregants are committed to teaching, fellowship, and prayer and are experiencing the kind of corporate spirituality exemplified and enabled by the pastoral leader, they can anticipate some positive outcomes in their respective ministry environments in a similar manner to Acts 2:47 …” (Parker 180-184; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 58-59; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101).
TAS reminds us how difficult it is to keep our ‘flesh’ at bay: “… We may yet have to discover how utterly unfruitful and unprofitable we are, more than we ever thought, because this flesh is a ‘die-hard’; it takes a long time to really give up the ghost. It clings to its own ability to do something, and to know something, but nevertheless, however long-drawn-out that may be, and it may be lifelong, there is that from which it begins, where it comes home to us in some way which is a foundational thing, that the old creation is, so far as we are concerned, ruled out as unprofitable to God, and lies under His ban as a worthless thing. Have you got a cross in your history? Have you got a grave in your history? If you have not then you are dwelling in the shadows. You may get flashes and touches, but they will be fleeting, transient, coming and going. If you have a cross and a grave in your experience, in your history, the Holy Spirit has got what He requires, and it is blessedly possible for you to have the abiding of this risen life in which all these values are made good, and growingly good …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 157, 161)
TAS says “… the whole significance of the Roman letter is this. If we are going to know the life of sovereignty in the Spirit which comes in with chapter 8, we can only know it as we know the life of death in chapter 6. Dying with Christ: that is the way in. The message of the Cross is essential to sift out professors from possessors, pretense from reality, and it raises a very solemn and serious issue for many today. The flesh resents being crucified, resents dying …^^29^^ Romans 7 is the chapter of defeat and failure where ‘I’ occurs 30 times, but Chapter 8 is the deliverance because the word “Spirit” occurs 21 times …” (TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 24).
I heard someone on the Christian TV channel interview Noel Voce. Noel was eighty four at the time of the interview and had been pastor of East Fremantle Baptist Church since he was twenty four. That equals sixty years!!! He said the key to be a successful Christian is that Jesus Christ has to be the center of your whole universe.^^30^^ TAS seems to agree because he wants us “… to recognize that the Object with whom we are to be occupied all the time is the Lord Jesus Christ inwardly. Apart from that you have only spiritualized psychology; you have only developed in a new form the spirit, the natural spirit of man, and tried to bring him into a spiritual realm …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 84-85).
So, if you focus a lot of your time and effort on Christ, Christ will use the Holy Spirit to make you more like Him.^^31^^ The Holy Spirit cannot help Himself: His whole existence is to help produce Christ-like character in willing people.^^32^^ And willing people are those who keep Christ at the center of their efforts to become more holy. TAS says “… When Christ really captivates, everything happens and anything can happen … Christ had just captivated them [the Philippians]. They had no other thought in life than Christ. They may have had their businesses, their trades, their professions, their different walks of life and occupations in the world, but they had one all-dominating thought, concern and interest: Christ. Christ rested, for them, upon everything … it solved all their problems, cleared up all their difficulties. Oh, this is what we need! If only you and I were like this … captured and captivated … and become: yes, I will use the word: an obsession, a glorious obsession … when we are like that, we are filled with joy …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 74-76; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness; Rodin, 119).
And that is the primary problem with the Church: a lot of churches have forgotten that Jesus Christ is the center of EVERYTHING.^^33^^ Stop for a few seconds and really take in that word ‘EVERYTHING’. This means every single activity of the Church should be directly measured against how useful it will be in glorifying Christ.^^34^^ TAS says “… The house of God IS Christ …”,^^35^^ and “… for us our knowledge of Christ governs everything in time and eternity …” [and] “… the purpose of all God’s dealings with us is to bring us into greater knowledge of His Son…”^^36^^ “… That in all things He might have the pre-eminence …” (Col 1:18; TAS, The Rights of God, 63). George Harpur says “… We tend to think of eternal life as if it were a nicely bound up package handed over to us by God … but … eternal life is the knowledge of God … Life is not just having sins forgiven and the hope of heaven. It is that. But the real issue of eternal life is to know God and be known by Him. It is the relationship which matters …” (Harpur; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …, Foster, Life in the Heavenlies …, Madsen, Lessons From Joshua).
Yet most Christians have only limited knowledge of God. God said “… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge …” (Hosea 4:6). And why do Christians ask that ridiculous question: ‘Why are youth leaving the church in droves?’ or ‘How do we keep our youth in the church?’ Again, this is like putting the cart before the horse. Let’s use common sense first: It starts at home for every member of the church. The Church should ensure that NO member is so overburdened with church duties that they have insufficient time to spend with their wife and children. The family that plays together stays together (Rimm, Families that play Together … Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-26; Miller-McLemore, 115). Jentezen Franklin says too many Christians try to do something big for their church such as missionary work when they should be playing ball with their children.
But, as TAS says “… the fact is that parents can be utter for God, they can be the most godly, the most pious, and yet their children can be the most renegade. A strange thing, is it not? The disposition to faith and obedience is not in the blood …”^^37^^ Of course, you must do your best to bring your children up within a godly environment, but you must be mature enough to understand there is no guarantee your children will become Christians. But your daily prayers should include asking the Lord to turn members of your family into Christians in accordance with his timings, purposes, and plans.
As soon as my two boys were seven and four years of age, I moved from shift work to Monday to Friday dayshift. I could have earned about fifteen to twenty thousand dollars more per year by staying on shift work, but I kept my word to myself to spend quality time with my kids for the following reasons. I spent two years in the Tasmania Police Academy as a Police Cadet. I was aged 16 when I started. Five other cadets were sons of high ranking police officers. Four of those five got into all sorts of trouble from an early stage. It occurred to me that these high ranking officers had to sacrifice most of their family time to advance in their careers.
Therefore, I was quite sure that lack of family time impacted heavily on the development in the maturity of their sons. I never forgot that. Right up to age forty five I took one of my sons running training about three to four days per week. He was an excellent one hundred (100) meter athlete, and I did ALL the training with him. My other son wasn’t the sporting type but is very intelligent. When he was a teenager I used to read a few pages of an illustrated science encyclopedia to him at bedtime. I took my kids everywhere and told them every general thing about life. They stayed out of trouble and we are still a very close family for it. That is how you bring up kids. Julie Lowe says “… our conversations should reflect how Christ relates to us. We imitate Him by cultivating deep, rich, nourishing conversations with our children that build relational bridges …” (Lowe).
I said it takes time to become a fairly mature Christian, but it takes many more years of devotion to attain the fullness of Christ.^^38^^ I do not believe I have reached ‘fullness of Christ’, as I write this line, after nine years of devoted discipleship. This fact doesn’t worry me, because I am satisfied with my continual progression; but I mention it so that you have something to measure your own spiritual growth against. And I believe the test for fullness is two-fold: (1) you still have your ‘first love’ and (2) you have such a deep knowledge of God that you can explain major biblical concepts in ordinary language at a seconds notice. After all, we are all after eternal life, (1 Pet 1:9; 1 Jn 2:25) “… and this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent …” (John 17:3).
Michael McNichols says “… Our first love is the love of God …” (McNichols, 59). I believe this ‘first love’ displays itself in that initial excitement you feel when you first discover Christ in a big way; and when you just can’t put the Bible down: it becomes an addiction!!^^39^^ TAS writes “… ‘I remember concerning thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, how thou wentest after me in the wilderness’ (Jer 2:2) … That is what love will do. Love will go after its lover in a wilderness where there is nothing to live on. If necessary, it will die of starvation in order to be with its lover …”^^40^^ A little further on TAS says “… I cannot let your lampstand remain with a loss of first love …” (TAS, His Great Love, 69-71). TAS says it is when you are “… fully alive to the fact of how great grace there must be for such people (us!) to be loved in such a way…”^^41^^ Maintaining that excitement and awe of Christ is the test, I believe, of whether you are still close to God.^^42^^
And it is not easy. TAS says “… the peril is, even in your labor and in your patience and in your conscientiousness and your sincerity and all these works and lost that: the glory and wonder and amazement of being saved at all has been lost …”^^43^^ “… there is a lot of devotion and there’s a lot of labor, a lot. Yes, but what He is looking for is that TRUE heart appreciation of HIMSELF, what He has done, and what He has given …” (TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 76). Harry Foster says “… The people who live in the heavenlies believe in Church truth, they rejoice in election and justification, in sanctification and the sealing of the Spirit, but they focus their governing thoughts and their heart’s love on the Person of the Savior. He is their first love, and they must make sure to keep Him so … (Foster, Life in the Heavenlies). Romans 12:11 urges us to maintain our zeal and fervor for God. Paul said to Timothy: “… fan into flame the gracious gift of God [that inner fire: the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands …” (2 Tim 1:6 AMP). John Piper says “… The great quality I want in my associates is one of intensity. Rom 12:8 says that if your gift is leadership, ‘do it with zeal’ …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader).
TAS says it is easy to lose your zeal through “… familiarity and association with it all …”^^44^^ Do you think Jesus Christ showed a ‘reasonable’ amount of zeal for God’s house? NO: zeal for the Father’s house Him (Ps 69:9; Jn 2:17). Microsoft synonyms for ‘consume’ include ‘devour’ and ‘guzzle’. They are heavy words which lead me to believe that the words ‘consume’ and ‘obsession’ are synonymous in this context. The NIV says ‘consumed’: the ASV says ‘eaten me up’; in the BBE ‘zeal’ is ‘fire’ and ‘consumed’ is ‘passion’; and in the DBY ‘consumed’ is ‘devoured’. TAS says “… Elisha cannot be dissuaded or discouraged from being zealous, but follows his master Elijah, until he becomes witness of his wonderful ascension. This is what God must have in us to build on. There must be in us something of the zeal that inspired Elisha …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 65; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130).
Your excitement should be evidenced by a keen desire to pray, thank and worship God, and a constant desire to increase your knowledge of Christ through Bible study.^^45^^ Tim Clinton says that to maintain faith you must “consume God’s Word and follow it closely”. In my experience, this keenness should be similar to an alcoholic desperately looking for a drink of alcohol. Paul said “…To me to live IS Christ…”^^46^^ Your devotion to Christ must border on an obsession you have to constantly hold back from taking control of your life.^^47^^ This might appear to clash with the concept of remaining meek. But meekness doesn’t mean weakness, it means being full of passion for Christ but being kept in step by Christ, just like a rider controlling a horse by using the bit in the horse’s mouth.^^48^^ Look at the amount of effort even an experienced jockey has to use to hold a racehorse back until the start of a race. You should be like that racehorse.
Psalm 119:20 says “My soul is CONSUMED with longing for your laws at all times.” (NIV). It does not say ‘some of the time’: it says “at ALL times”. Psalm 119:97 says “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (NIV). Psalm 42:1-2 says “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God …” King David said “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water … (Ps. 63:1) … My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God …” (Ps 84:2). Sounds like a beautiful obsession to me!!
I only know these things because I have been both:^^49^^ a half-hearted Christian when I was young (1 Cor 15:2 AMP); and then a WHOLEHEARTED^^50^^ Christian when I came back to Christ at age forty-seven. And this keenness and obsession (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 28-30; Ps. 27:4 AMP) must come naturally, not forced. Just like alcohol drives the alcoholic’s passion for another drink, if you get very close to Jesus Christ and stay there, the Holy Spirit will provide you with that passion for Jesus Christ. It is like receiving an injection of spiritual steroids.^^51^^ Eric Alexander says “… The fullness of the Spirit produces a love of Scripture …” (Alexander, A Question of Priorities).
Jeremiah was tortured for speaking God’s truth, but he was so passionate about Israel’s sinning against God that he couldn’t help but shout out the truth even if he didn’t want to because “… my heart becomes a burning fire shut up in my bones. And I am weary of enduring and holding it in; I cannot endure it [nor contain it any longer] …” (Jer 20:1-18 via Brueggemann, 13). TAS says “… Those in whom the Spirit of God is at work find that although they may be in such a position as to be completely helpless and hopeless in the matter of knowing and understanding the Lord, at this juncture they find they have to know, they must know, they cannot just leave it there and give up …” (TAS, His Great Love, 6-7).
And, can mature members and pastoral team of your church describe the major biblical teachings in simple language, so that almost anyone can understand? If not, why not? I believe the major doctrines are (1) The Kingdom of God^^52^^ (2) Righteousness versus unrighteousness,^^53^^ and (3) Holiness (holy or righteous behavior / sanctification).^^54^^ TAS says: “… THE thing which, and which alone justifies, and gives meaning to any local company of the Lord’s people, is not the people and not their procedure, not their forms, but CHRIST! CHRIST is met, CHRIST is found. Anybody who is seeking Christ will find Him there and whether they are seeking Him or not they will meet Him if they go there. It is Christ! …”^^55^^ People are turned off churches if the church they walk into has no ‘vibe’ of Christ or they sense internal fighting. YOU, the church leader or leadership team, are responsible for ensuring that Christ is projected out through the church leaders in a vibrant and real way.
TAS says “… ALL ministry must have as its IMMEDIATE object, the increase and the building up of Christ in His people … not that it is interesting, informative or anything else …”^^56^^ and “… it is very clear that the 40 days were days of Life. Two men went to Emmaus, half-dead, nine-tenths dead, and they go back over those few miles as men who had been raised from the dead … there was Life coming in all the time in those 40 days … There ought to be Life in the assembly, in the church. That is a priestly ministry. If people do not get Life amongst us, we are failing in our real vocation … (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 148) for all God’s interest and activity with us, Christ is the first and the last. He is set forth, sealed, anointed, and there only shall we find an opened heaven …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 165).
Just after I came back to Christ at forty-seven, I watched Televangelist Benny Hinn on free-to-air TV on nightshift when I was working in a police watch house. Benny constantly uses the terms Jesus Christ, Christ and Christos all throughout his sermons. He is one of the few who does. Non-Christians (and even some Christians!!) would probably think Benny is bonkers, but it hit me in a wonderful way, because it taught me that Jesus Christ is at the center of the Christian faith and that we must keep Him there.^^57^^ But it still took a few more years before I was naturally able to link Christ to everything about Christianity. So, just be patient, and keep at it until it ‘clicks’ into place. I guarantee you it is a wonderful feeling when it does. TAS says: “‘Seek ye first His Kingdom and His righteousness’ … it means that you and I are to seek in the first place and at all times to be Christ-like … to bring the likeness, the nature and character of God into the situation…” (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46, 52).
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, Paul said: “… I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified …” In explaining Paul’s comment, TAS says “… The world is ruled out. The natural man is ruled out. The Church represents a perfect Divine order, and that makes demands upon all who claim to be in it and we find one fundamental demand right here at the beginning of this corrective letter: ‘I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified’ … here we touch the mystery of the very nature of the church. It is Christ from heaven, nothing of this world, Christ corporately expressed … the increase of Christ [is] the one object of the Divine Order …”^^58^^ and “… the Church becomes the vessel … of the work of the sovereign government of God … and the Church is the result, embodiment, of the Kingdom …” (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 36-37). But TAS warns that if your ministry does not “… provide for an immediate increase of the Lord Jesus, [it] is not the ministry of the Holy Ghost …”^^59^^
For me all of this seems to mean that the Holy Spirit will not assist a church in any activity not connected to an increase in Christ.^^60^^ TAS says “… if you and I are according to ourselves, according to one another, according to nature, according to the world, according to anything that is not Christ the Holy Spirit does not operate …”^^61^^ So, unless you think TAS had no idea what he was talking about, or you just want to stay at a comfortable half-hearted Christian state to keep that regular pay cheque coming (Greg Jones, 110), you had better do everything you need to make Christ the center of EVERY church activity, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.^^62^^
But, some Christian organizations look at it differently. Pastor Amy Butler addresses problems such as decline in church attendance by urging leaders to “… make it our priority to perpetually reframe the narrative from scarcity to abundance … when congregations speak in narratives of decline and death, desperation and fear, we are crippling our ability to think in new ways and take action toward the next expression of our lives together …” (Owen, Connecting the Dots Outside the Boundaries).
Sorry Amy, but I call that modern managerial gobbledygook!! I am not singling out Amy for any purpose other than the fact that when I typed “Church Health” into Google in November 2015, the “Center For Healthy Churches” appeared on the first page, and Bill Owen’s article was in there and mentioned Amy. You see, I like direct speech as opposed to spin. Compared to Amy, how did the Apostle Paul address the Corinth Church? He preached Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2), and he (Paul) “… planted, Apollos watered, but GOD was causing the growth …” (1 Cor 3:6).
So, there you have it. What is the right way to run a church? Amy says we need to think in “new ways”. Jesus said “I am the Way”. Why do you need new ways when “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever?” (Heb 13:8; Goff, 55-56). I understand that “… God’s mission is, paradoxically, changeless and ever changing … (Rev. 21:5-6) … It is changeless as Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega; it is also ever changing because it meets us precisely in our particular contexts for, in Jesus Christ, God makes all things new. These two complexities, discernment and context, encourage us to abandon our solution-oriented drive and to embrace the dynamic relationality of a life of faith. We are not called to a solution but to an approach …” (Forney, To the One Outside the Gate …, 56).
And, in my opinion, the correct “approach” is to hang on the vine, which is Jesus Christ,^^63^^ and He will, in his good time, show you how to “… reclaim … humanity back to relationship with the Creator …” in the context of your particular culture; your particular generation; your particular personality traits; and your life experience. “Happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is the man who finds [skillful and godly] wisdom, and the man who gains understanding and insight [learning from God’s word and life’s experiences] …” (Prov 3:13 AMP) “Get wisdom, get understanding …” (Prov 4:5). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Ps 25:9 AMP). “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.” (Ps 25:12, 14 AMP; Eph 1:17)
Amy says “reframe the narrative from scarcity to abundance”. Jesus promises ‘abundant’ knowledge of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 13:11-13 NIV and NLT) to those who seek Him; and, in relation to financial and spiritual abundance, 2 Corinthians 9, titled “God Loves a Cheerful Giver” (NIV) says that God will bless generous givers spiritually and financially.^^64^^ Amy says we are “crippling our ability to think …” Paul says “… do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind. THEN you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will …” (Rom 12:2; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 29-30).
Paul “… urged his readers to resist the influences of the world’s way of thinking and instead allow a renewal process to work at the center of consciousness and progressively make the whole life new …” (Parker 179) Parker says “… the early church experienced spiritual vitality, not because of gimmicky techniques, but because it focused on the priority of biblical teaching … and experienced transformation through personal follow-up study of biblical instruction that provided the direction necessary to conduct their lives in a manner that countered the world in which they lived …” (Parker, 179-180).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses terms such as “in Christ”, and, “in Him”, around 180-200 times.^^65^^ In this sixteen line article, neither Bill nor Amy mention God or Jesus Christ: therefore, they have not renewed their minds to think and talk like Jesus Christ: (TAS, All Things in Christ, 185, 192, 194) I believe they are conforming to the pattern of this world: in this case: ‘management speak’. It has been rained down on us, ad nauseam, since the early 1990s. Most people do not like management speak and riddles. The Guardian says the expressions: “… thinking outside the box … going forward … [and] let’s touch base … were identified as the top three most overused pieces of jargon …” (The 13 worst office jargon phrases staff love to hate, by Chris Smith).
According to TAS: “… Christian service … has come to be a realm in which all the acquisitive, ambitious, obtrusive, assertive, self-seeking, and numerous other elements of the natural man have been vented and taken hold …^^66^^ It has created a system in which human distinctions are the order of the day … We need an adjustment of our minds by a true spiritual perception of the real nature of service …” (TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 13-14; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-105).
I do not know how Amy’s organization puts its policies into practice. For all I know they might be very Christ-centered in their practical application. But, please be careful of the words and methods you use in Christian service because TAS warns us that “… it is possible to engage in service in connection with the gospel according to methods which may appear attractive and successful, but which are not in conformity to the will of God. The Lord gauges our service, not by its success, but by our faithfulness to Him … The fire will consume, not purify. Not the man himself is to be burned but his work, work which, figuratively, consists of wood, hay, or stubble, work that has been done in the energy of the natural will, rather than by faithful adherence to the instruction of God’s Word under the guidance of the Spirit …” (TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 53; TAS, The Rights of God, 38-40).
You can follow any advice you want, but Jesus says “… take up your Cross and follow Me …” (Matt 16:24; 1 Cor 15:31 AMP). Just keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. Preach Christ (Akerlund, 89-90). As Scott Hagley says “… The evangelist who preaches Christ is simply bearing witness to the decisive event in human history. In Christ, the cosmic reign of the Father has come even though it is hidden …” (Hagley, 67). Most churches electronically record their sermons, so there is a way to check whether your church is focused on Christ. Go back over a few of your sermons, starting with the most recent, and see if any sermon related every topic to Christ.^^67^^ AND make sure each sermon provides the congregation with practical examples to work on (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 6-7; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 129).
For example, at a church I attended, a couple of men in the ministry team were doing theological studies at university. This required them to preach a sermon at the church. One of the men preached a sermon on communication. He preached from the heart by including the fact that he knew he needed to improve on his communication toward his wife. BUT, at this level, an experienced Christian should be linking everything back to Christ (Akerlund, 89-90). For example, he should have said that Christ perfected the nine fruit of the spirit in Gal 5:22, and therefore we should pray to God using biblical examples of each of the fruit of the spirit to allow God to help us grow a Christ-like attitude, and that our communication habits will become more like Christ as we pray and study (TAS, His Great Love, 44; Motyer; 1 Pet 1:15-16).
He should have given real life stories from his work or home where he did not communicate properly and how he should have communicated in those situations: AND how he has improved his communication skills since then through prayer, Bible study and practice (Parker, 161-162; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life , 130). This is how the congregation learns to apply Christianity to real life situations. And that man had attained a high rank in the armed forces: surely he has some relevant stories to tell?? (Akerlund, 81-90) He didn’t tell one!! This indicates to me that he was not a Spirit-filled Christian. Of course, I hope him, and everyone on earth, actually reaches that level of fullness in Christ, but I want to point out the difference between a half-Christian and a wholehearted Christian.
Robert Muthiah tells us the importance of being a ‘storyteller’. He says that out of the three overlapping spheres of pastoral leadership (i.e.; implemental, relational, and interpretive) he puts most of his focus on “… interpretive leadership because it is arguably the most important sphere in connection with Christian practices …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 198). Robert says the “… interpretive sphere can be further understood by looking at Scott Cormode’s ‘Gardener’ model of pastoral leadership. The role of the Gardener is to till the soil and cultivate the plant … it is ‘the vocabulary that a minister plants in the congregation, the stories that she sows, and the theological categories that she cultivates [which] bear fruit when the congregation uses those words, stories, and categories to interpret their world.’ The focus of the Gardener is not on action, but on creating and pointing out meanings (which in turn inspire action) … such interpretive work happens through vehicles such as Bible studies, discernment groups, informal conversations, Sunday school classes, and preaching …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 194, 197).
If you are preaching to children, you should occasionally have a couple of kids volunteer to do a small play in front of the congregation on topics such as gossip and how to respond to gossip by politely refusing to get involved in it. Kids relate to this. They will remember these plays for years, possibly their whole lives. (Akerlund, 81-84) If we have the chance to teach kids, then we have a responsibility to not just preach and say ‘don’t get involved in gossip because it is wrong according to this and that part of the Bible’. There is nothing technically wrong with preaching like that, but a small play where we have a few kids starting gossip and spreading the gossip around, and then repeating the scenario showing how we should biblically respond to gossip, will teach them how to react in reality. Most people know gossip is wrong, even most young kids, but we have to go one step further and teach them biblical methods of dealing with it.
Jesus Christ is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of His Church. Jesus is the HEAD of the Church and Christians are the BODY of the Church. In our jobs here on earth, we have to take into account whether or not our line managers and company CEO will agree to a particular plan or project. And the project must be in line with the company’s main purpose. The church is no different. For any church sermon, church project or ministry, you have to be sure there is verifiable evidence that it will glorify Christ. You have to visualize that you are spiritually seated in heaven with Jesus Christ, just as the Bible says.^^68^^
TAS says “… That is what ‘in the heavenlies’ means: how things are viewed from above; not what they look like and seem to be from the earthly standpoint …”^^69^^ I like the way Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard de Chandin said “… ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience’ …” (Russell, 83). It is easier said than done, I know, but that is the wonderful, continual spiritual battle we fight day in and day out to become ‘overcomers’: bit by bit; little by little (Deut 7:22; 2 Cor 3:18).
If you are not constantly referring everything back to Christ when you preach or teach, you are not close enough to Christ.^^70^^ According to John Piper “… the goal of a good teacher is the transformation of all life and thought into a Christ-honoring unity …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader).^^71^^ TAS says “… our lives, in every respect, are to be governed by the interests of the Lord Jesus …”^^72^^ and “… He [God] has presented us with a Man … Any truth, doctrine, theme, subject which is not a revelation of Christ, and a ministration of Him, and which does not bring into Christ and make Christ Himself greater and fuller in the life, has missed its intention, has been divorced and separated from the purpose of God, and does not stand with God at all …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 218-220; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 38).
The problem is that being Christ-centered does not happen automatically when you become a Christian. Even if you are a devout disciple of Christ, it still takes several years, in my case about eight years of continual devotion, before Christ just naturally becomes the center of your whole thinking. And after eight years, I believe I still need at least a couple more years for some of the major doctrines of God to soak in fully. And whose fault is that? The churches I attended. They had five years to teach me the three basic doctrines yet I cannot remember ONE sermon, or Bible study about them. I did not come across succinct, understandable explanations of these three doctrines until I found them in Theodore (TAS) Austin-Sparks books in year 2015: EIGHT YEARS into my Christian journey. This simply should not happen to any Christian. Is it any wonder I am not happy with the modern church. That is why I am writing this book: I want to radically change Christianity as soon as possible from lukewarm to on fire.
If Christ-centeredness has not yet ‘clicked’ with you, just keep going until it does. (TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 86) And don’t give up until it does. But, on the other hand, just because you have been a Christian for twenty years doesn’t mean you are automatically close enough to Christ.^^73^^ Christ-centeredness doesn’t just automatically ‘click’ into place after a certain amount of time that you have been worshipping Christ. TAS says he developed great knowledge of the Bible over many years, and was a church preacher and biblical teacher, but eventually realized that he didn’t have Christ ‘in him’: it was head knowledge or intellectual knowledge.^^74^^ There is a big difference between knowing Christ as an ‘external’ savior who is on the ‘outside’ of you, as opposed to getting Christ on the ‘inside’ of you.^^75^^ TAS says “… the Lord does not accept our head knowledge of Christianity and all its aspects. The Lord does not accept all our informed mind about the church and the cross and what not. The Lord looks right into our hearts, and says, ‘How much have I got of you? How much are you still holding on to your own way and your own will, you own course and your own program and your own interests? I do not ask how much you have got into your head, but how much have I got of your heart …” (TAS, The Foundations of an Exemplary Christian Life; 1 Thess 1:9-10).
TAS says “… no amount of natural, accumulated, studied knowledge can touch spiritual things. There is value in Bible study … but … though you know your Bible throughout … that will get [you] nowhere when [you] come to deal with spiritual things … I have got to have something extra to that: a spiritual understanding, spiritual knowledge. Something has got to come from God by way of illumination and revelation into my own heart concerning God’s thoughts in this Book … your really vital training will be practical, in the spiritual realm … on the basis of the Cross … Bible knowledge and all that kind of thing is … in a sense, indispensable foundation and addition, but the thing is to know the Lord … knowing Him as your influence …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 26-28, 31; TAS, The Rights of God, 67).
I think a lot of it can be put down to lack of understanding. I believe there are millions of Christians who genuinely believe that once you put your faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit automatically makes you more Christ-like over a period of time. I am convinced that this is incorrect (TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 12-14). I know the Bible says that we are “saved by faith, not by works” (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 3:27-28, 11:6), but in this context ‘works’ means religious works such as sacrificing animals and obeying the Ten Commandments for the sake of trying to please God.^^76^^ That is religious ‘works’. But under the New Covenant, we are considered to be in right standing (legally righteous) with God if we genuinely put our faith in Christ.^^77^^
But then we start the lifelong journey of making a continual and reasonable^^78^^ ‘effort’ of becoming holier and more and more transformed into the image and likeness of Christ by working on the fruit of the Spirit^^79^^ ‘Effort’ can mean ‘work’ but in the context of the book of Romans I believe ‘effort’ means constantly doing what the eleven disciples did when they waited at Jerusalem for Pentecost. Their ‘work / effort’ consisted of “(1) WORSHIP … great (2) JOY … continually in the temple (3) PRAISING GOD” (Luke 24:52-53); and “… joining together constantly in (4) PRAYER …” (Acts 1:14; Parker, 161; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua). So, to use modern English, you could say they ‘worked’ on their faith in Christ by making an ‘effort’ towards God. Harry Foster says that “… By constant use of the verbal form which is translated ‘Let us …’ the writer [of Hebrews] entreats us to be resolutely active in our Christian growth … we have been born by reason of God’s will, but we will not grow up into that will without constant effort on our part …” (Bringing Many Sons to Glory).
2 Peter 1:5-8 says “For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly affection … for as these qualities are yours and are increasing … they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (AMP). See the difference: ‘works’ in the Old Testament referred to religious duties and activities, whereas ‘work’ in the New Testament means making a continuous ‘effort’ to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1).
For example, in my first book HTBAC, I explain that to become more Christ-like we should work on the fruit of the Spirit, namely, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control”.^^80^^ Please make the ‘effort’ to find examples of those nine fruit of the Spirit and pray those examples to God asking Him to help you produce these fruit of the Spirit. This obviously takes effort, but it is not ‘work’ or ‘works’ in the Old Testament sense. And you keep praying daily to God about these fruit of the Spirit for months if necessary, until you are sure you have grown sufficiently in this area of your life that you are confident you can replace prayers about the fruit of the Spirit for something else. I don’t care how long you have been a Christian; if you are still a bit angry, or lack patience; start praying for the fruit of the Spirit daily until you notice significant improvement in your behavior.
Christians who aren’t totally devoted to Christ may never reach the point of being Christ-centered. But pride will cause them to take offense at any suggestion that they are not fully indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Please do not be offended. Be careful because pride hides. Please don’t automatically think that because you are a Christian, your pride instantly goes away. It doesn’t. You will fight pride for most of your life. TAS says: “… oh, how subtle are our hearts. You and I perhaps are ready to be utterly for the Lord. We mean well, and we mean it thoroughly … and yet, God knows that we are all the time defeated in our very sincerity by secret motives, and nothing but a test position can prove whether we actually mean it … it [pride] is there, it is always there, it is always present: some form of self-congratulations …”^^81^^
Pride is what caused Lucifer to think he was more important than the Son of God.^^82^^ Imagine truly believing that you could run the universe as well as God? It almost sounds unbelievable, but Lucifer’s actions show how tragically deceptive pride is.^^83^^ And Lucifer’s punishment: banishment from heaven; renamed as Satan or the Devil; and eternal damnation in Hell. TAS says “… but it is the question … of God being all in all, the Lord being Lord, and there being no other lordship: the lordship of our will, our likes, our dislikes, our preferences, our prejudices, our selectiveness, and all that belongs to us: that rises up and disputes the place and way and will of God …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 60).
So please humble yourself before God daily by praying to Him to prevent pride creeping in and taking over (Ps 26:2 AMP; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is all about ATTITUDE.^^84^^ “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit … it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart…” (Heb 4:12 AMP) You cannot fail if your DAILY attitude is something like this: ‘I know I have a Masters in Divinity and have been a pastor for twenty years, but EVERY day I am going to presume that I still don’t know enough about Christ, and pray to God to keep my pride under control.’
Unless that is your attitude, you have pride, and it is hiding. And this is extremely dangerous because you can become the Devil’s playground without fully realizing it. Poul Madsen says there were many false prophets in the Old Testament who “… did not seem to have been conscious deceivers but they themselves believed what they said … we can argue for what we think is right as though it were God’s truth, whereas actually it comes from our own deceitful hearts. Mankind has fallen so deeply into deception that it is all too possible for any of us to be false without knowing it. Only true humility can save us from that … (1 Kings 22:11) … now the false may not be a deliberate deceiver, but can be led astray by his own ideas or impulses … (Jer 23:21-22) …” (Israel’s Prophets). TAS says that when the Thessalonians listened to Paul preaching, “… their minds and hearts were free from prejudice … they were open in heart from the outset … and that created a capacity for discerning what was of God … if you entertain prejudice, if you have already judged it, if you have already come to a fixed position … you have already sabotaged the work of the Holy Spirit, and you will never know if the thing is of God … you must … [have] this attitude: ‘Now, if there is anything of the Lord … I am ready for that, no matter through whom it comes, how it comes, where it comes …’” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 93-95).
TAS says “… the true child of God is not self-assertive, does not keep himself or herself in view, does not put on airs to attract attention,^^85^^ is always seeking as far as possible to be hidden in the Lord and to keep Him in view.^^86^^ The Lord is everything and such a sense maintains a true humility … the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price … (1 Pet 3:4; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …) that is the church. These things can be felt, can be sensed, can be discerned in the 40 days, and they are great elements in the making of the church, and they tell us what the assembly ought to be; the assembly is only the aggregate of the individual; the assembly can never be more than its individual members are …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 115, 161).
That was the very attitude of the great Apostle Paul.^^87^^ If you chop up your pride like Paul did, you will be willing to consult with others even if you are considered an expert in your field. One way to do this is to continually talk about your view on Bible doctrines with other Christians. For example, if you are preparing a sermon on the topic of ‘righteousness’, talk it over with other Christians and let them read your sermon outline, even if you think you are one hundred per cent correct. Then ask for their input. And if their input is good, thank them, then include it in your sermon and mention their input to the congregation.
And we should educate each other by ensuring we tell each other about our sources of information. For example, if someone gives you their view on the sermon topic, ask them what their source is in case you are unaware of that source: for example, a particular book. Then you can check that source book out and this way you learn about each major biblical topic from many different angles (Jinkins, Leadership and Theory …, 209). When you start your own church, ensure everyone can check out your sources, and encourage them to read your source books. John Piper says “… Everyone should be involved in ministry. Everyone should be seeking to lead others to the point where they bring glory to God by the way they think and feel and act …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader).
For example you could place a ‘Recommended reading’ tab on your Church Website. And after you start your full-time church, remind the congregation every now and then to check out your recommended readings on the church Website. This is how you should pastor a church: always encouraging and educating. Technically there is nothing wrong with just creating and updating your recommended readings, but YOUR main job as a pastor is to ensure progressive increase in your congregation.^^88^^ But just setting and forgetting your recommended readings is depriving your flock of essential learning.
If one of your congregation wants to know more about a biblical topic, depending on the circumstances and time constraints you can discuss the topic with them and then encourage them to read your recommended readings relative to that topic; then catch up with them later on and go through the topic with them by discussing what they have read. I have found dozens of excellent and educational books by TAS (Theodore Austin-Sparks) FREE on the Internet since year 2012. Recommend that the person read those FREE books first. Then encourage that person to get together with you or a Bible study group after reading them to discuss and round off their learning of that topic. If that person has the means and Internet connection but does not read the FREE books, then you know that person is not (yet) sufficiently devoted to Christ to absorb any extra education outside of sermons and Bible study groups.
You can easily tell if a person is Christ-centered, because they cannot help but bring almost every Christian topic back to Christ.^^89^^ TAS says “… we are miserable if we cannot talk about Jesus Christ, if there is no place for Him …”^^90^^ You can hear, feel, sense and see their depth of devotion towards Christ.^^91^^ If you don’t believe me, TAS says “… the Holy Spirit is committed to one end … to fill all things with Christ. And if you want to know what it means when it says: ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ … you can see by the effect. They simply talked about the Lord Jesus: they preached Christ. Everywhere they went it was Christ; they were bringing Christ with them wherever they went. As far as they were allowed, as far as consent was given and openness of heart was provided, they so to speak ‘filled’ people with Christ …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 27).
Are you and your church members eager to talk about Christ? Or is everyone happy doing what non-Christians do: gossip, whine, and tell each other how hard their miserable lives are!!! TAS says “… naturally, we may be inclined to be rather miserable people: always taking a miserable view, always going down in the dumps. Now, when the Holy Spirit takes charge of us, the miserably inclined people become joyful^^92^^ … when you begin to feel miserable about yourself, repudiate it^^93^^ … are you in just the same spiritual position today as you were [10, 20, 30 years ago] Well, that would be a miserable existence! You ought to be moving with the Lord continually, and moving with the Lord means coming into an ever-growing experience of the Lord, and growing in knowledge of the Lord^^94^^ … oh, how difficult it is to get a lot of Christians to forget themselves. They’re just about as miserable as anybody could be but they’re always hugging their miserable selves. They seem to love to talk about their misery … you can’t get them to give it up. They almost love to be miserable …” (TAS, Right Standing with God, 20).
TAS tells us that “… The Cross, rightly apprehended, is a wonderful delivering power from all littleness; from our poor, miserable, contemptible, little selves^^95^^ … fellowship is essential … indispensable (Parker, 161). It is a principle of growth. You will be greater or smaller in your measure of Christ according to your recognition and observance of that principle. But, mark you, it is not artificial, it is not institutional, it is not something that we organize: it is organic, it is by life and by love (Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19) … it comes from Christ within. Paul put his finger upon that very thing in the church in Corinth, when he found rival circles there … no wonder then, that we find a poor, mean, miserable measure of spiritual growth at Corinth at that time. Thank God, we have another side to the story later on. They evidently got over it, on the basis, the principle, of the Cross …”^^96^^
Now, I am not angry at individual Christians who are not Christ-centered even if they have been worshipping Christ for many years, because I believe a whole generation or possibly several generations of Christians have not been taught the Gospel of Christ deeply and thoroughly enough.^^97^^ TAS says this was a problem when he wrote about it in 1931.^^98^^ And I claim the problem is just as bad as I write this in 2016. That is 85 years people. That is close to one century. That is why I am kicking and screaming at you from this book: I hope you agree that 85 years is way too long. You see, if Christians are taught and led by Christ-centered, Spirit-filled Christians, they will also become Christ-centered, Spirit-filled Christian leaders: it is contagious.^^99^^ TAS says “… leadership is essentially a matter of the gift and power of inspiration: a contagious influence, an emanating spiritual energy, and a potent example …”^^100^^
Sally Dyck says that “… leadership requires courage, and courage is fueled by imagination … imagination isn’t something that spins mythical tales, but imagination is really vision: the ability to see beyond what is and what can be through the presence and power of God … the ancient prophets imagined what could happen if things continued the way they were going (in a bad way), and also what God’s preferred future would be for the people …” (Dyck, 127).^^101^^ TAS says “… when the Lord Jesus is in His right place, the life of the child of God is secured, is established, is confirmed, and grows; there is spiritual growth and maturity … this growth in spiritual intelligence and understanding … is coming about because Jesus has such a large place …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 86-87).
Therefore, I believe the spiritual malaise in the 21st Century Church has been caused, at least in part, by several generations of Christians who may be unaware that they have NOT reached Christian maturity. TAS says “… the spiritual meagerness, smallness, poverty, and consequent weakness of very many of God’s people is a crying tragedy today …” (TAS, Leadership, 61) and “… The true Christ, the Christ of God, the Christ of Scriptures, the Christ of eternity, the Christ of the incarnation, the Christ of the earthly life and teaching and miracles, the Christ of Calvary, the Christ of resurrection, the Christ of ascension, and the Christ of coming again, may all be present in an intellectual way. It is possible to be like that, even as an assembly of what is called the church. It may be in a mystical way, an artistic way, but not have Christ present in a living, spiritual way. The church is not that, and the assembly is not that which is Christ present after this manner. It is that in which Christ is spiritually, livingly present as truly in Person as He was here in the days of His flesh …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 94).
It takes hard work to become fully indwelt with the Holy Spirit^^102^^ because God says you will only find Him if you DILIGENTLY seek Him (Heb 11:6). Microsoft synonyms for ‘diligent’ include: hard work; assiduous; industrious; and meticulous. In my Christian experience this means hard work over a long period of time, not just a couple of months.^^103^^ But it doesn’t include working diligently on church administrative duties to the detriment of your daily walk and daily growth in Christ. Paul said to Timothy “… devote yourself to … preaching and to teaching … practice and work hard on these things; be absorbed in them [completely occupied in your ministry], so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself [concentrate on your personal development], and to your teaching …” (1 Tim 4:13-15 AMP). So, please understand that I just want to give every Christian a jolt and motivate them to seek Christ harder than ever before (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50).
Therefore, when you start your own church, you should not just preach from the Bible for the sake of it; or operate home groups just for Christians to keep in touch.^^104^^ No: every time you preach you should be aiming to teach every person in the congregation how to get closer to Christ, (Akerlund, 89-90; Parker, 161) just like I do in my first book HTBAC.^^105^^ Dwight Zscheile says “… Christian leadership is not ultimately for its own sake, but so that the world may see and know the love of God in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit …” (Zscheile, The Trinity …, 62). According to John Piper: “… Col 3:17 says, ‘Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.’ 1 Cor 2:16 speaks of the spiritual man as having the mind of Christ. A spiritual leader knows that all of life, down to its smallest detail, has to do with God …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). After all, Al Fasol says that “… preaching is the declaration of God’s good news of redemption in Christ …” (Fasol, Christian Leadership – The Church).
And, yes, home groups and Bible study groups are important for Christians to support and care for each other, but the church MUST ensure that at every one of these meetings there is proper teaching about Christ that will make each person and the church more like Christ.^^106^^ TAS stresses how important spiritual growth is among the church: “… It seems to me that the New Testament assumes that increase, along the line of expansion, that is, the adding to the church, comes by spiritual increase in the church along the line of spiritual growth amongst the Lord’s people … It would almost seem that the church has forgotten this. In a very considerable circle there is a great concern for the evangelism side of the church’s life and work … but so often … the essential background of that work is overlooked, namely, an indispensable building-up and teaching ministry. (Akerlund, 88-89; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25; 2 Tim 2:2) The result is that the church is seeking to move out to meet the world situation with inadequate spiritual resources, and is very largely weak in face of the difficulties, and the results are of such a character as hardly to be an expression of the real power of God and fullness of Christ …”^^107^^
TAS also says “… what weighs with me is not whether my movement is successful, whether I am getting a lot of followers, whether there are all the manifestations outwardly of success; what weighs with me is the measure of Christ in those with whom I have to do … Christ formed in you, that is my concern … not extensiveness, not bigness, not popularity, not keeping in with the world so that it is said that his is a successful ministry, and a successful movement. That is worldliness. I am dead to all that. I am crucified with Christ to all that … the thing that matters is Christ, the measure of Christ in you. You see how the world can creep in, and how worldly we can become almost imperceptibly by taking account of things outwardly; of how men will think and talk, what they will say, the attitude they will take, of the measure of our popularity, the talk of our success …”^^108^^ Please read these two articles by Karl Vaters to see the danger of becoming obsessed with growing a big church: If It’s Okay for a Church to Be Small, Why Do I Feel So Bad When It Is? and Perry Noble, NewSpring Church and Our Obsession with Numbers.
In our time (2016) I have noticed that not many Christians are being taught the elementary facts about God, especially Genesis. Therefore, many Christians have swallowed the concept of evolution by easily agreeing that each ‘day’ of Creation in Genesis could mean long periods of time. Genesis is the first book in the Bible and its opening line is: “In the beginning, GOD …” So, if God is the beginning, we have to learn everything about HIM first. (Akerlund, 91-92) TAS says: “… The church is not an assemblage of people; a congregation; a society of those who have given an assent to certain creedal statements or doctrinal expressions. The church is the living, experiential embodiment of a Life. The church is the expression of a spiritual state, a spiritual condition … we are the House of God only on condition that a certain spiritual state obtains, and the House of God, the church, does not exist if that spiritual condition does not obtain …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 38-39).
I will give you a few personal examples of little things I believe make churches seem more like clubs or societies:
EXAMPLE NUMBER 1: ‘Eddie the edge-trimmer’:
I love this one. It is not a gigantic deal in itself, but shows how woeful some churches are. I volunteered to mow the large grounds of a church I attended. One day, I was asked to purchase a petrol-operated edge-trimmer with church money. I was asked to buy a fairly basic one. The purchase went okay, and I used the edge trimmer whenever I needed to. One day, another member of that church asked me whether I thought the church should have purchased a bigger edge trimmer. I didn’t want to get involved in gossip or an argument, and after decades of witnessing death, anger and destruction as a police officer, small stuff just does not interest me. So I replied that I had no problems with the edge trimmer, and that I didn’t take part in the decision process; I just purchased what I was asked to. Now, I never heard any more about it, but you can easily conclude that members of the church came to know about the purchase, but then they wondered whether a small edge trimmer was good enough value for money for a large church allotment.
This problem should never have happened in the first place: not in the House of God. This method was never going to bring any glory to Christ because it caused at least a small amount of dissension and rumor.^^109^^ And I don’t think a fully Christ-centered Christian would give a hoot about an edge-trimmer. (Devil 1 … Church 0). How SHOULD this have been done? Church officials should have asked for somebody to donate an edge trimmer to the church. The announcement should have included THOROUGH teaching that generous giving such as this results in spiritual and material growth for the giver and the Church according to 2 Corinthians 9. Then, if anyone in the church thought that the ‘donated’ edge trimmer was too small for the job, they can be politely reminded that they are free to donate a bigger edge trimmer and also reap the rewards of sowing generously in accordance with 2 Corinthians 9. This option means (Church 1 … Devil 0). Gee, that was difficult to work out wasn’t it Christians? But, you keep on doing it your 20th Century way church people, because the Devil loves getting an easy laugh at the expense of the church.^^110^^ But it makes by blood boil (Ps 69:9; Jn 2:17; 2 Cor 11:28-29).
Let’s have a look at the principle of ‘generous sowing’. I have spent about five years at three different churches, yet none of them have even mentioned or explained generous sowing. I was a police prosecutor for seventeen years so I became pretty cluey about understanding difficult parts of the law. Yet, no matter how many different versions of the New Testament I read, they ALL say the same thing about generous sowing in 2 Corinthians 9: ‘Give generously and God will reward you with spiritual and material growth.’ Yet most churches don’t even mention it. Why not? I believe the ‘play-it-safe’ churches don’t want to risk getting anything in the Bible wrong except for the completely obvious. And I agree that religion and wealth has caused massive controversy over the past few decades especially with the emergence of evangelistic mega-churches. For example, it is obvious that the Bible says God and Jesus Christ exist. The Bible obviously says we should pray to God. These are such basic facts that churches can’t get them wrong.
But, when it comes to the Bible being linked to financial and material gain, it appears a lot of churches are so frightened of getting it wrong that they stick to the basics. I understand the apprehension, and so does John and Di Finkelde, who provide a wonderful outline of this problem in their blog titled “14 Reasons Why Pastors Avoid Preaching About Money”. Please read their blog at growahealthychurch.com. But, I believe every church has the responsibility of working out these biblical financial principles and explaining and applying them to their church. Again, you check the Bible and find that Agur the son of Jakeh asked God to: “… give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God”. (Prov 30:7-9; Hicks, Reframing …, 75). So there you have it: if you are a truly devoted Spirit-filled Christian you will not want to become too rich or, as Agur says, it could make you too comfortable and cause you to forget God. The solution from Agur’s example is financial balance. The apostle Paul said “… Let your character … be free from the love of money [shun greed: be financially ethical], being content with what you have …” (Heb 13:5 AMP). Please read Douglas Hicks’ essay about pastoral salaries titled: “Reframing the Economics of Pastoral Leadership” (arl-jrl), and Poul Madsen’s article titled: Real Security.
TAS says “… It is a mark of going on when we can come to the place where it is true before God that we have let go all the prosperity and success even of Christian work and Christian ministry as men would count it … It is alright, the Lord knows; it is for Him to give or withhold: I am not going to make a line for those prizes: I am not going to allow those things to influence my walk with God: ambition is not going to dictate my course, is a sure sign of growth …”^^111^^
I recommend, therefore, that if it looks like you are coming into some money, pray to God and frequently ask Him to help you maintain a balanced approach to any extra income. Find an example such as the Queensland Baptist Union “Remuneration Guidelines” (qb.com.au. Accessed November 2nd 2015). This is a ten page document that is updated every year, and shows all the calculations they use to set a pastors annual wage, fringe benefits, superannuation, and allowances. This is wonderful transparency which is easy to follow. Work your own out if you want, but I recommend you make it fair and transparent.
Here is another practical example of balanced financial living for Christians. Bill and Vonette Bright started the Christian Crusade for Christ (CCC), which by 1996, had “world revenues” of nearly $300 million. Wendy Zoba says that “… While Bill Bright epitomizes the hardball business wizard in his orchestration of CCC’s (Campus Crusade for Christ) mission, on a personal level, he defies his entrepreneurial persona by renouncing personal wealth and material gain … For example, in 1997 the Bright’s yearly income was $48,000. Bill does not accept speaking fees and has no savings account (though Vonette has a small one). The luxury condo they live in was donated to CCC (they pay $1,000 a month rent). They do not own a car, and they have no property …”^^112^^
I know some biblical principles are difficult to understand.^^113^^ But the Bible clearly says the CHURCH has the responsibility of understanding the complex wisdom of God and presenting it to the world (Ephesians 3:10). Therefore, every established / experienced church should be able to interpret ‘doctrines’ or ‘principles’ such as ‘Sowing Generously’. TAS says “… There should be a living, opened, unveiled ministry of the things of the Lord, not speaking in parables and in types, but the mystery no longer a mystery, revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 144). Callahan and Eblen (210) cite research which “… rated the knowledge of Scripture as the most important theological competency …” for a pastoral leader.
If your church cannot explain all the doctrines in the Bible, it is not a church but a Christian club. (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 38-39) TAS says “… The church is the corporate expression of a divine illumination. Eyes have been opened, things which could not be seen by men in nature have come to the knowledge of those whose spiritual eyes have been opened and enlightened by the grace and Spirit of God … so the church is the place of divine illumination, and the central and inclusive Object of the illumination is Christ…” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 41).
Jesus Christ commended the seven churches in Asia for their many strong points, but He was not satisfied with second best: He still found areas of concern in almost every church.^^114^^ Therefore, if any church does not break down biblical principles into practical advice for any person to understand, then they are failing the Lord Jesus Christ.^^115^^ That church should repent to Christ and study, study, study (Parker 168; Josh 1:8), pray, pray, pray, until it can work out AND explain ANY biblical principle. It is the responsibility of every church to know and be able to explain these principles BEFORE they open their doors for the first time. TAS says Christ “… has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father …”^^116^^ and “… the priests’ lips were to teach knowledge, the priests’ business was to interpret the things of God, to make them plain; just as Ezra stood up and expounded the Word, read it and gave the meaning thereof …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 143; Parker, 161).
Go to any extreme to remind yourself and others that your whole focus is on increasing Jesus Christ. Even if you have to put a sign on the outside and inside of your church office that says: “How will this increase Christ?”^^117^^ TAS says “… That is the very nature of the new creation; that all things are of Christ and we are forbidden to have anything else. The Holy Spirit calls upon us to regard everything just in the light of Christ. How far is that Christ? How far does that accord with Christ? Let us remember that we are thinking about the great values of Christ risen …”^^118^^
If someone comes into your church office and says ‘I think we should plant some flowers in the bare garden area near the front door of the church’, you should say, ‘How will this increase Christ?’ If they say, ‘It would look much better.’ You should say, ‘There is no increase in Christ in that activity. Say to them: “Even if you are willing to buy the flowers, plant them, water them, and care for them, someone else will most likely criticize it, start some gossip about it, claim some type of allergy to them, or even accuse you of trying to pander up to me (the pastor). So if there is nothing there, there is nothing to complain about!” Then, offer that person an opportunity to increase Christ.
For example, you could start a conversation about their Christian journey. Or, let’s say you have more than one computer in your admin / office area. Offer that person the opportunity to look up Internet sites about Christianity such as subscription journals that will increase the measure of Christ in you and the other person, because you will both be on a computer, and you can advise each other of any interesting books, journals, blogs or articles you come across (e.g.; Small, 59). Then you can check out the interesting ones together to see if there is information that might be useful in a church sermon or for the general education of the congregation.
See what I mean? It is one thing to say no to a proposal by another person (in this case ‘flowers’): it is another thing to be able to redirect that person to some activity that focusses on Christ. Notice that I recommend you both use a computer and check out different sites? If you have the time, always, always, always, try to do an activity WITH another Christian. This builds trust,^^119^^ personal relationships,^^120^^ as well as building up both of your knowledge about Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven.^^121^^ That’s what it is all about: connecting people (including yourself!) with Christ (Osborne). (Church 1 … Devil 0). This is another reason I recommend you take your time opening your church. Prior to opening your church (full-time) you should already have purchased at least two computers; Internet access to subscription articles, journals and sites about Christianity.
Then, you can assist devoted Christians to undertake theological studies using your church computers. Can I just add an endnote about the ‘flowers’ scenario! For example, if there are already plants in the church garden and you are advised that someone is allergic to them, or the particular flowers attract bees and someone in your congregation is allergic to bees, or someone could hurt themselves on a plant (e.g.; a cactus); get rid of the plants yourself or get a professional to remove them if necessary. If it costs money, pay for it yourself if possible. Otherwise someone will most likely start gossip such as: ‘The money WOULD have been better spent on …’ or ‘I am a qualified landscaper and I could have done it for half the price’. Trust me; there are petty, nitpickers in almost every church and almost every area of life who could do it all much better than you and anybody else!!
In order to prevent gossip, make sure you tell the congregation that you removed the plants yourself or paid for their removal out of your own pocket. Inform them of the cost, if any, and display the payment method (e.g.: cheque) on a screen during the next service. You say to me, ‘why bother?’ Because you are educating the church in a subtle but professional way that: (1) you know people will cause trouble and start gossip over small stuff; and (2) you are educating the next generation of pastors how to stop gossip from starting in the first place. Thom S. Rainer says one of the four ways pastors are hindered in their attempts at church revitalization is that they “… spend too much time trying to placate nagging critics …” (Rainer, Four Major Ways Pastors Hinder Church Revitalization). So give them nothing to nag about.
TWO – 20th CENTURY CHURCH GOVERNANCE
Congregational church governance has been used for at least four hundred years. Basically, all major decisions are made by the members. One of its major strengths lies in the fact that the members can keep the church leadership, including the pastor, under control. But, as I have seen in reality, it turns churches into bureaucracies bogged down in decision-making ^^122^^ and power struggles.^^123^^ In 2014, Quentin Kinnison wrote: “… Pastoral leaders are often expected to complete the Master of Divinity degree … in order to be worthy of hire. Yet, upon application of this training in many church contexts, the pastoral leader is often viewed as a threat to the ‘way we do things’ …” (Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 2-3). One church I regularly attended was having problems between the pastor and some members. This must have been started before I came to that church so I wasn’t sure about the details and I simply did not want to get involved as I was there to worship Christ. You could hear and feel the tension over about twelve months.
On one occasion, a senior member, who was a retired pastor, gave a short speech during a church service. He said that the in-fighting was damaging the church and should be stopped. Then he said that some churches had been damaged so badly by in-fighting that it can take up to ten years for the church to recover!! TEN YEARS!! What would a newcomer to that church think upon hearing that? Do you reckon they would think to themselves: ‘As a newcomer, I look forward to the next ten years of in-fighting in this church??’ Of course, not: it would probably put them off attending any church (Jinkins, 20). Why did they even air this problem during a church service? Peter Steinke notes, “… if intense and prolonged, anxiety has a strangling effect, depleting people’s energy, disturbing their thinking, and dividing their loyalties …” (Fuller, 9).
What is the point of that church remaining open? This is absolutely disgraceful but is happening everywhere across the world (Miller-McLemore). According to Terri Elton (p. 34) “… Leadership magazine reported in 2004 that 95 percent of the church leaders surveyed had experienced conflict in their congregations, 20 percent of whom were experiencing it at the time of the survey …” This is gross negligence of Christ’s Church. (Devil 1 … Church 0). Susan and L. Gregory (Greg) Jones were appointed to a church, and members informed them of events that had occurred in that church earlier that year that caused long-standing bitterness (L. Jones, 104-106). Greg says he and his wife “… spent three years at that congregation and at the end … through Susan’s very hard work and patient, careful leadership, we had begun to glimpse the possibility of healing what had happened …”
I congratulate Susan and Greg for their enormous service to Christianity, but to me it sounds like the three years they spent at that church was spent treading water, as opposed to being able to inform us about marvelous spiritual growth in the congregation (Eph 4:13; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25). Look at the key words Greg used: ‘hard work’, ‘glimpse’, and ‘possibility’. What a waste of the talent that Susan and Greg obviously possess. Imagine if people of the caliber of Susan and Greg had started their own church instead of going to the ‘problem church’.
Michael Bronson says “… Christians, of all people, should be able to get along with others better than anyone else. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us wisdom. We have a ‘new nature’ that allows us to overcome our ‘old nature’ …” (Bronson, Church Splits). And I believe that if there are any experienced Christians in that church who have attained the fullness of Christ, they would walk out and go to another church or start their own church, because those extremely close to Christ just cannot tolerate or settle for anything less than the best.^^124^^ Spiritual leaders are “… RESTLESS … they have a holy discontentment with the status quo …”^^125^^ “… there is reproduced in these people … God’s own discontent, God’s own dissatisfaction, God’s own desire for that something more in spiritual measure …” (TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought); and “… if you are consumed with a burning love for the Lord, you will be very quick of scent as to what is doubtful and questionable … love for the Lord will bring you quickly to see and to sense there is something that needs to be adjusted …” (TAS, His Great Love, 72-73)
Obviously, most churches are open to the public so that strangers can walk in off the street and worship God. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that every church open to the public have no major dissensions so a stranger can feel comfortable, looked after, and taught the Gospel. Michael Bronson says “… turbulent times in a church can seriously disillusion you and hinder your spiritual growth …” and “… church problems are difficult enough for mature Christians to handle, but they can be devastating to new Christians …” (Bronson, Church Splits). TAS says “… There should be in our hearts, in the first place, a very real concern for the fullest Christian life that it is possible to know … and, in the second place, we should have a deep concern for the most effective possible witness in the world by the Church: that the Church’s testimony in the nations should be as effective as the Lord will have it …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 6-7)
So a stranger may walk into a church really needing help to find Christ, but, instead, have to witness in-fighting in that church for the next few years. That cannot possibly be “… the most effective possible witness … by the Church …” And as you can see from my ‘Eddie the edge-trimmer’ story, you have to be constantly on your guard to prevent yourself being accidentally caught up amongst the in-fighting and ‘little things’. This is pathetic and an insult to Christ. The church should have drastically changed its membership rules or disbanded. Congregational government does not work in bringing Christians close to Christ, and should be buried. Even Robert Muthiah says, “… I do not intend to gloss over the destructiveness and fragmentation that sometimes mark congregational discernment …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 184).
At the end of this book, I have listed the police management books I studied to qualify for the rank of senior sergeant. So I understand there is no perfect type of organizational system. I worked in government departments as a police officer for more than three decades, and government departments are bureaucracies by necessity. Just like many employees, I was often critical of bureaucracies, and it is well-known they are relatively slow in decision-making and managing change. But during my studies I read a book that said although bureaucracy has these tendencies, no-one has discovered a better system to replace it.^^126^^ That really hit home with me and ever since then I have applied that principle to everything. I always ask myself: ‘I know this way of doing things causes problems, but is there a more efficient way, and what is the cost of the more efficient way.’ You say: ‘Well Barnsey, if you say congregational government should be buried, what is the alternative?’
Let’s start with the fact that the three main church models are Congregationalism (e.g. Baptists), Episcopalianism (e.g. Roman Catholics and Anglicans), and Presbyterianism (e.g. Presbyterians, Methodists, Reformed, and Brethren).^^127^^ I recommend that unless, within a one year period, churches using these three systems (1) focus solely on Christ being the center of every church activity; (2) tighten membership criteria; and (3) enforce discipline along biblical lines (1 Cor 5; Matt 18:15-17; Osborne); they should dissolve their churches and compensate paid staff where possible. The owner of the vineyard told the worker to cut the Fig Tree down because it had not produced fruit in three years. The worker convinced the owner to give the tree ONE MORE YEAR and if it did not produce fruit, then it would be cut down (Lk 13:6-9).
Then, as I suggested in my first book, genuine, Spirit-filled Christians with good life experience should start their own churches when the time is right for them (Al Fasol). Then, they can preach the Gospel without being hindered and weighed down by bulky church bureaucracies.^^128^^ I purchased a great academic book from Shakespir author Edwin Walhout. It was titled “The Apostle Paul: His Career and Theology”. I read Edwin’s biography which said: “I am a retired minister of the Christian Reformed Church … being retired from professional life, I am now free to explore theology without the constraints of ecclesiastical loyalty.” I am not criticizing Edwin, because I am so thankful he told the truth about being constrained for many years. But this must stop. Christians must plan to become free of any particular denominational constraint as soon as possible.
I know this may take time for some Christians, due to financial commitments. But the Bible only guarantees us seventy to eighty years on this earth (Ps 90:10), therefore, devoted Christians should break free, start their own churches and preach and write what they want because time is short and the Apostle Paul tells us to make the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16). Of course there is a risk. Owner pastors can become too big for their boots and sometimes have mighty falls (Milne 303). Michael Jinkins details his reasons why he believes “… congregations [need] to maintain institutional safeguards to prevent an individual leader’s abuse of power …” (Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry …, esp. 14). Daniel Darling says that “Fallen pastors and the inherent danger of celebrity evangelicalism have been ongoing topics of discussion among evangelicals …” And, Sally Dyck says “… there is the potential for arrogance and pride that is always threatening us as leaders … but humility is another Goldilocks phenomenon: not too much, not too little …” (Dyck, 135; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).
Michael Jinkins says “… no leader can lead with integrity without an appropriate level of confidence in herself. This is quite simply true. But no leader should lead whose trust does not extend beyond herself, and whose self-confidence is unleavened by humility and reverence …” (Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry …, 25; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). I think it is quite clear that being an owner / pastor requires a fine balance between confidence and over-confidence. But, are these risks worth it? I say yes, because, for a start, pastors in traditional churches can never work enough hours to satisfy every demand of their church.
David Forney says “… Time is also blurred for clergy, who are on call 24/7 … when the boundary between the clergy and congregation is blurred, congregational members regularly intrude with their expectations and critiques upon their clergy …” (Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 18-19; Miller-McLemore, 129). Quite obviously, an owner / pastor can create and maintain their personal and family time (Miller-McLemore, 115). And with the reticence of churches to allow women to become pastors, Joyce Meyer would probably never have been heard of outside of her front gate if she had stayed in a traditional church!!
Thom Rainer conducted a study which showed that on average a pastor would need to work 114 hours per week to satisfy every expectation of their congregation (Darling) Darling says “… that’s crazy …” (Darling). I know some of you may be thinking about yourself: ‘I only have a theology degree, therefore, how do I earn a living to keep myself away from church constraints?’ Well, there are plenty of manual jobs out there such as stocking / packing / filling shelves in supermarkets. Stocking is not popular work because it is hard, and that is why it is relatively easy to get these types of jobs. But at least then you can get some life experience, grow in Christ, and when you feel ready you only have to hire a relatively cheap hall and start your church.
I expected to be a police officer until the maximum Queensland retirement age of sixty, but headaches forced me out medically at age fifty-two: that was eight years early. I was not prepared for that: I have no useful skills or qualifications to get a high-paying job. So, from age fifty-three (in year 2013) until the time I write this line in May 2016, I have averaged around twenty five hours per week filling shelves in supermarkets. For about two years I worked thirty-eight hours per week filling. This involves a lot of heavy lifting and the pace is frenetic, therefore I still get tired and sore after three years of it. I am very fit, but not real strong as I am only 175 cm (or five foot nine for my American friends!!) and seventy-five kilograms (11 stone?). But at least I have walked the walk that I am asking you to walk.
Prior to starting my own church, I want to get a Blog and or Website up and running. My tentative plans are to start my church in a hired hall initially, and operate it part-time. I am presently working 38 hours per week with a good employer and my days off are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I want to open a Tuesday or Wednesday night church to fit in with my work roster. Plus, Queensland has a hot, humid climate, and if my initial hall is not air-conditioned, at least it will be cool enough during the evening. An unintended side-effect of a week-night church is that shift-workers like me can still attend a church during the week. I will most likely operate with sheet music; projector equipment and screen, bulk-purchase Bibles and a lectern. I will not have an office until and unless my church becomes full-time. As of year 2016 I can set all this up for around three to five thousand dollars. I want to put this book and my first book (HTBAC) on my Website (free of charge) so that people can see who I am, what I believe in, and why I believe it.
And the good thing about operating your own church is that the congregation can vote with its feet. If the pastor is too controlling, manipulative, or there is a lack of transparency in church finances, members or attendees can simply walk out. And, mature Christians will walk out if necessary because they will have such a high level of the Holy Spirit in them that they simply cannot settle for anything second best in any church. (TAS, The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 38) David Forney also says that “… Of the four demand categories explored by Lee, personal criticism appeared to be the greatest contributor toward clergy burnout …” (Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 20; Miller-McLemore). Owner / pastors may still be criticized, but can effectively warn or discipline members of their church if the criticism is said behind the pastor’s back, or if a member becomes some type of nagger who is always critical.
At the very least I ask Christians who are reading this book before they become financially dependent on a particular church denomination to seriously think this issue of constraints through very thoroughly. I believe a devout Christian would not want to be constrained by ecclesiastical loyalty due to the Holy Spirit prompting their conscience to stay away from it. I think I know why congregationalism exists. There is a belief among a lot of Christians “… that the plurality of elders in the New Testament churches is the law by which all autocracy and personal leadership is ruled out and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the headship of Christ alone is preserved …” But TAS says despite the fact that church leadership is always subordinate to the Head of the Church: Jesus Christ; individual leadership is “… in the divine order … [because] the place and function of the shepherd in the Bible is to ‘go before,’ and the sheep ‘follow after’ …” (TAS Leadership, 4-8).
Let’s look at Joyce Meyer for example. My first book is full of references from Joyce Meyer TV sermons. Without careful and devoted study of Joyce Meyer sermons on top of other study, I believe it would have held my Christian growth back by at least three to five years. If Joyce Meyer was a pastor in a traditional church, her brilliant practical interpretation of daily Christian living probably would not have been available on international media. I spent about five years in traditional churches, and my first book contains quotes from about sixty academic books, about three hundred academic articles, and dozens of Christian TV Channel sermons, but not one quote from a pastor of a traditional church. This is simply because I have never heard any deep and useful messages from traditional church pastors.
But, when mature Spirit-filled Christians start their own churches they should immediately commence to build up other Christians (1 Thess 5:11-14) to become a ‘ministry team’ of associate pastors, deacons, teachers and leaders of other ministries.^^129^^ By ‘immediately commence’ I simply mean that you deliberately and immediately start the process to build Christian attendees into mature Christians, but you build them up slowly, surely, and deliberately.^^130^^ Bill Hybels says “… Spiritually gifted leaders have that God-given capacity to attract, challenge, and persuade people. Then they assist them in finding their niche in the achievement of the vision …” (Hybels; Frank 7-9; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 126-127; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …).
Robert Muthiah says, “… The Gardener is not intent on boldly rushing forward … [but] is intent on nurturing deep understandings that are not just intellectual or theoretical, but are also emotive and visceral in the way that good poetry captures the whole of our beings … the poet asks challenging questions and invites a new way of seeing. The tools of the poet are metaphors and symbols … Functionality has become one of the mantras of our current ideology. Poets do not operate in this kind of world. Metaphors are not intended for functional purposes … Poets use metaphor to create the imagination of an alternative world … We need more than poets to lead our congregations, but we must have poets to lead us in the essential work of interpretation … Nurturing a community of interpreters is a long process. It requires the patience and faith of a Gardener … Empowering the people of God is not primarily about allowing or encouraging them to do certain things. It is about forming a people with eyes to see and ears to hear: faith attributes that, if real, will then emerge in good works (James 2:14-26) …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices, 194-197).
Karl Vaters says that “… no matter how small our church is, we need to prioritize our time where it’s most likely to be of value. That always starts with making our largest investment of time and energy into equipping the saints: especially leaders and potential leaders … use your calling as a shepherd to mentor them …” (Vaters, Pastoring a Church Between 100 and 200 Without Going Crazy; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …). Galatians 6:10 (AMP) says “So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).”
Russell West says that “… after he preached the gospel in a city, Paul gathered new Christians into a community, strengthened them in their faith, and appointed elders in every church. He then continued to strengthen (i.e. establish) the churches around them as a base for taking the gospel to new frontiers. If a church was encountering major problems, Paul continued the process of establishing by sending letters and making personal visits …” (West, 137).
Larry Osborne tells us about a person named ‘Tim’ entering ministry “… looking forward to working with board members … [and believed that] as long as good people were elected and carefully discipled …” he would have a good working relationship with them. (Osborne). But five years later Tim saw the board as adversaries. Then Tim realized that although the board members “… were sharp people and good leaders …” no-one had taught them the “… unique principles and requirements of leading a spiritual … organization like the church …” Larry had been exposed to the same problem himself years before and “… decided to set up an on-the-job training program to expose our board members to the same insights and principles …” that Larry had learned during ministry training, but “… instead of focusing on … doctrines … he zeroed in on practical theology …” (Osborne; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 129). Larry reminds us that Ephesians 4:11-13 requires pastors to “… equip the rest of the body to do the work of the ministry …” I agree with Larry’s views on training board members, but I still maintain that it will be a lot easier on a pastor who runs their own church to build up leaders from within the congregation, than to train existing board members in a church where you are appointed as pastor.
In any case, please don’t rush this process: you want to assist other people to grow into these abilities no matter how long it takes. Do not try to build your church up into something big overnight. In my first book HTBAC I explain that the kingdom of heaven is about (1) righteousness (2) peace and (3) joy,^^131^^ but I explained why I believe patience is a close fourth (Fielder, Pressures …). So, please don’t forget: (1) righteousness (2) peace (3) joy (4) patience. James urges us to have the patience of Job. The book of Psalms is full of advice on waiting patiently for God (e.g.; Ps. 27:14), and TAS says “… Again and again you will find the psalmist crying out because of God’s seeming delay or indifference …” (TAS, Faith’s Persistency). Harry Foster, writing about the book of Hebrews, says “… We must note the repeated call to patience or perseverance. So much is made to hang on this, indeed it forms perhaps the main thrust of the whole document … ‘Let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ (Heb 12:1) …” (Bringing Many Sons to Glory).
I believe active patience is a solid faith principle rewarded by God. Job was rewarded by God for being patient through his suffering. By active patience I mean continually and steadily building up yourself and other Christians to become more Christ-like no matter how long it takes. “But the fruit of the Spirit … is love … joy … patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting] …” (Gal 5:22 AMP). According to John Piper “… Jesus said in Matt 24:13, ‘He who endures to the end will be saved.’ Paul said in Gal 6:9, ‘Let us not grow weary in well-doing.’ We live in a day when immediate gratification is usually demanded. That means that very few people excel in the virtue of perseverance …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader)
I believe we need a ministry team because of Acts Chapter 6. The Twelve Disciples did not have a ministry team, and there was an argument among the other disciples about unfair distribution of food to the widows. Let’s divide them into three groups: (1) The Twelve selected some (2) other disciples to choose (3) seven disciples for food distribution. I believe the modern equivalents are:
(1) The Twelve is the modern pastor;
(2) The other disciples are the leadership group / ministry team; and
(3) The seven disciples are spiritually mature members of the congregation.
In relation to number (1) above “The Twelve is the modern pastor”; I understand this issue is a bit more complex than meets the eye, because Kinnison writes: “… New Testament scholars are equally perplexed by the function or role of pastor in relation to that of overseer or bishop and disagree concerning whether or not a pastoral office was intended by New Testament writers …” (Kinnison, Shepherd or One of the Sheep …, 65-66). But I am addressing it as it actually is in real-life churches today.
Notice that it wasn’t just one of The Twelve who delegated the food distribution problem, it was the whole twelve (Acts 6:1-7). So, why are modern churches putting so much responsibility for menial tasks on pastors? (Martin, 83-85) I’ll tell you why, because the Devil has prompted church authorities to overload the pastor with so many menial duties the pastor cannot be effective (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 34-35; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25). All the mainstream churches keep telling everyone that their structures are biblical. I strongly disagree. None of The Twelve Disciples had to take part in the decision-making process to appoint people for menial tasks. The Twelve only had to hear (oversee) the reasons why the team members selected the seven people. WHY? Acts 6 tells us it was so the Twelve could concentrate on the MAIN mission which was to “… continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4). Eric Alexander says “I think that it is obvious that the establishing of these priorities so early in the church’s life was absolutely crucial for its future, and I have little doubt that a similar approach can be equally crucial for permanent profit in our own lives and ministry … the apostles found that they had clearly to establish their priorities …” (Alexander, A Question of Priorities).
Look at Moses. Despite being the greatest prophet in the Old Testament, he risked burnout because he tried to do EVERYTHING (Exodus 18:14-18). After 34 years of full-time church ministry, Joseph Mattera has “… seen many a leader lose their zeal for God …” and despite Joseph not burning out during that time through “… a strict diet, regular exercise and spending time with God each morning …” he has been “… forced to change his patterns because he has exhausted much of his mental energy …” due to “… having never taken more than 10 days off for vacation … and never taking off one full day per week to rest his mind …” (Parker, 165-169; Miller-McLemore). Parker says “… Jesus frequently withdrew from ministry endeavors for spiritual seclusion at key times because their very scope and importance required significant interaction with God …” (Lk 5:16; Parker 167)
Please make yourself familiar with this article because Joseph lists 10 signs of burnout and 5 ways to recover (10 Signs of Leadership Burnout and 5 Ways to Recover, by Joseph Mattera).^^132^^ Each duty in a fairly large church, such as budgets, can easily be delegated to competent members (Zscheile, 179-180; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 15). But these duties shouldn’t be lumped on competent members for the sake of it. They should be informed that they will undertake those duties so that they can learn and understand how a church is financially operated, so that they have a clear picture of church management before they become pastors. Rotate your competent members through each type of duty and help them build their resume. According to Russell, “… Paul said the purpose of pastors and teachers were ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service.’ This would imply that the laity are the ones who do the good works and the clergy are there to prepare them for it …” (1 Tim. 2:5 vide Russell, 90). And, if you are NOT using the principle of “Sowing Generously” and you are running your budget just like a secular pony club, then you can pay a secular accountant to do it: why take the pastor’s focus off SPREADING THE GOSPEL??
THREE – HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR OWN CHURCH
Let’s go back to the beginning BEFORE you actively start to plan your own church or any other evangelistic project. Although I want you to enjoy your Christian journey with as much flexibility as possible, I recommend you construct a progressive order and time frame for your progress (Berlinger, 103-106). For example, treat the first three years of your Christian journey as being a learner driver. In Australia, before you can get your open license, you have to start as a learner which means you have to display ‘L’ plates on your vehicle, and always have a fully licensed driver sitting next to you. Right from the beginning make sure you ask God in your prayers to bless you with the spiritual gifts especially the gift of prophecy.^^133^^ This is exactly what the Apostle Paul urges us to do, therefore it is biblically sound (1 Cor 14:1).
Then, if you are staying close enough to Christ,^^134^^ God will prompt you, over the course of several years, via the Holy Spirit as to what He wants you to do. Then at least get some basic theological qualifications. I recommend not starting your own church until you have at least ten years of experience as a devoted Christian. According to John Piper, one of the important marks of a spiritual leader is that he “… can put himself in the place of a variety of learners and therefore explain hard things in terms that are clear from their standpoint … is concrete, not abstract, specific, not general, precise, not vague, vulnerable, not evasive …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader).
Joyce Meyer says “… and I will be honest with you. I am not going to make any bones about it. It probably took maybe eight or nine years for me to realize all the different things the enemy used to steal my joy. And to keep praying through it and studying, and working through it and working through the emotions of it until I can pretty much say right now that 99 percent of the time I enjoy my life …” (Sermon titled “It is Time to Unpack Your Baggage”). Kimberly Long says that “… Those who are entrusted with leading worship must do deep spiritual work in order to be equipped …” (Long, 36). Please believe me that these ‘marks’ of spiritual leadership take at least a decade to master, because you have to go through many situations in many different ways, and go through thousands of different encounters with people before you have mastered them.^^135^^
And, despite the mountains of study I have done in the first nine years of my Christian journey, it took me into the ninth year to be able to break down the doctrines of ‘The Kingdom of God’,^^136^^ such as ‘Righteousness’ into simple language I believe a stranger in the street could understand. Yet, this should have been taught to me at some time during the five years I attended churches. TAS puts righteousness as the most important theological doctrine, and says the whole book of Romans “… is really gathered into that idea of God requiring righteousness, of man being unable to provide Him with it, and Jesus Christ stepping into the breach and satisfying God in this matter on man’s behalf …”^^137^^ And Romans 14:17 says: “… The kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit …”
So, why isn’t this doctrine a high priority in churches? I think the current generation of Christians were not taught by passionate Spirit-filled Christians. But, as far as I am concerned, that era must be buried NOW. We are out of excuses, especially considering the volumes of wonderful teaching material now available on the Internet and other electronic media. In my first book HTBAC I said that new Christians only need to know the basics of righteousness because the total width, breadth and depth of righteousness is complex and complicated.^^138^^ The Apostle Paul wrote about six chapters on righteousness and faith in the book of Romans.^^139^^ The Apostle Peter said that some things Paul wrote are “hard to understand” (2 Pet 3:15-16 NIV), and TAS says “… words with us have become so common as to be robbed of a great deal of their strength …” (TAS, His Great Love, 15-16).
Therefore, I believe the main reason churches do not teach righteousness as a priority is because the majority of Christian leaders themselves do not understand anything other than the basics. I know, I know, a lot of Christians have great minds and many have degrees in theology. But TAS says “… it is possible to have great acquisitions and qualifications in the academic realm, to be doing big things in that realm, and yet to find that the simple things of the Lord Jesus Christ are to you as a foreign language …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87).
But, now that I am beginning to understand some of the deeper parts of righteousness after nine years as a Christian, I realize how important it is to be taught every part of righteousness from the basics, otherwise you cannot get as close to God as you could be. In other words, you cannot see everything from God’s perspective until you get deeper and deeper into your understanding of righteousness (Tumblin, 70-71). According to Campbell-Reed and Scharen “… pastoral imagination not only sees the empirical realities, but also with eyes of faith perceives the presence and work of God, and what a fitting response allows for participating in God. Cultivating a capacity for perception is fundamental to ministry as a spiritual practice …” (p. 125-126; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 105). TAS says, “… If only we could grasp the thoughts of God better! There is such a lack of spiritual receptivity. This is because there is a lack of spiritual life; we can only understand the thoughts of God to the degree we walk in them …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 38).
And, may I say, if you stick at righteousness by learning a little bit more every week or two, as I have been doing, it gives you greater joy, just like opening a surprise birthday present. If you don’t get that feeling most of the time, then you are not as close to God as you CAN be and SHOULD be. Even after nine years and thousands of hours of Bible study (Parker 168; Josh 1:8) and Bible study aids, when I come across some little bit of information about God that clicks inside me, I feel excited and sometimes overwhelmed. I think to myself: ‘Wow, now I understand what that bit of the Bible really means’.
As a general rule of thumb I would not start a church prior to thirty years of age. This is based on personal experience and a biblical principle. I became a police cadet at age seventeen and was not very world-wise, but at least by thirty I had been through a few cycles of good and bad times (Goodman). Notice that Jesus had to wait until age thirty to become a High Priest. (TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 4-5), and “… David was thirty years old when he became king …” (2 Sam 5:4) I understand that Jesus was born and lived under the Old Testament Law, and one of the requirements of that law was that you could only become a High Priest at thirty. I am not saying that locks in ‘thirty’ as a magical number, but if the most important person in eternity, Jesus Christ, had to wait until thirty, I think you can safely use it as a guide or benchmark.
Modern Christianity is so hyped up on having young pastors for no good reason other than following the non-Christian world into this insidious mistake. Mark Driscoll was a very popular young American pastor who had to step down as pastor of the very church he planted back when he was twenty-five. In an interview with Brian Houston in June 2015, among other things, Mark said he should have spent a longer time “… under godly, spiritual authority …”, and said he would not recommend any twenty-five year old doing what he did, because twenty-five is too young.^^140^^ (Devil: 1 … Church: 0).
TAS covers it beautifully where he says “… it is in the very nature of true spiritual leadership that the leader has to have in his own being through experience that to which he seeks to lead others. He has gone the way before. He has tasted what he calls others to taste. He is no book leader; what he says to others and urges them toward comes out of his own life at great cost …” (TAS, Leadership, 11, 14-16; TAS, The Rights of God, 22; Goodman). Trebesch “… challenges pastoral leaders to consider their own stories of conversion, growth, and leadership toward assisting them in developing similar types of processes for people in their congregations …”^^141^^
Kyle Small cites several pastors in his essay, one of whom said “The seminary … spoke often on the necessity to keep your personal life out of the pulpit. This is hogwash, and it doesn’t work. Congregations want to know about the passions and trials of the pastor. Life is excitement and it drives us to make things happen. I share my new knowledge and passion with my people …” (Small 65-66). I believe this can be best achieved through servant leadership.
In Chapter Six of this book, titled “Church Governance”, I discuss the ‘servant-leader’ model that I believe is the only way for an individual owner / pastor to successfully operate a church (1 Pet 5:1-4).^^142^^ Although Rick Gray provides us with a short definition of servant leadership (Gray, 136; Mk 9:35, Jn 13 vide Echols, 121), Thomas Frank, Scott Cormode and Michael Jinkins believe terms such as ‘servant leadership’ are not defined very well, “… remain vague and subject to the whims of ideological parties or assertive personalities … [and] can mask the realities of power relations in any organization …” (Frank, The Discourse …, 21-23; Frank, From Connection .., 124-128). Karl Vaters also says “… Sadly, too few people in positions of authority know the difference between being a boss or being a leader. Mostly, because we haven’t grasped servanthood …” (12 Ways to Know …)
Cormode says “… the chief responsibilities of the Shepherd are to empower individuals and to design processes not structures. The Shepherd believes that the people define the goals of the organization … and Shepherds emphasize participatory governance …” (Cormode 79-80). Jinkins proposes “… a recovery of the pastor’s identity as … a humble guide in the mysteries of God, one who leads among and with and on behalf of the people of God modestly assisting them in becoming theologically conscious of that transcendence which is God’s promise and God’s threat to all we are …” (Jinkins, 7, 19).
Thankfully, Frank continues on to say that “… many organizations have adopted the lingo [of servant leadership] in order to reinforce values of participation and consensus. But if the leader is only a consensus-builder, argued management scholar Shirley Roels, deferring to the wishes of the group and serving as ‘a conduit for the desires of followers,’ (Echols, 121) she or he may erode the organization’s capacity to gather its resources and address its continually changing environment …” (Frank, The Discourse …, 22).
I agree with Roels that, in essence, a servant leader cannot succeed by being a passive, soppy sentimentalist,^^143^^ and Echols says that “… One of the criticisms of servant leadership is that it may underestimate the need for leaders to hold followers accountable …” (Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership…, 105). It is these types of concerns that I address in my servant leader essay at the end of this book by providing specific ways to put servant leadership into practice, including the fine balancing act of how to use power and authority responsibly (Martin, Mind the Gap …, 1-2; Martin, Dwelling in the DL, 129; Echols, 121; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership … 112-113; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102).
In his e-mail response to my essay (also at the end of this book), Dr. Hill says “… this is a unique piece of work … your creativity brings this piece alive as a new and distinctive work – a quite difficult task indeed. The ideas you present in this paper are scholarly, theologically rigorous, oriented toward practical ministry, and astute. You make new and interesting connections between old ideas and synthesise those connections into exceptional ideas of your own. You are thinking with great originality. You have put away old cliches and worn-out ideas in favour of fresh new insight …”
As a side note, I believe Frank’s comments show that it is almost impossible to successfully introduce servant-style leadership into the mainstream religions. But, in any case, please don’t rush into starting your own church. The most important part of Christianity is to be devoted to learning more and more about God every day, and to get closer to God every single day through prayer, Bible study, reflection,^^144^^ worship and praise.^^145^^ Isabel Docampo says “… we must enter into this practice of self-critical reflection as a dynamic, spiritual discipline. Since God’s Spirit is continually challenging, changing, and maturing us … remaining faithful involves a journey of continual conversion …” (Docampo, 33).^^146^^ TAS says “… they (Joshua and the Israelites) lodged before the Jordan three days, before going over it. This is not something to be rushed into; this is not something to be done just as the result of impulse …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 94).
So, God comes first every single day of your life (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50). Very early on in my Christian journey, in my daily prayers, I would ask God to bless me with the spiritual gift of prophecy. I never asked God specifically to enable me to start a church or write a book, and it never occurred to me to start my own church or write a book. I kept it simple. I recommend you also pray in this manner. God loves it when you completely humble yourself to His will and not try to corner Him to bless you with the ability to start your own church (Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts ….). Then, I think it was around the year 2009, I received a random prompting from the Holy Spirit to write a Christian book. This is how I believe I recognized the prompting. I was saying general prayers and I heard a quiet and clear ‘voice’ in my mind that told me to write my own book.
Yet, I only completed and published my first book as an eBook in the year 2105. I was not going to rush it. And almost daily for the few years leading up to publishing the book, I would ask God in prayer to guide me in every aspect of writing the book. That’s what you have to do: seek God’s help continuously. In the year 2012 I believe I received a similar prompting through the Holy Spirit to start my own church. As I write this line in March 2016, I have not yet started my own church. This is simply because I believe I need to do some more study of certain Christian principles such as my example about God’s righteousness above. And that doesn’t worry me, because I believe waiting patiently for God’s prompting is classed as active faith in Christ which will be rewarded by God (Greg Jones, 117; Gal 5:22 AMP). For example, ever since receiving that prompting to start my own church in 2012, I continue to ask God in prayer to prompt me through the Holy Spirit as to how, when and where to start my own church.
I haven’t received another prompting about it since 2012, and I sometimes get impatient about the length of time. God could make you wait for a couple of months, years or even a couple of decades. TAS says “… It is easy to make a big start, with a good deal of noise and activity and high expectations of something big which we think God is going to do, and then to lose heart because of disappointments and delays … what is He doing? He is making a servant; to Him this is more important than the actual service which is being done … His delay, His hiddenness, His seeming indifference, are all the testing means by which He develops true faith in His servants, and works something of His own Spirit into their very constitution. It was easy for Him to send the rain; what was more difficult but infinitely more worthwhile was to enable His servant [Elijah] to go on watching and praying for the full seven times, never despairing, never doubting, never giving up …” (TAS, Faith’s Persistency). So I say; always continue to study the concept of patience and pray to God asking Him to help you remain patient. It is extremely hard to be patient if you are passionate about something, but it is important to wait, and humble yourself under God’s wing (Ps 91; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).
The book of Job is not just ANOTHER great lesson about patience: it is THE great lesson about patience (James 5:7-11). Yet, if you just read through the book of Job, it doesn’t seem to fully sink in. I found that you have to study the book of Job then study books and articles about the book of Job and after a while Job’s troubles and patience will sink into your spirit and will inspire you to be patient throughout your Christian life. It continues to work for me: therefore, I am confident it will work for you. TAS says “… In our own spiritual experience we often find that not least of our trials is the fact that God seems slow to respond, so inexplicable in His ways; sometimes it would appear that He is careless or indifferent …” (TAS, Faith’s Persistency)
But you have to study Job and other biblical examples such as Abraham waiting 20 years for the promise of God; (Gen 12:2-4, Gen 17:15-17; Fielder, Pressures …); Leah being miserable because she “was not loved” by Jacob (Gen 29 & 30); and Hannah waiting for a baby while Peninnah provoked and irritated her, and the priest, Eli, accusing Hannah of being drunk (1 Samuel 1). You will know that the lessons of Job, Abraham, Hannah and Leah have ‘sunk’ in when you get to the stage that you feel as if these beautiful heroes are relatives of yours. In any case, the Bible says that Christians are the “spiritual descendants” of Abraham.^^147^^
So, as far as God is concerned, you are directly related to Abraham. It might take time for this to sink in, but just keep at it until it does; and never, ever, ever give up until it clicks. It may take weeks, months or even years. That’s why you have to be patient over very long periods of time as a Christian because it takes a long, long, long time for many parts of the Bible to really come ‘alive’ in your heart.^^148^^ But, this is you living out the modern day version of Job, Leah, Abraham and Hannah (TAS, The Rights of God, 61-62). Let me encourage you: it is a fantastic feeling when you get that deep with Christ that many of the Old Testament figures feel alive to you. This is YOUR reward; just as Job had to go through unbelievable trials and testing to obtain HIS reward. Please do not start your own church until you feel some emotional attachment to these Old Testament people (Tyson, 127-130).
FOUR – HOW TO START YOUR OWN CHURCH
Obviously you need adequate finances if you have to lease or buy your own building or space for your full-time church. But I strongly urge against borrowing money to start your own church. I won’t go any deeper into ‘finance’ because there are so many variables and there are many financial experts for you to obtain sound advice from. And if you start your church with a small group of Christians, don’t make the mistake of borrowing money from them to start your own church, otherwise they will think they are owed some prestigious position in the church. I urge you to wait until you are financially self-sufficient to start your own church.
Before you start your church, make sure you see an accountant and a solicitor. An accountant will be able to give you advice about tax obligations or the absence of tax requirements for a church and legal ways to minimize tax or how to set up your church in such a way that takes full advantage of legal tax offsets if they apply. You need to see a lawyer for expert advice about any legislation that may affect the operation of a church. For example, in Queensland, Australia, as of March 2016, in the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899, there are two criminal offences to protect churches; namely section 206: Offering violence to officiating ministers of religion; and 207: Disturbing religious worship. I never saw these two offences used in 17 years as a Queensland Police Officer, but you have to know they exist in case some person or group picks on your church. Check with the lawyer about whether you should take out General Liability Insurance in case misconduct occurs in your church.
Some Australian States have legislation that gives pastors professional privilege enabling the pastor to keep a secret a secret (Mabey). In my State of Queensland, there is no such privilege as of year 2016, so if a person makes a random criminal confession, the pastor is obliged to divulge that secret in court. As a police veteran, believe me when I say it is better to know whether or not there is any such privilege where you work. If there is no such privilege, make sure you make a detailed and contemporaneous written record (computer is fine) of any such confession. If someone wants to confess something to you, tell them straight away as to whether or not there is a Priest-Penitent Privilege in your area. Try to make notes at the same time the person is confessing to you. When they have finished, contact your lawyer or police to find out if the confession is something you have to report to police immediately.
Check with a lawyer as to whether or not you need any qualifications or professional affiliations to be able to perform ceremonial procedures such as births, christenings, marriages and funerals. Ensure you make a firm decision about whether or not you are going to perform these ceremonies PRIOR to opening your church. In other words, don’t rush yourself: do everything properly in the first place.
Now let’s get into some ‘spiritual laws’!!! None of the churches I attended talked about the doctrine of “Sowing Generously” (2 Cor 9 NIV). I strongly suggest you do. I would start out as follows. Just before you start your church, find a local cause that your church can donate to. For example, you may live in a community that is a long way from a major hospital. Usually you will have a limited local health center. Make it your business to find out if there is any reasonably affordable medical equipment the health center does not have, but would benefit the community if you could raise the money through your church to buy one. Let’s say the health center is agreeable to this action. The first week you open your church; inform the church about the equipment; its cost; and how it would benefit the community, which is THEIR community as well. Parker says “… local congregations can strengthen their neighborhoods through service in areas such as community enhancement and clean up … and so on to assist with needs …” (Parker 183).
Announce your personal hefty donation towards the purchase of the equipment and ask the attendees to kindly donate whatever amount they feel inclined to. Immediately inform them of the Bible principle of “Sowing Generously”, and the many similar biblical quotes about God rewarding generous sowers. Then teach the attendees how to pray to God corporately and individually to seek God’s blessing for generous sowing. (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 24-25; Parker, 181-183) Firstly, lead them in a corporate prayer during the church service along the lines of: ‘Lord Heavenly Father, as you know this church is raising money for the purchase of medical equipment for our local health center which will save many patients from making the longer trip to the nearest hospital. Lord, in accordance with the principles of “Sowing Generously” in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, please bless this church with spiritual protection and overall growth in the size and ministry of this church. And Lord please bless the attendees of this church who sow generously by providing them with spiritual protection, spiritual growth, and financial growth.’
Then encourage the attendees to link their sowing in their personal prayers to God in their own time. Even give them a sample prayer they can include in their daily prayers. I believe a prayer structure along the following lines contains a good balance between boldly asking God for blessings for generous sowing, with sufficient humility and respect towards our Sovereign Lord: ‘Lord Heavenly Father, as you know, I donated money towards the church fund aimed at providing a piece of equipment to the local medical center which will benefit the community. Lord, please bless me and everyone in our church for sowing generously towards this worthwhile cause by providing us with spiritual growth, spiritual protection and financial growth.’
So, in the end you have (1) taught the congregation about the benefit of generous sowing: (2) taught your congregation to find an important local need (e.g. medical equipment); (3) taught them to seek God’s blessing in their personal prayers; and (4) taught them the importance of praying for protection, blessing, and growth of their church. Now, none of the churches I have attended raise funds in this manner. They simply request people to donate, mainly by walking around the church with collection bags for people to donate if they want to. The money is later counted after church and deposited into bank accounts as you would expect. Nothing wrong with this, but I believe in a new way of engaging people even deeper in this process.
I have found that people now want more transparency in all financial efforts, whether it is churches, corporations, or government departments. (e.g.; churchtransparency.org.). Thom S. Rainer says “… The Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are often reticent givers. They want to be certain the church is a good steward of the contributed funds …” (6 Reasons Church Offerings May Be Struggling, by Thom S. Rainer) I personally believe this is a great shift in public thinking and I want to promote it. Please read an article titled “Charities and the donation industry: sailing into dangerous waters” (Nikki Gemmell, The Australian Newspaper, March 19, 2016).
If possible, the money should be counted in view of the congregation while the church service is in progress. I suggest you use two volunteers. Then, when counted, the pastor should announce to the congregation how much was raised. The pastor then informs the congregation of how close they are to their total goal. If the collection is short of the amount needed to buy your medical equipment, for example, inform the congregation that the money will be kept in the church account, and inform them the church will continue to accumulate money each week until it reaches the total required. When the total is reached, the pastor can present a cheque or other suitable proof of donation for the amount required for the purchase and have it video recorded or photographed. Then, at the next service, the pastor should announce the achievement and show the church the video or photos. The pastor should then congratulate the congregation, and the church should then find another worthwhile cause and continue the process of sowing generously.
I believe this type of transparency is crucial to getting people involved in their church in the 21st Century. (e.g.; churchtransparency.org.). The whole idea is to watch and see how God blesses the church in the weeks and months to come; thanking God along the way. When you see these blessings it will increase the faith of the individuals and the church body. But, please don’t cheapen JESUS’ CHURCH by methods such as Perry Noble uses. Perry’s “NewSpring Church Promises to Refund Tithe If you Don’t Get Blessing in 90 Days…”^^149^^ This is a ridiculous method of getting people to tithe. Jesus told us not to put God to the test (Lk 4:12). You can’t corral God or tie God up to a 90 day timeframe. God loves a cheerful giver, so I believe you will receive more blessings from God if you tithe / give without ever expecting or wanting your money back (2 Cor 9:6-8).
Every church I have attended just keep on adding to the collection until they reach the required amount. There is nothing wrong with that, but I believe they are not tapping into the spiritual power that 2 Corinthians 9 explicitly proclaims.^^150^^ Life is too short not to use every spiritual power and law in the Bible. I would also apply transparency to all other financial transactions for your church (e.g.; churchtransparency.org.).
From the first week you open, inform your church whether you will be taking any remuneration for yourself, and how you arrive at that figure. For example, I have found a public Website that clearly outlines the pastor’s remuneration package for the Queensland Baptist Church and how they calculate it. It seems like an excellent and honest method, and I strongly recommend you use a similar method. Advise the congregation whether you own the church building or how much it costs to hire. Provide a financial update every service so the congregation is kept informed and trust you (Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 15-16; Horsthuis, 95). You are also setting an example for other Christians to follow.
I believe churches should swiftly move away from the traditional style of annual general meetings (AGM’s). I believe the Devil uses them to advantage by prompting people to bottle up anger they then vent at the AGM.^^151^^ I know ‘the world’ (i.e.; non-Christians) uses AGM’s, and a lot of that derives from laws that require certain entities to have AGM’s. But Christianity is a completely different style of living. For a start, the Bible clearly urges us not to let the sun go down on our anger (Eph 4:26). I believe that requires Christians to vent any problems, frustration, anger, or serious questions as soon as reasonably practicable. Unfortunately, many people probably believe the AGM is the proper place to raise issues instead of raising them earlier, because this is the way most of us have been raised. Therefore, some of the fire and brimstone at AGM’s occurs accidentally. That is why I urge you to abolish AGM’s unless the law requires you to have one.
The world, which is deceived and taught by the Devil (2 Cor 4:4), encourages people to ‘bottle-up’ their feelings so they have ammunition against other people in the deadly and worldly game of one-upmanship (Goodman, 45). Then, when one person has ‘had enough’ or ‘had-it-up-to-here’, they blurt it out. It breaks up friendships, marriages, families, and CHURCHES. Ruth Barton says “… When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others …” (Barton). According to Carson Reed, “… ministerial leaders should be aware that current emotional states can easily unlock the door to decades-old memories. Those old feelings and events connected to those feelings can suddenly be as fresh and raw as they were in some distant past …” (Reed, 68).
The Devil is scoring too many easy points and good laughs out of this trap.^^152^^ Philip Wagner tells of a massive church split in his father’s church. His father started to address rumors from the pulpit: then a woman yelled out “… They are not lies: you are lying! It escalated into shouting and arguing …” Then there was a scuffle between two deacons who took their fight outside “… to finish this: man to man …” As Philip says: “… The previous week they were singing hymns and praying for the lost, and this week, they were in attack mode …”^^153^^ TAS says “… in a true spiritual realm, you meet forces that you would never have imagined existed. You meet hell when you are seeking to build the heavenly kingdom …” (TAS, His Great Love, 105; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies).
What is the answer to bottling things up: “Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]” (Col 3:15 AMP). That sounds to me that those who have a deep DAILY walk with Christ are able to get into a state of peace. Educate your congregation about this stern warning in the book of James 5:9: “… Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door …” Is it any wonder I strongly urge you to use biblical discipline for rumor and gossip? Romans 12:2 clearly says: “DO NOT conform to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind …” (NIV) The definition of ‘love’ in the Bible says that “… love keeps no record of wrongs …” (1 Cor 13:5; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19). We are not supposed to forget things, otherwise we would never learn valuable lessons; therefore, I believe this is aimed at ‘bottling-up’ things.
This means that EVERY Christian has a responsibility to bring any issue to the attention of church leadership as soon as reasonably possible. It is a difficult issue, and that is why the pastor must help Christians transform their minds to think like Christ, and resolve issues immediately. Dr. Dale Robbins notes: “… Sadly, some congregations have experienced great setbacks or splits due to such unresolved discord, while other churches have learned how to head off or resolve such issues …” (Robbins). And scientific studies claim that if you ‘bottle-up’ your emotions “… it will knock years off your life and raise your cancer risk by 70 percent …” (Hagan, Daily Mail UK; Gustafson; Harvard School of Public Health; Goodman). What’s that you said King David? “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Ps 32:3). Someone else said “A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; but envy is the rottenness of the bones” (Prov 14:30).
Here is a real life example of how I believe a lack of teaching and warning about rumor and gossip adversely affected a pastor. Dorothy Haire planted her own church and it was going very well with increase in members and increase in spiritual growth of the congregation: they were networking well and felt like a family. BUT, one day Dorothy was shocked when she found out that some of the members were unhappy with her and “… surprise, anger, hurt, doubt, and discouragement overtook me … they made their displeasure known to the entire membership. Worse, much of what they were saying about me was completely untrue. I was hit from the blind side, and I didn’t know what to do …” (Haire). Now, if the congregation had been informed right from the start that discipline would be used in cases of rumor and gossip, someone may have notified Dorothy of gossip as soon as the gossip started, and if they failed to advise Dorothy as soon as they became aware of the gossip, those people would have known they would be subject to biblical discipline.
YOU, the pastor, must teach the congregation that any person who actually starts gossip, or takes part in gossip, WILL be disciplined, up to and including suspension from the church for a certain time. And, for serious misconduct, discipline can include canceling a person’s membership or having them banned from the church completely. Remember, Paul said that the Corinthians should have expelled from the church the man who committed incest (1 Cor 5; Osborne). Therefore, in my opinion, it is reasonable to assume there should be an ascending scale of punishment for ungodly behavior of any kind, including gossip (e.g.; Titus 3:10 AMP). I believe Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:15-17, titled: “Dealing With Sin in the Church” (NIV). Jesus says talk to the person one-on-one, and if they don’t listen to you, take one or two others along, and “… if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector …”
I am not going to write a separate policy or guideline for my church about discipline in cases of gossip, rumors or unbiblical behavior, because it would have to be an enormous document. I want to teach this to my congregation in sermons and membership classes. I believe the Bible and this book contain sufficient guidelines on how I will treat these types of behaviors. Therefore, I intend to make this book available for free on my Church Website.
For example, I will list just a few behaviors expected of Christians as found in the Bible: exhibit godly behavior, personal integrity, mature behavior, with all humility, gentleness [maintaining self-control], patience: bearing with one another in [unselfish love], each individual working together to make the whole successful (Eph 4), no filthiness and silly talk (Eph 5:4); rid ourselves of … anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language … do not lie to one another (Col 3); no rudeness, no self-seeking (Col 3:5), do not be overly sensitive and easily angered (1 Cor 13:5).
BUT, I believe every church needs solid written policies about sexual misconduct. That is why I have included a written policy near the end of this book titled “Church Guidelines Regarding a Person of Concern”. Check with your solicitor, but I believe you will need this type of written policy for insurance purposes, and make sure you have every applicant for employment provide your church with a criminal history check and recruitment / screening check. I am not sure whether or not you will need such official checks for people applying to be members of your church. So, prior to commencing your church obtain professional legal advice on this issue.
In my home State of Queensland, Australia, as of year 2016, a criminal history check will only reveal what offences a person has been convicted of, whereas a screening check, currently called an application for a Blue Card, allows police to dig into a person’s background and advise the government department that issues Blue Cards, that the police do not believe the applicant would be suitable to work with children or special needs people, without requiring the police to divulge the exact reasons. If the applicant continues with their employment application, you then should ask them why their application for their Blue Card (or whatever it is called in your jurisdiction) has been refused. If they refuse to discuss or divulge the issue with you, then, in my opinion that is sufficient reason to deny their employment application. If they willingly discuss the issue, then work through the issue on its merits. Regardless of whether or not the applicant discusses the issue/s make notes and contact your solicitor.
Now, back to pagans and tax collectors from three paragraphs above! I know there are different opinions among Christians as what Christ really meant by telling us to treat them like a pagan or tax collector. Dr. Dan Lacich believes Jesus means that we don’t have to kick a sinning brother / sister in Christ out of the church for relatively minor issues, but if they have sinned “… you would not allow them to serve in a position of spiritual leadership but you would allow them to serve in some capacity that does not require faith in Christ. I have had non-believers go on mission trips that did not require faith in Christ, only the ability to swing a hammer …” (Lacich). Pastor Pauley makes a compelling case for an ascending scale of punishment up to suspension from the church. I am impressed with how Pastor Pauley cites many other Bible verses to form his opinion (pastorpauley). But, I want you to study this topic from other angles as well, including Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith (patheos.com).
I guarantee you there will always be at least one person who will test out how serious you are about enforcing your disciplinary policies. You will even have people asking whether or not the policies are necessary, or should be downgraded, or upgraded. This is spiritual warfare. This is the Devil using people against you: not by punching you but by nit-picking you; trying to constantly undermine and distract you (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60). TAS says “… Effectiveness depends upon concentration and avoidance of either distraction, diversion, or divided interest … Love for Him must work out in giving oneself wholly to the thing to which they have been called …” (TAS, His Great Love, 106). TAS says “… The devil does not want that which Christ has brought about to become visible. The devil creates divisions, denominations and even uses the truth, divided into truths, just so that the unity does not become visible, and that the power that is in unity does not become effective …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 70; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16; 1 Thess 4:9-11).
John Piper notes that “… Dr. Carl Lundquist, former President of Bethel College and Seminary, said in his final report to the Baptist General Conference that there was hardly one of the 28 years in which he served the Conference that he was not actively opposed by many people …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). A friend of Mark Miller-McLemore says that “… In four pastorates across 28 years, I have not entered a pastoral setting that was not in severe need of redemptive work. I followed clergy problems, entered spiritually and emotionally bankrupt lay populations …” (Miller-McLemore, 122).
Is it any wonder I claim that the three main types of church systems cannot get people close to Christ? There is far too much in-fighting, negativity, and division within them. Therefore, if you are not prepared to invoke your disciplinary policies, please do NOT start your own church. “… The person who is unwilling to approach a person who needs admonition or rebuke will not be a successful spiritual leader …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). The Bible says we are to “… admonish and train one another with all wisdom …” (Col 3:16; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6, & 5:11-14; 2 Thess 3:14-15 AMP). Carson Reed says, “… if those who hear are to be moved rather than taught … entreaties and reproofs, exhortations and rebukes, and whatever other devices are necessary to move minds must be used …” (Reed, 79; 1 Thess 3:2-5 AMP; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6 & 5:11-14; 2 Thess 3:14-15 AMP).
Fuller writes that “… of all work systems … the one that functions most like a family is the church … in other words, emotional dynamics become especially important in religious organizations, because the bonds between members often involve powerful feelings …” (Fuller, 6; Goff, 61-62; Reed; Tyson). Church is a tough gig (Osborne; Miller-McLemore), so you will have to toughen up, yet still maintain a balanced approach to people (Rodin, 116; see also Barton about ‘balance’). Bill Hybels discovered that “… leading a business is demanding, but guiding a church demands a higher and more complex form of leadership than business does …” (Hybels).
Campbell-Reed and Scharen tell us the story of a first year pastor named Malinda. Malinda found it “… difficult to figure out budgets and day-to-day tasks …” (132). It was a small church so they thought Malinda would leave for a big church after only a short time (137). “… They expected a great deal from the pastor regarding the daily and weekly work of the church …” (137) Malinda found “… that previous pastors had experienced burnout, something she was feeling also, because she was doing everything for them (138)^^154^^ … and Malinda describes developing a ‘hard but permeable shell’ …” (143).
Robert Martin conducted an interview with a new pastor, James Ebert (89-90). “… In his first year of full-time pastoral work, James was an associate in a large, wealthy, and prominent Connecticut congregation … he was exhausted and disillusioned. The congregation was filled with high-achieving workaholics who expected the ministers to be made in their image. Personal worth was measured in terms of performance and accomplishments, and little attention was given to the quality of spiritual life …” Sounds like a Christian club to me.
Remember I quoted Michael Jinkins earlier where he believes we have put so much focus on defining pastoral ministry and church leadership (Jinkins, 6) that we have wound “… up in pastoral ministry ‘with a humanism that has forgotten the awe and majesty and transcendence of God and the overwhelming and ultimate significance of Jesus Christ.’ Without reference to this radical perspective of divine encounter, we run the risk of losing altogether the spiritual significance of pastoral ministry … [and] ministry inevitably collapses in upon itself as an earnest, but hopelessly self-referential and personally exhausting professionalism …” (Jinkins 6). Again, the words ‘Christian club’ come to mind!
Is it any wonder I am so assertive about having pastors opening their own churches and not owing anything to anyone? John Piper says you will need to be “… thick-skinned …” and says “… one thing is for sure: if you begin to lead others you will be criticized …” and “… If criticism disables us, we will never make it as spiritual leaders. I don’t mean that we must be the kind of people who don’t feel hurt, but rather that we must not be wiped out by the hurt …” (2 Cor 4:8, 16; Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). Eric Alexander says “… The true stewardship of all kinds of criticism is that it should be deflected upwards to God. If it is negative criticism, we need to deflect it upwards to Him, asking Him to teach us whatever He may be saying to us in it and deliver us from being harmed by it. If it is positive praise, then we need to deflect it upwards to Him, for whatever glory there is must belong to Him. In this way we are safeguarded by being left under the scrutiny of God …” (Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). If you are sure that you are wrong, apologize to the people involved as soon as possible. This type of balance takes, time, time, time, practice, practice, practice, and years of experience (Rom 5:3-4; Kaak, 148-157; Bodin, 116). Don’t rush it. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14 AMP).
Scott Rodin was appointed president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Despite twelve years fundraising experience, a Ph. D., good experience in managing teams and a knack for strategic planning and visions casting, Scott said: “… I was wrong in my understanding and preconceived notions of leadership in Christian ministry. I was wrong in my expectations of others and myself … in my motivations …” (Rodin 105). Before his appointment Scott preferred the leadership style of “… Nathan’s directive to King David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you’ …” (2 Sam 7:3). After five years of presidency Scott says he would point to the verse where Paul says of Jesus: “… ‘he made himself a man of no reputation, taking on the very nature of a servant’ … (Phil 2:7)” (Rodin, 106; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102).
Scott says “… reputation, image, prestige, prominence, power, and other trappings of leadership were not only devalued [by Jesus], they were purposefully dismissed …” (Rodin, 106). This is the thrust of this book and my ‘servant leadership’ essay at the end of this book: BEFORE you start your own church, you have to become obsessed with Jesus (Rodin, 119); work with Christ for several years until you get to the stage where, like Jesus, you are not after power, influence, wealth; but you are so close to Jesus that your whole purpose and thought is to spread the Gospel out of appreciation and awe of what Jesus has done for you, and out of genuine love and concern to do your part to save as many souls as possible from going to hell (Rodin, 108-110; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 70-71; Tumblin, 69).
I want to revisit the AGM issue for a moment. You say: well, what do we do at the AGM if our local law requires us to have one? I would still table a formal ‘annual report’ to comply with any law, but nothing in that annual report would be new material not discussed and resolved by the church prior to the AGM. Therefore the ‘compulsory AGM’ would have only a little formality, but lots of socializing, mutual edification (Eph 4:11-13; Rom 1:11-12, 15:1-3),^^155^^ and relaxation. Richard Halverson said “… when the Greeks got the gospel they turned it into a philosophy … the Romans … turned it into a government … the Europeans … into a culture … the Americans … into an enterprise …”^^156^^ But Christianity is NOT a business enterprise: ‘HE’ (Christ) is a PERSON.^^157^^ Larry Osborne says “… a church is different from a business organization … it is spiritually centered … and has a radically different bottom line: relationships. While some of the leadership principles of business carry over, many do not …” (Osborne; Horsthuis, 95-96; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Sims and Lopes, 63).
TAS says “… God’s dealings … with the world … are in relation to that Man [Jesus]. If we were able to recognize what that means, and apply it, bring it into the realm of applied truth, it would considerably help us in our every-day life …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 217) “… Christ is an actual, living person: not an abstract idea, an historical figure … ‘Christ liveth in me’. I do not wear a crucifix of a dead Christ on the outside. I have a living Christ within … it is something more than the doctrine of Christ within: it is the experience … if the indwelling Christ has His way, then that which He is becomes actual in the life of the child of God …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 44-46).
I hope the next few TAS quotes help you to grasp what it means to pursue Jesus Christ as a PERSON, and that the technical parts of Christianity come second. TAS says “… God has not presented us, in the first instance, with a set of truths, themes, subjects, though there be found great themes in the Word of God, such as atonement, redemption … He has presented us with a Man …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 218).
“… True worship only springs from a heart of discovery of Himself … in Mk 8 He said, ‘Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he cannot be my disciple’. He might have said (for this is the meaning), ‘He cannot know Me’, for what is the object of a disciple but to be taught to know his Master? You have to let go your own life to have this knowledge (1 Cor 15:31 AMP) … we have to know Him in the reality of His Person before any of that becomes of practical value in our lives. It is all bound up with His Person. The next thing is that the person of the Lord Jesus can only be known in resurrection. You cannot know the Lord Jesus in that way as the historic Jesus, as the Jesus of history, as the Jesus of the creeds, as the Jesus of Christian doctrine. It is only when He appears unto us in a spiritual way after His resurrection that we know Him. It is the risen Lord Whom we have to know, in order to know all the meaning of His Person and what is gathered up therein …”^^158^^
To live the resurrection life with Christ means you allow “… your heart with all its desires and affections, your entire nature, your will with all its choices, its ways; if you will allow the Cross to be planted there to cut you off from yourself unto Him (2 Tim 1:5), and you will yield and obey and go on with Him, and cooperate with Him as He witnesses in you to His will … the power of Satan is destroyed when once a believer stands on resurrection ground, and keeps there, and refuses to come down on to the lower level of soul-life, self-life … the Cross represents for us a spiritual life in the heavenlies where Satan’s power is broken …” (TAS, Christ the Power of God, 29-30, 55, 64;TAS, Let Us Press on unto Full Growth). Harry Foster says “… To live in the heavenlies is therefore to cooperate with the Spirit in knowing and pursuing God’s heart purpose …” (Foster).
“… These things are very simple and elementary, yet they are not just things said, there is a need for recovery of this appreciation of the Lord Jesus. Oh, to be more taken up with Him, even if we are less taken up with the things which are associated with Him. So often it is the things rather than the Lord.^^159^^ The vessel of testimony is constituted upon the basis of a heart appreciation of the Lord Jesus … It is so necessary for us to come back to the 40 days for the substance of our testimony; that is, to the personal, living touch with the risen Lord, identifying Him ourselves as the risen Lord and being able to say, not because it has been told us, not because it is a part of our Christian education, but because we have come personally, directly, immediately, livingly, with tremendous effect and result in our own hearts into touch with Him risen and alive … The church is a witness to the risen Lord; that is, He, the risen Lord, has entered right into its very life, and become its life as He had become the life of Mary at that time when all was lost. It is a matter of knowing Christ in resurrection. Let us set our hearts upon that. It is a matter about which to be before the Lord continually, individually and as parts of a local assembly …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 66-67; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 60).
“… There is that in resurrection Life in union with the risen Lord which can bring unto complete spiritual ascendancy, and in the end land us at His side in the Throne^^160^^ … Yield to the Lord and to His Cross the self-life, the self-will or whatever it may be,^^161^^ and you come into a new place of power, spiritual ascendancy, spiritual influence, and something happens; changes take place and you see that the Lord orders things … It is that we do not by any means or in any way allow hindrances and checks to come in the way of the working of the Life that is in us, that we always keep the way open in prompt obedience, swift response, open-heartedness to Him in simplicity and purity of spirit, abiding in His love …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 73-74; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19)
TAS says “… Remember that doctrine comes out of life, and not life out of doctrine. The Church comes out of life, and not life out of the Church. It is not attachment to doctrine, nor attachment to the Church, but attachment to the Heavenly Man in a living way that is the vital necessity; and then you will get the doctrine and the Church … (TAS, All Things in Christ, 144-145) He comes to us in Person, and the challenge is to take an attitude, not towards the things said, but towards the Lord Himself …”^^162^^
Now I want you to read how TAS explains the practical application of ‘A Resurrection Position’ AND how it is applied to the congregation: “… There must be a resurrection position for resurrection values. The resurrection position is the entire cutting off and sealing up of all our natural (though very religious and devout) dealings with the Lord and His things in association with Christ and His teaching (2 Tim 1:5), and a coming to the place where, knowing the utter inability of man even religiously and devoutly to understand Him, to know Him, and to move with Him in a living way, the Lord has a new position for coming in and making all things new. That is a very important thing as we go on in this matter of the assembly, because it applies to the assembly in a peculiar and particular way. You can take up the New Testament assembly here. You can get it all by reading the New Testament, and then you can, by way of teaching, make it set, put it into a ‘New Testament’ mold, and say, ‘We will have it like this, and so we will have a New Testament assembly.’ It cannot be done. You could do everything but put Divine Life into a thing, and what is the good of the most beautiful thing if the Divine Life is not in it? It may be perfect in its articulation, and its symmetry, and its make-up, but supposing it still remains without the Divine Life? We are better without it. So a New Testament assembly demands a resurrection position …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 93-94; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75).
I have quoted so much of TAS in this section because I want to reinforce the importance of a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Christ instead of a formal religion (Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 59). I know the difference, not through sheer brilliance but through painful experience. In my first book HTBAC I explain how I was only a half-hearted Christian as a teenager, but that when the stress of life brought me back to Christ at age forty seven, I found Christ in a personal way.
Jesus Christ constantly communicates / intercedes with the Father as OUR High Priest.^^163^^ Therefore, we should imitate Christ by being in constant contact with everyone in our church. I don’t mean the pastor should maintain “… personal or intimate relationships …” with everyone in the congregation once the church grows big (Parker, 169). But YOU, as pastor, are fully responsible for teaching and encouraging your members to be in constant contact with other members of the church (Goff, esp. 56). Fuller says “… staying in touch with all parts of the system is a key way in which leaders can foster a deep sense of connection within their communities of faith …” (Fuller, 28).^^164^^ If you are not a ‘people person’ please do not start your own church until you are.^^165^^
Bill Hybels says “… Spiritually gifted leaders are almost shameless in the boldness with which they approach people … people catch their enthusiasm … people with the spiritual gift of leadership have a God-given ability to know what to say and how to inspire different people …” (Hybels; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130). Callahan and Eblen, (211) say that “… National studies also considered the qualities related to compassion [for pastoral leaders]. Several suggested other descriptors: ‘ability to be natural, relaxed with people’; receptivity, openness, recognition of others, giftedness and pastoral love; ‘building community’ and ‘loving the people of God’. Virtually all national research competency lists named interpersonal skills as necessary for effective leadership …”
I believe God wants Christians to be highly relational with other people. This is because God is a relational being. Douglas Campbell says that “… God is a communion and delights to share Himself with others …” and “… Christ is who He is because of whom He is in relationship to …”^^166^^ Therefore humans are also “irreducibly relational”.^^167^^ Carson Reed says “… effective leaders seek to connect meaningfully to followers’ emotions in a positive way. Doing so creates resonance … when trust is fostered by the leaders’ openness, sensitivity, and vulnerability, then the community is more open to innovation and change …” (Reed 70-71).^^168^^ That is why it is imperative that every church teach and encourage open, honest, and prompt communication between all people in the church, whether they are members or non-members.
The second of Mark Branson’s three spheres of pastoral leadership is “… relational leadership. This sphere seeks to foster healthy connections between people and to build community. In this sphere, congregational leaders act as shepherds who encourage, empower, and build trust in the community. The relational nature of the Trinity calls us to develop relational connections within our congregations, and relational leadership is focused on this. Leaders who do not attend to the relational sphere are wooden, dictatorial, or both …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices … 193; Goodman, 51; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership…; Horsthuis, 95; Miller-McLemore, 129).
Sara Goff says “… the lack of knowledge about how feelings work and the fact that we have been socially conditioned to avoid feelings prevents us from bringing about needed changes as loving communities …” (Goff, 56) So, there you have it from Sara Goff; B.A. in Religious Studies, Masters of Divinity, Masters of Sacred Theology in Christian Ethics and Doctor of Ministry Candidate. In recent times, our society has been conditioned to suppress our real thoughts and emotions. Linda Tyson writes, “… in our North American culture … we live in our heads and do with our hands, often at the cost of paying little attention to our feelings or at least discounting them as less valuable than data …” (Tyson, 113-116).
Timi Gustafson says that “… having been born and raised in England, I am intimately familiar with the habit of keeping a ‘stiff upper lip.’ As a cultural phenomenon, this means that emotions – positive or negative – are not readily expressed, at least not in public …” I personally believe Australian culture has had this same approach to ‘feelings’ during my life time. For example, as I grew up between the 1960s, 70s and 80s, my parents and relatives rarely spoke about family histories or major things that occurred in their lives. That was just the way it was in those days. I have found out more about my genealogy from free sources on the Internet than I have from my family.
Damasio says one of the main reasons for this suppressing of emotions is that “… ‘reason’ in the twentieth century was privileged over emotion in the scientific community and was ‘presumed to be entirely independent from emotion’ … and twentieth century scientists labelled emotion as ‘not rational’ and ‘too subjective’ … to be taken seriously … in contrast, Damasio finds a correlation between our feelings, rationality, and biology …” (Tyson 117). All this is supported by Stephen Covey, who studied “… the success literature published in the USA since 1776 … [and] found that everything written in the last fifty years (since WW1) was superficial (Personality Ethic). It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes. In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years focused on the Character Ethic as the foundation of success … integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage etc. …” (Covey, The7 Habits …).
Therefore, I am not angry with churches that lack sincere communication methods, because I believe the evidence proves that 20th Century society turned a lot of people and organizations into poker-faced automatons. BUT, I want you to take this on board and help me turn churches into places where people can show real emotions (Goff, 62), and share with others how they are feeling, as opposed to ‘bottling-things-up’. Carson Reed says there is a “… growing awareness of the significance of emotion in human experience as it relates to leadership practices in Christian communities of faith …” and “… a growing body of research indicates that leadership is not a cold or a rational process; rather, effective leadership requires an attentiveness to the varied dynamics of emotion in human relations …” (Reed, 63-66; Tyson). Reed says that “… little work has been done in contemporary literature to bring leadership and preaching in conversation together …” (Reed, 73).
FIVE – VOLUNTEERS
If you have sufficient funds, pay people for all your church duties right from the start. Society has changed “… immensely … in recent decades …” (Frank, 7-8; Russell, 76-77) and I have noticed a societal shift where many people are reluctant to volunteer.^^169^^ People don’t seem to respect volunteers as they used to, and will pick on volunteers, even when they know the volunteer is not getting paid directly or indirectly. My first volunteer duty was as the treasurer of the Burnie Police Station Social Club in about 1991 (Tasmania). All I had to do was keep the coin operated drink machine filled with drinks; stock the fridge with milk, regularly count the money and pay the bills. There wasn’t much to it. BUT, no matter what flavors of soda I put in the machine I regularly had police officers whining and complaining that they wanted a different kind of flavor in the machine. And some of them made a big deal out of it. I couldn’t believe it, but I was starting to learn.
When I was a sergeant prosecutor around the year 2008, the police station cleaner came to me and explained that his wife was a volunteer secretary of a social club. He asked my advice on what his wife should do because some members were making veiled hints that his wife was doing something wrong with social club money. I knew the cleaner very well, and I was almost one hundred percent sure he would not seek my advice if there was even a hint of truth in the allegations. I told him to tell his wife to quit that social club immediately because I had noticed a trend over that previous decade of people throwing mud at volunteers for any old reason.
Be careful if you need to use people for VOLUNTEER duties in your church. This issue has the highest likelihood of backfiring or causing problems. If you use volunteers, there will be at least one who will expect a reward or influence in church decisions, and if they don’t get what they want, they will make your life hell. Let’s say you use a volunteer for administrative duties. If that person turns out to be unsuitable after a couple of months, and you are in a position to pay someone for the position, the volunteer will most likely want the position, and if you give the paid position to someone else, look out: you will have your own ‘fourth of July’ right in your face. If possible, do not use volunteers, apart from my example of using two or three volunteers to count the collection during the church service.
The only people you should use are paid, proven Christians. It takes at least a year to know if a Christian is either a pretender or half-Christian, or a reliable, mature, Spirit-filled Christian. It is natural to want to use willing volunteers when you start your church so that you can expand as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t want to use volunteers, others around you may get caught up in the excitement and you are all air-headed and say ‘Yes’. Oh, oh: you better hope that person continues to do the job to your liking, because they probably won’t walk away quietly even if you ask them very nicely. Don’t allow yourself to become air-headed or over-excited. If you are a bit of an air-head like me, always try to sleep on decisions (Campbell-Reed and Scharen; Haire).
For example, if a highly competent and mature Christian friend of yours pleads with you to be a volunteer, tell them that you want to sleep on it. Remember, Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt 10:16). “… A serpent is wise, with keen eyesight and is quick to learn. A dove is innocent, meek and gentle. Jesus saw a necessity in this balancing act because, as He put it, He was sending them out ‘like sheep among wolves’ …”^^170^^ So what is “wisdom”? A Microsoft Word synonym check on ‘wisdom’ includes; understanding; knowledge; insight; perception; intelligence … One Christian Web Site says: “… knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of Scripture. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of that knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes …”^^171^^
Therefore God wants you to be like a police detective. Detectives start off as raw recruits walking the beat who occasionally fall for some of the lies and tricks people come up with. But they learn from practice, practice, practice, and training (Heb 5:14 AMP). It takes several years to become a really good detective. It is the same with Christianity. As I have said earlier, servant leadership is the type of leadership I am aiming for and Echols says that “… Servant-leaders are functionally superior because they are closer to the ground: they hear things, see things, know things, and their intuitive insight is exceptional. Because of this they are dependable and trusted …” (Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …, 104; Horsthuis, 95). It takes years to develop exceptional Christian intuitive insight (Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 105).
A good way of ensuring you make wise decisions is to wait at least twenty-four hours for non-urgent decisions. You will keep yourself and others under better control that way. When I was a police prosecutor I would sometimes get quite blunt in my e-mails to police officers who pushed me to the limit. But, unless I had to send the e-mail urgently, I would not send it until I had slept on it (Campbell-Reed and Scharen). I am so pleased I did, because after sleeping on many of them, I know that I would have started World War ‘Z’ if I had sent them immediately. With a good sleep under my belt I was often surprised about how sarcastic my draft email was. Then, I would restructure the email to be professional: but to the point (Ascough, 33-34). Please be very careful about how you send emails, text messages etc. Do not send them when you are emotional.
If you can’t afford a big payroll at the beginning, only expand your church when you can afford to pay people. Even if someone volunteers to start a ministry for you, such as a youth group, and they don’t want to be paid, I still wouldn’t do it. Wait until you can afford to pay someone. Please don’t seek out volunteers except counting the money collection. One of the churches I attended would seek volunteers for various ministries. I remember attending a Bible study group through this church. It was held at the home of a senior member of the church. I am not quite sure, but he had either been volunteered by the church, or had volunteered himself to be in charge of a ministry. Several times throughout the months of that Bible study, he would tell us how he didn’t want to do that other ministry anymore and that he would be stepping down from the ministry at some point. And yet no one had even asked him about it.
There is nothing wrong with him feeling this way, but how dare a senior member of a church whine and moan to other people about any church matter, especially at a Bible study group officially connected to that church. The minute that senior member wanted out of his ministry he should have gone to the pastor or a leader and advised them that he wanted to quit. The pastor should then take that person out of that ministry immediately. If that means the ministry has to be closed, then so be it. This type of behavior is an insult to Christ. Look at Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3). He praised them for fantastic strong points, but still had some criticism for them.^^172^^ Remember, the Apostle Paul spent THREE YEARS building up the church at Ephesus, (Acts 20:31) and TAS believes Ephesus had been operating for many years by the time Christ wrote his letter. Christ expects an ever-increasing rate of perfection in his churches.^^173^^
TAS says “… the Lord had given much to the church and to the churches. They had received a lot through His apostles, through His servants. They had a great wealth of spiritual inheritance. And when the Lord has done anything like that, at any time in history, it is as though at given points He comes back and says, ‘Now, what about it? What about it? I have given, I have revealed, I have made known. I have entreated, I have implored, I have besought. I have exhorted, I have warned … now the time has come when some reckoning has to be made and an answer given’ …” (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24; 1 Thess 3:2-5 AMP; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6 & 5:11-14; 2 Thess 3:14-15 AMP).
Therefore, to be totally respectful towards the massive sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross, you better take your church structure seriously (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50) and do not give the Devil even one slight crack he can prise open as wide as the Grand Canyon.^^174^^ The Devil checked out Jesus, but could not find any moral cracks in His character; therefore Jesus was able to say “… The prince of this world cometh and he hath nothing in me (Jn 14:30) …”^^175^^ If you try to close up a ‘spiritual’ crack, you will find how stressful it is (Miller-McLemore).
SIX – 21st CENTURY CHURCH GOVERNANCE
I do not think the three major systems of Congregationalism, Episcopalianism,^^176^^ and Presbyterianism will ever succeed in being fully Christ-centered churches. Don’t get me wrong, these churches do worship Christ to an extent (TAS, Keeping Christ in View), and undertake excellent and devoted community work. But, they have become so bogged down in bureaucracy, infighting, and divisive issues such as homosexuality^^177^^ that Christ cannot get the full attention and focus He required of the seven churches in Asia.^^178^^ As TAS says “… oh, what a pity that men have so systemized this thing as to rob it of its real spiritual value …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 65).
In 2003, Robert Muthiah said, “… my thesis is that the priesthood of all believers can be re-embodied and re-conceptualized by attending to the practices resident within congregations. By engaging in Christian practices, limp and pallid congregations can be reinvigorated to live as the priesthood of all believers …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 167). I searched the Internet in 2016, and I cannot find any follow-up publication or result from Robert’s paper. Therefore, it appears nothing has changed in the thirteen years since year 2003.
On October 17, 2015, I checked the Internet for current issues in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and Church of England (COE). I didn’t have to dig too far back in history, because I found two major issues that were reported in the press only three and four days prior to my search. The COE article appeared in ‘theguardian’ online newspaper on October 13, 2015,^^179^^ and goes like this: “Andrew Foreshew-Cain says he is ‘pleased but shocked’ at his election to Anglicanisms governing body … the General Synod …”
I must stress that it appears Mr Foreshew-Cain was legally voted in to the position and is openly gay. Therefore I am not criticizing Mr Foreshew-Cain because it appears he has been totally honest and transparent about himself. My beef is with the COE ever allowing this to happen. The article says that the COE elections were for 433 seats on the synod in England, and those voted in will serve a five-year term. I presume these are all paid positions, so I think I can safely conclude that the previous 433 people who held these positions earned a combined annual income of several hundred thousand pounds, but could not prevent an openly and honest gay vicar being elected to the governing body of the COE? (Zscheile, 153-154; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 37).
Then, I found an Internet article dated October 14, 2015 titled “George Pell and cardinals warn Pope of Catholic Church collapse …” The article continues on to say “… civil war has erupted at the top of the Catholic Church, with 13 cardinals … warning the Pope … that threat of collapse has been accelerated by the abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation …” which centers around the “indissolubility of marriage and the Eucharist.” And just under this article was an article titled “Rebel cardinals accuse Pope of stacking”. And this article is dated October 13th 2015 (Rebel cardinals accuse Pope of Stacking. Source: skynews.com.au). I hope the seriousness of these issues convinces you that there are massive problems within two of the largest and oldest religions in the world. It appears there are approximately 219 Cardinals (List of living cardinals. En.wikipedia.org), and 38,155 deacons and priests worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church.
I presume they are all being paid an income, so I shudder to think what their total combined annual income is. In any case, the end result is that around 414,000 (cara.georgetown.edu) Roman Catholic leaders cannot keep control of issues such as homosexuality (Fuller, 5), the status of re-married persons, and as to who can and cannot take part in the Eucharist. Is it any wonder that I want to stir Christians into action and develop a new style of church? ‘Houston, we have a problem!’ As you can see, the evidence is there, I am not making any of this up: I am quoting directly from public sources. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think these major religions can reverse the downhill process. Way back on June 29, 1972 Pope Paul VI said that “… from some fissure the smoke of the Devil has entered the temple of God …” (firsthings.com).
It appears that not much has changed in the 43 years since then. All the main Christian religious denominations probably think that because they are organized churches, they have instant and ongoing approval and authority from Christ. But, just opening a church and calling your building a ‘church’, does not automatically mean you have the blessing of Jesus Christ. Or, just because your church has been around a long time doesn’t automatically mean it is being blessed by Christ. The church at Ephesus had many good points according to Christ,^^180^^ but he threatened to take His blessing away from them unless they repented and went back to their first love, which is getting rid of useless activities and centering everything in and around Christ.^^181^^
TAS says “… the place of the church, which is His Body, is a high position, drawing its life and fullness from above (see also Zscheile, 170). This is not of man, but of God. There is to be a maintaining of the position as detached from what is human manipulation and man’s control: earthly standards of government, of judgement; and to have everything from the Lord for His people. This is the Ephesian position, and when you come to the first message to the churches in Revelation, the terrible indictment is, ‘Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen.’ A heavenly position has been lost and they have come down on to a lower level …”^^182^^
Christ had a similar warning for the churches at Pergamos (Rev 2:14-16), Thyatira (Rev 2:20-23), Sardis (Rev 3:2-3) and Laodicea (Rev 3:15-18). So, Christ found faults with FIVE out of the SEVEN churches of Asia.^^183^^ That is a very high and troubling percentage. Alan Knox says “… a church that ceases to love God by ceasing to love another (regardless of how much truth they proclaim) could be in danger of having their ‘lampstand’ removed … because just as in the case of the Old Testament, the kingdom is removed from those who are disobedient (failing to love others, according to John) and given to those who are obedient …” (Knox; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19).
Speaking about the church at Thyatira TAS says “… Thyatira: seduced and corrupted, calling for uncompromising life … you are in a position of tremendous ascendency, of power to govern. Test it the other way. You find a compromised life, a mixed-up life, a life with contraries all entangled; some of the world, some true Christianity; some flesh, some Spirit, things which ought never to be brought together. Will you tell me that such a life has any power in it, any authority, any power of ruling and reigning? Not at all …” (TAS, His Great Love, 88-89).
And biblestudytools.com commentary on Revelation 2:5 says, in relation to the word ‘remove’ that the original word ‘Kineso’ … can also mean to; shake; move; provoke; stir. This may be indicating that the level of God’s spiritual protection will be reduced, and allow the Devil more spiritual space in the church with which to shake, provoke and stir up fighting factions within the church. And “… without genuine Christians remaining, it is impossible for a church to produce light …” (biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/revelation-2/revelation-2-5.html).
And, in my opinion, Presbyterianism has its limitations and problems. The Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA) says “… There are no individuals with the power or authority of bishops in the way that word is used in some churches today … not all decisions in the life of a local congregation are made by simple majority at the congregational level … this federation means that while many of these aspects of the Church’s life and ministry are organized at a State and congregational level, final responsibility for them lies with the General Assembly of Australia (G.A.A.), and there may be times when local practice has to be changed to fit in with what the whole church has decided … the surrender of ultimate authority does not prevent the State churches maintaining their own activities in the areas concerned. But if the G.A.A. makes a decision that contradicts the rules and practices of that church the G.A.A. decision will prevail and that practice will be required to change [p. 4] … the minister is normally the moderator of the Session, and does not vote unless a vote is tied [p. 8]…” (An Introduction to the Presbyterian Church of Australia).
Strong, inflexible words such as “surrender of ultimate authority … the minister … does not vote … the G.A.A. decision will prevail…” all smell strongly like a bureaucracy to me. I spent 34 years in two police forces, and police forces are bureaucracies by necessity. I spent 17 years as a police prosecutor and have compiled, read and made recommendations on thousands of police reports including complex fraud investigations. On average, I checked 20 briefs of evidence per month and an average of 380 legal e-mails per month for 16 years in the Queensland Police Service. That is why I am confident that the excerpts from the PCA handbook mean that local ministers of a Presbyterian congregation do not have much freedom to act. (An Introduction to the Presbyterian Church of Australia).
The Apostle Paul uses words such as Christ “In Him”: “In me”, one hundred and thirty eight times (138) in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul said “… I preach Christ crucified …” It would take a lot to convince me or Paul Little^^184^^ that Christ is not supposed to be the spiritual center of the Christian life.^^185^^ Christ is everything,^^186^^ and too much ‘I don’t want to do this ministry anymore’, and ‘Eddy the edge trimmer’ rubbish is clogging the churches.^^187^^ The Devil is winning that battle. (Devil 1 … Church 0; again!!).
Come on people, I am giving you real examples I personally witnessed. I am being harsh, but the hard fact is that when you go forward for God in a big way such as starting your own church you WILL; not maybe; but WILL be attacked by the Devil.^^188^^ TAS warns that “… The devil has concentrated his forces and attention especially upon Christians to destroy the testimony of what Jesus has done, to spoil this royal rule by undercutting and undermining its meaning of oneness, fellowship, unity …”^^189^^ and, “… this Church is to take the place of that evil government above this earth … but because of this calling … that mighty evil hierarchy is set to its last ounce to destroy this vessel called the Church …”^^190^^ and “… What the enemy is out to do is to pull us down to a place where we have lost the sovereignty of the Lord … You get so far and then you are beaten, brought to a standstill …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 50; TAS, His Great Love, 105).
Eric Alexander gives us several examples of how the Devil tried to ruin the early church. For example, the Devil had Peter and John imprisoned (Acts 4): the dispute between the widows about food distribution (Acts 6); and the incident where Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5; Alexander, A Question of Priorities). It was God’s wish for Nehemiah to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem (Neh 1-2), and he also had written permission from King Artaxerxes. But Satan stirred up all sorts of opposition to Nehemiah (Cole). As Steven Cole says: Nehemiah suffered “… the anger of others … mockery and sarcasm … threats and intimidation … negativism …” and his workers suffered from “… discouragement and exhaustion … [and] fear …” Cole says we have to “respond to the enemy’s opposition with prayer, work, vigilance, and focus on the Lord.” Cole says “… whenever godly leaders attempt to rally God’s people to advance His kingdom, opposition will hit …” (Cole).
TAS says that “… in ‘Ephesians’ the unity and solidarity of the Church are an essential basis for ascendancy. Israel’s responsible men had said that Ai: being so much less than Jericho; only ‘some’ of the fighters need go up against it. Thus the principle of oneness was violated or ignored. They lost sight of the fact that the prince of this world is the same in a local and particular situation as he is in the greater and more universal, and that the Divine principles are the same however ‘small’ the situation may appear to be …” (TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 115; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16; Fielder, A Spirit of Harmony).
Furthermore, TAS says “… God is against division … the direction of the Holy Spirit is always toward fellowship and oneness; for this reason: that the Holy Spirit has come into relation to the testimony of Jesus. That which He did in His Cross is a very vital part of the testimony of Jesus, that which He did to destroy the disintegrating effect of sin and the Devil’s interference with God’s creation. The whole direction of satanic activity is to divide, to split up and cause friction, warfare, conflict. That has been the effect of sin and the Devil. God’s one unity of a universe was broken to fragments by satanic interference, and the whole universe was shot through with discord, with schism …” (TAS, The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 65-66).
TAS says “… one mark of the carnality of the Corinthians was their divisions, their natural preferences, likes and dislikes amongst people. Paul says, in effect, ‘If you were spiritual there would be none of that …’”^^191^^ Chapter Four of the book of Ephesians, titled “Unity of the Spirit”, says we are “… to live a life worthy of the calling … to live a life that exhibits godly character … and mature behavior …” (Eph 4:1-3 AMP). And, I believe James 3:13-17 says that a high level of godly wisdom will give you a humble, gentle, courteous, compassionate nature, willing to listen and full of good fruits. TAS says “… Babies are always scrapping and fighting. That was the Corinthians. But they had got past the babyhood stage, through ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God’…” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 35).
Ephesians 4:3 urges us to “Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” TAS says “… The real people of God have only one interest, and they are a unity because of this particular interest. What is the interest of Christians? Paul put it this way: ‘To me to live IS Christ’ (Phil 1:21). ‘My sole interest in life is the furtherance of the interests of Jesus Christ, the glory of Jesus Christ.’ That apostle sought unceasingly to further the interests of Jesus Christ and to make Him glorious wherever he went. We have one interest, and we put it in that one word: Christ. That is the unifying factor. If we have other things: private things, personal things, things in this world upon which our hearts are mainly set; if we have sectarian interests: very well, we shall not be one. We are one by this all-captivating passion: Jesus Christ …” (TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 58-60; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16).
TAS says “… now when the heart is centered upon the Lord Jesus, we have the greatest power and dynamic against division, against separateness, against everything that keeps us apart, and when the Lord Jesus is our central, supreme object, and it is toward Him that our hearts go out, then we come into a unity …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 106-111) “… This maintaining of the unity is a positive thing. It represents a being on full stretch for something. It is not just a case of our desiring it, wanting it, of our considering it to be the best thing and even necessary, but of our applying it. It takes application to give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit …” (TAS, All Things in Christ, 184; 1 Thess 4:9-11; Fielder, A Spirit of Harmony). “I, therefore … beseech you to walk worthily of the calling … giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3 AMP). Just to repeat what I wrote earlier: ‘ Microsoft synonyms for ‘diligent’ include: hard work; assiduous; industrious; and meticulous’.
Robert Muthiah says, “… Unity does not mean that differences are ignored and unity does not mean unanimity of perspective. The type of unity that marks the priesthood of all believers and that marks good discernment allows for differences and distinctions: in fact, this type of unity assumes that differences will exist. As within the Trinity, unity amongst the people of God requires difference. If there is no difference, there is nothing to unite. This type of unity transcends differences without ignoring them. The Spirit indwells and unites believers even when they hold different views on a given issue …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 186; Van Gelder, 161-163; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53; Tumblin, esp. 70-73; Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry, 21-22; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16; Fielder, A Spirit of Harmony).
I have found lots of TAS quotes about ‘unity’ in the Church because it is such a problem in many churches. I want you to learn about unity from several different angles so that you get the full gist of it and make it an absolute priority for your church (Jinkins, Leadership and Theory …, 209). On the other hand, what would happen if all members of a church were spirit-filled and focused largely on Christ? Well, according to TAS, “… When you get the multitude you have the whole harmony, and you have that as really the nature of the church. It has its separate and distinctive notes, but it is ultimately and finally a great harmony of testimony to Him …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 107).
Now that sounds better doesn’t it?? And remember, the Bible says the Devil disguises himself like an angel of light. Most people think the Devil will make people come at them with guns, knives, chains, yelling, arguing or shouting. He very rarely does that. The Devil is the master of deception and subtlety. ^^192^^ The Apostle Paul said that the “… serpent [my note: the Devil] beguiled Eve by his cunning …” (2 Cor 11:3 AMP). Microsoft Word synonyms for ‘beguiled’ include “… enticed, charmed, captivated, mesmerized …” Well before the Devil lets his ‘charming’, professing Christians (1 Cor 15:2 AMP; Gal 2:4; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP) explode in your church, he will cause people, including carnal Christians, to undermine you with rumors, innuendo, gossip and white-anting.^^193^^
In 1950 TAS said “… We are in this world, and we cannot avoid hearing many things that we should not wish to hear; but the important matter is not the sounds around us that strike upon our outward ear, but our reaction thereto, whether we consent to what we hear … I think this may specially apply to what we allow ourselves to hear about people. Untold damage is done by gossip and by criticism. Now, there is no point in having lips to talk if there are no ears to hear, and sometimes the sealing of unwise and uncontrolled lips may come by a refusal to listen. The priest is called upon to refuse to listen to a whole realm of things, to judge it and say, ‘I don’t want to hear that; I am not listening to it, I am not accepting it.’ You can, I am sure, see what a terrible lot of mischief exists today even amongst real children of God, caused by rumors, by talk, by passing on reports, by interpretations given to things; and how susceptible we are to that sort of thing …” (TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 12).
The same problem of gossip among some so-called Christians is still a big issue as I write this in 2016. This is why I want you to take notice and change your attitude so that you do not ever gossip; and please tell Church leadership ASAP of any gossip you hear. If you disobey the biblical command to avoid gossip, complaining and rumors (1 Tim 5:13; Rom 1:29; 2 Cor 12:20; Col 3:8), then you are not living in the Spirit but in the flesh.^^194^^ When you start your own church, the Devil will be the one prompting your Christian friends to come to you with irresistible ‘puppy-dog’ eyes, pleading humbly with you to let them start a ministry in your church as a volunteer.^^195^^ The Devil will be the one prompting you with those irresistible thoughts of borrowing money to start your church as soon as possible, and convincing you that God wants quick expansion of your church.
Phil Pringle started a small church in Christchurch, New Zealand and only built up to a congregation of about thirty-five people in the first three years. Phil said God used those three years to teach him and his wife about the basic operations of a church. Yes, Phil ended up with a massive church in Sydney, but he started small for the first three years. The Devil will convince you that God needs you to build the biggest church in history and plaster your own face and your name everywhere. Be careful (Rodin, 106, 109-110). Put on the FULL armor of God, not just the shield.^^196^^ If you only have a spiritual shield and no spiritual body armor, the Devil will attack you above or below the shield. You will drop or raise your shield to deflect his spiritual arrows. But while moving your shield up and down, you leave other parts of your spiritual body exposed. This will become very stressful and there will be no end to the bitter gossip and other shenanigans you cannot stop with a thousand fire extinguishers (TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-120) “… And please note that while we are told to put on this armor, we are never told that we may take it off …” (Foster, Life in the Heavenlies).
That is why I am so adamant that starting a church extremely carefully from scratch is the best way to make a church really effective for Christ. FULL armor people, not just the shield.^^197^^ Rick Warren recommends you wait until someone steps forward and volunteers to do a ministry unless you plan to pay someone from the get-go. In other words, if you have the finances and you want to start a ministry; let’s say a youth group; wait until someone in your church volunteers to lead the group. Don’t try to coerce or push people into leading a ministry, otherwise they may whine and moan all the time. I am not suggesting that you play mind games with people, but you have to be wise, and in charge of your church because YOU, not someone else, are responsible for avoiding the faults Christ found in FIVE of the SEVEN churches in Asia.^^198^^ Starting and running a Christian church is not a game (TAS, Right Standing with God, 16) because people’s whole eternity is at stake: they either go to Heaven or Hell. YOU are trying to get as many people into Heaven as is possible.
About one year after I become a Christian in 2007, I purchased a second hand book by Rick Warren at a book sale, titled “The Purpose-Driven Church”. I had never heard of the book or Rick, but I read it and studied it. It is theologically sound, filled with easy to follow but in-depth advice by someone who knows what they are talking about. I mentioned the book to the ‘I don’t want to lead this ministry any more’ senior church member. He said that it is an excellent book and reading that book was almost a prerequisite to becoming a leader of a ministry in our church. But, during the next couple of years I couldn’t see any evidence of Rick’s recommendations being applied in that church.
That is why I strongly believe the three major church systems are fatally flawed by being bogged down in piffle that distracts them^^199^^ from the “first love”;^^200^^ Jesus Christ: who is the CENTER of everything.^^201^^ TAS says of the Church “… whereas once it stood up to the world victoriously, weathered the storms triumphantly, it has now moved away from its center, the Lord Jesus Christ, and brought in substitutes for His absolute headship and lordship. It has made other things its governing interests. The result has been disintegration, division … if only men, leaders and all the rest, would say, ‘Look here, all our institutions, our missions, our organizations, all our interests in Christianity, must be subservient to the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ’, you would find a unity coming, a oneness …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90; Van Gelder, 161-163; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16; 1 Thess 4:9-11; Fielder, A Spirit of Harmony)
If a ministry leader wants to quit the ministry let them. Don’t make a song and dance about it. Bishop T. D. Jakes says if anyone wants to leave your church, just let them go and wish them well. If that person is approachable, you should use Christian kindness and patience and ask them if they want to discuss any reasons so the church can help that person or improve any area of that ministry. Michael McNichols relates stories of how pastors become so close to particular church members that there is a lot of sadness, depression and grief caused if those members leave the church. Please carefully study Michael McNichols article: “First and Second Loves …”
Michael describes how God is to be our first love, and others, even Christians, are our second love. Michael says “… While the love of God may be expressed through people, all human relationships remain second-love relationships … Pastors are expected to bring a quality of relationship that is unblemished … and to present themselves as the ones who never stumble along the way …the pastor does exist for many reasons, but to become any person’s first-love is not one of them … such expectations are idolatrous and destructive and are likely contributing to the sad state of the lives of pastors …” (McNichols, 56-57). At page 70, Michael outlines how to build trusted relationships both inside and outside the church.
Back to the issue of someone quitting a ministry. If you as pastor only hear second-hand that someone wants to quit a ministry, find out why that person has not told you first, and consider disciplinary action if that person remains a member of your church (Berlinger & Tumblin, Sensemaking …, 80-81). I understand there may be some backlash or criticism for closing a ministry, especially if it is a popular youth group ministry with large attendances. People, including Christians, and the local media, might criticize your decision along the lines of: ‘This is an essential ministry because these kids had somewhere to go where they would be safe and occupied every Friday night.’ If you are close to Christ, your reply should be along the lines of: ‘It is with great regret that I have decided to close this ministry, but it should be remembered the main purpose of this church is to worship, thank and praise God through Jesus Christ. We still preach Jesus Christ every week and I invite anyone and everyone to attend and worship Christ with us.’
See how you can turn criticism into a free advertisement to proclaim Christ and remind people that a church revolves around Christ: church is not just a provider of offshoot ministries^^202^^ (Church 1 … Devil 0). Well done. If you are not prepared for this type of criticism you might panic and make the mistake of saying something like: ‘I know how important it is for this community to have a safe and enjoyable youth group every Friday night, and we will be working hard at trying to get this ministry going again as soon as possible.’ Technically correct, but one problem: the name of Jesus Christ does not appear in that sentence. You see, if you overburden yourself as a pastor with trying to run too many ministries and attending to church administration, this busy type of lifestyle will avert your eyes away from Christ and you will probably respond to matters in a way that non-Christian organizations do.^^203^^
And, I notice most pastors in mainstream churches are overburdened with responsibilities that take up so much time, they constantly face burnout.^^204^^ G. Jeffrey MacDonald, a journalist and ordained United Church of Christ Minister, says that “… too many pastors are neglecting their physical health (Barton): and it’s killing them …” and “… though the joys are many, stress is continual, and outlets tend to be few. As a result, clergy suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension at such alarming rates that it’s become a mark of the profession …”^^205^^ And one of Kyle Small’s research subjects said that “… whether I want it to or not, my stress as a minister affects my family, my body, my mind, my spirit …” (Small, 67). And, Mark Miller-McLemore says that “… self-care is unrealistic for congregational ministry, especially in the mainline churches today …” (p. 122). (Devil 1 … Church 0).
If the three major church systems are not going to change their 20th century structures, then the least they should do is keep their pastors wrapped in cotton wool, and genuinely look after them. Churches should ensure that no pastor is working more than forty hours per week, so they have sufficient personal time with family and growth with God (Miller-McLemore, 115). They should be given sufficient time to take on formal studies if they wish. You have to spend a lot of personal time with God each week to be able to keep up with Christianity and grow as a Christian.^^206^^ And, stress is increasing out of all proportion (Miller-McLemore).
The World Health Organization says “… Current trends indicate that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease burden globally …”^^207^^
Therefore, I believe the Devil loves seeing pastors and other church workers flat out all the time^^208^^ so that they (Grudem, Pour it Out…):
(1) Fall behind in their Christian growth:^^209^^ Paul said to Timothy “… devote yourself to … preaching and to teaching … practice and work hard on these things; be absorbed in them [completely occupied in your ministry], so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself [concentrate on your personal development], and to your teaching …” (1 Tim 4:13-15 AMP).
(2) Become out of touch with God and possibly backslide in their levels of holiness:^^210^^
(3) Are unable to get sufficient rest and sleep and therefore lose their sensitivity to other Christians causing friction (Barton). “… Murray Ross and Charles Hendry considered emotional stability of great importance in the leader’s capacity to function …”^^211^^
(4) Fall behind current trends and developments in Christianity and the world in general:^^212^^
(5) Are forced to retire from ministry due to prolonged stress:^^213^^ and
(6) Do not have enough time to nurture and enjoy their marriage.^^214^^
God told Joshua to “… meditate on it [the Bible] day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” (Josh 1:8; Parker 168). To me, that means if you don’t study a fair bit of the Bible / Bible study aids each day, you will NOT be able “… to do everything written in it …” even if you try your hardest. Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (NIV).
Therefore, some of your decisions will not be as godly or Christian as they should be. Towner says “… the pastoral leader bore the responsibility of presenting a pattern for follower replication through attentiveness to personal spiritual progress …” (Parker, 171). John Piper says “… the spiritual leader must be a person who meditates on the Word of God and who prays for spiritual illumination. Otherwise, his faith will grow weak and his love will languish and no one will be moved to glorify God because of him …” (Piper). Douglas Hicks says “… as one example, clergy participants in Lilly-sponsored sabbatical renewal programs and lay leaders in their congregations have reported that pastors who are able to be well-rested, renewed, and freshly prepared for the challenges of ministry also prove to be: in a word: more capable pastors upon their return to their congregations …” (Hicks, Reframing …, 91). I think Douglas is stating the absolute obvious, but I always want to add some academic credibility to any claim I make.
Callahan and Eblen say that “… Without exception, all national research studies and lists of competencies included a mandate that the pastoral leader be a person of prayer and reflection …” (p. 208).^^215^^ It is obvious to me, then, that it is essential a pastor is never flat out or working more than forty hours per week, unless you expect them to work on their spiritual progress in the early hours of the morning after about four to five hours sleep. Parker says “… biblical literature consistently emphasizes the need for the visible character progress, and the untarnished lifestyle of the pastoral leader, which necessitates individual diligence and attentiveness to the pursuit of personal holiness and ethics …” (Parker 168-169, 183-184; Callahan and Eblen, 208-209; 1 Pet 1:15-16; 2 Pet 1:5-11 AMP; Motyer).
Tullian Tchividjian, who stepped down as pastor of a Mega Church in year 2015 kindly went public about his downward journey. One of the things he said was that “… God opened up a lot of doors, gave me a significant platform, writing books, television stuff, traveling, conferences, I became a different person. Not consciously … but very, very subtle and tempting to believe your own press …”^^216^^ Does this sound exactly like what TAS wrote about in 1930: “… ‘The heart is deceitful above all things.’ This deceitfulness is found in the fact that so many who started well, making great sacrifices, paying a great price, suffering much for their stand, and being greatly used of God, have eventually come to a place of self-importance, importance to God, importance to God’s work,^^217^^ and this quite imperceptibly, so that they still regarded themselves as the truest and humblest of men, but not recognizing that their real spiritual ministry and message had gone, and an ‘ability’ which is of man has taken the place of that ability which is of God through utter dependence and brokenness upon Him. This deceitfulness works so slowly, so minutely, so adorned, as to defeat any detection but that of the eye which is ‘as a flame of fire,’ but at length, however great may be the seeming gain, for all the deepest spiritual purposes of God that servant is a disappointment, a heartbreak, and is set aside …” (TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 39; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).
TAS says “… the essence of sin is independence from God … yes, the kingdom of Satan is really built on independence … there are many ways in which this independence works out. It works out along the line of self-sufficiency …”^^218^^ TAS lists the “… Features of the Righteous One as meekness, yieldedness / obedience, dependence, and selflessness born of love …” In relation to dependence TAS has this to say: “… then dependence … with all its many forms … or through the various less blatant expressions of independence on to the place where even the sanctified man begins to show signs of spiritual pride because the Lord blesses him. It is so easy to assume that, because He has blessed, a step taken can be repeated without the need for going back to the Lord and saying, ‘Lord, even though the last hour was a mighty hour, nothing can be for the next hour unless it comes from Thee.’ That subtle movement, the taking of the second step because the first one has been blessed, springs from the spiritual pride: presumption … if there is one thing that stands right out as you follow Him in those years here on the earth, it is this matter of His dependence upon the Father (Jn 5:19; TAS, The Rights of God, 24-25) … our whole being revolts naturally against the idea of dependence. Our pride will not let us be dependent, we are independent by nature … that is the poison of Satan in us (James 3:8) … but dependence is the way of power … power results from having the Lord with us …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 106-108)
And, unfortunately, Tullian and his wife cheated on each other. The Devil got what he wanted: destroy the marriage. If you are a senior member of a church and have some type of say in church affairs, be warned that if YOU do not allow the pastor sufficient time and rest to nurture the pastor’s marriage, I believe you will have to answer to God when you are judged by Christ (Rom 14:10-12; Heb 13:17 AMP). God was so angry with Israel that after he spoke through the prophet Malachi, He gave no prophecy to Israel for four hundred years.^^219^^ And what was one of the things that made God angry? He said “I HATE DIVORCE” (Malachi 2:14-16). I notice there has never been any misinterpretation of those three words!!! They are pretty clear are they not??? TAS says "… The Sermon on the Mount is … the setting forth of the moral foundation of the Kingdom …" ^^220^^
And take notice that divorce is one of the major topics covered by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:31-32). That is how important marriage is to God, so I strongly recommend you follow suit and look after your own marriage and those marriages of your church staff that you can have a positive effect on. Hebrews 13:4 also provides a strong warning against adultery in a marriage. I would go as far as saying that senior members of every church must not only take active steps to ensure sufficient time for a pastor to nurture his or her marriage, but, if the pastor defies this advice and becomes a workaholic, senior members should, out of respect for the importance of marriage in God’s eyes, warn an overworking pastor to spend more time nurturing their marriage, or else disciplinary action will be implemented. You might think that is harsh, but remember: “… the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked …” (Luke 12:48).
If you are a senior member of a church you have been entrusted with maintaining a high standard in ALL matters pertaining to the kingdom of heaven, and marriage is one of the most important kingdom covenants. Therefore, senior members are entrusted to take every reasonable step to try to promote their own marriage, their pastor’s marriage, and every other member’s marriage. Now, even if you start your own church and are not answerable to anyone, still take it easy on yourself. Even if you become popular, resist the temptation to do anything that will involve more than forty hours per week of commitments. Keep it all under control. Let’s say for example, you get the opportunity to travel to Christian conferences and appear on Christian TV. If you have a partner (wife / husband) and young children and it will involve several days or weeks away from your family, err on the side of caution and stay with your family.
On the other hand, if you are married with no young children and your partner is willing to travel with you, go for it, but only as long as you and your partner can have some time off to do fun activities together such as shopping, visiting relatives or sight-seeing. In 2015, Ron Luce closed down his ministry after 30 years because he became tired, and says tiredness affected his relationships and his ability to listen in-depth.^^221^^ BUT, Ron said that when he started his ministry he was absolutely determined to keep his marriage strong. And in 2015 he is still with his wife and intends to spend a lot more time with his family because he now has young children. That makes Ron Luce a champion of marriage in my book! Well done Ron. And Karl Vaters (Christian author and pastoral ministry of over 30 years) says “… work on your marriage as much as your church …”^^222^^
When I came back to Christ I was only working thirty-eight hour weeks, 8am-4pm, Monday to Friday, and lived 5 minutes from my workplace. This gave me plenty of spare time to focus on my Christian growth. This is evidenced by the fact that in the nine years since then I have received a Certificate in Theology; studied at least 60 academic books, around 300 academic articles (all listed in my first book HTBAC); hundreds of hours (probably in excess of one thousand hours) of the Christian TV Channel; published two Christian books; and spent quality time with my wife and boys. If I had worked fifty or more hours per week over those nine years, I would not have made anywhere near the level of Christian progress that I did: and too many pastors are working those long hours.
LifeWayResearch conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,000 pastors in USA which indicated that “… a full 65% of them work 50 or more hours a week … 8% saying they work 70 or more hours …” and that “… meetings and electronic correspondence consume large amounts of time for many ministers …” ^^223^^ Ruth Barton was at a church meeting trying to work out how to “… attract more people to join the church …” when someone pointed out that members had “… at least five time commitments per week …” Ruth felt that was too onerous and “… was already trying to combat CFS (Christian fatigue syndrome) in her own life …” Ruth noted that “… life in the church often gets reduced to so much activity, so much busyness … that we will not make it over the long haul …” Ruth notes that when the disciples returned from “… their first ministry excursion … all excited about their newfound powers … Jesus … immediately instructed them ‘to come away and rest with me and rest a while’ …” (Mk 6; Barton; Miller-McLemore, 125-126)
I think it’s time for churches to delegate lots of administrative duties to trustworthy and reliable members (Zscheile, 179-180). Alli Worthington’s grandfather used to say that “… If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy …”^^224^^ Alli tells how she broke the cycle of ‘busy’ in her own life and the warning signs she should have heeded. Alli says one of the first signs is “… An Inability to Control Your Emotions …” I agree with Alli from my own experience; from friends; and from seeing dozens of police officers suffering for being way too busy (7 Signs You’ve Become Too Busy for Your Own Good, by Alli Worthington). In his article about leadership, Robert Martin says he is “… not trying to rid pastors of their many responsibilities …” (Martin, 85). But I am.
Ron Luce, the founder of Teen Mania tells us that “… in the last 10 years of the organization, I found myself getting increasingly tired, and tiredness takes a toll on you in a strange way … when you’re tired, you don’t give as much, you don’t love as much or as deeply, you don’t listen as carefully. All of those things start to add up …” ^^225^^ TAS says “… Oh, well, if I study, if I get a lot of teaching and Bible knowledge, and am always busy in the Lord’s work, I shall become something? No, not at all! In the dealings of God with you, you will find you will be emptied and brought down to nothingness in yourself, until you reach the place of pure, selfless love for the Lord for His own sake …” (TAS, His Great Love, 92; Lee, On Dying and Reckoning …).
Any senior member of a church who is not frequently checking the welfare of their pastor has not reached fullness of spiritual maturity, or has backslidden. Any senior Christian who is extremely close to Christ will reflect the love of Christ through genuine concern for the pastor and other church workers (Norheim, 77; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19). But remember, just because you are spiritually mature does not mean you have common sense. Moses was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, and we know how close he was to God. The archangel Michael argued with the Devil over Moses dead body (Jude 1:9)!! Wow, how amazing is that. Moses was so important that he appeared with Elijah when they spoke with Jesus at the Transfiguration!! There were many, many holy men and women in the Old Testament including Enoch, who was taken up by God without having to die, and many prophets who were executed for obeying God.
But Moses and Elijah were the two men chosen by God to appear at the Transfiguration!! Wow, what a privilege and honor! But when Moses was the judge and administrator of the Israelites, he overworked himself and did not know how to delegate. Moses’ father-in-law had to intervene and urge Moses to delegate to “… capable men … who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain; and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens …” (Exodus 18:13-26). Tilstra says “… Management and spirituality are complementary yet distinct processes for the religious leader. Pastors and other religious leaders are inclined to spiritualize away legitimate management issues … Pastors and other religious leaders need to boldly tackle spiritual issues with spiritual solutions and management issues with management solutions. More importantly, they need the wisdom to discern one from the other. That discernment grows in the environment of reflection and freedom from ego strangulation …” (Tilstra, 50-51; 2 Cor 13:5 AMP; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness).
And what happened in Acts Chapter Six? Some of the widows were missing out on food, so the Twelve Disciples appointed seven Christians “full of the Spirit and wisdom” to look after the food issue so that the Twelve Disciples could give their attention to (a) the church gardens and flowers? NO: (b) The church fete? NO, NO, NO: So they could © give “… ALL their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word …” (Acts 6:1-7). Eric Alexander says “… I believe that in the Church of Jesus Christ in this generation we face precisely this kind of danger; that of forgetting where our true priorities life, of failing to distinguish between the merely good, and the vital and fundamental. We need to have a clarifying of our vision and a re-echoing of this holy determination of the apostles. The focus of our concentration needs to be a wholehearted commitment to prayer and the Word of God …” (Alexander, A Question of Priorities). And do you ever see Jesus counting out money and balancing books of account? No, that responsibility was delegated to Judas (John 12:4-6).
The Bible has ALL the answers. Therefore, I believe churches that insist on using the three major church systems should operate like this:
(1) The pastor is to look after corporate prayer and the ministry of the word which requires a lot of personal time for Bible study, reflection,^^226^^ rest, family time and personal prayer:^^227^^
(2) A sufficient number of senior church members “full of the Spirit and wisdom” should be appointed to conduct ALL other church business, then they will know all about the functions of a church to prepare them for leadership:
(3) The pastor, who, in the local church setting, is figuratively the leader like Moses, must constantly build-up Christians (TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 93; 2 Tim 2:2) so that the church always has sufficient numbers of wise, capable, God-fearing, trustworthy Christians who are full of the Spirit, who can take on all administrative tasks of the church.
There should be so many mature Spirit-filled Christians that there is always someone who can conduct a church service and deliver wonderful, motivational sermons that link everything to Christ. Bill Hybels says “… One would think that strong, gifted leaders would make sure that no emerging leader would mature to the point where his or her own leadership might be threatened. Actually, the exact opposite is true: The greatest thrill a mature, gifted leader can experience is the gradual achievement of the God-given vision through the combined efforts of younger leaders who some-day will carry the kingdom baton … a leader creates a culture where more and more people can rise up to lead …” (Hybels; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …). Building up mature Christians into leadership roles may cause difficulty for some leaders because “… sometimes it’s detrimental to our bottom-line to have people draw too close to Jesus …” [because amongst other things] “… they might … leave when God calls them into full-time ministry, challenge the status quo, [or] make us feel threatened by reducing the clergy / laity dividing line …” (Are We More Invested in Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus? By Karl Vaters).
If the pastor / leadership team think like this, then that is pride. As Eric Alexander says, “… Now humility is one of those very difficult things to talk about. Yet I am more and more persuaded that true biblical humility is one of the key elements in true usefulness to God …” (Let Him Who Boasts …). And, as I have learned the hard way in my own life, pride hides: you sometimes don’t realize you are acting out of pride. The only way for leaders to keep their pride in check is to have a healthy Christian walk by spending lots of time studying the Bible (Parker 168; Josh 1:8), and a healthy prayer life (TAS, The Rights of God, 24-25; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua; Motyer, The Gospel of The Humanity of Jesus). And this must be DAILY development, otherwise I believe you will start to backslide.^^228^^ Parker says (at 167) “… the present day leaders’ spirituality is dependent on intentional times of solitude and Selah for interaction with the Divine …” It is easy to drift away: (Heb 2:1-4) and it can be so subtle you don’t even notice it.^^229^^
As TAS says, “ … it is … possible to preach and be a Christian worker, and know nothing of the grace of the Lord Jesus in your own life: to be just a contradiction. There is far too much of that. Paul would never countenance anything like that. If he is going to speak about ministry and about testimony in the world, he will demand a basis, that grace shall have done its work at least in measure, so that in this way the love of God is now manifested. There is now humility …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 31-32; Norheim, 75; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).
Margaret Ashmore says that “… a day without prayer promotes self-sufficiency …”^^230^^ And your DAILY prayers should be detailed, not just a quick prayer for the sake of convincing yourself you ‘technically’ pray to God each day (Long, 48-49). The Bible says that the early Christians devoted themselves to prayer (Parker, 181; TAS, The Rights of God, 24-25; Alexander, A Question of Priorities). Amongst other advice, the apostle Paul urged Christians to be “… devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength] …” (Rom 12:12). In my first book HTBAC I included a list of important topics to incorporate into your daily prayers. Parker says that “… prayer was a significant part of congregational life for leaders and followers … Porhill purports that prayer is one of the two primary pastoral priorities as found in Acts 6:4. Constant prayer fostered oneness … the corporate prayer offered by the people of the church on behalf of Peter was continuous and fervent … thus, the church prayed strongly to God and prayed with heart felt words … the church leaders also prayed corporately in some form of ordination of new leaders to the work of ministry …” (Parker, 181-183; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies).
But, remember, YOU, the pastor, have to teach members of your church how to pray about EVERY topic. Therefore, if you have not devoted a lot of time to personal prayer with God about many issues in your own Christian journey, how are you going to teach others? None of the churches I have attended provided any guidance on how to pray. Professor Roberta Bondi believes “… that the starting point for all education for ministry is Christian formation that helps the student learn the long-term ways of prayer and self-reflection that will sustain her or him through seminary and through all the years of ministry which will follow it …” (Callahan, Leadership in EC …, 65-66; 2 Cor 13:5 AMP; Forney, Integrative CL …, 33; Callahan and Eblen, 208; Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry…, 1, 5; Tilstra, 50-51; Motyer, The Gospel of the Humanity of Jesus).
And remember; when you consider any new ministry or activity for your church, your measuring stick is: ‘How will starting this ministry ultimately glorify Christ?’^^231^^ Everything else comes second.^^232^^ What MEASURABLE EVIDENCE is there to prove your belief that this ministry will ultimately glorify Christ?^^233^^ I understand that even if your church structure is close to ‘perfect’, the most devoted Christian will ‘drop the ball’ and make the occasional mistake because the spirit and the flesh constantly war against each other. So, do not allow the Devil to score easy points against you by leaving even slight cracks in your church structure (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60).
I don’t think churches using the three major types of governance can change sufficiently enough to bring Christ closer to their center, because of three major problems, namely church membership, voting rights, and bureaucracy.^^234^^ In 1995, Rick Warren told us that if people want to be members of his church they have to go through a well-structured membership class. If churches haven’t adopted Rick’s criteria in the twenty years since he first told us, it is very doubtful any church will have the ability, desire or consent to change.
The problem at the moment is that many churches have allowed people to become members without requiring them to reach a set standard or high enough standard of Christian knowledge and Christ-like behavior. Therefore, many churches have members who are not serious Christians: or as TAS terms them: professing Christians.^^235^^ And in many churches, including those using the congregational and episcopalianism methods, members have voting rights (Greg Jones, 119). And church meetings are famous for being out-and-out boxing matches full of strong-willed personalities.^^236^^
TAS has a thing or two to say about membership: “… On what ground does the membership of the assembly subsist or consist? Spirituality is the governing factor, and it determines relationship from start to finish. There is no other ground recognized by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of God, for membership of the church, the House of God, of the assembly … if you have not got spiritual people in the assembly you are better without them, and certainly you must safeguard the Lord’s interests from their interference and from their having any place whatever in the ordering or the influencing of the things of God’s House. This is a law which may be simple, in some senses weak at its beginnings; that is, you may have a babe in Christ, but there is spirituality at its beginning, and a true babe in Christ is one ready to be taught and recognizes the need of being taught, and needs to know everything as to walk, and knowledge, and everything else. But this matter of spirituality is the law by which the church grows …”^^237^^
For two thousand years the Church has had the Parable of the Weeds for guidance.^^238^^ The meaning of this parable has caused a bit of contention over the years and I understand that. Some say it does not refer to the Church, but to the world at large. I believe the word ‘world’ includes any situation where non-Christians mix with Christians, whether that is in churches or elsewhere. The Bible says the Devil is the “ruler of this world” at the moment, until Jesus Christ returns (2 Cor 4:3-4). To me that means the Devil can cause trouble for Christians ANYWHERE in this world. And the Bible says the Devil acts like an angel of light. In other words, he is very subtle and uses deceit and trickery more often than not. TAS says “… this (mixing Christians with non-Christians) is a wile of the evil wisdom of the Devil …” (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 19-21). The word ‘wile’ includes “trick, con, scam deception …”
In 1931 TAS said “… What is the curse of the church today? The link and relationship of mere professors with true believers: a mixed multitude. Those who have come into the things of God, but not by new birth …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 53) and “… all the way through the Bible, along two lines … murder and mixture. If the adversary cannot kill, as he sought to kill Moses and others … directly, he will entice them, he will ensnare them, he will somehow bring in mixture, by mixed marriages, mixed worship …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 119).
Just like police have to outwit the schemes of criminals, you and I have to outwit the schemes of the Devil. If you were the Devil where would you try to trick and con Christians with maximum effect? What better place than in churches, where most Christians gather?^^239^^ I believe he places pretend Christians, professing Christians, half-Christians and non-Christians into churches where they sing along and worship with the Christians.^^240^^ In order to be successful in a church, the Devil has to assist these professing Christians and half-Christians to get some type of power in the church to nullify the effect of the Gospel. I believe he uses churches that have a low bar for membership, and who give members voting rights in that church. Most of these types of churches very rarely discipline members or rescind memberships.
TAS says “… there is a vast difference, beloved, between vital union with God in Jesus Christ and religious formalism … along that line the enemy is destroying the whole testimony of the Church by packing it full of active, energetic, unconverted people …” (TAS, Christ the Power of God, 46). That is why I believe every church must prevent non-Christians or professing Christians from becoming members in the first place. Thom Rainer says one of the four major hindrances to Church Revitalization is that “… They do not emphasize member expectations in an entry level or membership class …” (Four Major Ways Pastors Hinder Church Revitalization, by Thom S. Rainer)
In his book, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, TAS says that to succeed in your church as the pastor you need to “… get away from this ‘pulpit and pew’ conception …” and be a servant leader (see my essay at end of this book) who builds everyone up in Christ, through ‘mutual ministration’.^^241^^ Claybury International has a Christian Leadership Academy, where “… the practical leadership style taught … is Christ-centered servant leadership …”^^242^^ TAS says “… In the church there must be leaders, but the leader must also be a follower. Paul gave us the pattern when he exhorted the Corinthians: ‘Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ’ (1 Cor 11:1) …”^^243^^ The greatest concern of leaders like the Apostles Paul and John “… is to lead with a deep intimacy with the Triune God (See Eph. 1 and John 17 respectively) and to discern how to participate with him in Christ’s ongoing ministry in the world …” (Horsthuis, 104). Stone, Russell, and Patterson say “… ‘that both transformational leadership and servant leadership emphasize the importance of appreciating and valuing people, listening, mentoring or teaching … ‘ it has been forcefully argued that servant leadership and transformational leadership are the dominant leadership concepts in the New Testament …” (Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …, 99, 102).
Alan Stones “… delineated nine key elements of the servant leadership style: (1) begin with service to the Master, Jesus Christ; (2) faithfully exercise one’s gifts for the body of believers; (3) remain open about failures and cognizant of need for continuous growth; (4) exercise critical thinking skills based on Scriptures; (5) change leadership style to suit situation and constituency; (6) faithfully engage in discipline of prayer (Madsen, Lessons From Joshua); (7) dedicate self to purpose of the group; (8) commit to fellow-workers in the task; and (9) share responsibilities …” (Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 77; Echols, 121). See also Karl Vaters’ twelve distinctions between ‘bosses’ and ‘leaders’ (12 Ways to Know If You’re Pastoring Like a Boss – Or Like a Leader).
There is no use being a pastor if you think you are more important than the congregation. Scott Sauls “… thinks it’s easy to put pastors … on a pedestal … they turn pastors … into objects instead of subjects … celebrities instead of neighbors … this tends to widen the gap between congregants and their pastors … especially … in large churches. …” (Darling). You, the pastor, are responsible for avoiding this type of isolation. It can begin very subtly so watch yourself like a hawk (Rodin, 113). TAS says “… What applies there applies in every other direction of the anointing. It is the whole testimony, not fragmentary. Anointing is one, is relative, is entire, is connected with the fullness and finality of the testimony of Jesus … our individual anointing in Christ is not that we should be constituted something in ourselves,^^244^^ but that the full testimony of the Lord Jesus should be realized through every anointed member. The whole testimony is in view …”^^245^^
In brief, what specifically is ‘the testimony of Jesus’? Harry Foster says “… It is the setting forth in living expression of the person of Jesus Christ …” (Foster, Life in the Heavenlies). TAS summarizes the testimony of Jesus thus: “… The testimony of Jesus is firstly, Who Jesus was and is … Christ is God … secondly, what Jesus is in relation to man … He is man’s representative … thirdly, what Jesus did in His cross. That embraces the universality of His death, His burial, His resurrection and His reign … finally, what God has eternally purposed concerning Him relates to His sovereign Headship over all nations as King of kings and Lord of Lords …” (TAS, The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 43-46).
Yes, you should know more about God than the congregation, (TAS, Leadership, 50) because our ministry is a priestly ministry^^246^^ like the Levites who had “… a living, fuller and more inward understanding of Christ …” than the children of Israel^^247^^ and “… the priest’s lips should keep knowledge …”^^248^^ Sharon Callahan’s study “… discovered that respondents looking to religious leadership value a leader’s spiritual depth above every other competence they identify …”^^249^^ You also have authority in areas such as discipline (1 Cor 5; Osborne) and general administration of the church,^^250^^ but you need the servant leader attitude of Jesus Christ. John Piper says “… Spiritual leadership is aimed not so much at directing people as it is at changing people …”^^251^^ Scott Cormode says “ … the heart of a pastor’s vocation is to inspire and commend, to deepen the spiritual lives of a congregation: being able to preach well just is not enough …” (Cormode, Constructing Faithful Action …, 227, 251-252). Kimberly Long says that it is not only essential for people to come to worship “‘hungering for an epiphany’ … [but] … those who lead worship must also come hungering for an epiphany, expecting to be changed: and communicating that expectancy and openness to those who gather for worship …” (Long 48-50).
That is, both the pastor and congregation help each other grow in Christ by devoting themselves to mutual increase in Christ,^^252^^ and increasing Christ in every church activity. (TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 5) Jacob tried it in reverse!! He cunningly supplanted his brother to get “… authority, the place of supremacy …”^^253^^ It took twenty years for Jacob to learn “… that authority is reached by the way of subjection … to the Father …” Just like Jesus Christ taught us: “… Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground (Norheim, 72-73) and die …” [to die is] “… to surrender yourself, let go of your own life, deny your own rights, it brings forth much fruit …”^^254^^ Paul said he remembered Timothy’s “sincere and unqualified faith [the surrendering of your entire self to God in Christ with confident trust in His power, wisdom and goodness …]” (2 Tim 1:5 AMP). Joseph “… learned to be a servant in the hard school of Potiphar’s house, emptied of everything in order that he might learn how to reign and how to have fullness without pride …”^^255^^
Unless the whole church dies to itself, the Devil will continue to have a field day, (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60) “… not only directly but through carnal Christians …”^^256^^ TAS warns that “… you will suffer more at the hands of professing Christians than you will at the hands of the world … if you mean to go right on with God …”^^257^^ That is why I urge you to take your time and prepare your church thoroughly. Develop excellent policies and disciplinary procedures, without turning them into ‘control mechanisms’ as I explain further on in this chapter where I discuss the policies of The Village Church USA (as posted on their site in March 2016), and parts that I believe are ‘controlling’.
To be perfectly clear, I believe churches should allow anyone including non-Christians to attend and worship at their church without ever putting any pressure on them to make them members. And, I believe you should inform everyone of this fact in any initial advertising such as flyers that you send out to introduce your church and on any Website you may construct. But, if you start a church from scratch you should take Rick Warren’s advice and have clearly structured membership classes that enable you to keep the bar very high for a person to achieve membership. This will result in a Christ-centered church, with much more Christ-like voting in church meetings.^^258^^
TAS gives good grounds for having a ‘high bar’ for your church membership. He says “… If there is one man or woman connected to the will of God, some company of His people in the body of Christ meet face to face with something the Lord has called upon them to do, and they stop short half or three quarters of the way and do not go right through, this has an arresting force upon the rest … At Corinth one man was holding up the whole assembly because there was something there God had said must go: idolatry …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 35). TAS says “… Only together do we arrive at the fullness of God. The fullness is given to us in as far as we, the many, are ONE body. That is why every division means loss to us and for the time being also loss to the Lord … in the Old Testament no one was allowed to come to the temple with empty hands … only that which is of Christ is worthy to be presented, because our unity is only based on that which is of Christ …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 69; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16).
And don’t forget, Rick Warren cancels membership if he has to, and so should you. (Church 1 … Devil 0). Problem solved by preventing the problem in the first place. But, I admit there will always be some problems, even in the best churches (Fuller, 21; Goff, 55), and it is usually in the form of rumors, whining, and complaining. The Apostle Paul was forced to spend way too much time teaching CHRISTIANS to stop gossiping etc. (TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-120). The New Testament tells us that everything that happened to Israel in the Old Testament was for us to learn from (1 Cor 10:11). Bildad says “Inquire, please, of past generations, and consider and apply yourself to the things searched out by their fathers …” (Job 8:8 AMP). What excuse do we have nowadays compared to the people in the New Testament? We have much more information such as two thousand years of recorded church history, and unlimited Christian information on the Internet: much of it is FREE?^^259^^ Make sure your congregation knows from the first week how seriously you consider gossiping and rumormongering (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50).
Your membership classes should include thorough teaching about your disciplinary policies. But, implementing new or tougher membership classes, disciplinary procedures, and policies for rescinding membership in an existing church will be very difficult, if not impossible (Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry …, esp. 1-2). Bard Norheim says “… The problem is that people tend not to like surprises caused by change, and surprised people tend to behave badly …” (Norheim, 60). This is why I recommend we have to start new churches. If you are an existing church and you successfully implement these changes, at least within a decade or two your membership will be wholly made up of devoted, mature, Spirit-filled Christians.
But, your church will still be weighed down with the old attitudes of members who are ‘half-Christians’ / professing Christians for as long as they are members.^^260^^ And that could be several decades. That is too long. Jesus Christ expects prompt action to make each church wholly centered on Him.^^261^^ I was at a church meeting where they were discussing the topic of finding a replacement pastor. I heard a senior member of the church say that they wanted the new pastor to be one who has a young family. What for? What a Spirit-filled, devoted Christian SHOULD have said was, ‘We want a Spirit-filled pastor who leads each one of us closer to Jesus Christ’.
Tullian Tchividjian was appointed pastor of a church in USA at age thirty six. I am not criticizing Tullian in any way, but I noticed an interesting line in that post: “… Church elders hoped that Tchividjian’s youth, vision, and name (i.e.; Billy Graham’s grandson) could revive the fortunes of the ageing congregation …”^^262^^ Dear oh dear! The problem was obviously in the congregation: “… revive the fortunes of the ageing congregation …” That sounds like they were all tired people with no ZEAL and FERVOUR for God.^^263^^ TAS says “… one of the most difficult things is to tend and minister to the immature, the spiritually delayed in their growth …” (TAS, His Great Love, 103).
On the other hand, Spirit-filled Christians living on the resurrection side of the Cross^^264^^ will always have a zeal and fervor for God regardless of their age. TAS says that “… in these two ways Joshua represents the energy of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit has His way in our lives we will always be going forward, and we shall neither look back nor shall we stand still …”^^265^^ And, if Tullian had these qualities, he would not have taken on this job unless he checked that ALL members had this fire in their belly for God. There is little point in a Spirit-filled Christian trying to pastor a ‘tired’ congregation of members who have no zeal and fervor for God, because, unless you have the freedom to discipline them in a biblical manner, it will be like trying to move a mountain: the job will suck the life right out of you (Greg Jones, 118).
As I said in my first book, HTBAC, there is a MASSIVE difference in the attitude of a ‘half-Christian’ and a devoted Christian.^^266^^ I know because I have been both. Even a devoted Christian has to constantly fight to keep a lid on their pride, because pride hides and you sometimes don’t know you are responding out of pride (TAS, The Necessity for Weakness). If a mature Christian has problems with pride, half-Christians or people who pretend to be Christians will create chaos if you allow them to become members of a church.^^267^^ That equals out-and-out warfare (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 120).
TAS says that “… If there is an element of untruth anywhere in the church in any member or in any place, that structure will collapse, it will not weather the storm … it would be too strong a word to say that these men [the Twelve Disciples] were in a lie during those years [the three and a half years with Jesus], but they were not in a true position. They may have thought they were, but they were not, and the Lord knew that … so by the space of 40 days … He would leave them in the place where they were able now to say … we know this Christianity and this Christ is not a teaching, a doctrine, or anything like that to us; it is a living reality … We know it is true. So John wrote years afterward: ‘We know Him Who is true …’”^^268^^ And TAS says “… the assembly is only the aggregate of the individual; the assembly can never be more than its individual members are …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 115, 161).
Dr. Dale A. Robbins says “… Church conflict frequently has to do with ‘power struggles’ within the congregation. That is, a contention for influence or control … God’s word tells us to pray for, respect and cooperate with those authorized spiritual leaders of our church (Heb 13:17, 1 Thess 5:12-13). Insurrection is nowhere sanctioned in scripture … according to the Apostle Paul, the general root for strife and division is spiritual immaturity and carnality … (1 Cor 3:3)”^^269^^ “… factions, divisions, parties, works of the flesh … may it be after all that in sectarian parties the flesh is at the root? Of course that is not always true, but we ought to be very honest with ourselves to see that on no ground whatever before God but the ground of the purest, most transparent, crystal clear spiritual principle do we stand where we stand … Christ has brought us in Himself out from that … and we must not go back and live there. Oh that we saw what a mighty thing this death of Christ is to bring us out of the whole body of the flesh, to bring us right out by the Cross …” (TAS, Christ the Power of God, 33-34).
Carnal / half / professing Christians do not have sufficient spiritual knowledge nor spiritual maturity to know many “crystal clear spiritual principles”. The apostle Paul wrote: “… And having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of righteousness [of conformity to God’s will and purpose]. I am speaking in [familiar] human terms because of your natural limitations [your spiritual immaturity] …” (Rom 6:18-19). Therefore, if you have a low-bar for membership, your church is in trouble right from the start. Have fun with that one!!! Of course, you could bring in a rule that allows you to rescind that person’s membership, but, unless you rescind for a breach of discipline, they will ‘kick and scream’ and make everybody’s life hell. They may even kick and scream if you discipline them for an obvious breach of discipline. This is reality people. And what if that member is a major financial contributor to the church? What wages or programs are you going to cut to readjust (Greg Jones, 110)? Are you willing or able to take a personal wage cut? Karl Vaters says, “… as a pastor I have too much invested in getting people to attend church; my salary depends on it; my sense of self-worth depends on it …”^^270^^
But, as Thom S. Rainer says, one of the eight common characteristics of successful church revitalizations is that “… the leadership of the church was willing to let go of members … few leaders like to see members leave, but some churches have a ‘back door revival’ before true revitalization can take place …” (8 Common Characteristics of Successful Church Revitalizations, by Thom S. Rainer). This is why I recommend you develop well-thought out policies for membership. I recommend you make a Website for your church and include your policies for public view.
This shows complete transparency;^^271^^ leaves people with no excuse for not complying with them; furthermore, other people can use them for their churches or personal education. In 2016, LifeWay Research published the results of their studies of 734 pastors who quit the pastorate.^^272^^ Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay said “… almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help …” such as “… having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest … if you are burning out, chances are when conflict arises you’re not going to respond well, and that will make the conflict worse …” (Parker, 165-169)
Here is a real-life situation about church guidelines you will hardly believe, because even a police veteran like me could hardly believe it. Karen Hinkley and her husband Jordan Root were Covenant Members of The Village Church USA. In 2015, Jordan’s Covenant Membership was cancelled because he had viewed child porn. Karen divorced Jordan. The church disciplined Karen because they deemed her grounds for divorce were not biblical!! WHHAAAT? I read The Village Church Membership Covenant in early 2016.
While I find the Covenant fairly well thought out, I think it is way too long and detailed, and controlling in vital areas. There are several topic headings in the Covenant. It starts with an explanation of the membership covenant. Nothing technically wrong with it, but I would not include it. This should be explained and discussed personally to people who want to be members. The same applies to the following headings: “What Is The Church?”; “What Is a Covenant?”; “Statement of Basic Belief”; and “Statement of Theological Distinctives”
The next is “Biblical Obligations of The Village Church”. The first part: “Elders to The Village Church Body” and “The elders covenant” are fine because you expect much more from elders of the church because they have had many years to learn how to apply biblical principles in a church setting. But, I don’t think I will include them in my church policy because a person should not be an elder in the first place if they are not displaying these qualities. Next is the “Biblical Obligations of the Members to The Village Church Body” I think this is the area you have to be very careful with. I do not think I will include this type of section in my church policy because it can cause confusion.
For example: “… I covenant to submit to the authority of the Scriptures as the final arbiter on all issues …” Technically correct, but the pastor or leadership team actually have to be the final arbiters on all issues, because they have to interpret the scripture and apply it to the particular behavior of a church member (Eph 3:10). Therefore, if your pastor or leaders are not fully crucified Christians, they are going to mix their emotions in with the disciplinary policies. I believe my opinion is supported by Colossians 3:16 which says “Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind: permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom …” (Col 3:16 AMP; Titus 2:15; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6 & 5:11-14; 2 Thess 3:14-15 AMP). To me, Colossians 3:16 says you must have a very high level of Godly wisdom BEFORE you teach and train other Christians or you will get it all wrong (James 3:13-17). And when that happens, the church leadership treat people just like the world treats its people: terribly. It appears this is what happened to Karen Hinkley.
The next one says: “To regularly participate in the life of The Village Church by attending weekly services …” What if you are a shift-worker and work two Sundays per month? Technically you are in breach of this rule!! For this very reason; namely common sense; this is a ridiculous requirement. Again, you lead a church by having continual and meaningful relationships with your congregation.^^273^^ Echols says that “… Servant leaders develop trust because they care about those they lead … “^^274^^ If a member does not turn up one Sunday for some unknown reason, make the genuine effort to check up on their welfare. They may have been sick or some other genuine problem occurred in their life. Robert Muthiah says, “… For our relationships to have Trinitarian correspondence, they need to be intentionally cared for. The relational sphere must be present because ‘within congregations, families and friendship need leadership so that gospel meanings can be embedded and healthy relationships can be nurtured’ …”^^275^^
You should not make a rule for church attendance: just show genuine concern for members as a Shepherd does his flock. If your church is too big for you, as pastor, to keep track of everybody, then ensure that each group leader (e.g.: Bible study leader) keeps a reasonable track of the members. This is important training for group leaders. And the only way you are going to know if group leaders are connecting with the congregation is by regularly asking them. Jesus Christ did not write one little bit of his teaching: He left no written record. He communicated face-to-face as much as possible. Once Jesus ascended to Heaven and the Holy Spirit replaced Him, the Holy Spirit inspired the disciples and others to write letters that we now call the New Testament.
But, when you are operating a church, train yourself and your group leaders to try to connect with people face-to-face (Forney, A Calm in the Tempest…, 28-33). If you haven’t got the skills or confidence to do that, then you are not yet ready to be a pastor or hold any type of leadership role in a church (Cormode, Constructing Faithful Action …, 240). Roberta Gilbert says “… In every relationship, no matter how emotionally mature, emotions are continuously signaled and received nonverbally … but thoughtful verbal communication is an important hallmark of high level relationships … without the clear and open expression of feelings within a system, it is difficult to imagine how intimacy or trust might be established …”^^276^^ Proverbs fifteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-three, and twenty-five through to twenty-nine provide wonderful advice on the art of communication.
What about this one from The Village Church: “… to steward the resources God has given me, including time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances. This includes regular financial giving, service and participation in community that is sacrificial, cheerful and voluntary.”
I’m sorry, but I will never make financial giving a ‘requirement’. The congregation should be taught that financial giving is NOT mandatory, and that they should only give if they want to (2 Cor 8:1-15; 2 Cor 9 AMP). Refer to Chapter Four of this book where I urge churches to be fully transparent about the amount of money received and what the money is spent on. This should be a weekly announcement: not once per annum at the Annual General Meeting. I believe that if you are passing your church collection on towards charitable and worthwhile causes, people will give because they see you are applying THEIR money with honesty, compassion, and transparency. You won’t need a written rule for ‘giving’ if you do it this way. This is a new world where people crave transparency from ALL organizations.
The next bit about marriage is interesting and is written in such a way that I (as a police prosecutor of twenty years) would interpret as 'controlling'. It says “… I will seek to preserve the gift of marriage and agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at The Village Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse …” Excuse me!! Marriage is a covenant between man and woman and God, not between the married couple and the church. I’m sorry, but there should be no requirement to go through a church marriage reconciliation process. This may be a well-intentioned requirement by The Village Church, but boy did they get this wrong in Karen’s case (Turner). If I was caught in possession of, or viewing child pornography, I would be absolutely stunned if my wife stayed with me. What was The Village Church thinking?? Child pornography is vile, a criminal offence in most places, and I think most women I know would leave their husbands: and I would support their decision to leave.
The next sections about holiness, premarital sex, adultery and pornography are unnecessary because they are covered in the Bible. The Village Church “Member Covenant” is about 2,600 words in length, which is way too much, in my opinion. Richard Ascough says: “We see in both the Corinthian and Galatian correspondence that Paul was a minimalist in giving direction to the communities that he founded. Rather than lay down a set of rules he advocated a few simple concepts (mutual love, mutual slavery, Spirit guidance) and expected that from these the communities would grow and flourish …” (Ascough, 32, 35; Rom 1:11-12). The point I want to make out of this is that I urge you not to create enormous volumes of rules and covenants for your church. Keep it simple.
Sorry: I can’t help myself because I love this last one: “… To do the following should I leave the church for righteous reasons: to notify the appropriate staff member on the campus I attend. To seek another church with which I can carry out my biblical responsibilities as a believer ...” You've got to be kidding me: now that is control if I ever saw it. Sorry, but I am going to be tongue-in-cheek here! So you can ‘commit an offence’ and leave yourself liable to discipline by The Village Church if you exercise your constitutional and democratic right to go to another church just because you feel like it?? Wow. What are they going to do: issue a warrant of arrest for you for leaving The Village Church without a ‘righteous reason’? What the heck is a righteous reason, and who decides what is righteous? Imagine getting summoned to the ‘great council of The Village Church’; and you fail to appear; and they hear the case in your absence (ex parte) and convict and fine you several hundred dollars!!! Do you go to jail if you refuse to pay?? Sorry, but I find that absolutely ridiculous. I believe the leaders of The Village Church should make themselves very familiar with Michael McNichols' article titled " First Love and Second Loves: Revisioning a Paradigm of Hope for Pastors”. If people want to leave your church, just let them.
And Karen asked “… The Village Church [to] refrain from any future communication …” but “… church leaders had refused to comply with that request for weeks and were proceeding with church discipline …” Hey, the last time I looked, America is a democracy: they should have left Karen alone. How insensitive: Imagine how Karen felt when it was discovered that her husband had been viewing child-porn for ten years? Karen claims that Jordan told her “... he preferred prepubescent girls ages four and older but that he had seen child pornography involving infants and teenagers as well …” That is sick, gross, vile and shocking, and I think Karen will be shocked and emotionally fragile for a long time. As a police officer I have encountered this type of case, and it is not unusual for a wife / partner to be emotionally scarred for several years. And The Village Church failed or refused to consider this?? Wow.
You see there is a major problem with these detailed requirements of The Village Church Membership Covenant. YOU: the church; are responsible for ensuring that every church attendee is taught all these requirements as the normal part of teaching people about the Christian faith through the Bible. YOU (the church) have to ensure that all the behaviors included in the Membership Covenant (as of February 11, 2016 when I accessed their Membership Covenant) are well and truly understood by every attendee BEFORE they become members. You prepare your sermons to cover all these topics. And you clarify all these types of requirements in the mandatory membership classes for your church. You keep church records that list what you have taught and who attended those classes. Then, you don’t need to have all these ridiculous requirements. In fact, I will go as far to say that if anyone becomes a member without fully understanding these requirements, THE CHURCH has failed in its duty to teach the “… manifold wisdom of God …” (Eph 3:10).
I found a 2014 article by Sara Goff titled “Developing Affective Competence Through Spiritual Practice”, which explores how we should develop interpersonal skills with others by learning how to handle our own, and other people’s emotional processes. This article backs up what I have subconsciously thought for years. That is, not many people, including Christians, are taught how to communicate properly with other people; especially about how emotions impact relationships. Sara confirms my suspicion where she writes: “… other than in psychotherapy, where else in society are people encouraged to learn and practice these skills …” (Goff, 46). This is why I am urging every pastor to take responsibility and teach your congregation all these interpersonal communication skills face-to-face when preaching and in all other contact with congregants (Reed; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest…, 28-33).
Otherwise, you will have to learn the hard way through mistakes that are hard to fix later on. For example, in relation to Karen's case, Matt Chandler said “… It is clear that we have not communicated: in multiple cases now; the gentleness, compassion, and patience that our elders are called to walk in …” (Parker, 167-168). You reckon!!!! Please note that Karen was pleased with the genuine face-to-face apology she received from Pastors Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson. But, what amazes me is that it does not appear The Village Church changed the Membership Covenant when I accessed it in February 2016?? Why not? ^^277^^
I won’t go into too much detail about standards and selection criteria for any paid positions you intend to create in your church, because in some places charitable institutions such as churches are exempt from workplace laws, but, please check with a solicitor. When you have implemented paid positions, please aim to employ mature staff who are Spirit-filled Christians. Include this in the Job Position Description. I have found many excellent examples FREE on the internet. BUT, even if you find the perfect Job Description on the Internet, still run it by your solicitor BEFORE you implement it. Remember, you will have to know someone for a long time before you can be satisfied that they are mature, reliable, employable Christians.
To be an effective spiritual leader you have to be a good judge of character (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). This takes many years, and if you live a sheltered life, you may not even become a good judge of character (Goodman). I was quite gullible and naïve even up to about 21 years of age. This is due to the fact that my parents gave me virtually no instructions or life advice, therefore I had to learn too many basic principles of communication as an adult: That is why I am glad I served in the police for 34 years, because police constantly deal with lies and fibs that people throw at them every day, therefore you learn how to judge people very quickly. I know all this means it will take a long time to build your church but it is important you take your time and maintain a tight ship to prevent cracks appearing for the Devil to prise open. Please, please, please: DO NOT get over-excited and try to grow your church quickly. The temptation WILL be great, I understand that, but take your time and enjoy it (Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 64-65). And, don’t forget to pray to God daily, if possible, seeking His help in every area of your own life and to guide you in every step of preparing to start your own church. (Church 1 … Devil 0): That’s better!!
SEVEN – EDUCATING THE CONGREGATION
I recommend you work out a fairly well-structured preaching / teaching program for your church and do not be afraid to invite other preachers and teachers to present a sermon if they are an expert in that field. This assists your growth; the growth of the congregation; and by humbly allowing other people to present sermons you are keeping your pride in check. Please pay every guest speaker and pay them well if possible. I recommend you prepare your sermon material at least one month, preferably two months in advance. Make every effort to keep Christ at the center of all this.^^278^^
I suggest you provide sufficient Bibles for the whole congregation. Remember, you are not going to be reimbursed for the cost of the Bibles, therefore you are sowing generously, and you know what that means: blessings from God. I suggest the Amplified Bible because it defines difficult words or concepts in amongst the text, enabling you to learn biblical concepts much quicker. Start your teachings in chronological order week by week. I will give a short, broad outline below, but in my first book (HTBAC) I explained everything in detail from Creation to the New Heavens and New Earth.
On the first day you open your church, give an overview of Creation and the Bible, and also give an overview about yourself, and how you will operate your church. I would split the overview and the sermon. I would give your ten minute overview at the start of the service, then, present a twenty minute sermon after some interim activities. Start your biblical teaching at the very beginning of the Bible where it says: “In the beginning God …” (Gen 1:1). Scott Cormode says “… the first responsibility of a religious leader is to define reality theologically and spiritually …”^^279^^ Well, a Christian’s view of reality is that (1) there is a God (2) God exists in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … and so on …
So let’s teach about who God is first of all. After all, God is the most important and only perfect ‘being’ in existence. As Robert Muthiah says, “… Witness is done well when it provides a good picture of who God is and how God works …” (Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 181). Explain that God is eternal, immortal, and has always existed in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that at some point in eternity, God created the material universe. Explain that God made the Earth first because God’s whole purpose for making the Earth was to create a ‘being’ in His image, and humans are those ‘beings’.
Point out that God made the Earth on the first day of Creation week and did not make the Sun, Moon and Stars until Day Four of Creation Week. That completely rules out Evolution because NASA believes the Sun was made before the Earth.^^280^^ Please explain that Creation week consisted of six twenty-four hour periods (Gen Chapter One; Ex 29:11). I provide detailed evidence for my belief of the twenty-four hour days in my first book, HTBAC.
I recommend you then outline the structure and purpose of the Kingdom of God as contained in Theodore Austin-Spark’s FREE Internet book: “The Kingdom of God.” Explain the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, (TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 129-135; 2 Cor 6:14-16 AMP) and how to achieve right standing / righteousness with God. Then explain how God uses Jesus Christ as the means of man finding right standing with God. Reinforce the need to read the Bible as being all about Jesus Christ. Give them that beautiful saying: ‘The Old Testament is Christ concealed and the New Testament is Christ revealed’.^^281^^
Explain that all the Old Testament laws were a ‘type’ of Christ as explained in the Book of Hebrews, and how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament laws during His time here on Earth. Explain that in the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophets, but in the New Testament, God explains everything through Christ (Heb 1:1-2), and true faith in Jesus Christ is now the only way to achieve ‘right standing / righteousness’ with God.^^282^^ Inform the congregation that you will explain ‘righteousness’ in detail in the second week of your church. Finish up with what will happen at the end-time. That is, Jesus will overcome His enemies, and Christians will live in a new Heaven and Earth with God and Jesus Christ for eternity.
Inform the congregation that you have included a sample prayer on your handout that anyone can use to give their lives to God through Jesus Christ, and they can pass that prayer on if they need to help others who give their lives to Christ. Include this prayer on the weekly handout (Deeter). Don’t get bogged down in stodgy theology; teach the basics in a short concise manner, and ensure you time the length of your sermon so that it is not too long and not too short. The pastor of the ‘Eddie edge-trimmer’ church had transferred out after the many months of shenanigans which I was not a part of because it preceded my arrival and I avoided it like the plague.
An interim pastor was appointed. This pastor was very nice and was a mature Christian. He preached quite well, but one week he went into his topic so far that he ran out of time. He said he would complete the topic the next week. Nothing technically wrong with this, but surely a well-organized, mature Christian would know how to structure a sermon in a way to be able to complete it. I agree that we don’t want to pin down our Christianity into strict, unbendable recipes (Osborne), but skillful and well-structured communication is just as applicable to preaching sermons as it is in politics (Akerlund, 81-84; Long, esp. 35-36).
So provide a brief framework with citations and suggested readings. Provide room under each dot point so people can make brief notes as you progress through the sermon. Remember, the main aim of your church is to educate people about Christ, not spending months and months preparing for church fetes.^^283^^ Bartlett says “… the one element of leadership that you see in every piece of the early church literature is teaching …” (Forney, 78). You should hand out a weekly notice before the weekly service. I believe the notice should include an outline of the sermon. I would do it in dot point to keep it brief. Use something similar to this:
Eternal: has no beginning
Lives in unapproachable light
Created material Universe in six days
Created earth day one
God gave us free will
Adam and Eve sinned allowing sin to enter creation causing chaos and things such as disease
God promised Adam and Eve a redeemer who would pay for their sins
God used Israel in Old Testament and all rules and regulations were a type and shadow of the Christ
Old Testament hid clues about the promised Christ
Jesus fulfilled around 48 Old Testament prophecies about the Christ
Jesus crucified after sinless life therefore death could not hold Him and he rose from the dead three days later
The only way to heaven now is through active faith in Jesus Christ
Jesus will return to Earth
God will eventually destroy this universe
God will create a new heavens and Earth where those who put their faith in Christ will live with God and Christ for eternity
Time your whole service to take no longer than one hour. This is my recommendation from experience. For example, if your service starts at 10am, I advise you to finish by 11am. I have been devoted to God since I came back to Him at age forty seven, so I am always eager for every piece of knowledge about the kingdom of God. (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 4-16) Yet, even I found it hard to cope with one and a half hour church services. In this day and age, people are extremely busy, many people work weekends, and really need to know how long each service will be. Most people have a maximum attention span of fifteen minutes without a break. Therefore, I recommend your sermon should only take twenty minutes.
Your church notice should contain any church contact details you want to provide. The notice should provide updates about fundraising; that is, how much has been raised and how much is needed to donate for something the church is aiming for, such as my medical equipment example. At the end of each sermon, give people homework. Ask them to study the sermon topic you just preached, and remind them that you have provided an outline of the sermon on the church notice, with biblical references and suggested readings. Gently remind them that God expects Christians to increase their knowledge and holiness at a reasonable pace (Motyer; Foster, Bringing Many …). Inform them that the homework is not compulsory, but that a good knowledge of the basic doctrines and theories of God are required to attain membership of your church, along with observable and consistent growth in the fruits of the spirit (Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124; TAS, Joints and Bands).
Inform the congregation you understand everyone is different and that some people have lots of time for Bible study, but others may have little time due to work or family commitments. Inform them that the homework is not a race and that if anyone is having trouble understanding or accepting any of the biblical facts that you preach, ask them to raise it with you at a mutually convenient time and place, such as at the Bible study. Advise people that some biblical doctrines such as righteousness can be difficult to grasp, and may not make sense even with tuition, but that after weeks, months or years of continual practice and devoted study, they will just click into place.
Maintain a Christ-centered (TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11) structure by linking each Bible study session with the previous sermon topic to provide further education and discussion. All this is assisting your congregation to make reasonable progress in their spiritual knowledge, and keeps Christ at the center of every activity.^^284^^ It is all about Christ, not lamington drives (TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ). In the second week of your church you should teach ‘righteousness’ from its broad initial meaning down to how the resurrected Christ presents His righteousness before God for the forgiveness of sins. Carefully explain that it is difficult to grasp the difference between righteousness (legal right standing with God) and righteous behavior (building up holy habits; 1 Cor 1:30 AMP; James 1:20 AMP). Then set that as the homework, to be followed up in the next Bible study class.
In the early stages of your church you may be only running one ministry which is a Bible study group. Obviously you will attend this group and will know exactly what is going on. But if your church grows to the point where you have multiple Bible study groups or other ministries, you may not be able to attend every group. But YOU: yes YOU, as the pastor, must proactively ensure the leader of each group is fully aware of what you want taught, and why, and prepare a written handout of the topic to be studied. Before you provide the handout, ask each group leader whether they want to voluntarily prepare a handout of the topic so you can judge their level of knowledge and competence. If their handout is good enough, praise them and use their handout.
The leader of each Bible study group should, prior to teaching on the particular topic, ask if anyone present in the group would like to volunteer any knowledge they have about the topic. This will enable you to unearth and monitor any devoted Christians who may be ready to take on a Christ-related activity for the church. Ensure you have procedures in place where you meet with Bible study group leaders and discuss developments and record the feedback for future reference. If you are not actively ensuring that Christ is the primary objective of ALL your ministries, including your Bible study groups, Benny Hinn says: “You are just a Christian club”. (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 38-39)
On the third week I would give a sermon on holiness. Let’s face it, the Bible makes a big ask of us humans where it says “… Be holy as I am Holy …” (1 Pet 1:15-16). That is an enormous task, and that is why it will take a lot of work to assist Christians on this path. As Poul Madsen says “… Holiness does not consist of religious forms; it comes from a close walk with God …” (Israel’s Prophets). Inform the congregation how Jesus perfected the nine fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22; and the need to pray to God asking Him to assist them build up the nine fruit of the Spirit. Teach them how to use the prayer of petition for the fruit of the Spirit, which I fully outline in my first book HTBAC. This links the importance of prayer to Christian study and growth (TAS, The Rights of God, 24-25). Advise the congregation they should be willing to pray for the fruit of the Spirit daily for up to six months, just as I did, because this will strengthen their behavior. On the fourth week I would give a sermon on prayer, thanks and praise. This way the congregation will be taught how to structure their prayer around requests; thanks to God; praise to God; and asking God to assist in spiritual growth through the prayer of petition (HTBAC).
On the fifth week I suggest you preach about family and marriage, and provide suggested prayers for adults to use to strengthen their marriage (see HTBAC), and for other family members (e.g.; children) to use to protect and strengthen their family. On the sixth week I would pray about pride and fully detail biblical examples of pride (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17) and events where you believe yours or other people’s pride negatively affected a situation. BUT, you must also provide an example of how you have tried to reduce your pride since then. If you can’t, then you have not lived enough of the Christian life as yet (Akerlund, 81-89).
On the seventh week I would teach the church how to read the Bible (HTBAC); including a recommended order. So, in order of weeks you have preached (1) “In the beginning God” and ‘in the end Christians with Jesus and God for eternity’ (2) Righteousness: How we are born into a sinful nature;^^285^^ can never be perfect;^^286^^ but rely on the righteousness of Christ to please God (3) Holiness: how to build up the nine fruit of the Spirit; (4) How to pray to God, thank God and praise God; (5) The importance of marriage and how to pray for marriage and family (6) Pride; how pride hides and biblical and personal examples; (7) How to read and interpret the Bible.
After that just ensure you preach biblical topics and link them to Jesus Christ AND how the congregation can put this biblical advice into practice. (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 6-7) TAS says “… We may have good addresses, very good teaching, all very true; and yet … what have we got afterward? What do we take away? Do we go away more living than we came? Have we met life that has challenged us, exposed us, illuminated us, elevated us? This is the service of God …” (TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 32; Akerlund, 88-89).
It is absolutely essential you plan ahead about how you are going to assist strangers who come to your church and people who want to know about Christ. On the first week you open your church you should inform the congregation during the service that you are available to talk to after the service. Either have facilities for food and drinks at your church after the service, or else advise everyone that at a certain time (e.g. no later than half-an-hour after the service finishes) you will be heading to some nominated place for coffee, and people are welcome to follow you and meet and eat there. Jesus loved to eat and drink, especially when He was revealing the Kingdom of Heaven to people. “… Meals feature so prominently in the gospels that scholars have commented: ‘Jesus ate his way through the Gospels’ …” (Glanville)!!!!! The religious people even accused Jesus of being “… a glutton and a drunkard …”(Matt 11:19). Food and drink create a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere to talk. On top of that, you are putting money through your local shops, which will be appreciated by them.
When your church becomes larger, I recommend you have trusted and knowledgeable members wear brightly colored wristbands or similar identification, and advise the congregation that these people are members of the church and are knowledgeable about God. I advise against having members wearing name badges. I think they are a fraction too formal nowadays (year 2016), but they may come back into vogue as a fashion item one day, so go with the flow of the day. In the early 21st Century, colored wristbands became the accepted way of advertising that you had paid money to support the particular charity printed on the wristband. Therefore, the wristband did not carry any possible negative meaning that might be offensive to Christianity. Please have well thought out and pre-planned methods of assisting strangers to the church, those who wish to give their lives to Christ, and people with genuine questions about your church or Christianity in general.
There is a reason I want you to ensure all Bible Group study topics are (1) kept in step with the topic presented at the preceding church service (2) kept simple, and (3) relate everything back to Christ in a manner that ANYONE can understand. At one church I attended, we had a five to six week Bible group study where a renowned Christian professor (I can’t remember his name) was refuting the evolutionary claims of well-known scientist Carl Sagan. The DVD series was extremely deep and was an overload of information, even for a veteran cop like me who was used to reading massive briefs of evidence including complex fraud investigations. On one of the weeks it was being studied, a young person I had never seen before attended our Bible study. I did not see him again. No one told us about him, other than his name, so I had no idea whether he was a new or experienced Christian. But it struck me that unless he was a genius or very experienced Christian, this series would have been way over his head or bored the living daylights out of him!!
Keep EVERYTHING, including Bible studies, as simple as possible and link every concept or principle you are studying directly back to Jesus Christ.^^287^^ Now that I am a more experienced Christian I remember that the Christian professor did not mention important facts such as Jesus confirming that God created Adam and Eve at the BEGINNING of creation (Matt 19:3-6; Mk 10:3-9; Mk 13:19; Little, Know What You Believe, 92-94); Jesus placed Abel near the BEGINNING (Lk 11:50-51); and talked about Noah and the Flood (Matt 24:38-39). In other words, what Jesus said confirms the Genesis account of God’s Creation.
I admit this only really hit me after about seven years as a Christian. Therefore, I understand it can take a while for this to soak in for new Christians. But once you and I realize the importance of this knowledge, Jesus holds us responsible for educating as many Christians as possible about the importance of full presentation of these facts. EVERYTHING IS ABOUT JESUS, and must be linked to Jesus. Even disinterested people will tell everyone that all your crazy church talked about was ‘Jesus Christ this and Jesus Christ that’!!! At least they are spreading the good news of the Gospel without realizing it!!!
I remember another minor incident at ‘Eddie edge-trimmer’ church. During a service, one of the church leaders said he was unhappy that people were parking in the parking spaces closest to the front door. He wanted those spaces kept for use by the elderly members. Fantastic idea: poor execution. There were no markings on any parking spaces, and how many spaces should you leave? People can’t guess these things: why get upset about it? What if a stranger had come to that church for their first look inside a church, and being eager, arrived early and committed the heinous offence of parking close to the front door. That person might feel bad and not come back to that church. People across the world are now familiar with designated parking spaces for elderly, handicapped, and people with prams in just about every car park. Why announce it in church, especially when you sound unhappy about it? The church leaders should have talked about it at a regular meeting, and if they agreed to it, then just stencil the priority parking spaces. I doubt anyone would have complained: (Devil 1 … Church 0).
EIGHT – MUSIC AND OTHER MINISTRIES
Rick Warren is adamant that you produce top quality Christian music for your church from the get-go. I agree, not only because good music is great to listen to, but is an important way of thanking and praising God: which are essential habits of an effective Christian. Everybody loves good music, and King David was always singing to God with well-organized bands with harps, stringed instruments and cymbals. David had a group of 4,000 singers and musicians at the temple with 288 experts to train and supervise them.^^288^^ That is a sure sign that God loves us praising and worshipping Him through music. In heaven, “spirit creatures play figurative harps and sing praises around Jehovah’s [God’s] throne.”^^289^^ Therefore, I recommend you employ a good quality Christian band for your services if and when finances allow. I don’t believe God is after absolute perfection in the musical area, so if you can only play recorded music, use the best equipment you can afford.
‘Eddie edge-trimmer’ church projected music lyrics onto a screen like a teleprompter. But too often, the teleprompter played up so everyone had to stop singing. It ruined the rhythm and pleasure of the song. I prefer to have music sheets or books for everyone in the congregation just like in the old church organ days. I know there is no perfect system, but music sheets are much more reliable. I don’t make any fuss over the style of music as long as it is praising, worshipping and thanking God. When I attended churches in the late 1970s and early 80s, churches had highly skilled choirs who played the older style of music to a church organ. But over the past thirty years, Australia has been blessed with the development of Christian music in the modern rock format. Hillsong Church is the leader in modern Christian music. Their lyrics are easy to follow, and full of thanks, worship, and praise. Some of my favorite Hillsong songs synthesize rock music with the old church organ. I find that very stirring because I grew up with both church organ music and rock and roll. So it hits the spot for me personally.
I believe youth groups are excellent ministries because I was involved in two during my late teens. They provide excellent opportunity for young Christians to get together for fun, healthy activities. Some churches call Bible Study Groups, Home Groups. I urge you to call them Bible Study Groups to remind everyone that the Bible is the center of our teaching because it contains everything you need to know about Christ (TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102). And yes, I’ll nag you to death and repeat: Jesus Christ is the center of EVERYTHING.^^290^^ So keep Him there.^^291^^
Most churches have a Sunday school for the children which I believe is essential because children need to be taught at a different pace and in different ways than adults. But, please ensure you teach about Christ, even to children. I was not brought up in a Christian family. But my family had me christened in the Lauderdale (Tasmania) Church of England on June 11, 1967. That is the date written on the inside of my C of E Common Prayer Book my aunty and uncle gave me. That was the only time I went to church as a child. For some strange reason I remember the topic of the Sunday school that day was the book of Ruth. Of course, the story went straight over my head because all I got out of it was a couple of ladies picking up some leftovers from some crops in a field. That was quite strange to me, and that is probably why I remembered it!!!!
But, the first page of the Common Prayer Book has a full page picture of a man carrying an old-fashioned lamp, knocking on a door with the words “The Light of the World” written directly underneath. I never knew who the man was or his name, and it never occurred to me to ask anyone because I was a very quiet kid. What an opportunity lost on a little boy like me. If only the Sunday school had told me that this was Jesus Christ, and given me a basic outline of Who He is, what He has done, and how to worship Him, I may have connected with Christ earlier in my life. We must never, ever, ever, lose even one opportunity to let children know about Christ and how to worship Him.
I am not too sure about having a Men’s Ministry and a Women’s Ministry. There is nothing wrong with them, but I see more value in doing everything as family units, not separating men and women. As Christians mingle in their family groups, different people will gravitate together at different times when they find topics in common. As TAS says, the Devil is trying extremely hard and succeeding in attacking the family unit because God places extreme importance on the family (TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 11). So, build family, family, family in everything you do.
If you can identify any tangible, measurable evidence that having men’s and women’s ministries will result in greater Christian growth, then go for it.^^292^^ But remember what I keep saying: Jesus C …………. is the C ……. of E …………..^^293^^ Church fetes are another thing I am not too sure about. How does a church fete result in an increase of Christ among church members or the community?^^294^^ I have attended a few church fetes throughout my life, but, I could not discern the slightest piece of evidence that would see an increase of Christ in the church or the community. I believe most communities like the concept of the traditional church fete, simply because they are brought up with them. You could say that the church fete results in direct contact between Christians and the community, and a possible spin-off is that some members of the community might attend your church? But, is there any evidence at all that this has ever occurred? If you can find any correlation, go for it.
At a church I attended, a member donated some plants to be sold at the church fete. When the member saw her plants on the stall at the fete, she told the stall holders (fellow Christians) not to ‘give the plants away’ for too low a price. Apparently, the stall holders were upset by the lady’s tone of voice: (Devil 1 … Church 0). At another church fete, a record player was left unattended and one of the regular teenage boys who attended the church inserted a disk of non-Christian music and turned it up loud. Who was responsible for ensuring everything ran smoothly at the fete?
I am not too sure about prayer ministries. Some churches have a prayer night at the church during the week. There is nothing wrong with this at all, but having a prayer ministry for the sake of it is another strange one (TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 102; Long, 48-49). A church I attended started a weekly prayer meeting on a weeknight. I attended one session only. Neither the pastor nor other senior members of the church were there. It was unstructured and nobody led us in prayer worship. There were no written or verbal instructions or guide on what topics we could or should pray about. We gravitated into a few small groups and some of us uttered general prayers along the lines of asking God to spiritually protect our church and its leaders. But I did not attend again because I was not advised of any particular prayer topics for the church. I was a new Christian and didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do.
Maybe some churches have well-structured prayer nights run by senior members of the church who lead attendees in prayers about particular church issues and goals, and also prayer for attendees who are going through something major such as illness, impending birth, death in the family etc. That type of prayer night is excellent. Church leaders are TOTALLY responsible for ensuring any church ministry is run effectively and in a professional and informative manner. Why should anyone, including Christians, interrupt a weeknight for a disorganized church ministry? As TAS says, “… there is all the difference between praying and a prayer meeting. You can have a prayer meeting without praying in the true spiritual sense …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 37-38)
This is the reason I recommend teaching the congregation to pray not only for their own individual growth and protection, BUT, ask them to include prayer for the spiritual growth and spiritual protection of the church and its leaders in their daily prayers.^^295^^ You see, my goal from the first week a church opens, is to involve the congregation in EVERY part of the church so that they can become outstanding Christian leaders sooner rather than later.^^296^^ Remember, this is the thrust of my 2012 essay on servant leadership at the end of this book. You should not be running a church simply because you want to run a church; otherwise you will be a glorified Christian club.^^297^^
Granted, TAS appears to say God uses disorganized or dysfunctional churches to do some good for Christianity,^^298^^ but in Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3), our Lord and Savior expected much more from EVERY one of those churches.^^299^^ Why? Because God wants EVERY Christian to reach full maturity in Christ because we will “… occupy a heavenly position for heavenly government with Christ …” and “… you cannot have such a calling and such a vocation … without the Lord being very exact …”^^300^^ And “… because of the greatness of that calling, this Church must behave itself accordingly ‘I beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called’ (Eph 4:1). Conduct has to be adjusted to calling. Oh, that Christian people behaved correspondingly to their calling …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 59-60)
God has been absolutely thorough in everything He has done from creation through to redemption, therefore EVERY Christian has “… got to mean business to reach that goal and obtain that prize …”^^301^^ If your church is not fully occupied with Christ as its object, God will “… allow disaster to overtake things upon which our hearts have been set … allows those things to break down … and other people to disappoint us …” to get us to open our spiritual eyes in the hope that we will repent and recover spiritual power by making the Lord Jesus Christ “… the supreme and all-governing Object of His people’s life. Not the things of the Lord, but the Lord Himself …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 87)
NINE – OVERALL AIM
TAS says “…the purpose of the Christian life is all-inclusively set forth in a clause in one of Paul’s letters: “till we all attain … unto the … fullness of Christ … (Eph 4:13)”^^302^^ Therefore, the strategic aim for your church is to develop mature, knowledgeable, Spirit-filled Christians, who, one day, will be suitable to start their own churches or some distinctly Christian work such as teaching at a Christian school (Al Fasol). Parker says “… legacy leadership is a self-perpetuation model whereby a leader intentionally develops future leaders that continue this process …” (Parker, 175-178; 1 Thess 1:6-7; 2 Pet 1:15 AMP; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …).
John Piper says “… You can get people to do what you want, but if they don’t change in their heart you have not led them spiritually …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader). TAS says: “… the church should make an impact … you and I, individually, when we have passed from this earth, should be remembered for having been vehicles or vessels of light …”^^303^^ and “… spiritual leadership means that you are exercising an influence on others, to bring them on, to lead them on, into God’s full intention for His people. The effect of your life is that others, because of you, are being helped on, drawn on, led on …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 83; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …).
So, it is not about you or I becoming famous or better than anyone else.^^304^^ Elliot Grudem reminds us that “… Paul didn’t want the things that would make his bio sizzle and give him fame and respect [my notes: 2 Cor 10:12-18 & 12:1-6 AMP; Gal 1:10] … what he wanted most was to know Christ, the power of his resurrection, share in his sufferings, become like him in his death, and one day ‘attain the resurrection from the dead’ (Phil 3:4-11) …” (Grudem, Pour it Out). Proverbs 27:2 says “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth.” TAS says “… be not ambitious for place, for recognition, for name, for reputation. Be not ambitious to have your rights recognized …”^^305^^
According to Bennis and Powell, “Leaders … have to abandon their own egos to nurture the talents of the people working for them …” (Tilstra, 49). Horsthuis says “… The Triune God desires that we lead as the person he knows and delights in us to be. He does not desire that we lead as the person with the biggest church, or influence, or personality. He does desire that we lead as he does with the unity and diversity of our particular selves …” (Horsthuis, 103-104). Scott Rodin says: “… the only applause we are meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands …” (Rodin, 116).
TAS points out that although Christ is now seated in glory at the right hand of God, “… He is Lord, but still the great heavenly Servant, serving us, washing us, washing away our sin … all He does is in the spirit of the servant …”^^306^^ This is what servant-leadership is about (Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59). You will most likely be a more mature and knowledgeable Christian than most of your congregation, but you become a servant by constantly helping build up as many mature Christian leaders as you can.^^307^^ Eric Alexander says “… If we are concerned about the whole area of leadership and service, the cause of the gospel and the work of God in our churches, let us realize that the prime issue is growth in the knowledge of God. In this realm what matters to God is what a man is rather than what he is doing …” (Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …).
Robert Greenleaf says “… the difference between a true servant-leader who is servant first, and the leader-servant who seeks leadership first, lies in the growth of the people who serve under them. The test question is, ‘do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?’ … “^^308^^ Please read Steve Echols superb essay “Transformational / Servant Leadership …” because it is a comprehensive yet easy-to-read study of transformational and servant leadership.
According to TAS “… if Christians do not know and are not learning consciously what is good and what is not good for them spiritually, there is something wrong with their spiritual health. If the life of God is having its way, those two things are going on. We are getting more intelligent to things that will not help us, and we cast them off … it is spiritual intelligence, and by this twofold process of breaking down and building up we are being changed … and you can gather into that all the New Testament has to say about spiritual understanding: being ‘filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding’ …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 127).
As a pastor, keep away from seeking glory for yourself. TAS says “… The gold represented the glory of God, and Achan, in type, took the glory from God to himself. This is a very great lesson for the people of God. All the glory has to be the Lord’s glory. Later on we shall be glorified together with Him, but now we are to suffer with Him, and the suffering is having no glory here in this world. But Achan took the glory to himself, and God says ‘My glory will I not give to another …’”^^309^^ You will see from my essay at the end of this book how I believe servant leadership should be put into practice (Echols, 121; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59). If this is your first time leading a congregation, let them know this fact. Inform them that although you have certain policies and plans in place, you don’t know everything about operating a church, but that you want to enjoy growing with the congregation. (Warren, Purpose-Driven Church, 4; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 64-65).
TAS makes an interesting point that the “… predominant note in [New Testament preaching] was not the salvation of men from sins … but it was the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ. Everywhere they bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus, and they proclaimed Him as Lord. When it came to dealing with exercise of heart under conviction, and with the enquiry, ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ then the interpretation or the application was that this Lord is also Saviour. You can be saved by Him because He is Lord …” TAS stresses that he is not “… discrediting or weakening … the preaching of the gospel of salvation … but that must come out of the established lordship of Jesus Christ …”^^310^^
I only came across this point in early 2016 when I was close to finishing writing this book. Therefore, I haven’t had months or years for this to soak into my soul, but I believe TAS is right. As Jesus was crucified nearly two thousand years ago, I believe it is important to tell people who Jesus IS, and where and how He received His authority and position, than just simply informing people straight up that they should put their faith in Jesus Christ, without explaining why Jesus, and not someone else. In “Keeping Christ in View”, TAS says that “… at the beginning it was Christ who was preached; the Person who was kept in full view; the One through whom the Gospel came. It was ‘the gospel of God concerning His Son’. The emphasis was not upon what men could have, but upon God’s rights and Christ’s glory. This may seem to be straining things, but let it be understood that the Holy Spirit: the Custodian of Christ’s honor; is most jealous on this matter, and will only commit Himself to this keeping of Christ in view …”
As your church grows and if finances permit, provide the congregation with as many educational aids that you can. Remember, God considers this to be ‘Sowing Generously’. I recommend you only start your church when you can provide sufficient numbers of Bibles for the congregation to use. Remember, the Bible is the only recipe book for making mature Christians, and is the main way to learn about Christ. And remember, it is all about J……… C……. If your church becomes big in financial terms, you can do bigger things such as provide grants for Christian education. The ultimate aim is to be effective in developing mature Christians with many of them being able to go on and plant their own churches.
But, remember, your health, marriage, and children are more important than your church. Therefore, your church is only one part of your overall aim. So make sure you check yourself regularly to ensure you are maintaining a good work / life balance (Barton; Callahan and Eblen, 208-209; Miller-McLemore, 132-133). Keep a diary so you can look back over it and see how many hours you worked the week before. Take days off, nurture your marriage, play games with your children, and go on holidays with your family (Vaters; Miller-McLemore, 115). If you go on holidays it will ‘force’ you to either organize a relief pastor or build up someone in your membership to become a good relief pastor to look after the church while you are away (Gray, 137; 2 Tim 2:2; Titus 2:1; 1 Thess 5:11-14). And that is a good thing for you and the person or people you are building up: they are increasing in Christ.
The Apostle Paul said “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Some people have interpreted this to mean that you can work flat out for your church and God will give you the energy to do everything. I think that is incorrect. I have even heard two pastors on Christian TV say that Christians should set an example to others by being the first to arrive at their work; work hard; and be the last ones to leave work. They think this is Christians setting a good example. I get that, and I agree with working hard at work, but they did not produce one iota of evidence that arriving early and working late has directly resulted in the saving of souls for Christ, or the expansion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If they produce discernable evidence I will gladly listen. In most workplaces over the years I have found that if someone works unpaid overtime, most employers expect everyone else to do the same.
I was a police officer for thirty four years. But I always took holidays as often as possible. When my police cadet group of thirty three recruits graduated in Tasmania, we were eighteen years old and left the academy to take up postings at our nominated police stations. All of us had accumulated six weeks recreational leave (rec leave). We could either take the leave or start work immediately at our new postings. I got posted, along with four other cadets, to Burnie in Tasmania. I had never been to Burnie before, so I immediately took my six weeks rec leave and enjoyed exploring the beautiful beaches and countryside of North-West Tasmania. I would go to different beaches like Sisters Beach and Boat Harbor and go for long jogs there, and would drive around the countryside on sunny days. I think the four other cadets started work straight away.
The Queensland Police used to send a list around once per year of those police who had accumulated more than 240 hours of rec leave. The idea was to make them take the leave. I never appeared on that list in seventeen years because I took leave as often as possible because I enjoy life. Don’t get me wrong: I worked hard as a police officer, especially when I hit my stride after about three to four years. But I had an attitude of ‘work hard: go home’. Once I finished a rostered shift on the hour, I went straight home unless I was being paid overtime. I believe that is one reason my marriage is now into thirty five years: because I was always looking to go home and have a life with my family outside of police work. When I was young, I knew that a police career would be about forty years, so I determined not to burn myself out. The only reason I had to be medically discharged after thirty-four years was that I developed headaches due to the stress of being a police prosecutor.
As you have probably noticed, I am a big fan of the writings of Theodore Austin-Sparks (TAS). But I disagree with TAS in the area of rest and relaxation. TAS talks about those occasions when you are tired and don’t feel like attending church related matters such as meetings (I cannot find TAS’ citation now!!). TAS believes that if you attend anyway, you will be energized by the Holy Spirit. But, I urge you to view this advice in light of your time in history compared to the time this advice was written. For example, TAS wrote this in 1969. I am writing this line in 2016. I can remember the pace of life from the mid-1960s compared to nowadays (i.e.; 2016). The pace of life was much slower in the 1960s. You see, the world economy experienced massive growth after the Second World War until the early-mid 1970s.^^311^^ I have lived and observed work conditions and life for a fair few years either side of the 1970s.
Prior to the 1970s, the massive growth meant that most businesses had salespeople and admin assistants for each little department that my father, step-mother and friends and family worked in. Every supermarket in Australia had bag packers at every cash register up until the 1980s, when competition forced them to remove that position. Now, just about every business and corporation is looking to cut wages to minimize costs. Consequently people are doing more work. I remember knocking on the door of a police Inspector’s office in 1990, in the middle of the day. I walked in and he was asleep sitting in his chair behind his desk. Twenty years later you would never find any police inspector anything less than overloaded with accountability measures (e.g.; Hendy).
Then e-mail messaging came in and constant overload is the order of the day. I averaged 380 legal e-mails per month in 17 years as a police prosecutor in the Queensland Police. Everything was recorded on paper prior to the late 1970s. Then, computers were introduced, BUT, in most cases, we now have to record a lot of our work on paper then transfer it manually onto computers. It will be great when everything is instantly loaded onto a computer, but I might not see that in my lifetime. In some cases computers save time, but in most cases I have come across, it has increased workloads, and fixing up the inevitable mistakes caused by trying to transfer information accurately from paper to computer while being interrupted all the time has contributed to great stress.
Therefore, I am not saying TAS is wrong about going to meetings even if you are tired, BUT I have lived all this out since the mid-1960s and I am sorry to say that the world is twice as fast in 2016. This means stress is now commonly overlaid on top of tiredness and people genuinely need to minimize their commitments outside of work time and RELAX. Therefore, it does not surprise me that, as of 2016 “Australia has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world; it has more than doubled since 2000 …” (Davey and Chanen). Michael McNichols writes about hearing two successful pastor friends of his comparing their anti-depressant medication (McNichols, 54; Miller-McLemore). Within a two-year period, two separate extremely hard-working police officer friends of mine were diagnosed with depression and had to take medication. Nina Hendy says “… Research shows that up to $71.2 billion worth of unpaid hours are being worked by Australian full-time employees per year … technology has blurred the line between work and home … executives feel an expectation to be available all the time …” (Hendy).
For these reasons I recommend that when you start your church, tell everyone you do not want volunteers. Let them know you understand the modern world is moving at a fast, stressful pace: therefore you want them to come to church to RELAX in Christ. If they see you relaxed, you will be a walking role model (Parker, 165-169). You don’t even need a university degree to relax!! People have forgotten these simple things of life, but I learnt them from older relatives and friends in the 1960s and 70s. A lot of my relatives were born in the early 1900’s, and one of my relatives, William John Reynolds of Colebrook, Tasmania (you can Google him using this information), lived from 1875 to 1970. I met him in the late 1960s. Just to put that in perspective, William was born BEFORE Hitler and all his henchmen Goring, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann, and Speer. So, as you can see, I was fortunate enough to learn from a fair few old-aged, and old-fashioned country people. They all worked hard, but then they relaxed and enjoyed spending time with family and friends.
And I listened carefully to all these people I met in my family circle, and treasured what they said and did. I believe all these experiences played a large part in my ability to compare the old with the new as evidenced in Dr. Hill’s comments when marking my ‘Servant Leadership’ essay where he wrote: “… You make new and interesting connections between old ideas and synthesise those connections into exceptional ideas of your own. You are thinking with great originality …” I believe you can think with greater originality when you know how things were done before your time on earth; especially when you hear it from the people who have been there and lived it out.
I recommend that you, as pastor, take at least one day off per week to focus on your family and / or relaxation (Barton). But keep in mind you may be criticized by some Christians for being un-contactable for one day! Pastor Joseph Prince says he takes every Monday off, but cops a lot of criticism from people who want to contact him!! I know he is probably in demand all day every day because he is an internationally known Televangelist. But I agree with Joseph Prince: look after yourself and enjoy life (Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 64-65).
You, as a local pastor, may not suffer this problem of international superstardom!! But, remember, I am trying to prepare you for every contingency so that you can protect yourself and look after yourself and your family (Miller-McLemore, 115). John Piper says one of the marks of a spiritual leader is that: “… He is not so addicted to work that he is unable to rest (Parker, 165-169). He is a good steward of his life and health. He maximizes the totality of his labor by measuring the possible strains under which he can work without diminishing his efficiency or unduly shortening his life …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader)
I have worked thirty four years as a police officer and three years in supermarkets, and have found that eight hour shifts with a maximum of forty hours work per week, and four weeks leave per year, is close to the perfect balance for your health, family, and marriage (Callahan and Eblen, 208-209; Miller-McLemore, 132-133). God has put in place natural laws such as the laws of biology that govern our bodies and are confirmed by scientific study. God will not provide you with extra strength to do everyday things, even if it is church work. God only provides extra assistance for an activity that directly relates to an extraordinary event that will glorify His name. For example, when Christians were under enormous pressure to renounce Christ and worship Caesar as Lord, most of them would have been tempted to say Caesar was Lord because they knew they were facing torture or execution (Heb 4:16; TAS; The Gospel of the Kingdom, 15-16).
God will provide grace for this because this is an extraordinary situation that will glorify God, and your continued loyalty to God as opposed to Caesar will be an enormous witness to the power of God.^^312^^ TAS says: “… is it not true that the Lord has special reserves of grace for special ordeals? If ever you feel that you could not go through a certain trial, that if you have to face that, you just could not go through with it, you are taking on something that you have no right to take on. If the Lord calls you to go through fire or water, He has a special reserve of grace for you in that. And that grace will be from the THRONE of grace. ‘Let us … draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may FIND grace to help us in time of need’ (Heb 4:16). It is a throne above, mediating grace for need and suffering as it is required …” (TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 16).
I believe God gave supernatural assistance to the Apostle Paul because it glorified God when Paul continued to spread the gospel despite being shipwrecked, whipped thirty-nine times, stoned, beaten with rods, spent over a day in the sea, sleepless nights, hungry, thirsty, often without food, cold (2 Cor 11:25-28), in rags, brutally treated, homeless, naked (1 Cor 4:11-12), imprisoned, many beatings, riots, and hard work (2 Cor 6:5). I have never suffered ANY of these things in my life. Is it any wonder Paul needed extra assistance from God!! I believe these horrible things would have mentally and physically crushed the Apostle Paul without supernatural assistance from God (2 Cor 4:7-9).
I have read that they only whipped people thirty nine times because that was as much as a human body could tolerate. In other words, they whipped people within ‘one inch of their life’. God had to keep Paul alive until Paul had finished the work God had appointed him to do. And this work was DIRECTLY related to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the early days of Christianity. Paul said “… But the Lord stood by me and strengthened and empowered me, so that through me the [gospel] message might be fully proclaimed …” (2 Tim 4:17 AMP). Paul also said: “… Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal …” (2 Tim 2:8-9). In my opinion, Paul was suffering ONLY because he was directly responsible for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ at an extremely important time in history, not for having meetings for several weeks about a church fete!! Big difference people!!
When God created us, He set in motion physical laws that limit our ability. We must abide by those laws in order to look after ourselves (Barton). Elliot Grudem says “… ministers in particular, people in the caring professions in general, are famous for neglecting their selves …” (Grudem, Pour it Out). Even Moses’ father-in-law told him that unless he delegated most of his duties, he would wear himself out if he continued to work from morning to evening (Exodus 18:14-18; Small, 67). So there you have it: the greatest prophet in the Old Testament was risking burnout by working too much.
And look back one chapter to Exodus 17:9-13 and when Joshua was fighting the Amalekites, Moses was looking down on the battle from the top of a hill. When Moses held his arms up Joshua would be winning, but when Moses put his arms down the Amalekites would start winning. But what happened? Surprise, surprise, Moses arms became TIRED. So Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands (The tired arms of ministers, by Bill Wilson) Oh, and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the author and Perfector of our faith, Redeemer, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, filled with the Holy Spirit, Comforter, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Good Shepherd, Deliverer, Cornerstone, Bread of Life, the Messiah, Lamb of God, High Priest, Son of God, Bright Morning Star, Servant, The Way, The Truth, The Life, was on a journey from Judea to Galilee, and became TIRED from his journey and sat down by Jacob’s well (Jn 4:1-6). What: how dare He rest!!!! Oh, oh!!! If our High Priest rested why aren’t you resting when you are tired or worn out? (Parker, 165-169)
Come on Christians, the human body needs around seven to eight hours sleep per day, and we know that eight hours work is about all the human body can handle without starting to get sick. If you make your own decision to get only five hours sleep per night or work twelve hour days, you know that will probably lead to illness. Adele Blair, CEO of The Concierge Collective says that “… as a result of 20th-century culture, in particular from the 1980s we have almost turned up our nose at the need to sleep … and despite the research and overwhelming physiological need to sleep, some of us don’t treat it as a need …” (Blair). Ruth Barton says “… When we keep pushing forward without taking adequate time for rest and replenishment, our way of life may seem heroic but there is frenetic quality to our work that lacks true effectiveness …” (Barton).
Even Rick Warren found himself exhausted when he started his church from scratch. He worked fifteen hour days, but still found he was burning out despite the fact that he loved every minute of his work (Warren, Purpose-Driven Church, 531-532). Rick says our “… body has nine different systems … when these systems are all in balance, it produces health … when your body gets out of balance, we call that ‘disease’ …” (Warren, Forget Church Growth, Aim for Church Health). So I do not believe God will automatically give you some type of ‘superpower’ to operate in overload even if you are doing God’s work by building up your church or doing excessive amounts of church-related work. God expects you to use common sense. Spirituality does not replace common sense (Drane, 152). Jesus asks what king with ten thousand men would go to war against an opposing army of twenty thousand men (Luke 14:31). That is pure common sense. Barton says “… Buried deep in the psyche of many leaders is a Superman mentality – the idea that somehow there is a few of us that can function beyond normal human limitations and save the world … this is a grandiosity that we indulge to our peril …” (Barton; Miller-McLemore, 130)
And, after achieving your overall aims you will leave this earth and you will stand in front of Christ to be judged (Rom 14:10-12; Heb 13:17 AMP). Imagine if Christ asked you: ‘What have you done to further My name and glorify My Father through Me?’ According to TAS: “… God will never say in judgment, ‘How many sins did you commit?’ ‘What kind of sins did you commit?’ but, ‘What did you do with My Son’ …”^^313^^ Imagine being able to reply something like: ‘Lord, I spent ten years learning everything about the Kingdom of Heaven and becoming closer and closer to you. Then I received a prompting from the Holy Spirit to start my own church. Then, Lord, I spent the next few years preparing for my church and praying for your guidance until the Holy Spirit gave me the final prompting to start my church. Then, Lord, I started my church slowly and kept everything centered on your ultimate sacrifice for us.^^314^^ After a few years, Lord, I was able to assist many of my congregation to start their own churches. Therefore, my Lord, I am confident that my church-planting strategies will result in churches operated by Spirit-filled Christians beyond my time on Earth. And, my Lord, I maintained my daily personal devotion to you until the end’ (Parker, 165-169). I think you would be confident that Jesus will reply: “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matt 25:23 NIV).
As opposed to a reply like this: 'Lord, I continued pastoring a church after a major in-fight, and it took five years to bring the atmosphere back to normal. I did the best I could and worked an average of 65 hours per week, but I think the stress of that was what cut my life short and is why I am here well before my "three-score-and-ten"' (Ps 90:10; Miller-McLemore). Christ might reply: ‘But so much valuable time of that five years was taken up with issues around those strained relationships that should have been focused on me’ (2 Cor 5:10 AMP). What would you say in reply??? I shudder to think where the conversation will go after that (TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24). Please: do not take the risk. Just go for Christ as soon as possible. Don’t stand for second best in your church or in your Christian journey. TAS reminds us that “… Peter says, speaking about the time of the end: ‘The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17), and if it begins with us, where will the sinner and the ungodly be? …” (TAS, The Glory of God, 29).
Yes, I know, I know, I have just smashed the church with a cricket bat and picked it to pieces. But I am extremely passionate about Jesus Christ and HIS Church,^^315^^ just like Theodore Austin-Sparks in modern times; and just like Gideon, Deborah and the other judges were passionate about the spiritual malaise in Israel during their time (Judges 5:7; TAS, Leadership, 39-43). It appears that Theodore’s books were only placed on-line in 2012, and one of the most popular Christian bloggers, Frank Viola, says Theodore is the best Apostle since the Apostle Paul (WatchmanNee Meets T. Austin-Sparks, by Frank Viola).
That is a big claim, but I think Frank is correct. Please read and study all Theodore’s books because his spiritual insight is phenomenal and extremely motivating. All TAS’ books are FREE. TAS says the book of Ephesians places Jesus’ Church in time eternal; that is, even before God created the material universe.^^316^^ That is how important the Church is to God. That is why I want people to sit up and take notice and make CHRIST’s CHURCH so effective and Christ-centered that the Devil has a heart attack!!
I believe churches that have not introduced strict membership rules and do not enforce reasonable discipline; and do not center and focus everything on Jesus Christ; will have their ‘lampstand removed’ (Knox). Therefore, they will basically be Christian clubs operating WITHOUT the blessing and energy of the Holy Spirit. If you think I am being harsh, let’s go back over the incredibly strong and brutal threats Jesus made against the seven churches in Asia:
“… I will remove your lampstand out of its place (Rev 2:5 WEB)^^317^^ … I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth (Rev 2:16 WEB) … I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great oppression … I will kill her children with Death (Rev 2:22-23) … I will come as a thief, and you won’t know what hour I will come upon you (Rev 3:3 WEB) … I will vomit you out of my mouth …” (Rev 3:16 WEB). And all these strong threats despite the many good things they had done (TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13).
That is why it is absolutely necessary to PREVENT and minimize those obvious little things that are so prevalent in modern churches, such as my examples that occurred in only two years at ‘Eddie edge-trimmer’ church. In short they were (1) ‘It could take ten years for a church to recover from a schism’ (2) ‘I don’t want to do this ministry anymore’ (3) ‘do we have the correct edge-trimmer, Eddie’? (4) The ‘serious’ parking problem (5) ‘make sure you don’t give those flowers away’ at the church fete (6) ‘we want a pastor who has young children’, and (7) a disorganized prayer ministry. (Devil 1 … Church 0).
It is a serious, spiritual, cosmic war we are fighting.^^318^^ The Bible doesn’t say we can be perfect, even though we should constantly strive towards perfection. TAS says “… never has anything been made perfect in the lifetime of any one believer except the Lord Jesus …” ^^319^^ [and] “… The Lord has never said anywhere that you and I are perfect in ourselves. But He has said that we are perfect in Christ …”^^320^^ Eliphaz said to Job “… Can [mortal] man be just before God or be more righteous than He? Can a man be pure before his Maker or be more cleansed than He …” (Job 4:17 AMP). The Bible says Jesus found some faults with each of the churches in Asia.^^321^^ Therefore, I do not believe that any church can be absolutely perfect.^^322^^ “… The reality is: every church experiences a measure of conflict in some way or another. Churches are made up of people, and anywhere people are involved in anything, there’s the great potential for disagreement and conflict …” (Robbins) But, “… from beginning to end, the Lord has been seeking to make us aware of the serious business that is on hand just now for the Church: no less a thing than the fulfilment of its vocation, the accomplishing of its course the preserving intact of its trust. Expressed in other terms: that is no less a matter than proving the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ in the realm of Satanic forces …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 131-132).
Steve Mathewson says “… Jerusalem’s walls were in shambles. Nehemiah wept because the need stirred his soul. Visionary leaders see needs: and it moves them … Nehemiah was so moved by this need he began to pray … churches flounder because of the lack of vision. Vision has the power to motivate people …”^^323^^ Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained”. Bill Hybels says that “… Spiritually gifted leaders live in such a way that God invariably ignites within their hearts a compelling idea, a heartfelt yearning for advancing some part of God’s kingdom …” (Hybels; Frank, 7-9; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought; TAS, Prophetic Ministry).
“The Holy Spirit is writing a spiritual biography of Jesus Christ … in the spiritual life and experience of believers …” (TAS, The Holy Spirit’s Biography of Christ, 6-12). I believe my first book HTBAC is the Holy Spirit’s biography of the first eight years of my Christian journey and this book you are now reading was completed a bit over nine years into my Christian journey.
What excuse is there for those adults who have been Christians longer than me? Why haven’t they been 'moved' by God, instead of becoming fossilized in the back row of their church? Where are their books / articles / ideas?? I’m sorry but I have to be brutally honest: if you have been an adult Christian for more than ten years and have no books / firm plans / or reasonable ideas, then, in my opinion, you are not close enough to Jesus Christ. (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40). The apostle Paul said “… And we desire for each one of you to show the same diligence [all the way through] so as to realize and enjoy the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be [spiritually] sluggish …” (Heb 6:11-12; Foster, Bringing Many Sons …).
“… For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life …” (2 Pet 1:3AMP). I think Echols hits the nail on the head where he says “… Inclusive leaders do not attempt to institutionalize in such a way as to bring fossilization; rather, they work to keep the organizational structure somewhat fluid and dynamic …” (Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …, 90). I think that sums up a lot of what I have been saying. I am not trying to insult you: but I have clearly spelled out why the state of modern Christianity makes by blood boil, and this book is my vigorous attempt to ‘slap’ Christians in the ‘spiritual face’ so that they CHANGE Christianity swiftly from Church clubs to Churches with true spirit-filled born again Christians as members.
I have also explained that I have an average education with no university experience and the only qualification is a Certificate in Theology by Distance Education. In thirty-four years as a police officer I only made it to the rank of sergeant. That is just two promotions in thirty-four years!! If I was a genius I would tell you! So, if an ordinary person like me can publish two books within ten years, there is no excuse for mature Christians. TAS says the purpose of the Christian life is to “’… attain … unto the … fullness of Christ’ (Eph 4:13) … and the Christian life must therefore be something very great (1 Thess 4:1 AMP). If it takes its character, its meaning, and its dimensions from Christ, then the Christian life corresponding to Christ must be a very great thing. It must necessarily be something progressive …” (TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 42-43; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125).
This book, and Theodore Austin-Spark’s books revolve around two urgent issues: (1) The recovery of the spiritual power by Christians by having every Christian fully slain to the Cross, and living on the resurrection side of the Cross;^^324^^ and (2) No mixed multitudes: i.e.: allowing professing Christians to be church members alongside genuine Christians (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 53-54; Gal 2:4; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP). In relation to number one, TAS says that unless you have had a big spiritual crisis in your life,^^325^^ which equates to being fully slain by, or “… hit very hard by the Cross …” it is unlikely you will have a very big testimony.^^326^^
Living on the resurrection side of the Cross means that you have genuinely died to your self-life^^327^^ and are living like Jesus Christ: totally devoted to God through worship, prayer, Bible study, and priestly service.^^328^^ Joyce Meyer says, “… A lot of Christians want enough of Jesus to stay out of hell but not enough to walk in victory. Your relationship with God has to be more than fire insurance. Daniel was willing to be eaten by lions in order to be a man of his word …” TAS says “… The principle of the Cross is selfless concern for what is of God and what is of God alone …”^^329^^ and constant growth in the fruit of the Spirit.^^330^^
TAS says “… What did we say that God has revealed to be the consummate issue from the Cross? It is this: Christ absolutely transcendent over all other powers, and that expressed in a people. Then so far as that people are concerned the way to this will be by emptying, emptying, emptying: that in all things He may have the pre-eminence. It is the Lord Jesus and not the people that must be in evidence …” (TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 29-30; TAS, The Necessity for Weakness; TAS, Prophetic Ministry).
TAS calls number two: the mixed multitude; a curse on the church. (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 53) That is a big call from a man who wrote with compassion, but I totally agree. I have seen it in reality in three churches over five years. Professing Christians, although sometimes very nice and upstanding members of their local communities; are cannon fodder for the Devil.^^331^^ Dedicated Christians have spiritual armor for protection, (Eph 6:10-20) but professing Christians have absolutely none (2 Thess 2:3 AMP).
The Devil grooms professing Christians sometimes by having them behave nicely towards the church they attend, but then causes them to erupt like volcanoes at predetermined times and places so that the church is just in survival mode for weeks, months, or even years.^^332^^ (Devil 1 … Church 0). Time to drastically change this spiritual malaise by changing existing churches so the pastor is in ultimate charge of all decisions like the Twelve Disciples in Acts Chapter 6; and to start churches with owner / pastors who cannot be bullied by mixed multitudes of members.
On his blog, Thom Rainer picked his favorite twenty five church arguments from a Twitter survey (Twenty Five Silly Things Church Members Fight Over, by Thom S. Rainer) My favorites are: Number (5): “A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed. (6): A 45 minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers … (12). Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve …” Hey, number 12 sounds like my own Eddie-the-edge-trimmer episode!! See how this is happening all over the world (Miller-McLemore). No wonder a lot of people have lost respect for the church.
Jesus did not commit ONE sin with His physical body here on earth. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, and the Church is now the spiritual Body of Christ.^^333^^ Therefore, I believe that all of that trifling, piffling carry on in Christ’s spiritual Body (the Church) is disgraceful, childish, unprofessional, and also offensive to the mighty sacrifice Jesus Christ made for HIS Church. I know it can be hard to fully appreciate and get a sense of urgency about Christ’s suffering when it was about 2,000 years ago.
But Jesus left the comfort and privilege of His Heavenly existence and came to earth as fully man and fully God, and allowed Himself to be misunderstood, mistreated, tortured, and died on a Cross in place of us.^^334^^ So why shouldn’t EVERY church leave their comfort zone and preach about Christ, set minimum standards for membership,^^335^^ prevent all minor distractions^^336^^ through disciplinary procedures, and get rid of any ministry or activity that provides no evidence of increasing the measure of Christ in the congregation or community. TAS says “… Pergamum had come into a state of compromise from their failure to detect the inroads of evil, because of the low condition of that love for God which should normally be alert and sensitive to things injurious to God …” (TAS, His Great Love, 87; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 19)
I like the way TAS says “… The greatest question for the Lords people is the question of the expression and manifestation of the absolute and perfect sovereignty and pre-eminence of the Lord in and through His people. That is the biggest, most important thing with which we have to do. It is a question of the Lord coming through in absolute sovereignty in every situation and every matter, and the Lords people being in that …” (TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 50) Every so-called ‘church’ should do EVERYTHING within their power to prevent ANYTHING that brings disrespect or distraction to Jesus’ ‘Body’. Every church should get together as soon as possible and clean up their act. How can the Church claim to be “… the embodiment of the triumph of His rule …”^^337^^ if it cannot even rule out ‘school yard’ behavior in its ranks? How can the Church be “… the fruit of the Kingdom …”^^338^^ if it doesn’t know how to prune its own vine? (Lk 13:6-9)
How can the Church govern the new heavens and new earth with Jesus Christ, if it can’t govern gossip, rumor, and small fry incidents in its own backyard?^^339^^ You can choose to ignore me completely, but you cannot ignore Jesus Christ who demands exactness in his churches and will, sooner or later, apply the plumb line to your church (Amos 7:7-9; Isa 28:17). How will your church measure up when he does? REMEMBER: Jesus threatened to remove His blessing from those under-performing churches in Asia, unless they repented and became completely devoted to Jesus Christ.^^340^^
When I am backsliding I remind myself of my favorite T. D. Jakes quote: “Jesus suffered too much pain for the church to end up acting like the world. He died and went through too much agony for you to live like you did before you got saved …” This saying has the shock effect of reminding me of the great suffering Jesus went through, and motivates me to knuckle down and “… throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles …” (Heb 12:1, NIV) and gets me back closer to God. “You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ] …” (1 Cor 7:23).
Just because the sign outside your church has the word ‘church’ on it does not automatically guarantee Jesus’ blessing.^^341^^ When you consider that “… The Church is the joint-heir with Christ of the inheritance, the universal rule, in the ages to come …”,^^342^^ how do you think Christ feels when He finds your church incapable or not interested in preventing small stuff that distracts your church from full focus on Him?^^343^^ The “inheritance” referred to above means that we inherit the entire kingdom of God as joint-heirs with Christ.^^344^^ That is bigggggg.
TAS says “… let us understand that the Holy Spirit came for no lesser purpose than to take the Church right on into ALL its inheritance in Christ. And if our ideas of the Holy Spirit are not poised and directed along this line, we are; if not arresting; at least in measure subverting the work of the Holy Spirit, and the purpose of His coming …”^^345^^ TAS says “… the fullness of life that is in the Head is available for the members. The Holy Spirit will transmit it to them. They may come and as members of a body intervene for one another, acting together, so that the whole body in wonderful growth becomes an expression of the fullness, given to our Head for us all …” (TAS, The Rights of God, 70-71; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125; Zscheile, 170; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought).
So why get bogged down in small piffle here on earth? Get over yourself and “… take ground from the Devil and … put there some feature of Christ,^^346^^ some aspect of grace: meekness for pride, kindness for hardness, love for bitterness, patience for impetuosity. In all: Christ for self …”^^347^^ TAS says “… we are … little people spiritually if we are always at variance. It takes big people to live with certain other big people without quarrelling …” (TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 35)
So, come on you supposedly Spirit-filled Christians: get rid of useless activities that unnecessarily distract you from worship of Jesus Christ.^^348^^ Then get on your knees^^349^^ and pray to God about everything every day; read your Bible so much that it falls apart or your computer screen melts. Work daily on the fruit of the Spirit, and bullet-proof your church against attacks by the Devil.^^350^^ And remember what I have nagged you about: Jesus Christ is the C………….. of E…………:^^351^^ You fill in the dots so that you never forget!! Adios for now amigos.
Mark Andrew Barnes
Mark was born in Hobart, Tasmania in year 1960. His convict forebear, William John Barnes was sentenced in Sheffield (UK) Assizes for stealing a five pound note in 1842, and received a ten year sentence to Tasmania. William arrived in Tasmania in 1843 and served in Richmond Jail because the infamous Port Arthur Jail had closed. Upon his release William married Elizabeth Pounds and had fourteen-fifteen children. One of those was George Charles Barnes, then down through Lawrence Davenport Barnes; to Mark’s father and mother, Gilbert Lawrence Barnes and Nancy Curtain. Mark served in the Tasmania Police from 1977 to 1994. He moved to Queensland in 1994 and worked in the Queensland Police from 1995 to 2012. Mark has worked in retail stores and warehouses full-time since 2012.
titles by Mark Barnes
How to be a Christian: A Beginners Guide.
CHURCH GUIDELINES REGARDING A PERSON OF CONCERN.
WHO IS A PERSON OF CONCERN?
A Person of Concern is one who:
1. has pleaded guilty to, been convicted of, or has admitted to a sexual criminal offence; or
2. has been found to have sexually offended, arising through due diligence checks related to recruitment (screening); or
3. is currently charged with a sexual offence; or
4. has been the subject of an allegation of a sexual offence that was not appropriately investigated; or
5. has been found to have received an adverse risk assessment arising from sexual misconduct; or
6. is deemed to be a risk to the safety of children and/or vulnerable adults because of an adverse risk assessment relating to sexual misconduct; or
7. exhibits persistent crossing across other people’s sexual boundaries.
About.com, Trends in Volunteerism: From Candy Striper to Microvolunteer, by Joanne Fritz. Source: about.com. Accessed February 17, 2016
1. Spiritual Formation: Retrieving Perichoresis as a Model for Shared Leadership in the Marketplace, by Michael L. Davis. Spring 2015, Vol. 14 No. 1
2. Preaching as Christian Leadership: The Story, The Sermon, and the Prophetic Imaginations, by Truls Akerlund. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
3. The Pastor as Expert and the Challenge of Being a Saltwater Fish in a Freshwater Tank, by Quentin Kinnison. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
4. A Grain of Wheat: Toward a Theological Anthropology for Leading Change in Ministry, by Bard Eirik Hallesby Norheim. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
5. Pastoral Role Modeling as an Antecedent to Corporate Spirituality, by Clinton Parker III. Spring 2014, Vol. 13 No. 1
6. Anxiety, Emotions, and Encountering with Difference: Exploring the Roots of Conflict in Congregations, by Leanna K. Fuller. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
7. Developing Affective Competence Through Spiritual Practice, by Sara Shisler Goff. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
8. Motive and Movement: Affective Leadership Through the Work of Preaching, by Carson E. Reed. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
9. Feelings in the Bible: Tools for Religious Leadership Education, by Linda Z. Tyson. Fall 2014, Vol. 13 No. 2
10. Ministry as Spiritual Practice: How Pastors Learn to see and Respond to the ‘More’ of a Situation, by Eileen R. Campbell-Reed and Christian Scharen. Fall 2013, Vol. 12 No. 2
11. Church Leadership in the New Testament and Today: An Interview with David L. Bartlett, by David G. Forney. Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008
12. 2013 Fall Introduction, by Sharon Henderson Callahan, Fall 2013: Vol. 12 No. 2
13. Integrative Decision-Making for Christian Leaders: Prudence, Organizational Theory, and Discernment Practices, by Paul Kaak, Gary Lemaster, and Rob Muthiah. Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall 2013
14. Introduction to The Spring 2012 Edition of the JRL, by Deborah Kapp and Lisa Withrow. Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2012
15. Identity, God-Talk, and Self-Critical Reflection in Religious Leadership: Contributions from a Latino / a Perspective, by Isabel N. Docampo. Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2012.
16. Leadership: A Calling of Courage and Imagination, by Sally Dyck. Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2012
17. Not my Father’s Seminary: Leadership Lessons for a new President, by Katherine Rhodes Henderson. Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2012
18. The Practice of Christian Governance, by L. Gregory Jones. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2002)
19. Shifting Images of Church Invite New Leadership Frames, by Sharon Henderson Callahan. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2002)
20. Encountering God in the Image of Christ: Iconic Leadership, by Robert K. Martin. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2002)
21. The Discourse of Leadership and the Practice of Administration, by Thomas Edward Frank. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2002)
22. Docents in the House of Wonder: Pastoral Leadership, Spiritual Transformation, and the Sacred Other, by Michael Jinkins. Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002)
23. Multi-Layered Leadership: The Christian Leader as Builder, Shepherd, and Gardener, by Scott Cormode. Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002)
24. Chaos Theory and Paul’s Organizational Leadership Style, by Richard S. Ascough. Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002)
25. Becoming a Leader of No Reputation, by R. Scott Rodin, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002)
26. Church-Based Theological Education: When The Seminary Goes Back to Church, by Russell W. West. Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2003
27. Christian Practices, Congregational Leadership, and the Priesthood of All Believers, by Robert Muthiah, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2003
28. Leadership and Theory: A Practitioner’s Reflection, by Michael Jinkins. Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2003
29. Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts: Integration of Art and Competence, by Sharon Henderson Callahan. Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2003
30. The Behavioral Competency Approach to Effective Ecclesial Leadership, by Lisa R. Berlinger. Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2003
31. The Hermeneutics of Leading in Mission, by. Vol. 3, No. 1 & No. 2, Spring 2004 & Fall 2004
32. “Mind the Gap”: Closing the Distance Between Theological Method, Theological Education, and Practical Theology for Religious Leadership, by Robert K. Martin. Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 2003
33. Dwelling in the Divine Life: The Transformational Dimension of Leadership and Practical Theology, by Robert K. Martin. Vol. 3, No. 1 & No 2, Spring 2004 & Fall 2004
34. Getting Our Bearings: A Schema for Three Ways of Knowing, by David G. Forney. Vol. 3, No. 1 & No. 2, Spring 2004 & Fall 2004
35. Constructing Faithful Action: Inculcating a Method for Reflective Ministry, by Scott Cormode. Vol. 3, No. 1 & No 2, Spring 2004 & Fall 2004
36. Sensemaking, Discernment, and Religious Leadership, by Lisa R. Berlinger and Thoms F. Tumblin. Vol. 3, No. 1 & No. 2, Spring 2004 & Fall 2004
37. Teaching Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary: The Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (MACL), by Rick Gray. Vol. 4, No. 1 and 2, Spring 2005 and Fall 2005
38. Integrative Church Leadership: Columbia Theological Seminary’s Approach, by David Forney. Vol. 4, No. 1 and 2, Spring 2005 and Fall 2005
39. Leadership Studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, by Steve Echols and Joe Sherrer. Vol. 4, No. 1 and 2, Spring 2005 and Fall 2005
40. A More True “Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society”: Toward a Missional Polity for the Episcopal Church, by Dwight Zscheile. Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
41. Understanding Polity in Relationship to the DNA of Denominations, by Craig Van Gelder. Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
42. Doing the Unspeakable: Identifying, Developing, and Supporting Leadership among Quakers, by Thomas H. Jeavons. Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
43. From Connection to Corporatization: Leadership Trends in United Methodism, by Thomas Edward Frank, Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
44. To the One Outside the Gate: A Missional Approach to Polity, by David Forney, Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
45. Roman Catholic Polity and Leadership, by Sharon Henderson Callahan and James Eblen. Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 2006
46. The Secret of Marketplace Leadership Success: Constructing a Comprehensive Framework for the Effective Integration of Leadership, Faith, and Work, by Mark L. Russell. Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2007
47. Leading With Wounds: A Liability or Gift? By David Goodman. Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2007
48. The Trinity, Leadership, and Power, by Dwight J. Zscheile. Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2007
49. Success and the Prosperity Gospel: From Commodification to Transformation – A Wesleyan Perspective, by Lisa R. Withrow. Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2007
50. A Contemplative Empiricism: Methodological Musings for an Artisanal Theology in Religious Leadership Formation, by Lisa M. Hess. Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2009
51. The Trinity Applied: Creating Space for Changed Lives, by Thomas F. Tumblin. Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2007
52. First Love and Second Loves: Revisioning a Paradigm of Hope for Pastors, by Michael McNichols. Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008
53. Speaking Grace, Making Space: The Art of Worship Leadership, by Kimberly Bracken Long. Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008
54. Christian Leadership as Communion Imagination in the Public Networking of Organizational Companionship, by Jannie Swart. Vol. 7, No. 2. Fall 2008
55. Improv in the Streets: Missional Leadership as Public Improvisational Identity Formation, by Scott J. Hagley. Vol. 7, No. 2, Fall 2008
56. Leading in the Midst of Change: A Theologically Grounded, Theoretically Informed Hermeneutic of Change, by Terri Martinson Elton. Vol. 7, No. 2, Fall 2008
57. Reframing the Economics of Pastoral Leadership, by Douglas A. Hicks. Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2009
58. The Integrity of Ministry: Communicative Theology and the Leadership of Congregations, by Michael Jinkins. Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2009
59. Transformational / Servant Leadership: A Potential Synergism for an Inclusive Leadership Style, by Steve Echols. Vol. 8, No. 2, Fall 2009
60. The Center / Margin Leadership Dance: Integrating Experience in Education and Formation, by Karen Dalton. Vol. 8, No. 2, Fall 2009
61. A Calm in the Tempest: Developing Resilience in Religious Leaders, by David G. Forney. Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2010
62. Learning, Changing, and Doing: A Model for Transformational Leadership Development in Religious and non-Profit Organizations, by Skip Bell. Vol. 9, No 1, Spring 2010
63. Charismatic Leaders as Team Leaders: An Evaluation Focused on Pastoral Leadership, by Douglas Tilstra. Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2010
64. Charismatic Leadership in the Church: What the Apostle Paul has to say to Max Weber, by Rob Muthiah. Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2010
65. Transitioning from Charismatic Founder to the Next Generation, by William M. Kondrath. Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2010
66. Successful Leadership in the Early Years of Ministry: Reflections for Leadership Formation in Theological Education, by Kyle J.A. Small. Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2011
67. Prophetic Leadership: Engagement in Counter-Imagination, by Walter Brueggemann. Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2011
68. Participants with God: A Perichoretic Theology of Leadership, by Jim Horsthuis. Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2011
69. Role Negotiation and Congregational Leadership, by Raymond A. Reddicliffe. Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2011
70. Spiritual Leadership and Transformational Change Across Cultures: The SLI Leadership Incubator, by Bryan D. Sims and J. Paulo Lopes. Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall 2011
71. Revaluing “Self-Care” As a Practice of Ministry, by Mark Miller-McLemore. Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2011.
Association of Biblical Counsellors, The King’s Speech Beatitudes, part one of six, by Margaret Ashmore. Source: Association of Biblical Counsellors. Posted September 11, 2014
Association of Biblical Counselors, A Birdseye View of the Gospel in one Big Sentence, by Kevin DeYoung, posted on August 8th 2014. Source: Association of Biblical Counselors
His Great Love
The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom
Revelation of Jesus Christ
The Gospel According to Paul
The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The Anointing of the Holy Spirit
The Work of God at the End Time
What is a Christian?
The Glory of God
Right Standing with God
A Way of Growth
The Spiritual Meaning of Service
All Things in Christ
Knowing God in Christ
The Recovery of Spiritual Power
The Servant of the Lord
Fundamental Questions of Christian Life
The True Christian Life a Supernatural Life
What it Means to be a Christian
The Holy Spirit’s Biography of Christ
The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Glorified Christ and the Believer
The Holy Spirit, The Church, and the Nations
The Burning Fire of the Spirit
The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ
Christ the Power of God
The Rights of God
The Necessity for Weakness
Joints and Bands
The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness
Attaining to God’s Full Thought
The Foundations of an Exemplary Christian Life
Keeping Christ in View
Let Us Press on unto Full Growth
A Question of Priorities, by Eric Alexander
Pressures in the Real World, by Geraint Fielder
Truth and Life, by J. Alec Motyer
The Spirit in Romans 8, by Michael Wilcock
Life in the Heavenlies, by Harry Foster
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Let Him Who Boasts Boast in the Lord, by Eric Alexander
The Gospel of the Humanity of Jesus, by J. Alec Motyer
The Prayer of John 17, by George Harpur
A Spirit of Harmony, by Geraint Fielder
Israel’s Prophets, by Poul Madsen
Real Security, by Poul Madsen
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APPENDIX 1 – LEADERSHIP ESSAY BY MARK BARNES
(Please note the original assignment had footnotes but I have removed them and included the surname of the reference material in the text because eBooks doesn’t like footnotes)
ASSIGNMENT QUESTION: ‘Authority can generally be seen as the right to do something, whereas power is seen as the ability to do it.’ How might a leader use authority and power responsibly? What precautions should a leader put in place to ensure this authority and power isn’t abused?
The use of power and authority is essential in Christian leadership (1 Thess 5:12; 1 Cor 5:1-8; 2 Cor 7:8-13; Fasol, Lawrence, Tidball), but causes concern for some Christians (Tidball). Power and authority clashes with the belief in the church as a priesthood of believers (Tidball), with everyone being equal leaders. But the New Testament uses some leadership terms found in military functions (Heb 13:7, 17, 24; Tidball), while allowing leaders to bring personality strengths and spiritual gifts into leadership (1 Cor 14; Bartz, Lawrence, Fasol). This leaves Christian leaders wondering how to exercise power and authority responsibly (Lawrence; Tidball). But the answer to this fine balancing act (Grudem, 867) can be found in the Bible through diligent study (Heb 11:6).
Jesus Christ made it clear that Christian leaders are not to use ‘authoritarian control’ over the congregation (Matt 20:25-28; Blanchard, 101; Carter). The apostle Paul occasionally used stern words and an authoritative tone when necessary to admonish others, but preferred ‘tender appeals to harsh bullying’ (Titus 1:9; Rom 12:1; Col 4:6; Feddes; Strawbridge). Paul would have been negligent to the ministry of the Cross if he had failed to use his spiritual authority to rectify major problems (Lawrence). Therefore, a Christian leader must use authority and power to ‘get the job done’ (Riggio) but should ‘harness the good side of power’ (Fasol) in order to find proper balance (1 Pet 5:2; Fasol; Grudem, 867). The key to effective use of power and authority (1 Cor 4:20) is to use the servant style of leadership like Jesus (Phil 2:4; Carter; Lawrence).
Servant leaders keep their own agenda and interest in check and focus on ‘concern for the wellbeing’ of the congregation (Phil 2:4; Carter). The servant leader acts as a bond-servant to the congregation, not to do anything the congregation wants, ‘but out of concern for Christ’s interests in their lives’ including discipleship and proper worship (1 Cor 4:1; Lawrence). Furthermore, Christian leaders will not be as easily tempted to become authoritarian if they have completed the necessary inner work in their spirit (Bartz) and are professionally prepared for leadership (Carter). But even then, they must continue to lean humbly on Christ for wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:2-3), and seek the Holy Spirit as the true source of Christian power and authority (1 Thess 1:5; Lawrence; Carter).
Christian leaders should realize that they will be tempted to ‘seek their own honour and profit’ (3 Jn 9-11; Campbell), but this can be avoided by recognizing ‘Christ as the only Lord’ (Fasol). Leaders are urged to use personal power, which is granted to leaders by followers who respect the leader’s expertise (Searle) and other qualities such as persuasive communication (1 Pet 5:2-3; Carter; Grudem, 867). Christian character is essential in ministry (1 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:6), and the congregation will accept the authority of a leader who displays a high level of Christian character shown by congruence between their beliefs, words and actions (Strawbridge). A successful Christian leader learns to share power by eventually empowering the congregation to guide themselves towards Christian maturity (Heb 6:1-3; King; Searle; Harvard; Wright, 53).
The main aim of the church is to nurture believers and lead others to Christ, and success in these areas involves intimate relationships with people (1 Thess 5:11; Gal 6:6; Blanchard, 33; Regehr; Wright). If leaders do not remain humble, pride and ego can creep up on them (Strawbridge; Tidball), causing them to lose intimacy with God (Ps 10:4) and resulting in isolation from the congregation (Blanchard, 4). It requires hard work to ‘foster a team spirit’ (Carter) which explains why some leaders fail and default to the ‘power of their position’ to try to make the congregation follow them (Carter). Leaders who remain humble will be able to think relationally and keep communications lines open with the congregation (Warren, 325, 327). Leaders can become unteachable if they let their pride and ego take over (Warren, 68).
Humility is essential to be a good leader (Matt 18:4; James 4:6; Clark), and can only be maintained by having a ‘permanent, intimate relationship’ (Blanchard 68) with Christ so that the leader ‘exalts God’s purpose above their own’ (Blanchard 68). A humble leader acknowledges they don’t have all the answers (Patterson) and instead of avoiding conflict, will quickly and honestly sort out any issues with other leaders or the congregation (Matt 18:15-17; Gal 1:11-13; Harman, Regehr). If all leadership actions are grounded in love, care and concern, there is little chance of wanting to ‘exploit others’ (Carter), because ‘love never fails’ (1 Cor 13:8; Warren 26).
Leaders need to evaluate their spiritual progress daily (2 Thess 1:3) and continue the process of the inner work of sanctification to avoid the temptation of serving their own interests (1 Thess 4:3-6; 1 Thess 5:23; Early). This includes devotion to prayer (Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17) and assiduous study of the best leadership textbook; the Holy Bible (Acts 6:1-7; Ps 1:1-2; Ps 12:6; Ps 19:7). Christ is the greatest role model for ministry (John 13:12-17), and if leaders humbly lean on Christ (Col 1:4), the Holy Spirit will assist them to be humble and gentle towards followers (Lk 4:18; Callahan). Tracking progress allows leaders to identify instances of poor communication or misuse of power or authority (Early). D’haese even suggests maintaining a journal or diary to assist a leader in keeping themselves accountable (D’haese-Radamo).
In summary, it can be seen that Christian leadership is not for the faint-hearted. But leaders who have been radically changed by an intimate relationship with Christ will have such a forceful driving desire (Lawrence) towards nurturing believers and saving souls (Wright, 1) that they will overcome any difficulties. Successful Christian leaders will treat leadership as a constant state of communication with their congregation aimed at maintaining and strengthening both parties in their Christian journey. If all leadership conversation is focussed on Christ (1 Cor 4:5; Col 3:2; Lawrence), the leader and congregation will be less likely to pursue their own personal agendas, and reduce the possibility of power struggles.
Bartz, James P., Leadership from the Inside Out. Source: Anglican Theological Review, Winter2009, Vol. 91 Issue 1, p81-92, 12p.
Blanchard, K., Hodges, P., 2005, Lead like Jesus: lessons from the greatest leadership role model of all times, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville.
Callahan, Sharon Henderson, Basic Christian leadership: biblical models of church, gospel, and ministry. Source: Journal of Religious Leadership, 6 no 1 Spr 2007, p 122-124.
Campbell, Barh L., Honor, hospitality and haughtiness: the contention for Leadership in 3 John. Source: Evangelical Quarterly, Oct2005, Vol. 77 Issue 4, p321-341, 21p.
Carter, John F., Power and authority in Pentecostal Leadership. Source: Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, Jul2009, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p185-207, 23p.
Clark, Matthew, Contemporary Pentecostal Leadership. Source: Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, Jan2007, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p42-61, 20p.
D’haese-Radano, Christiane, Christian preparation for Christian leadership. Source: Review and Expositor, 97 no 4 Fall 2000, p 527-528.
Early, Gene, The Inner Work of the Chief Executive: Humility and Wisdom in the Service of Leadership. Source: Transformation (02653788), Oct2006, Vol. 23 Issue 4, p243-252, 10p.
Fasol, Al, Christian leadership. Source: Southwestern Journal of Theology, 29 no 2 Spr 1987, p 5-43. Publication Type: Article.
Feddes, David J., Caring for God’s household: a leadership paradigm among New Testament Christians and its relevance for church and mission today. Source: Calvin Theological Journal, 43 no 2 N 2008, p 274-299.
Grudem, W., 1994, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham.
Harman, Robert J., A global identity. Source: Christian Century, 4/4/2012, Vol. 129 Issue 7, p30-33, 4p.
Harvard Graduate School of Business, Executive Program in Leadership: The Effective Use of Power.
Kavanaugh, John F., What We Must Face. Source: America, 1/16/2012, Vol. 206 Issue 2, p10-10, 1p.
King, Fergus, Leading cross-culturally: covenant relationships for effective Christian leadership. Source: Mission Studies, 27 no 1 2010, p 108-109.
Lawrence, William D., Distinctives of Christian leadership. Source: Bibliotheca sacra, 144 no 575 Jl-S 1987, p 317-329.
Patterson, Kathleen, Servant Leadership: A Timeless Leadership Style. Source: Christian Leadership Alliance.
Regehr, John, Hearing the word: Christian leadership implications from Galatians. Source: Direction, 8 no 2 Ap 1979, p 34.
Riggio, Ronald E., How Power Corrupts Leaders. Why and how does power corrupt leaders? Source: Psychology Today, Published August 8, 2009.
Searle, Richard, Seven sources of leadership power. Source: Business Spectator, published 2 Mar 2012.
Strawbridge, Jennifer, The Word of the Cross: Mission, Power, and the Theology of Leadership. Source: Anglican Theological Review, Winter2009, Vol. 91 Issue 1, p61-79, 19p.
Tidball, Derek, Leaders as Servants: a Resolution of the Tension. Source: Evangelical Review of Theology, Jan2012, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p31-47, 17p.
Turner, Matthew. Source: matthewpaulturner.com. Posted: May 26, 2015. Accessed: July 9, 2016
Warren, R., 1995, The Purpose-Driven Church, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids.
Wright, W. C., 2009, Relational Leadership, a Biblical Model for Influence and Service, Paternoster Publishing, Colorado Springs.
(FEEDBACK ON LEADERSHIP ESSAY BY Dr. Graham. Hill)
From: [Dr. Hill’s personal email address removed for privacy]
Subject: Assignment Feedback
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2012 16:25:19 +1100
To: [Mark Barnes’ personal email address removed for privacy]
This is a thoughtful, theologically sound, and creative essay on the topic. I appreciate the breadth of your research and the depth of your effort, and your willingness to ask probing questions of those sources and of contemporary perspectives. Given the limitations present in such a short essay, you have sought to engage the question and the underlying issues with some rigour. Your analysis is solid. You do a great job of breaking down the subject into its most basic elements, explaining those elements, and then showing your reader how they fit back together to create the whole. Analysis is important in essay writing, and your ability to analyse an issue theologically is clear. I enjoy reading your unique, mature, and confident voice. As I read your essay, I really get a sense of your distinctive personality. A well-defined voice is important for writers and theologians – something many work their entire careers to achieve. Congratulations! You are well on your way. I like the way you have sought to ground this essay topic in clear ecclesial, missional, or practical issues. Theological and biblical thought is grounded in practical-theology in a commendable way. This is a unique piece of work. Creativity is the sign of really understanding a subject, and then thinking through its relationship to other issues, topics, and matters. Your creativity brings this piece alive as a new and distinctive work – a quite difficult task indeed. The ideas you present in this paper are scholarly, theologically rigorous, oriented toward practical ministry, and astute. You make new and interesting connections between old ideas and synthesise those connections into exceptional ideas of your own. You are thinking with great originality. You have put away old cliches and worn-out ideas in favour of fresh new insight. Good job. Keep thinking creatively, and finding fresh ways to write and explore theological, ecclesial, and other ideas. The ability to delve as deeply and as critically into a subject as you have here is a sign of great promise. Your critical thinking skills are very good or exceptional. It is a treat to read an essay that applies such critical thinking, theological analysis, and cognitive depth. Thanks for that. This paper is persuasive. Your rhetorical skills are evident. You are exploring ways to build a theological or other case, provide solid evidence and argumentation, and persuade your reader. This paper demonstrates your growing ability to think theologically, and to integrate your biblical and theological learning with the set topic. I am immensely pleased to see this theological growth. I appreciate the way you have engaged a wide range of sources – popular, theological, secular, peer reviewed articles, and so forth. Paragraphs in the paper need some work. They should begin with strong topic sentences and should be four to fifteen sentences long. Each paragraph should contain ample evidence to support the claim you make in your topic sentence. At the very minimum, a paragraph should contain a topic sentence, one piece of evidence, and ample commentary to explain why the evidence you have chosen proves or supports the assertion you make in your topic sentence. It is hard to write a successful paragraph in under four sentences. Each paragraph should contain enough supporting details and commentary to adequately support the topic sentence. Please develop your paragraphs to a much greater extent, and allow supporting details to enhance the effectiveness of the topic of each of your paragraphs Spirit. Some of your footnotes contain fragments, and needed further proofing. Work on including a powerful and imaginative way to end your essay. Keep in mind that this is the last thing the reader (and grader) will read and remember. Look at exemplary essays and journal articles, and ask questions about how they craft their conclusion. This essay has been a pleasure to read, and demonstrates your developing theological outlook and voice.
22 out of 25
Dr Graham Hill
Morling Theological College
120 Herring Rd, Macquarie Park
NSW 2113 Australia
+61 2 9878 0201
1 , Truth Decay; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 17; Frank, 7-9
2 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 10
3 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 10, 31-48; TAS, The Rights of God, 17; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
4 Church Growth, Aim for Church Health, by Rick Warren; Eph 4:16; 2 Cor 2:9; James 3:18
5 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 17; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 70-71; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87
6 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-91
7 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 115-116; TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 29
8 Today, Salt of the earth church attenders seek to maintain their saltiness, by Ed Stetzer; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership … esp. 115-116
9 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 66
10 , The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, 118-123; Jinkins 1-2
11 , A Way of Growth, 17; TAS, All Things in Christ, 75-77
12 , Spiritual Maturity 26; TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 162; TAS, His Great Love, 20; Eph 5:25; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
13 ; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 21-27; Greg Jones, 106-109; Frank, 7-9; Withrow, Change …, 39-48; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …, 114; Reddicliffe; Dyck, 118; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
14 , 291; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102, 104; Greg Jones, 106-109; Jinkins, 19-20; Zscheile, esp. 154-160, 167, 172-176, 179; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 33-34; Miller-McLemore; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
15 , All Things in Christ, 180-182; 1 Thess 3:2-5; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 92; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 34-36; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought
16 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 30-36
17 Decay, by Gary Bates; Washer, 6-12
18 T. D. sermon titled Don’t Fight It. Source: Australian Christian TV Channel
19 , Christ the Power of God, 16-17; TAS, The Rights of God, 17; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75
20 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 121; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 102-105; TAS, The Rights of God, 24-25; Parker, 161; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 66; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 101
21 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 93; 2 Tim 2:2; Titus 2:1; 1 Thess 5:11-14; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25; Parker, 169-170; Osborne; Eph 4:11-13; Hybels; Muthiah, Christian Practices, 195-196; 1 Cor 8:1 AMP
22 The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90; Kaak, 155-156; Tumblin, 70-71
23 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 133-134; Col 3:5
24 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 121
25 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 23; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
26 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 23
27 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 106-107; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 28
28 , The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 85; Col 3:5; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 61-64; TAS, What is Means to be a Christian, 16; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 56; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 47; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, 15, 81, 84-86; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 87-88, 96, 107-109; TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 86-87; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 79-81; TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 13-16; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 26; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 32-33; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
29 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 54; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 92
30 3:1; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 20-22; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
31 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9-10
32 , The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 90; TAS, Right Standing with God, 5; TAS, All Things in Christ 78-79; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 89
33 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 117-121; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; TAS The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
34 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97, 102; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-56; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 16
35 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 97
36 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50
37 , The Gospel According to Paul, 16
38 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 102-105; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought
39 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 28-30; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
40 , His Great Love, 69-70
41 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 72-77; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 47-48
42 , Revelation of Jesus Christ; McNichols, 56
43 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 75; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
44 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 76-77; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 77
45 , The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60; Parker, 162, 168; Josh 1:8; Ps. 27:4 AMP; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
46 1:21; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 41-51, 74-75
47 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9-12; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 30-34; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 74-75; Rodin, 119; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness
48 3:2-3 NIV; Psalm 32:9; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 43-44; Hess, A Contemplative Empiricism, 49
49 , Christ the Power of God, 4-6
50 14:24; TAS, The Holy Spirit in relation to the Glorified Christ and the Believer, 23; Milne, Know the Truth, 29
51 18:20 WEB; Prov 15:14 AMP; Prov 18:15 AMP; Phil 2:13; Phil 4:13 AMP; Col 1:9-11 AMP; Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, 146; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 89-90
52 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 4-16
53 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 129-135; TAS, Spiritual Maturity 7, 108; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 52; 2 Cor 6:14-16 AMP
54 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 129-135; Motyer; 1 Pet 1:15-16
55 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 117-121; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 21, 24; Akerlund, 89-90; Jinkins, 18-19
56 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 124; 2 Tim 2:2; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 88, 102-103; TAS, A Way of Growth, 32; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
57 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
58 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-90, 101-102; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-56; TAS, A Way of Growth, 32; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
59 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 124; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60
60 , The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 90; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 49, 89; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 54-56
61 , Knowing God in Christ, 160; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 19; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 54-56; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 28
62 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
63 15:1-6; TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 9-12, 47-48; see sermons by Joyce Meyer titled “Are you too Busy?” and “Grafted into the Vine.” Source: Australian Christian TV Channel
64 v. 8-9; Hub, biblehub.com, incl. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
65 , What it Means to be a Christian, 14; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 116; TAS, His Great Love, 23; TAS, In Christ.
66 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; Col 3:5; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 26
67 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-90
68 2:6; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 46, 58, 105-107; TAS, His Great Love, 90
69 , A Way of Growth, 28-29; TAS, All Things in Christ, 75-77; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 10-11; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 62-64
70 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-48; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40; Akerlund, 89-90
71 , 88-89; Van Gelder, 161-163; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …, 14-16
72 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 73-74
73 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 72-75, 97-104; TAS, Spiritual Maturity; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40
74 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 47-58; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 56-59; West, 113
75 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 49; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 86-87
76 , Introducing Christian Doctrine, 478; The Danger of Dread, Ed Welch
77 4:24-25, 3:21-26 WEB, 5:1-2, 5:19 WEB, 10:4 WEB; 2 Cor 5:17-21 WEB; Gal 3:5-9 WEB; TAS, Right Standing With God, 23-24
78 of the Ten Minas Lk 19:11-27
79 5:21; Rom 7:4 AMP; 2 Cor 13:9 AMP; 1 Pet 1:15-16; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 50; TAS, His Great Love, 44; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 133; TAS, Joints and Bands
80 5:22; Rom 7:4 AMP; 1 Pet 1:15-16; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9-10; TAS, His Great Love, 44; Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124
81 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 78-84, 100-103; Col 3:5; TAS, The Necessity for Weakness
82 14:13-14; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 107-110; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 57-58; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; Satan: Lucifer the Fallen Angel. Pride Sent Lucifer from Heaven to Earth, by Amy Miller
83 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 44-51
84 , Knowing God in Christ, 162; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 44-51
85 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 54, 56
86 , The Gospel According to Paul, 26
87 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 76-78
88 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 30-36; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 12; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
89 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; Akerlund, 89-90; Hybels; 1 Pet 3:15
90 , The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60
91 , Knowing God in Christ 27
92 , The Gospel According to Paul, 105
93 , The Gospel According to Paul, 119
94 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord, 74-75; 2 Cor 13:9 AMP; 2 Pet 1:5-8 AMP; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness; TAS, Let Us Press on unto Full Growth; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
95 , The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 104
96 , What it means to be a Christian, 59-60
97 , All Things in Christ, 221; TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 31-32; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
98 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power
99 , Leadership, 42-43
100 , Leadership, 42-43; Frank 7-9; Gray, 137; Jeavons, 86
101 ; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 126-127; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62
102 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9
103 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50
104 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 121, 128; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 50
105 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 121, 128; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30
106 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9-10; Parker, 161
107 , Spiritual Maturity, 5-6; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 34-36; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125; Zscheile, 170
108 , Spiritual Maturity, 122-123; TAS, The Rights of God, 38-40
109 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-120; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 107-110
110 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 50-51; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 34
111 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 60
112 and Vonette Bright’s Wonderful Plan for the World, Evangelicalism’s power couple closes in on their radical mission, by Wendy Murray Zoba
113 2 3:16; TAS, All Things in Christ, 115, 200; TAS, The Holy Spirit’s Biography of Christ, 74
114 Chapters Two and Three; TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 63, 86-87, 119-121; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
115 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 6-7; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 129
116 1:6; TAS, His Great Love, 64
117 Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 48: TAS, A Way of Growth, 32; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60
118 , Knowing God in Christ, 159-160
119 , The Pastor as Expert …, 15-16; Goff, 13-15, 56, 61; Reed, 71; Horsthuis, 95
120 , A Calm in the Tempest …, 22-23; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101; Horsthuis, 95-96; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Sims and Lopes, 63
121 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 93; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25; Goff
122 Al ; Milne, 291; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 102, 104; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 33-34; Reddicliffe; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
123 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 115-116, Muthiah, Christian Practices, 184; Miller-McLemore, 129
124 , The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 38
125 Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader; Goodman, 47-48; TAS, Attaining to God’s Full Thought
126 Perspectives: An Anthology, by L. Gaines, 364; Greg Jones, 106-109; Jeavons, 99-100
127 Congregational Government, by Rev Dr Brian Winslade
128 Al , TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; Milne, 291; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 33-34; Reddicliffe; Miller-McLemore; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
129 , The Pastor as Expert …, 29; 2 Tim 2:2; Parker, 169-170; Gray 137
130 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 93; 1 Cor 8:1; Titus 2:1
131 14:17; B. Milne, Know the Truth, 264; see sermons by Joyce Meyer titled “Inner Silence,” “Seek First the Kingdom of God,” and “Don’t give Offense.” Source: Australian Christian TV Channel
132 , The Pastor as Expert …, 4; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3, 15-16
133 , 85-86, 94; Muthiah, Charismatic Leadership …; Brueggemann
134 , What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40
135 , The Pastor as Expert …, 29-30; Norheim, 66; Forney, Getting Our Bearings …, 15-16; Cormode, Constructing Faithful Action …, 228-229; Dalton, The Center / Margin …, 120-121; Rom 5:3-4
136 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 4-16
137 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 61
138 , The Gospel According to Paul, 8-22, esp. p. 11
139 Conversion and Counselling, by Doug Sotheren; The Danger of Dread, by Ed Welch; Milne, Know the Truth, 256-258; TAS, All Things in Christ, 115; TAS, The Holy Spirit’s Biography of Christ, 19-20; TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 130
140 Mark Driscoll Told Brian Houston at Hillsong Conference, by Morgan Lee and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
141 , 2013 Fall Introduction, 1-2
142 Jones, 113-114, 119-121; Lk 22:24-27 vide Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102
143 , Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 70; Cormode, Constructing Faithful Action …, 236-237
144 113; 2 Cor 13:5 AMP; 1 Tim 4:13-15 AMP; Callahan, Leadership in EC …, 59, 66: Forney, Integrative CL …, 33; Callahan and Eblen, 208
145 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 29-30; Norheim, 66-67; Parker, 161-162, 167-168; Heb 13:15; Ps 1:2; 19:4; 119:1; 15; 97; 99
146 ; Rodin 113; Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry…, 1, 5; Tilstra, 50-51; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness
147 3:6-29; TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 50-53, 100-102; TAS, Right Standing With God, 18-19
148 = soul: Little, Know What You Believe, 95-96; The Lost Voice of the Heart: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Counseling Christian Clients, by Helen Blake
149 Church Promises to Refund Tithe If you Don’t Get Blessing in 90 Days, by Leonardo Blair
150 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 115-116
151 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 104-107; Goodman, 45
152 , What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 34; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 46
153 to Recover from the Heartbreak of a Church Split, by Philip Wagner
154 , 83-85; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3, 15-16; Miller-McLemore
155 , Christian Practices, 195-196; Zscheile, 184-185; Tumblin, 69),
156 What’s Deal with the Church Growth Movement? Part 2: Some Unfortunate Evolutions, by Ed Stetzer; Why I am Leaving the Church Growth Movement, by Randy White
157 Revelation of Jesus Christ, 99-100, 115-116; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 118; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 10; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
158 , Knowing God in Christ, 7, 9, 16; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75
159 , Christ the Power of God, 46
160 , Knowing God in Christ, 71; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 10; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75
161 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; Col 3:5; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 54, 56; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 26
162 , All Things in Christ 156; TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 162; 2 Cor 7:8-13 AMP; Heb 4:12
163 22:31-32; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 9:24 WEB; M. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 434, 459-460, 465
164 ; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22-23, 28-33; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101; Horsthuis, 95-96; Sims and Lopes, 63
165 , 81-84; Norheim, 66; Goff; Reed; Tyson; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 70-73; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59; Dalton, The Center / Margin …, esp. 117-119, 120-121; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102
166 et al, Four Views on the Apostle Paul, 145; Spiritual Formation: Retrieving Perichoresis as a Model for Shared Leadership in the Marketplace, by Michael L. Davis, 106-107, 123-124; Swart, 94-95; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101; Foster, Bringing Many Sons …
167 , et al, 118; Norheim, 70; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22-23
168 ; Goodman, 51-52; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …; Horsthuis, 95-96; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Miller-McLemore, 129
169 .com, Trends in Volunteerism: From Candy Striper to Microvolunteer, by Joanne Fritz
170 is the Real Meaning of the Verse, “Wise as a Serpent and Harmless as a Dove” Source: Calvary Chapel South Bay
171 is wisdom? What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Source: gotquestions.org
172 , What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71
173 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 63, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93
174 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 99-101; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60
175 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 69-70
176 , esp. 150; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity
177 Fasol, e.g.; Milne, 291; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 102; George Pell and cardinals warn Pope of Catholic Church collapse, by Tess Livingstone; Fuller, 5; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 33-34; Callahan and Eblen; Reddicliffe; Miller-McLemore
178 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97, 104; TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
179 only openly married gay vicar elected to Church of England synod
180 2:1-3; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, 90
181 2:4-5; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 28-30; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
182 Recovery of Spiritual Power, 49; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 34-37
183 , Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
184 P. , Know What You Believe, 11
185 , The Work of God at the End Time, 6-16; Akerlund, 89-90; 1 Pet 3:15
186 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7; TAS, In Christ
187 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121
188 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 115-116; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 34
189 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 61-62, 64-67; TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 60-63; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 7-9; 1 Thess 4:9-11; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
190 , The Gospel According to Paul, 59-60
191 , Spiritual Maturity 57; see also by TAS, A Way of Growth, 18-19, 30-31
192 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 9-10; 2 Cor 10:3 AMP; 2 Pet 2:1 AMP; TAS, The Necessity for Weakness
193 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 54; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 68-70; 2 Cor 11:3-4, 12-15, 20-21, 12:16-; Ps 12:2, 28:3 38:12; 41:6-9; 50:20; 52:2-4; 55:21; 56:5; 58:3; 59:7, 12; 62:4; 63:11; 64:2-6; 101:5-7; 119:69; 140:3 AMP; Prov 6:19; 14:5; 20:17-19; 21:10; 26:20-28; 27:6; 28:23; 29:5, 8 AMP
194 , What it Means to be a Christian, 39-40; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 92
195 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 68-70
196 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 105-110; Eph 6:10-20
197 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 105-110; Kaak, 148; Foster, Life in the Heavenlies
198 , Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
199 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; Miller-McLemore
200 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 28-30
201 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 96-97; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 87-88; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22
202 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102
203 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 16-22; TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 34-35; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-26
204 ; Elash; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-26; Martin, 83-85; McNichols; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3, 15-16
205 ; Darling; Greg Jones, 120; McNichols; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3; Miller-McLemore
206 ; Norheim, 66-67; Parker, 165-169; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 44-45; Zscheile, 149; Clinton Parker, 165-167
207 Health Organization: WHO, Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level, Report by the Secretariat. Executive Board, 130th session
208 Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader; TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 29; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 34-35; Parker, 165-169
209 , A Way of Growth, 32-33; McNichols, 71
210 e. g.; ; Haire; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22; Clinton Parker, 165-167; Motyer; Madsen, Israel’s Prophets; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
211 , Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 64; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22
212 Henderson, 73; Callahan, Leadership in EC …, 63; Zscheile, 149
213 , A Calm in the Tempest …, 22; Miller-McLemore
214 , 165-169; Miller-McLemore
215 , Reframing … 90-91; 2 Cor 13:5 AMP; Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry…, 1, 5; Tilstra, 50-51; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
216 Tchividjian Says Christian Leaders Disappear When They Fall, but Gospel Allows Him to Be Seen at ‘Most Embarrassing Worst’, by Stoyan Zaimov; Rodin, 108-109; TAS, The Necessity for Weakness
217 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 26; TAS, Christ, the Power of God, 41
218 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 81-87, 94, 134-135; Col 3:5
219 , The Work of God at the End Time, 33-35
220 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 10, 54
221 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 16-22; Teen Mania: Why We’re Shutting Down After 30 Years of Acquire the Fire, by Morgan Lee; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22-23
222 11 to Protect Your Spirit from the Demands of Pastoral Ministry, by Karl Vaters
223 Long Work Hours Come at Expense of People, Ministry, by LifeWayResearch
224 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 34-35; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness
225 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 16-22; Teen Mania: Why We’re Shutting Down After 30 Years of Acquire the Fire, by Morgan Lee
226 ; Rodin, 113; 2 Cor 13:5 AMP; Callahan, Leadership in EC …, 59-61; Forney, Integrative CL …, 33; Callahan and Eblen, 208; Jinkins, The Integrity of Ministry…, 1, 5; Tilstra, 50-51; TAS, The Dynamic of Spiritual Helpfulness
227 , 66-67; Parker, 165-169; Kapp, 2; Docampo, 33; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 58-60; Miller-McLemore, 115; 1 Tim 4:13-15; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
228 10:39; Parker, 161-169; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 16; Haire; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 58
229 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 78; TAS, The Necessity for Weakness, Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
230 King’s Speech Beatitudes, part one of six, by Margaret Ashmore; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 54, 56; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
231 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-56
232 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121, 123-124; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97, 102; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-56
233 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 123-124
234 & Eblen; Van Gelder, Understanding Polity …, 33-34; Kondrath; Reddicliffe; Miller-McLemore; TAS, Keeping Christ in View
235 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 19-21; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120-122; TAS, The Recovery of Power, 54; 1 Cor 15:2 AMP; Gal 2:4; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP
236 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 19-21; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120-122; Fuller, 6-11; Muthiah, Christian Practices …, 184; Zscheile, 172, 184-185
237 , Knowing God in Christ, 118-121; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 30-36
238 13:24-30, 36-43; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom 19-31
239 , The Gospel of the Kingdom 19-31
240 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 19-21; e.g.: Dr. Peter Lee, The Silent War of the Church; Gal 2:4; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP
241 ; Muthiah, Christian Practices, 195-196; Lk 22:24-27 vide Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53-59; Tumblin, 69; Clinton Parker, 175-178; Eph 4:11-16; Rom 1:11-12, 15:1-3; 1 Cor 8:1; 2 Tim 2:2
242 : academy.christian-leadership.org; Callahan, Leadership in Ecclesial Contexts …, 73-74
243 , Leadership, 45; 1 Thess 3:2-5 AMP; Reed, 79; Kinnison, Shepherd or One of the Sheep …, esp. 86-91; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102
244 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 19
245 , The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 36-37
246 1:5-6; TAS, His Great Love, 64
247 , The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 70
248 2:7; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 76
249 , 2013 Fall Introduction, arl-jrl, 1
250 , Knowing God in Christ, 133
251 Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader
252 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 30-36; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 95-96; Eph 4:11-16; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 15-16; Hybels; Muthiah, Christian Practices, 195-196; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 133-134; Tumblin, 69; Rom 1:11-12, 15:1-3; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
253 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 104
254 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 104-107; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 63; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124
255 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 121; TAS, The Rights of God, 30
256 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120
257 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120; Gal 2:4; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP
258 , The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 9-10; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
259 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 62-63; Ascough, 23; West, 131; Zscheile, 171; Withrow, 25
260 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120-122; Norheim, 66, 69; 2 Thess 2:3 AMP
261 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 63, 119-121; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
262 Tchividjian Resigns after Admitting ‘Inappropriate Relationship’, by Bob Smietana and Morgan Lee
263 12:11; John Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader
264 , All Things in Christ, 160-172; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 89-90; TAS, Leadership, 22; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 51; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17, 51-52; TAS, The Rights of God, 17; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75
265 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 113; Ps 27:4 AMP
266 , Christ the Power of God, 4-6; 1 Cor 15:2 AMP; 2 Cor 7:8-13 AMP
267 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 19-21; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120-122
268 , Knowing God in Christ, 108, 109
269 People Ask About the Church, by Dr. Dale A. Robbins
270 We More Invested in Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus? By Karl Vaters; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 54, 56
271 e.g.; .org. Accessed September 24th 2015
272 734 Pastors Quit: and How Their Churches Could Have Kept Them, by Lisa Cannon Green
273 , 77; Goff; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Sims and Lopes, 63
274 , Transformational / Servant Leadership …, 103; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102; Horsthuis, 95-96
275 , Christian Practices, 193-194; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 53; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 22-23, 28-33; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101; Horsthuis, 95-96; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Miller-McLemore, 129; Sims and Lopes, 63
276 14-15; Goff; Reed; Tyson; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-101; Horsthuis, 95-96; Reddicliffe, 27-28; Sims and Lopes, 63
277 Member Accepts Acts 29 Megachurch Apology in Church Discipline Case, by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Morgan Lee, and Bob Smietana
278 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
279 , Constructing Faithful Action …, 244
280 Planets Don’t Need Stars with Heavy Metal Content to Form, by Michele Johnson; Hubble Survey Finds Missing Link in Planet Formation, NASA
281 16:25-26 AMP; Romans 1:1-3; Acts 3:24; TAS, The Anointing of the Holy Spirit, 40-43 & 104-106; TAS, All Things in Christ, 21-35, 73-81, 214-215; Prince, Destined to Reign, 191-192; TAS, Right Standing With God, 11; TAS, His Great Love, 14
282 4:24-25; Romans 3:21-26 WEB; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 5:19 WEB; Romans 10:4 WEB; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 WEB; Galatians 2:20-21 WEB; Galatians 3:5-9 WEB; Philippians 3:7-9; TAS, Spiritual Maturity, esp. pp. 4-12 and 104-106; TAS, Right Standing With God, 23-24; TAS, All Things in Christ, 217-219; A Birdseye View of the Gospel in one Big Sentence, by Kevin DeYoung; Little, Know What You Believe, 105, 132-133; Milne, Know the Truth, 256-258; see sermons by Joyce Meyer titled “Full armor of God” and “Follow Peace.” Source: Australian Christian TV Channel
283 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 29-30; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 15-16
284 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121; 1 Pet 3:15; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ; TAS, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22, 30-36; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
285 , The Gospel According to Paul, 12-15
286 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 36
287 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30
288 1 23:5; 25:1, 6-7: King David and Music. Source: Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY-16
289 5:9; 14:3; 15:2, 3; King David and Music. Source: Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY
290 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, The Work of God at the End Time, 6-11; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 6-7, 21-22; 1 Pet 3:15
291 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 87-90
292 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 123-124; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93, 102
293 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7
294 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-90; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 46-56; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service, 60
295 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 104; Parker, 181-183
296 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 104-107
297 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; Knowing God in Christ, 38-39
298 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 29-30
299 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-93; TAS, Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
300 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 63, 87
301 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 86
302 , What it Means to be a Christian, 42-43; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 12; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 124-125; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25
303 , The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 66)
304 , Shifting Images … 55; Rodin, 106 108-109
305 , His Great Love, 38-39; TAS, The Rights of God, 13; Frank, 14-16; Rodin, 106, 108-109
306 , His Great Love, 38-39
307 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 93, 104-107; Kinnison, The Pastor as Expert …, 24-25, 29; Parker, 169-170; Eph 4:11-13; Hybels; Muthiah, Christian Practices, 195-196; Gray 137; Tumblin, 69; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership; 1 Cor 8:1 AMP; 2 Tim 2:2; Titus 2:1; 1 Thess 5;11-14
308 , 109-110; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 133-134; Bell, Learning, Changing, and Doing …, 99-102; Horsthuis, 95
309 42:8; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 108-109; TAS, All Things in Christ, 81; Madsen, Lessons From Joshua
310 , The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 71-73
311 -World War II economic expansion. Source: Wikipedia.org. Accessed 29/10/15; The Post War Economy: 1945-1960; Years of Change: The 1960s and 1970s; Stagflation in the 1970s
312 4:16; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 12-16, esp. 15-16
313 , What is a Christian, 19-20
314 , The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30
315 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 91; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130
316 , All Things in Christ, 75-77; TAS, The True Christian Life a Supernatural Life, 13; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 57-58
317 , What it Means to be a Christian, 67-71
318 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 119-121; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 10, 49-50
319 , Revelation of Jesus Christ, 83
320 , Right Standing With God, 24
321 , Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
322 , The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 36
323 ; Callahan, Shifting Images … 55; Echols, Transformational / Servant Leadership …
324 , All Things in Christ, 160-172; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 89-90; TAS, Leadership, 22; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, 51; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75; TAS, Christ the Power of God, 14
325 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 38; The Glory of God, 24-27; TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 36; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 31-33
326 , The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 56; TAS, The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 98-102; TAS, Leadership, 66-67; TAS, The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 29-33, 88, 95-96; Norheim, 72-77, esp. 75
327 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 62-71; Col 3:5; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 15-17, 51-52; TAS, The Gospel According to Paul, 26; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 12-22, 44-51
328 , Knowing God in Christ, 148; 1 Tim 4:13-15 AMP; TAS, The Rights of God, 17, 24-25; TAS, The Spiritual Meaning of Service; TAS, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 106-120; TAS, Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 63; TAS, The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 49, 54, 56; Norheim, 66-67; Clinton Parker, 161-162, 168; Joshua 1:8; Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130
329 , Fundamental Questions of Christian Life, 54-56
330 5:23; Rom 7:4 AMP; 2 Cor 13:9 AMP; 1 Pet 1:15-16; Motyer; John Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader; TAS, Spiritual Maturity, 81-82; TAS, His Great Love, 44; Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124; Clinton Parker, 165-167; TAS, Joints and Bands
331 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 53; Gal 2:4 AMP
332 , The Recovery of Spiritual Power, 53
333 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 86-90, 97, 104; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 49; TAS, The Gospel of the Kingdom, 38-42; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 41
334 , The Gospel According to Paul, 66-67
335 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 120-122
336 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50
337 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 38; TAS, The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom, 18-22, 97
338 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 39
339 , Spiritual Maturity, 52-53, 101-102; TAS, His Great Love, 90
340 , Spiritual Hearing, 13; TAS, The Burning Fire of the Spirit, esp. 9 and 24
341 , The Servant of the Lord, 27-28
342 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 43-44; Rom 8:17 AMP; TAS, Revelation of Jesus Christ, 63
343 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; Rom 14:1
344 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50; Rom 14:1; Foster, Bringing Many Sons to Glory
345 , The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Nations, 79
346 , Right Standing With God, 19; Rom 8:17
347 , Leadership, 38
348 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49-50
349 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 43- 44; TAS, The Servant of the Lord, 31
350 , The Gospel of the Kingdom, 49; TAS, What it Means to be a Christian, 59-60; 2 Cor 13:9 AMP
351 , The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, 95-97; TAS, The Greatness and Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 6-7, 30
Mark Barnes is unhappy with the modern church and wants to establish new churches based on raw passion for Jesus Christ. He draws on Bible references and dozens of modern authors to build an argument that most modern churches have had their lampstand removed and operate as Christian Clubs without the blessing of Christ. Mark argues that it is time for churches to undertake radical change. Mark dissects the modern church and rips it pieces, bit-by-bit. But, Mark doesn’t stop there. He offers practical advice on how churches should change and what they should do to regain their lampstand. Mark offers detailed steps on how Spirit-filled Christians can start their own churches from scratch.