SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘church growth’ Category

The “Christian Minority”

leave a comment »

In Western society the Church is in the minority. In even the “Bible Belt” only a minority of the population is actually in church on a given Sunday, or is even nominally active in a church. This much is known and noticed. Yet there is enough of a minority that it should have a significant influence- far more than it does, especially in terms of real evangelism. What is the problem?

In actual fact, the “active” Church is far smaller than what is recognised. We start with recognising that 80% of the work, as in any organisation, is done by 20% of the membership, but then let’s look at that membership.

In any given church today, between 55% and 80% or more of the congregation is women. Church traditions vary from one group to another, but it is safe to say that of the roles most directly linked to the ministry of the church, most of them are closed to women’s participation. Without getting close to approaching the Women’s Ordination question, we do well to ask of the Lord had the same policies when He chose women to announce His Resurrection to the men and defended a woman’s right to sit at His feet to learn theology. There were men and women receiving the Spirit in the Upper Room, Philip’s four daughters preached (one may preach (proclaim) without prophesying, but prophesy without preaching?), and it was not uncommon for Paul to recognise female “co-labourers” in his epistles.

Due to factors better discussed elsewhere, the Church has over a 60% divorce rate to a 50% rate outside. In many churches, divorce is seen as a permanent disqualification for service in the Church, except maybe something behind the scenes like knitting or taking a turn cooking for the men’s breakfast. This, of course, is seldom a problem since once a person does divorce they generally become an unwelcome stranger to their best friends, and are gone within a month. This is a majority of the Church’s adults, lost to their churches. Very often, these are people who have risked all they had to save their marriages, and possibly survived the break-up only at the very highest cost, only to see their best friends all to ready to believe any bad thing heard or imagined against them. Not only does this cost the churches some good people, but the ones who stay are poisoned by the violence they have done to their hurting brothers and sisters.

So, then, before examining the increasing marginalisation of seniors and the all-too common practice of giving the “prominent” members full reign in church matters, and before bemoaning that the noble 20% are carrying the load, we have already reduced the number eligible for much else but parking cars down to 20%. If only 20% are allowed to serve, and the 80/20 rule applies, that means that the churches are presuming to carry on with the talents not of 20%, but of closer to 4% at best. And that 4% can’t even claim any great dedication, since they’ve reduced themselves to such an “elite” group by running off all those who wish they could serve. Now if we take that 4%, and divide out the ones holding to an authentic Christian faith in the face of so many innovations, and find what part of that group is not affected by a sense of prejudice and elitism in their having “attained” that status, we might be close to identifying the actual, living, Church.

Faithful Reader, if you’ve read this far, please take this as it is intended: Not to build a spiral of ill-feelings, but to encourage, exhort, beg everyone to examine ourselves in light of the revealed truth and love of God, and apply ourselves to be “part of the solution,” regardless the cost. The Gospel went out to the known world, at first, with no more than what meets at your church on a Sunday. That was with all the technology of a scribe’s brushes and the back of a strong mule. Once the Christians are right with God, once we’ve turned from our own prides and prejudices, and been transformed and anointed for the work we can finish the job, but not before. The time to repent, to learn, and to act is now.

Advertisements

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 26 September, 2009 at 21:21

What Gospel?

with 4 comments

Today we see a vast spread of what we call Christianity. Churches are springing up worldwide, largely influenced by the glut of “Good Christian Teaching” from the US. The problem, though, is seen in looking at the state of affairs in the US Church. Substance abuse, teen pregnancy, STDs and marriage breakdowns match if not outstrip the “sinners” who never darken a church door. The “Hardshell Baptist” has become a standard, and a bye-word, for American religion in general: Quick enough to state a position, but completely unable to give a reason for it which reflects in a godly life. The shell is there, and in good repair, but the yolk has been sucked out years ago, leaving what looks like a healthy egg, but neither food nor life inside.

Severe words? Yes indeed. Un-called-for? Then why do we have cities in the middle of the “Bible Belt” where churches outnumber filling stations, nearly 90% of the people report being “born again,” and the biggest two industries seem to be illegal drugs and prostitution? Why does the head of the Evangelical Alliance have to resign because of a queer sex scandal, the biggest “evangelists” on the media circle the wagons when asked about their finances, and one of their number pack a sports stadium while refusing to confess Christ as Savior on national television? Ranting? Yes. Called-for? What do you think? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 3 August, 2008 at 18:02

The Originals!

with one comment

As in the last article, Christians are called to be one in Jesus, and that’s how He wants us to live. There seems to be a trend in the Church of more focus on fellowship than labels, and this can be a good thing. There is also a major trend toward setting aside doctrinal differences and gathering around the name of Jesus. This can also be a good thing, but often it has caused a bigger problem than it has solved, and that’s the one we need to deal with. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 6 October, 2007 at 22:39

The Originals!

with one comment

As in the last article, Christians are called to be one in Jesus, and that’s how He wants us to live. There seems to be a trend in the Church of more focus on fellowship than labels, and this can be a good thing. There is also a major trend toward setting aside doctrinal differences and gathering around the name of Jesus. This can also be a good thing, but often it has caused a bigger problem than it has solved, and we need to solve that problem.

Paul wrote in Romans that the Gospel of Christ is God’s power to save the whole world. The potential is there, but it must be delivered, received, and acted on. Now it doesn’t seem he was talking about the book of Matthew, or Luke, or the back page of a salvation tract, but to the message itself. Peter later wrote that we have, “all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him Who has called us to glory and virtue.” We need the full message, just like we need to be fully saved.

Before the Cross, the best picture we have of Christian salvation is of Mary when she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word.” From this, the very life of God grew in her, and came forth for the salvation of the whole world! How much is conversion like pregnancy? That might be good for another post!

The biggest
hazard today is the idea that “doctrine doesn’t matter,” as long as we love Jesus. If you love someone, don’t you want to know them? How can Jesus say, “My sheep hear my voice,” if His sheep don’t know anything about Him? He said, “If you love Me you will obey,” simply as evidence, or proof, of that love, so how important is it to know what His plan is?

It is great today to be able to use the Internet “Christian-ly.” For the first time we have access to the thoughts and prayers of Christian teachers dating all the way back to the Apostles. We can learn from Anselm, Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine (amazing how many names started with “A!”), Gregory of Nyssa, Ignatius, Polycarp, and so many others from such giant sites as Christian Classics and any number of others. We even have accredited seminaries with online classes. Why is this such a good thing? For one, the early “Fathers and Mothers” lived in a day, and in a culture, closer to the New Testament and had a closer view of what things really meant, and how they applied, than we have looking at things through 1800 years, more or less, of history and cultural changes Today’s churches generally have their “core doctrines” based on their reading of their own founding preachers, and many of them only date back as far as the 1840’s or even well into the 20th Century, and their doctrines tend to come from questions that people were dealing with then. Some time with these “Originals” can give us a deeper view of God’s nature, and of human nature, than we’re ever likely to find without them.

Am I talking about adding to the Bible? Not at all! I’ts all about getting a clearer view of the actual plan that is there. If the Bible can be compared to a piece of fine woodwork, then the picture I’m setting out is of peeling back years of paint to see it through the varnish that was first put there to help us to see the texture and direction of the grain. The most important thing the “Early Fathers” did was to lay that varnish down to give us, through all the ages, a clear picture of the Faith that we all share as Christians so that we don’t fall into some of the same errors that they (sometimes literally) gave their lives to correct, but rather find a whole new appreciation of just how great our Lord really is!

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 6 October, 2007 at 16:39

Christianity- What’s it Like?

leave a comment »

From John 14,
“Peace I leave with you- Not as the world gives..!”

The greatest peace we can have from anything in this world pales in comparison, and can be shattered in an instant by any number of ways. Jesus’ peace surrounds us, supports us, and nothing in the world can touch it! If we know Jesus, then,
We know the Way-
the Road itself! He’s the gate, the door, and the road. It’s one thing to be on a road we’ve got a map for, and He’s given us a map. It’s another thing to know the way, and we do. But we are on a Road that knows us, and communicates with us! It would take a real effort to get lost in that situation!

We know the Truth– we don’t just know facts about stuff, but we know the Truth, personally, and He knows us!

We know the Life– It’s been said that if we’re going to die, then we really don’t have life, though we may technically be alive on borrowed life for a time. Real life is from God, and does not end. He that does not have the Son does not have life, but death is living in him. He that has the Son has life!

Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father. Now, how did they see the Father, looking at a man with the same sweat, dirt, and distractions that they all dealt with? “No form or comeliness,” but the same sweat, dirt, humanity…
They saw love. They saw a Man Who lived a life out of a heart of love for others, of putting others first, when He Himself was God Incarnate.
They saw goodness! They saw holiness- not as a distant life separated from everything, but a life lived right out in the middle of things, but separated to God!

And the words He spoke were the Father’s words, and He did what the Father was doing!

Then, and today, He calls us to believe Him for Who He is, and Who He comes from, and, promises that we will do works greater than those He did, and that He will meet us in prayer, and that He would send us His Spirit to be a Strengthener (Comforter) just like Himself! How is the Holy Ghost just like Jesus? First of all, in that He is God, the Third Person of the same Godhead. And since He is like Jesus, we’re not surprised to see that the world does not “get” Him in any way. While there may be counterfeits, only a person who is born of the Spirit can begin to understand or receive the Spirit. Like with Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not receive Him, but, like Jesus said farther along in John, “The wind blows where it wants to, and you, ..don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jesus, and the Spirit are the same, and the Spirit passes that on to us!

And here’s the kicker: The mission of God! Jesus comes down from the highest glory, through the world’s most painful and shameful death, right down to the pit of Hell; rises, and ascends, and prays for us to receive the Promise of the Father- the fullness of the Spirit! Now we can fulfill His mission! How does this happen? In v. 21, it is by the Spirit that Jesus reveals Himself to us, in v. 23 we see that by the Spirit He lives right with us, and vs. 25 & 26, the Spirit keeps us reminded of what we have heard Jesus tell us. To wrap it all up, in v. 27 we see that we have that peace that only comes from Jesus!

Now, maybe, the Church can’t say that we have what the world needs, but that is only because we are what the world needs: The living presence of Jesus Christ, His own living Body, here on this Earth. As the Father sent Him, so He sends us: humble, broken, and loving. We have what every sinner needs: the full gospel of Jesus Christ- full and living salvation by the power of His blood in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a matter, Christian, of “What can I do?” but rather, “What can God not do?” God is on a mission: It’s His mission, and He’s calling us to come alongside Him to see Him do it- as His witnesses! It’s no longer, “We’re on a mission from God,” but we’re on a mission with God!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 9 September, 2007 at 1:51

Christianity- What’s it Like?

leave a comment »

From John 14,
“Peace I leave with you- Not as the world gives..!”

The greatest peace we can have from anything in this world pales in comparison, and can be shattered in an instant by any number of ways. Jesus’ peace surrounds us, supports us, and nothing in the world can touch it! If we know Jesus, then,
We know the Way- the Road itself! He’s the gate, the door, and the road. It’s one thing to be on a road we’ve got a map for, and He’s given us a map. It’s another thing to know the way, and we do. But we are on a Road that knows us, and communicates with us! It would take a real effort to get lost in that situation!

We know the Truth- we don’t just know facts about stuff, but we know the Truth, personally, and He knows us!
We know the Life- It’s been said that if we’re going to die, then we really don’t have life, though we may technically be alive on borrowed life for a time. Real life is from God, and does not end. He that does not have the Son does not have life, but death is living in him. He that has the Son has life!

Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father. Now, how did they see the Father, looking at a man with the same sweat, dirt, and distractions that they all dealt with? “No form or comeliness,” but the same sweat, dirt, humanity…
They saw love. They saw a Man Who lived a life out of a heart of love for others, of putting others first, when He Himself was God Incarnate.
They saw goodness! They saw holiness- not as a distant life separated from everything, but a life lived right out in the middle of things, but separated to God!
And the words He spoke were the Father’s words, and He did what the Father was doing!

Then, and today, He calls us to believe Him for Who He is, and Who He comes from, and, promises that we will do works greater than those He did, and that He will meet us in prayer, and that He would send us His Spirit to be a Strengthener (Comforter) just like Himself! How is the Holy Ghost just like Jesus? First of all, in that He is God, the Third Person of the same Godhead. And since He is like Jesus, we’re not surprised to see that the world does not “get” Him in any way. While there may be counterfeits, only a person who is born of the Spirit can begin to understand or receive the Spirit. Like with Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not receive Him, but, like Jesus said farther along in John, “The wind blows where it wants to, and you, ..don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jesus, and the Spirit are the same, and the Spirit passes that on to us!

And here’s the kicker: The mission of God! Jesus comes down from the highest glory, through the world’s most painful and shameful death, right down to the pit of Hell; rises, and ascends, and prays for us to receive the Promise of the Father- the fullness of the Spirit! Now we can fulfill His mission! How does this happen? In v. 21, it is by the Spirit that Jesus reveals Himself to us, in v. 23 we see that by the Spirit He lives right with us, and vs. 25 & 26, the Spirit keeps us reminded of what we have heard Jesus tell us. To wrap it all up, in v. 27 we see that we have that peace that only comes from Jesus!

Now, maybe, the Church can’t say that we have what the world needs, but that is only because we are what the world needs: The living presence of Jesus Christ, His own living Body, here on this Earth. As the Father sent Him, so He sends us: humble, broken, and loving. We have what every sinner needs: the full gospel of Jesus Christ- full and living salvation by the power of His blood in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a matter, Christian, of “What can I do?” but rather, “What can God not do?” God is on a mission: It’s His mission, and He’s calling us to come alongside Him to see Him do it- as His witnesses! It’s no longer, “We’re on a mission from God,” but we’re on a mission with God!

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 8 September, 2007 at 19:51

Christianity- What’s it Like?

leave a comment »

From John 14,
“Peace I leave with you- Not as the world gives..!”

The greatest peace we can have from anything in this world pales in comparison, and can be shattered in an instant by any number of ways. Jesus’ peace surrounds us, supports us, and nothing in the world can touch it! If we know Jesus, then,
We know the Way- the Road itself! He’s the gate, the door, and the road. It’s one thing to be on a road we’ve got a map for, and He’s given us a map. It’s another thing to know the way, and we do. But we are on a Road that knows us, and communicates with us! It would take a real effort to get lost in that situation!

We know the Truth- we don’t just know facts about stuff, but we know the Truth, personally, and He knows us!
We know the Life- It’s been said that if we’re going to die, then we really don’t have life, though we may technically be alive on borrowed life for a time. Real life is from God, and does not end. He that does not have the Son does not have life, but death is living in him. He that has the Son has life!

Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father. Now, how did they see the Father, looking at a man with the same sweat, dirt, and distractions that they all dealt with? “No form or comeliness,” but the same sweat, dirt, humanity…
They saw love. They saw a Man Who lived a life out of a heart of love for others, of putting others first, when He Himself was God Incarnate.
They saw goodness! They saw holiness- not as a distant life separated from everything, but a life lived right out in the middle of things, but separated to God!
And the words He spoke were the Father’s words, and He did what the Father was doing!

Then, and today, He calls us to believe Him for Who He is, and Who He comes from, and, promises that we will do works greater than those He did, and that He will meet us in prayer, and that He would send us His Spirit to be a Strengthener (Comforter) just like Himself! How is the Holy Ghost just like Jesus? First of all, in that He is God, the Third Person of the same Godhead. And since He is like Jesus, we’re not surprised to see that the world does not “get” Him in any way. While there may be counterfeits, only a person who is born of the Spirit can begin to understand or receive the Spirit. Like with Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not receive Him, but, like Jesus said farther along in John, “The wind blows where it wants to, and you, ..don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jesus, and the Spirit are the same, and the Spirit passes that on to us!

And here’s the kicker: The mission of God! Jesus comes down from the highest glory, through the world’s most painful and shameful death, right down to the pit of Hell; rises, and ascends, and prays for us to receive the Promise of the Father- the fullness of the Spirit! Now we can fulfill His mission! How does this happen? In v. 21, it is by the Spirit that Jesus reveals Himself to us, in v. 23 we see that by the Spirit He lives right with us, and vs. 25 & 26, the Spirit keeps us reminded of what we have heard Jesus tell us. To wrap it all up, in v. 27 we see that we have that peace that only comes from Jesus!

Now, maybe, the Church can’t say that we have what the world needs, but that is only because we are what the world needs: The living presence of Jesus Christ, His own living Body, here on this Earth. As the Father sent Him, so He sends us: humble, broken, and loving. We have what every sinner needs: the full gospel of Jesus Christ- full and living salvation by the power of His blood in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a matter, Christian, of “What can I do?” but rather, “What can God not do?” God is on a mission: It’s His mission, and He’s calling us to come alongside Him to see Him do it- as His witnesses! It’s no longer, “We’re on a mission from God,” but we’re on a mission with God!

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 8 September, 2007 at 19:51