church

What to do about unfaithfulness in the church?

 Hot cold taps

Movements are characterised by Commitment to the Cause. They take their faith seriously and learn to live it out in obedience to what the Scriptures teach. None of us live up to that ideal. That’s where grace comes in. 

But what of the modern-postmodern heresy of relativism in the church? In which any belief and any action becomes a matter of personal preference. The problem is not that we fall short of Biblical standards, but that we deny them all together.

Some great insights from John Lomperis on what needs to be done — although, I’ve travelled enough to know that the problem is not unique to America or the western world.

… one key way in which American evangelicals have not been closely hewing to the faithful biblical example of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers is in the basic attitude and response we often have towards what to do about blatant unfaithfulness within the church itself.

People often romantically long for the purity of “the New Testament church.” But in the New Testament I read, I see a church with some really serious problems.

In the Revelation to John, we see Jesus Christ not giving up on but still loving certain churches, calling them to Scriptural holiness, even when the Ephesian church had forsaken its first love, the church in Smyrna included people devoted to false teaching and sexual immorality, the church in Thyatira tolerated Satanic teaching and a woman leading others into sexual immorality, the church in Sardis was spiritually dead, and the church in Laodicea had not yet repented of being so infamously lukewarm.

Members of the church in Rome were harshly judging and being stumbling blocks for each other. The very first “reconciling congregation” in church history, which took an “open and affirming” stance towards sexual sin, was the one in Corinth, which also included members with a scandalously nasty habit of dragging each other to court. The Galatian church was being led to follow a false Gospel, and heard from Paul about his own experiences elsewhere with “false brothers” who “had infiltrated our ranks.” To the Philippian church, Paul noted that some preachers of Christ were driven by insincere motives of selfish ambition and jealousy. The Colossian church was plagued by a heretical false teachings that mixed in elements from non-Christian belief systems and struck at the very heart of the Gospel. The Thessalonian church had its own struggles with practice, needing to be warned against sexual immorality and then having problems with sinful, mooching laziness. The churches in Crete, overseen by Titus, had within them a disruptive faction who were spreading false teaching, and who had become part of the church despite not even knowing God. The church folk who first received the epistle of James appear to have had an ugly habit of treating rich people better than poor people. Peter’s second letter strongly warns against the inevitable problem of churches being infiltrated by dangerous false teachers. The recipients of John’s epistles were apparently in churches in which people were evidently believing the claims of spirits and false prophets who were not from God, there had been the spread of false teachings so dangerous that they endangered Christians’ eternal salvation, and there was even a corrupt man in a church leadership position who was slandering faithful Christians and abusing his power to put some faithful Christians out of the church. Finally, Jude’s little epistle is worth taking a moment to read in its entirety. He was addressing a church into which false teachers had “secretly slipped in,” people who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”

Sound familiar?

I fear that for too many American Protestants, their first reaction if they heard of a church experiencing even one of these problems would be “if something like that was going on in my church, I would just leave and go to another church – even if that meant abandoning a faithful local congregation because of something happening in the wider denomination!”

This is a profoundly unbiblical mindset. The New Testament presents us with a number of responses to such church problems: Teaching that explicitly refutes false beliefs. Church discipline. Patient endurance. “Contending for the faith” – and note that when Jude gave that command, he was talking about fighting unfaithfulness within the church itself! Warning about the ultimate eternal consequences of persistent unfaithfulness. Waiting for eventual justice for enemies of the Gospel. Even rejoicing over some good preaching by very corrupt individuals!

But what I do not see in Scripture is this idea that when the false teachers have gained a small foothold in or even overwhelmed a local church, we have any right to just surrender everything to them, give them full, unchallenged leadership over the local flock, just run away and quit, and maybe try to rebuild everything from scratch somewhere down the road.

What to do about unfaithfulness in the church?

 Hot cold taps

Movements are characterised by Commitment to the Cause. They take their faith seriously and learn to live it out in obedience to what the Scriptures teach. None of us live up to that ideal. That’s where grace comes in. 

But what of the modern-postmodern heresy of relativism in the church? In which any belief and any action becomes a matter of personal preference. The problem is not that we fall short of Biblical standards, but that we deny them all together.

Some great insights from John Lomperis on what needs to be done — although, I’ve travelled enough to know that the problem is not unique to America or the western world.

… one key way in which American evangelicals have not been closely hewing to the faithful biblical example of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers is in the basic attitude and response we often have towards what to do about blatant unfaithfulness within the church itself.

People often romantically long for the purity of “the New Testament church.” But in the New Testament I read, I see a church with some really serious problems.

In the Revelation to John, we see Jesus Christ not giving up on but still loving certain churches, calling them to Scriptural holiness, even when the Ephesian church had forsaken its first love, the church in Smyrna included people devoted to false teaching and sexual immorality, the church in Thyatira tolerated Satanic teaching and a woman leading others into sexual immorality, the church in Sardis was spiritually dead, and the church in Laodicea had not yet repented of being so infamously lukewarm.

Members of the church in Rome were harshly judging and being stumbling blocks for each other. The very first “reconciling congregation” in church history, which took an “open and affirming” stance towards sexual sin, was the one in Corinth, which also included members with a scandalously nasty habit of dragging each other to court. The Galatian church was being led to follow a false Gospel, and heard from Paul about his own experiences elsewhere with “false brothers” who “had infiltrated our ranks.” To the Philippian church, Paul noted that some preachers of Christ were driven by insincere motives of selfish ambition and jealousy. The Colossian church was plagued by a heretical false teachings that mixed in elements from non-Christian belief systems and struck at the very heart of the Gospel. The Thessalonian church had its own struggles with practice, needing to be warned against sexual immorality and then having problems with sinful, mooching laziness. The churches in Crete, overseen by Titus, had within them a disruptive faction who were spreading false teaching, and who had become part of the church despite not even knowing God. The church folk who first received the epistle of James appear to have had an ugly habit of treating rich people better than poor people. Peter’s second letter strongly warns against the inevitable problem of churches being infiltrated by dangerous false teachers. The recipients of John’s epistles were apparently in churches in which people were evidently believing the claims of spirits and false prophets who were not from God, there had been the spread of false teachings so dangerous that they endangered Christians’ eternal salvation, and there was even a corrupt man in a church leadership position who was slandering faithful Christians and abusing his power to put some faithful Christians out of the church. Finally, Jude’s little epistle is worth taking a moment to read in its entirety. He was addressing a church into which false teachers had “secretly slipped in,” people who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”

Sound familiar?

I fear that for too many American Protestants, their first reaction if they heard of a church experiencing even one of these problems would be “if something like that was going on in my church, I would just leave and go to another church – even if that meant abandoning a faithful local congregation because of something happening in the wider denomination!”

This is a profoundly unbiblical mindset. The New Testament presents us with a number of responses to such church problems: Teaching that explicitly refutes false beliefs. Church discipline. Patient endurance. “Contending for the faith” – and note that when Jude gave that command, he was talking about fighting unfaithfulness within the church itself! Warning about the ultimate eternal consequences of persistent unfaithfulness. Waiting for eventual justice for enemies of the Gospel. Even rejoicing over some good preaching by very corrupt individuals!

But what I do not see in Scripture is this idea that when the false teachers have gained a small foothold in or even overwhelmed a local church, we have any right to just surrender everything to them, give them full, unchallenged leadership over the local flock, just run away and quit, and maybe try to rebuild everything from scratch somewhere down the road.

Finding 100 fold leaders

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Here's a crazy statistic Jeff Sundell (left) shared with us last week at the Community of Practice in Sydney.

For every 300 people he trains, he expects to find one church planting movement leader. Not just a worker but a CPM leader who take responsibility for fuelling a movement.

Jeff is a local practitioner, but his greatest impact will come through training and mobilising new and existing believers. His goal is to train 3,000 people this year.

Who are you training? Who are they training?

Ten years since a bomb killed Bill Hyde

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Ten years ago a bomb planted at a Philippine airport by a Muslim rebel group killed 23 people. One of the dead was Bill Hyde, a Southern Baptist missionary.

It’s ironic that Hyde, 59, died at the little airport in Davao City where he’d walked countless times — a place considered safe. He had made a habit of going into some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines. Places where you could get kidnapped, shot at, or worse, especially if you were a foreigner. He’d just returned from such a place that day.

The key to his church-planting strategy was simple: like the Apostle Paul, he multiplied himself in other faithful men, who could in turn multiply themselves in others. He started by training a core group of seven Filipino men committed to church planting. As they became trainers, the circle widened into a network of hundreds.

He never went anywhere alone. He always took at least one young Filipino or missionary — and usually as many as he could pack into his vehicle — on his trips into the hinterlands. He trained Filipinos to start churches, then let them take the lead while he observed and encouraged. Most important, he flatly refused to do anything in ministry leadership that Filipino believers could do themselves.

One of those Filipino men was Eddie Palingcod, a member of Hyde’s original core group. Palingcod became the leading Baptist church-planting trainer for an entire province in the Philippines.

Hyde’s approach departed from the traditional idea of starting one church at a time. “He said to me, ‘Eddie, you need to train others to plant churches. It’s not that you’re doing the wrong thing now, but you need to multiply,’” Palingcod recalled after Hyde’s death. “It was hard for me to understand at first, but when I applied it, I got excited.

“Even though he is now living in heaven,” said Palingcod, “I told Bill, ‘It works!’”

Today Hyde’s legacy lives on in the hundreds of churches started through his ministry of multiplication. In the thousands of Filipinos won to Christ. In the ongoing ministries of missionaries he mentored and encouraged. In the ministry of his life partner, Lyn, who courageously returned to the Philippines in early 2004 and continued her work until retiring in 2009. In the lives of his sons, who followed in his mission footsteps.

Perhaps most of all, it lives on in the hundreds of Filipino men like Eddie Palingcod, who continue to live out the passion for church multiplying Hyde instilled in them.

full story. . .

Putting the Movements diagram to work

movements diagram

Four ways I put the Movements diagram to work:

  1. Bible study. I take the Gospels and Acts, or a portion of them, and ask: how did they see the end, connect with people, share the gospel, train disciples, gather communities, multiply workers? Great for personal Bible study or group training.
  2. Diagnostic. I use the diagram as a diagnostic of my own ministry or someone else's. Individually, or as a team, draw the diagram and fill in how you are going: seeing the end, sharing the gospel, training disciples, gathering communities, multiplying workers. Identify progress and lessons learned. Identify obstacles. Ask, where am I stuck? Ask, what do I need to do next?
  3. Training. The diagram is great for teaching. I take twenty minutes to go over it with concrete examples for each element. Then I break people into pairs and have them draw and teach the diagram to each other without notes.
  4. Vision casting. I often meet one-on-one with people to help them make the paradigm shift to a movements. As I draw the diagram on the back of a napkin, I explain each element, I tell stories, and show them what it could look like in their world. It takes about 45 minutes, or five minutes if you're rushing to catch a flight. My aim is to see if they are ready to do some basic training like Following and Fishing to get them started.

You're welcome to use the diagram as long as you identify the source.

What Jesus Started: Synopsis

SYNOPSIS

The Christian movement began with Jesus. He founded something completely new in human history and his achievement has never been matched.

Every new generation of his disciples must sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from his example as the founder of a missionary movement.

What does that look like? What do missionary movements do? What Jesus Started identifies the six activities that characterized the ministry of Jesus as it began in the Gospels, and as it continued through his followers in the book of Acts.

  1. See the need. Missionary movements respond to God’s call to join his mission. They are moved with compassion for lost people and do not rest until the good news of salvation through Christ is proclaimed, and communities of disciples are formed, throughout the inhabited world.
  2. Connect with people. Movements cross boundaries to establish contact with non-Christians. They seek out responsive people, who have been prepared by God to welcome the messenger and take the message to the people in their world.
  3. Share the gospel. Movements share the good news of Jesus the Messiah and Savior. They equip new disciples to become the means by which the good news spreads throughout their communities.
  4. Train disciples. Movements lead people to faith in Jesus Christ and teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded including the command to make disciples of others.
  5. Gather communities. Movements form new believers into the local communities of the followers of Jesus Each community of disciples is responsible to reach its region in depth and to contribute money, prayer, and workers who take the gospel to unreached regions.
  6. Multiply workers. Missionary movements send out workers into new, unreached fields to advance the spread of the gospel and the formation of new communities of disciples.

There were no precedents in the ancient world for what Jesus achieved. There were no movements—religious, political, or cultural—that intentionally sought to expand geographically and cross-culturally throughout the known world.

What Jesus started continues today. Not a dying institution, but a vibrant living movement of his disciples following a risen Lord to the ends of the earth and the end of history.

Baptisms @ $762,000 each

Reader Dave writes,

Steve

Good challenge on Zero dollar church planting.

The Jan 2012 issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (IBMR) publishes the annual statistics of the "Status of Global Mission". They identify that $762,000 per year is the "cost effectiveness" per baptism, globally.

Granted, the numbers include all Christian groups of every "flavor" (para-church and denominational), but it does cause you to gasp! …and causes you to want to ask probing questions to know more…

Thanks for your good work and blog articles. And, your book, What Jesus Started, has arrived for those of us who pre-ordered.

Christmas blessings!

Dave

All we need is $762,000,000,000,000,000 to reach the next billion people.

UPDATE: Here's the direct link to the article. Look for item 55 on page 29.

UPDATE: That figure should be $762,000,000,000,000 (not $762,000,000,000,000,000) to reach the next billion people. Thanks to Fro for the correction. I feel much much better now.