greenactinvest.com/images/zufer-zithromax-antibiotique-prix.php And now that I am tired of playing my entire existence in eternity is to be condemned to a fiery hell? There is sure to be people that will disagree and will accept nothing less than total allegiance to the system but I refuse to bow. It took me 36 years in the institution we call the modern-day church to find out I did not know the God I said I served.
I only found Him walking down a lonely road to Golgotha. If we truly believe that the current structure of what was a construct of Constantine is the true church then I must ask the questions, is it without spot or wrinkle, or any such blemish. Any honest man would say no.
That is because the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is about individuals who have gone into a holy bed chamber and had intimate time with Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim. It is made up of the portable tabernacles that have made Him their habitation and not a group of people that have put the name Jesus on the sign of their church. That sign is only an indication of where those people have stopped in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. As individual churches or habitations of the Most High, definitely. If they have that true 3rd dimensional relationship, then most certainly so.
But those people would know that going to a building and singing, hearing a preacher, and giving money does not define their salvation nor is it a testimony of their spirituality. Their hope, faith, trust, and lives are hidden with Christ in God. The mentality of it being all about my church or your church is where we have truly missed it. Even the word itself is an incrimination of that which the all worship. With each new church that arises after a split, or a new denomination that is added to the, now more than ones registered, we lay yet another fist to the face of Christ where He is marred to the point that no one can see who He truly is.
The allegiance to denomination rather than obedience to Him is at the heart of the illusion. First, we divided over liturgy or the manner or order of worship, then by doctrine, and ultimately by religion. The Father must be truly confused or we would have the church that He promised. Instead look at what the church, that is more the leadership, has been doing in the shadows and it is Ezekiel Chapter 8 all over again. We moved out of the shadow of what was a type and moved into the light.
The construct of what it is to be is all in Him, by Him, and through Him. This was much more to be desired than a humble and giving form of relationship with the Father and with their fellow man. And this is what we call the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I weep because so many have been bewitched into believing that they will never have any more of God than the pastor will allow. The princes of the pulpits that have no understanding beyond the elementary principles of Christ are somehow thought of as seasoned men of the word because they wear the three piece suit just right, and the handkerchief is held with the grip of a master mason.
All of these are styling cues that are paraded as their bona fides of spirituality. It seems that we all worship that which we do not understand. How did this whole thing begin? All we did was take an ear from here, and nose from there, an eye from that and then called it God and told the world to bow down and worship it. We created something to be sure, a graven image. The truth? Man wants the control over the masses.
What they say, where they go, what they believe. Self-preservation is the first instinct of man. My friend and brother Fessdo where are you, ole buddy? If going to church brings one peace, how can that be a bad thing? He told us that if we believe in Him, we will be given eternal life. I believe Him. John Amen, we have been conditioned to attached the completed work of Christ to our ability to join a church and show up for every service. It is interesting to me that Jesus Himself never preached a gospel that was church attending centric. He continually spoke about the secrets of the Kingdom of God.
Do not be mistaken I believe that it is both good and pleasant that we live together in unity but that does not imply that we having to meet at a specific location with a steeple and choir. Some of the most enlightening and glorious times that I have had in my communion with the Father has been in the middle of nowhere with a roaring campfire.
Sometimes alone and sometimes with a few others. It is such a contrast to what I had been a part of for 36yrs. Though it may be a personal indictment about me I often tell people that I was a professional Christian. Now I am a nobody to that world but have found solace in the shadows of the almighty and would never go back.
I am so humbled by His presence. At times, I think that the highest form of worship is utter and complete silence. It might sound crazy but the loudest sound in the world is silence before the Father. We are always too busy talking, singing, shouting, dancing, laughing, of which all are good at the right time, but being quiet and still as He rises from within you becomes a crescendo of sound unlike anything ever heard. That is because glory never comes down but rather it goes up. It is diametrically opposed to what I call pseudo evangelism propagated by the system.
They made us believe that making converts and saving souls were up to us but that is not the case. Winning souls simply means that we are to sow the seed of Christ, then another waters, but He gives the increase. What we are to be about doing is making disciples. But that that is not something that happens for 1 hour at 5pm on Sunday evenings. It is the pouring of your life in Christ into another person. At the end of it all only those whom He knows will be welcomed to share in the Kingdom of God that has been prepared for them. It so wonderful to know that a person that He does not know can never be saved and a person He does know can never be lost.
That is why He is the only Lord of the universe. Everything happens for His pleasure, all things are naked before Him, He is the beginning and the end at the same time. So, we can take our rest in knowing that no person will ever go to hell because we failed to witness to them. There is a much deeper revelation here but not for this time. Thank you for your words of life brother they have brought peace and comfort to me. I appreciate you indulging me. This truly is all that I have left in the world, to continue my search for the height, width, and breadth of Him and His love, and to speak with others of His goodness and mercy as well all cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Thank you for being a part of bringing glory to Him by your beautiful words. Amen, brother Todd. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. That was beautiful and blsssed, what you said and how you said it.
Count me in among the church quitters. Faithfully attended church and served for many years. Churches are full of imperfect people. I get it. Do imperfect people have free reign to be appalling in their behavior? When I see things from the pastor and his wife that would never fly even in the most secular business office, what am I supposed to think? Why should I attend every Sunday to hear kindergarden teaching from a baby Christian behind the pulpit who slapped together a sermon from internet blogs?
We complain and complain about this, but it falls on deaf ears. Counting the number of donuts people take? Watching their children like a hawk when they go to a bathroom? How many times do we have to see this junk, and how many times do we have to complain, before pastors get the message?? And then with the music.
Just ditch the worship team and play iTiunes from the stage already. It would certainly save the church a lot of time and money. Or maybe choose some less ambitious songs for their ability to induce real worship. I have a group of Spirit-filled friends who join me in fellowship all throughout the week.
We have Bible study, prayer meetings, counseling, everything the church is supposed to be. We financially assist those in need. We support ministries we believe in. We witness to people and pray for healings and stimulate each other to good works. Why is it that my complaints are always dismissed? Why has a pastor never once called on me to explain why I disappeared?
Why are there so many blogs like this that misrepresent us? I want nothing more than to find a group of nice people who study the Bible together with no egos or agendas. Why is that too much to ask??? Welcome to this blog and hope you can contribute through His Spirit. I wonder if the churches at Galatia or Corinth, at Laodicea or in Thyatira, or any of them were better than they are today. When Jesus saw sin, he did not remain quiet, but called it out.
Yet, still, he loved and died for his Church; he did not abandon it. In Thyatira, where Jezebel encouraged its members into sexual perversion, what did Jesus say? Did he tell his followers to leave? We have become grumblers and complainers. It only took three days after the Red Sea was parted that thousands resumed grumbling—except for two: Joshua and Caleb. They were the only ones to make it. Are we only joyful when circumstances please us?
No, I am not any greater than you. But I am twice as old, and by virtue of the fact I had to wait to get there, I am that much more patient. You see things you do not see when you are half as old. You experience things I would not dare have dreamt when I was young, like you. If you have been given wisdom from God, share it with those who are without it. If you do not sin, cast the first stone. God will exalt the humble. Jesus paid it all so that you could have what he deserved. Stu, that all sounds great. Let me share with you my experience with the church I just quit.
When I first began attending, about two months ago, I felt edified by the pastor and his sermons, comfortable with the welcoming, warm and friendly congregation and a sense of satisfaction when I left a service. I had met him while attending a study group session that he led. I sent him a text, asking him to please call me. That was the final straw. That was his approach. Gimme aa bucket for that bs. Thank you, dear, blessed, holy Lord Jesus, for never leaving or forsaking me and for always walking right beside me as I and my brethren in the Grace of Your Spilled Blood patiently, eagerly await your return to make everything right.
Come soon, Lord! I remember one church where we attended weeknight Bible study led by the pastor. I humbly offered an answer. I saw the room light up including the pastor when they realized I was right. The pastor never spoke to me directly again. There was no follow-up to that conversation, not one person in the room asking me out for coffee afterward. Not that I care to be popular, but there was no curiosity to see what else I knew. In churches these days you are punished if you display knowledge or maturity above the leadership team. You are marked as a know-it-all.
If you want to get along with people, you have to play dumb. Amen, you hit the mark! The prince in the pulpit saw a king and was embarrassed. I can bet after that you became a threat to him. To use a worldly metaphor, the emperor had no clothes not because you told everyone he was naked but you showed everyone he was by being clothed.
Well done. The whole of the earth groans and travails as a woman in labor. Everyone that reads this blog please here this. The groans and travails of the earth are not because of sin, wickedness, evil, or any other such force or action, not even the devil is the cause. The reason for the earths groaning and travailing is that it is awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God, Romans The sons that are to be birthed out in the latter days to follow the one and only Son of God and they are be the light in this world, the bridge builders of His kingdom, dare I say it, the Melchizedek Priesthood for the end times.
The church of Ephesus self-destructed due to ravenous wolves in leadership. None of the 7 churches in Revelation exist today.. Jesus overturned the tables in the temple — then He spoke eight woes over Jersusalem, called the Pharisees children of the devil, and sent His church to the Gentiles. There are only so many times you can overturn the tables.
You think pastors want to hear my wisdom? My chair-setting and floor-mopping skills are in high demand, but not my opinions. Why ask for my home address if you will literally never visit my house? So my choices are either to sit in the back reading my Bible while no one cares to engage me after puzzlingly interrogating me on my background , or stay home in my pajamas and fellowship with real friends.
Instead of browbeating us to undertake heroic Jericho efforts, perhaps, just perhaps, the shepherds over the sheep should do their job. We are the Church! There are more like you out there, Take some comfort in knowing that others also feel what you feel and see what you see. There is a remnant people that He the Lord has set aside for these latter times. This that have been hidden away in the house of God eating and drinking the substance of Christ. They are those that hunger and thirst for Him more than their daily bread. We have no Father but God.
There are no men, no institution or denomination that can lay claim to us as being their sons. It is the reason that you leave that building feeling the way you do. There is a priesthood that is being but already has been built that will show forth the praises of Him who called us out of the dark into His marvelous light. This priesthood is the reflection of the Father and the Son and it will be the counter balance to evil in these last days. I believe that you are on the right path dear brother. Keep pressing, keep pushing, keep tapping into that 3rd dimension and when the time comes you will do the works of your Father.
Thank you Todd. I continually grow as I learn more about our Savior. He is truly our light in the darkness! Oh how desperately we need Him. Amen, brother. What would we do without Jesus? Thank you, Jesus, for coming to save us and thank you, Father, for giving us your own begotten Son Jesus!
We have no life without Him because we are dead and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. So the only true way to know who you are is to know who He is because you find your true life and identity in Him. You are so dead on, we need Him more than ever. That being said the Father purposely chose to need us to complete himself. He emptied out different parts of His personality and nature and then put it in His sons, i. So when the God part you have connects with the God part I have He is connecting Himself to Himself thus fulfilling the high priestly prayer of Christ in John Chapter 17, Father make them one even as we are one.
So there are none outside the ONE. All those that the Father gave to Him He kept. What a beautiful savior we have and what a glorious privilege it is to know Him and those that carry a part of Him inside their temple. These are the true riches of Christ, to love one another as He has loved us is greater than all of the prosperity of all the churches, denomination, religions, and ministries combined.
Interesting that money has denominations as well. Just a thought. All one has to do is look at the demographics data and see that there are alot more grey hairs than younguns in the seats and that trend is not about to reverse any time soon. And its not just a matter of location, either. Congregations are stagnating and dying in better populated areas just as they are in rural small towns.
I live in an urban sprawl with plenty of young people, highscool, college age, young families. But I look around at our church and even on the busiest of Sundays, well over 70 percent in attendance is 55 or much older. It is dying in the West because it is indeed an institution in which many degenerates hide themselves, and where these princes of the pulpit, as you say, come to craft a career that most often requires little to no education. They often gain the status of CEO immediately, as they are not required to work their way up the ladder to get what they want.
And it shows. The message is always the same recycled themes, and none of them are inspiring. It feels like showing up to a banquet hall expecting a sumptuous feast for that is what church touts itself to be, spiritual nourishment only to be served up dry toast. But whatever. It needs to be said. Its a marketing ploy to get people who show up to nice restaraunts in ripped jeans, sandals, and refusing to take their ball caps off, to see church as more relatable to them.
Just another fall in standards, as you said. I realize not everyone has a suit and tie or fancy dress, but anyone can do a bit better than bermuda shorts and spaghetti straps! Blessings to you and your small body of believers who are doing exactly what the early Christians did! It does indeed seem like the barbarians crashed the gate. Church is mostly a big party with a vaguely inspirational message to entertain the hordes of carnal prosperity seekers. Then the responsible Christians are left to pay the tab. No thanks.
During the Gulf War when all the oil wells were lit ablaze I was attacked by a demon on three separate occasions all at night. This is what happened. While I slept a demon flew through my window and attack me. The spirit inside me fought this demon briefly until I awoke. Then it made me take over. I leaped out of bed trying to defend myself. This demon was horrid and spun circles around me thrashing through my soul with its hands, then it left as fast as it came. The demon radiated from the pains associated with the abyss. He was like a coal pulled from the fire, with the pains of the abyss Rev 9, 3.
This attack happened on three separate occasions as I have stated. The third time it attacked me however was different from the rest. As before the demon attacked me, but this time I had enough since to command it to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. What happened next is even more amazing. After commanding this demon to leave in the name of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit delivered me outside my bedroom into the hallway. The demon followed. We were brought into the presence of the Lord. The Demon stood to my left and grabbing my hand, it placed its tail on top of my left hand.
It was the sting of the scorpion and it went like this.
It sent waves of fire through my soul Rev 9, The demon then left. Maybe the spiritual bondage occurred after playing a Ouija board or Tarot cards as a young boy. They appeared at that time just to be games, and were sold in the kids section at stores or at least the Ouija board was. I was forced to go through said esoteric initiation through methods including witchcraft, demonology, and subversive acts of terrorism.
They informed me that in excepting one of there gods I accepted them all. One of there gods was the Devil, another they named Jesus, but they appeared to have a demon for every occasion. They informed me through methods of telepathy , that in accepting the worship of one, I accepted them all. What better way to join all religions of the world together under one banner of spiritually enslaving society?
David Spengler of the United Nations says that all people must go through a esoteric initiation and worship Lucifer to enter the New Age of Enlightenment. Helen Blavatsky calls it a Christ like consciousness, universal mind set. Benjamin Cream states that after said initiation all its members will be able to hear ancient wisdom spoken telepathically at the same moment by ascended Masters.
I knew nothing of this group at that time or there Luciferian agenda of a One World Government. Take a guess what method is used for this initiation? I bet you know now. Do you know what a unholy baptism is or the term Kundalini. Have you received your spiritual stamp of acceptance? If so, did you take it on the forehead becoming a spiritual slave of evil, or on the right hand a servant of the Devil himself? Does this sound hard to believe? Here are a few scriptures giving in sight. Revelation 13, 10, If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. Naham 3, 4, who enslaved nations by her witchcraft.
Revelation 18, 23, By your magic spell all nations were led astray. Hebrews states by there fear of death they are held in bondage. Thank you Jesus for the Holy spirit and your Angels. There is a way out, but it has been difficult for me. It is like a giant octopus with many tentacles reaching far and wide. Here is the rest of the story. Three to four nights later the demon returned in the early am about 3am. They hovered in the air above the ground, before the olive tree in our back yard. I could see them as the spirit in me manifested them to me!
Satan hovered in the middle while the demons were on either side of him. The demon on his left had been thrown into the lake of fire for what he did to me. He was lit up like a Christmas tree! Graciously yours baptized by fire the witness! Who will believe this testimony? God will be my witness! Located in California. Recommended information Fake truth Movement Exposed on you tube. It has insight into who has received the spiritual stamp on there right hand. Churches depend upon easily brainwashed sheeples to enrich them. What a scam. God calls those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
We contribute to God with our word and our testimony and also His prompting in our hearts. If God prompts us to help our brethren, with money, with comfort, with companionship, with gospel, we should obey His prompting. That is what I believe is Truth. Thanks, Fessdo, for tipping me off on the church scam. God bless you brother Fessdo, for emphasizing this fact to me.
I believe that God has opened my eyes to great truth in this phase of my life here on Earth. God gave us common sense. Another thing. Jesus speaks to our hearts as our holy shepherd. Jesus Is The Lord! Thanks, brother Fessdo, for helping me with gaining this insight and awareness and thanks, Jesus, for my dear brother Fessdo. This morning, I realized that I could never be friends with the pastor or church leaders because they see themselves as being better than I am, closer to God and more favored by God than I am, more knowledgeable and accomplished in their service to God than I am.
How can one be friends with someone who thinks they are superior to you? This is what God has pointed out to me. Of course, I would appreciate anything you would share with me about your experiences with church, His guidance to you, etc. I have much to learn. Did you know? And they were FREE, just call a number!
Thank you for sharing your testimony with Jeanne and me. I realize I had nothing to do with my salvation but to ask Him earnestly, from the depths of my heart and soul, to please help me believe He is the Lord and He did that. Jesus and only Jesus completed the work necessary for our salvation unto eternal life in His Kingdom. Many church leaders pose as if they know everything and are never wrong. I admit that, in the grand scheme of life on earth and afterwards, I know nothing except that Jesus Is The Lord.
I am just waiting on Jesus. That is why I am leaving church. Stay blessed, bro Chris. Thanks for your fellowship. Please feel free to share fellowship anytime, my brother.! Very well put. Thank God we have people like you that sees the problem and informs others. Thank you for being a voice in the wilderness. Jesus says you can judge a tree by the fruit it bears.
What fruit has the Christian church been producing? Do they use their funds to help those in need? He told him that to follow him he must sell all of his wealth and donate that money to the poor. The problem is many churches are not lead by the word of God, but by malignant narcissists who do not even believe. The Heavenly Church by Christ is in Heaven. It may have nothing to do with these social gatherings called churches. So every church that keeps on abusing its members is doing the will of Satan.
Yes, that subject needs examination, for sure. Dear Jeanne.
Unfortunately, my wife Jeanne is neither qualified nor interested in pursuing her involvement on this thread. I tried to recruit my friend and brother Fessdo to engage her to participate, but that did not bear any fruit. Speaking for myself, Todd, what a strange question you have asked! God The Father raised Christ from the dead. With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I would ask you hope you can laugh at this , was Haile Selassie a Rastafarian? That did bring a smile to my face. The point of the question was to raise the subject of how we categorize and label people, and yes even God.
We see this in politics which unfortunately is a mirror image of the church system. Religion and politics brothers in arms from the beginning of both institutions. This is my real point on this. I believe that everything comes down to identity. To know Him, His identity. To know self, identity. To discern both good and evil, indentity. It is a question that we should all ask of ourselves.
Who are you? What label are you willling to accept as being an identifier as to just who you are? What indoctrinated glasses skew your view of who He really is? That is my greatest fear. He came to His own and His own received Him not. The guys that knew the Hebrew and study continually about the coming Messiah did not know that He was walking in their modest. Most of us on this blog have come from a religious background and we carry that indoctrination inside of us.
Being able to die to that is a tough thing to do. So the question while rehrorical is meant to provoke these thoughts about how we define people and God by our particular language of thought when evaluating indentities. Sorry if there are spelling errors I any of my repsonsss but it is late and I am too tired to use spell check. Thank God you all will forgive my as the Father would do.
The world knew Him not, but what can be more perfectly descriptive of our Lord and Savior Jesus than the prophecy of Isaiah? Our ministry to children and adults with disability presents us with more than a chance to serve our neighbour. It presents us with a challenge to our culture where a worldly image rather than God's image is a priority, where ideal perfection is valued and weakness criticised, and where virtues alone are emphasised and failures are concealed.
Ours is a witness to the centrality and visibility of the Cross in our lives. Another fundamental challenge to theology is the attitude that is challenged by the presence of disability in our lives, is our misguided understanding of forgiveness. Misconceptions of old, often affirmed in the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures and confirmed throughout Christian history, have led us at times to connect disability with shame, sin, or a lack of faith. This is a difficult myth to dispel.
When we are tempted to consider disability as punishment or test from God, we need to think differently. When families are weighed down by such feelings imposed on them by cultural attitudes, we must be swift to awaken them and ourselves to the reality taught by Christ. When asked about the man born with blindness, Christ responded:. Neither those with disabilities nor their families have sinned. But the persons who have a disability are born into this world in order that God's works might be revealed in them John , paraphrase.
Each of us is born the way that we are, with the gifts that we each have, as well as with our inadequacies, in order that God's works might be revealed in us. When we think of forgiveness, we most often think of guilt and redemption. Yet the contemporary Greek word for forgiveness is synchoresis. The word literally means "fitting together" syn-chore-sis , "sharing the same space" or "making space for all people".
Perhaps such an understanding will help us to disassociate disability from sin and guilt.
At the beginning of the 21 st century, as was the case before the Christian Era, sectors of the population who are unable to compete or to perform at the levels that society demands are vitiated, despised or, in more contemporary terms, discarded. Among them, we find a high proportion of people with sensorial, motor and mental disabilities. We will find them living in any of the great cities of the world: men and women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, colours, cultures and religions who, because they have a disability, live in abject poverty, hunger, dependence, preventable disease and maltreatment by those who are "able".
It is the role of the church in this new century to face the reality of humanity in the image of a disabled Jesus; the reality of people with disabilities who are rejected and abandoned. It is painful that the churches throughout the world have not addressed more vigorously the sufferings of marginalized, poor, blind, deaf, and physically and mentally limited people. We do not need pity, or mercy, but compassionate understanding and opportunities to develop their vocations, possibilities and abilities. In their efforts to attain peace, preserve the environment, ensure the equality of women and the rights of the child, care for the aged, churches and Christians should also include the struggle for the full realisation of disabled persons in their agendas.
Over the past twenty years, positive attitudes towards disability and disabled persons have increased in our churches and Christian institutions. While far from being universal, this is a welcome development. But it is important to be aware that, in some parts of the world and in some churches, there has recently been a return towards overprotection and even disregard of disabled persons.
In some places, we have been manipulated by evangelical groups. Even worse being ignored, manipulating disabled people could become the Church's new sin. Perhaps when Jesus compared the reign of God to a king who prepares a banquet for his elite friends, He was remembering the passage in Isaiah. Isaiah Certainly many people who live with disability in themselves or loved ones have at times felt that a pall has been thrown over their lives, that they are considered a disgrace to their communities!
In Matthew's account of this story, the king's intended guests are too caught up in their personal affairs to heed his summons. But he does not postpone the banquet. Instead, he invites whoever else who happens to be around at the moment. Jesus did not say God's reign was for a future world; he said, "the kingdom of God is at hand". It is a present reality; respond to it now! It is no longer the elite who are being summoned; rather, the presence of all those who have been ignored, forgotten, and left out is requested.
When all are invited to this feast, to this church, the list will include people with physical and mental impairments and chronic illness. How does it affect our worship if, instead of inviting only those whose patterns of behaviour, speech and preferences are known, we extend an open invitation to all? What is the message for our congregations today? The most evident expression of the gathering of the community is the common worship of the congregation.
For the liturgy to truly be the work of the people and to accommodate the participation of all the gathered body in worship, we may need to be reminded of what God said long ago: "Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out," so there is room for everyone Is We may need to re-configure our space, re-imagine how we do liturgy, re-consider the role each person plays.
Both the drama of liturgy and the drama of disability deal with the fragility of our lives and our dependence upon God. We need to be able to bring our struggles into our worship so that the symbols of the liturgy will be meaningful to us. Symbolically, this is God's banquet table. Have we made it possible for everyone who so desires to get there, to partake of the feast, and to join the conversation?
In this gathered body, will there be a place for each person? To ensure that all can participate in worship means we need to consider how our experience and expression of liturgy engages the whole person; physical movement, senses and intellect. People with learning difficulties respond to the integrity of a congregation. They pick up the real and true involvement of those around them, and respond to that devotion. Great significance has been ascribed to words in our teaching and worship, particularly in the Protestant traditions. The "word" of God is an important and vital part of our faith.
Bible passages introduce us to people and events, recount the history of God's relationship to humankind, teach us about God's ways, and guide our lives today. The words of sermons, prayers and hymns can stimulate our minds and reach into the depths of our hearts to provoke, inspire or console us. The words we use have the power to create images and define our identities and relationships.
Too often, they have not sounded tidings of good news or portrayed messages of hope to people with disabilities. Indeed, too often, children and persons with learning difficulties can be excluded from full participation "because they do not understand". They, along with people who are poor, homeless, sick, in prison or struggling with addictions, are often referred to in the third person as "those" in the prayers and texts our churches frequently use.
This makes it sound as if these people are not an integral part of the congregation. Metaphors can also alienate some of our brothers and sisters. Equating a lack of compassion, an unwillingness to listen, or a lack of resolve to being blind, mentally ill, deaf or paralysed is disparaging and disempowering. By articulating our strengths or identity in terms that disparage persons who live with such physical or mental impairments, we align ourselves against them; we shut them out.
Perhaps unintentionally, we project on them what is fearful or negative in ourselves and cast them as the embodiment of evil. The phrase "we are disfigured by sin" from a prayer of confession is an example of this insensitivity. It is doubtful that these words would bring solace to any person living with burn scars or facial deformity.
Though we cannot change scripture passages that use such metaphors, we can find other ways to express the messages in our sermons, liturgies, and hymns. All these words and expressions can stimulate thinking and help clarify certain points. But to follow such discourse can be tiresome or confusing for people with little education, short attention spans, cognitive disabilities or other mental impairments.
Sometimes people "hear" or comprehend God's Word, and know the mystery and majesty of God's presence in their lives through a sensory experience: perception of light or colour, a picture or sculpture, a whiff of incense, silence, music, dance, a procession, a hug or clasped hands around a circle. This sensory experience in liturgy is important to all of us, but especially to children, elderly people and persons with disabilities. It should be considered in our planning of corporate worship and its setting. Many elements of worship are non-verbal, and we can be more intentional about how we incorporate them to enhance the service for everyone.
There is the movement of dance, drama, hands clasped in prayer or raised in blessing, making the sign of the cross, handshakes and hugs, lifting the eyes, bowing the head, offering gifts, and passing the bread and cup. There are tactile elements of anointing, baptism, laying on of hands, foot-washing, touching, and vesting. We can smell the incense, wine, flowers, and candles, and taste the bread and wine or juice. Besides words, we hear music, clapping, bells, sighs, and breathing. Centuries ago when many did not know how to read or have access to printed material, churches were filled with visual renditions of the Bible stories.
There were murals, tapestries, sculpture, icons and stained glass windows. Today, some churches still have many of these visual elements and can also make use of banners, altar hangings, colourful vestments, scarves, flowers, balloons, liturgical dance and drama to portray the messages of our faith.
For people who do not hear well, there should be much to see; for those with very little vision, there should be much to hear. Verbal cues from the minister or liturgist are helpful to a person who is blind. Otherwise she may spend all the service trying to figure out when she should be sitting or kneeling or standing.
All that needs to be said is, "You may rise," or "You may be seated". For individuals who have difficulty sitting still for very long, there should be opportunities to move. There should always be a place for some to sit even if everyone else is standing for part or all of the service. At a service where the people are seated on the floor or ground, some sort of chair or bench should be provided for people who cannot safely get down or up from such a position. Some people cannot kneel or climb steps safely, so communion needs to be brought to their level.
A clear path of travel and sure footing with no stairs is necessary for those unsteady on their feet. In the arrangement of space, people who use wheelchairs need to have seating choices so that they can sit with family and friends as part of the gathered body; they should not be limited to a space way in front or far behind everyone else, or stuck out in an aisle. Several pews can be shortened to make space for wheelchairs. Acoustics will be particularly important for people who are blind or hard of hearing.
Individuals with limited sight rely more on their hearing, and those who are hard of hearing need good public address systems to amplify the voice of the preacher or liturgist. Individual assistive listening devices ALDs that can be used with and without hearing aids may be particularly useful.
Good lighting is crucial for persons with limited vision so they can make optimum use of the sight they do have. It is important for people who are deaf or hard of hearing that they can see the speaker's lips or the sign-language interpreter. A printed order of worship may be particularly helpful to people with hearing impairments.
Copies can easily be produced in large print size 18 font on a computer or enlarged on a photocopier for people with limited vision. Large print Bibles are available and music for a service can be enlarged on a photocopier. Overhead projectors and computers can also be used to display print material in a large format for a whole congregation. While only a small percentage of people who are blind know how to read Braille, for those who do, this may be an important way to make the liturgy more accessible.
Braille books, including Bibles and hymnals, take up a lot of space, so some congregations keep the pages in loose-leaf binders and remove only the ones needed for a particular service. When the service is over, the pages are put back for use another time. Besides the physical accommodations such as lighting, sound systems and appropriate seating that can make a space accessible to everyone, we need to consider the attitudes and behaviour patterns that can create barriers for people with disabilities or cause some to feel unwelcome or left out.
To feel truly welcome in the church, persons with disabilities need to see people like themselves in leadership roles. For people with disabilities to play a larger role, a faith community may need to rethink its policies about who is and who is not allowed to offer welcome, usher, or participate as banner-bearer, to sing in the choir, to read the lessons and lead the prayers of the people.
Is the altar area accessible to someone who uses a wheelchair or walker? Can the microphone be adjusted to different heights? Rigid codes of "acceptable" behaviour may need to be loosened. Just as some people cannot stand or kneel, others cannot sit still for a whole hour or more. They may need to stand or move about because of back pain or muscle spasms or some agitation related to their disability.
Some may not be able to understand the "rules" about silence and may mumble to themselves, speak out when others are quietly listening, or utter exuberant vocalisations at unexpected moments. In these situations, as with people who "make a joyful noise unto the lord" by singing off-key, we can acquire tolerance that acknowledges such behaviour as a mild distraction rather than a great annoyance. The integration of disabled people within the Church gives testimony to God's love as expressed by all His sons and daughters. It can also be an example and an inspiration in those societies in which disabled people suffer from humiliating marginalization.
This interim statement has outlined ideals to which every society might wish to aspire. It assumes that with increasing standards of health care, people with disabilities will be so valued, accorded equality with all, cared for in the community and not in institutions or on the margins of economically competitive societies.
In such regimes of provision, rehabilitation may be less important than the achievement of a certain quality of life. Such care in the community is very expensive and is, at present, beyond the means of some societies. It may even become unsustainable in political climates which espouse low-tax economies. True care in the community tends to view disabled people in a holistic way, as this statement has attempted to show, but rehabilitation often has to focus on specific problems of impairment thus reinforcing the medical model of disability. Rehabilitation may reduce care costs and offer the possibility of a livelihood and a place in society.
The fight for quality and rights tends to be encouraged by those disabled people who have no need of high dependency or who have been enabled by its services to join the articulate pressure groups seeking equality and social justice. Whether the church is involved in provision of care, rehabilitation, chaplaincy or ministry to or with disabled people, it must recognise the central assumptions of equality and dignity within the Christian message and promote it at the fore all its work.
The church is by definition a place and a process of communion, open to and inviting all people without discrimination. It is a place of hospitality and a place of welcome, in the manner that Abraham and Sarah received God's messengers in the Old Testament Gen. It is an earthly reflection of a divine unity that is at the same time worshipped as Trinity. It is a community of people with different yet complementary gifts.
It is a vision of wholeness as well as of healing, of caring and of sharing at once. We all accept and proclaim that this is what the church is and stands for. It is the basis of our unity as Christians. Then why is it that, all too often, certain people among us and around us usually those whom we consider as being unfamiliar or as strangers, as different or perhaps disabled are marginalized and even excluded? Wherever this happens, even by passive omission, the church is not being what it is called to become. The church is denying its own reality. In the church, we are called to act differently.
As St Paul says, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker we should notice that he does not say " actually are weaker" are indispensable 1 Cor When we think of people with disabilities, too often we tend to think of people who are weak and require our care. Yet, in his epistles, St Paul implies that weakness is not a characteristic of an individual or a particular group, but of the entire church.
Disability does not affect only certain individuals, but involves all of us together as the people of God in a broken world. It is our world that is shattered, and each of us comprise one small, fragile, and precious piece. We all hold the treasure of God's life in earthen vessels cf. Yet we hold it; and, what is more, we hold it together. In our attitudes and actions toward one another, at all times, the guiding principle must be the conviction that we are incomplete, we are less than whole, without the gifts and talents of all people.
We are not a full community without one another. Responding to and fully including people with disabilities is not an option for the churches of Christ. It is the church's defining characteristic. Interdependence is the key here. Even though the secular world stresses independence, we are called to live as a community dependent on God and on one another. No one of us should be considered a burden for the rest; and no one of us is simply a burden-bearer.
Perhaps it is the starting point in our attitude and in our response that requires redirection at this point. Perhaps we should consider not simply the particular needs, but also the unique gifts of all people in the community. In another passage on the church as the Body of Christ, St Paul writes:.
Every child and every adult, those with disabilities and those without disabilities alike, will bring specific and special gifts and talents to the church. This is the challenge addressed to us all. Thus we can truly be A Church of All and for All - a church which reflects God's intention for humankind. May we who are made in your image, O God, mirror your compassion, creativity and imagination as we work to reshape our society, our buildings, our programmes, and our worship so that all may participate. In you we are no longer alone, but united in one body. Trusting in your wisdom and grace, we pray gratefully in Jesus' name.
Footnotes: 1. Thx for sharing. It seems 2-fold, Thom. At first, I may sound overly critical, not trying to be, just an open discussion. The Church and Church leaders must do a better job of training and equipping discipling their people to realize how important their daily effort is out in the Monday-Saturday world. Many lost people have become hardened to over-simplified, canned evangelistic presentations. Ralph Neighbour used to have some materials training folks how to reach Type A unbelievers i.
Many churches put al their eggs in the basket of reaching Type A unbelievers. A bunch of pastors must have responded to this poll. I have spent a lifetime training sales people to function at a very high level in the corporate world. Some may be disturbed by this statement, but spreading the Gospel; evangelism is essentially a sales situation. All of the attributes of evangelism do not apply to temporal sales, but all of the attributes of sound professional selling skills do apply to evangelism.
Yes, Jay Gregory! Proverbs chapter 11 verses and verse I think these all hit home in varying degrees. We as the American church have become inward focused and look for things to meet our needs. How selfish of me to want the church to meet my needs when I need to sharing Jesus with the unsaved in whatever way I can. In my church I would love to see passion, testimonies and a more casual atmosphere on Sunday mornings that make worship more authentic and welcoming to all. Acts has people who are on fire for the Lord.
They are praying and living out their faith together and in the streets. The question is, how do I practically do this with family, home, work, church activities, etc.? Satan has trapped us into thinking of all these things are more important than truly saving lives. Whenever we are motivated by anything but love, we will fail. If our motivation to serve God is out of obligation or guilt, we will fail.
If our motivation to reach people is out of pride or fear, we will fail. We need to be planted plugged in by rivers of living water, growing healthy fruit and know our own testimony. Yes, we need to teach people the Word, but the end result needs to be people motivated by love for humanity 1 Cor How about we start teaching people how to apply the Word of God to their own lives, help them to become healthy and full of the fruit of the Spirit Love, joy, peace… from there we can give them some strategies to share their faith — once they are full of the love of Christ, it will be contagious and the motivation will be right!
They do not make disciples. They do a lot of christian living or they do a lot of feel good sermons that tickle the ears, but solid theological teaching is lacking. A great number of church members have no idea what most doctrine their church holds not can they explain it. They have nothing to stand on when evangelizing. Thanks for the heads up and sharing the findings you gathered. So, for your first point, I really think that there are going to be a huge number of reasons depending on your context and community. In Orange County, we as a culture have a lot of money flowing in and out and a lot of success.
I THINK THAT what we must do as church leaders is to embody what it means to live in intentional relationships with those who need Jesus and we need to invite our people to participate with us. All of this is done in addition to teaching and equipping specific skills such as evangelism training.
Every pastor and leader who reads this can agree that we are too busy between work, marriage, kids, and all the functions that come with that, to even do something like a neighborhood BBQ or rooter float night or neighborhood movie night for the kids while parents hang out. It is to remind our people of our mission on a regular basis make it simple! Make it memorable! Make it stick!
It is to hold special classes or trainings on topics like evangelism and community or quick event planning. Finally, I think we need to coach and mentor our people as they go out and do this. This could be through a community group type structure, or missional community structure, or even a ministry team that meets as a large group and gets large group training and then splits up to talk in smaller groups.
Service outside of the local church setting as a prison chaplain and in a rescue mission has deepened my heart for the Gospel. I agree with Scott about pastors setting the example. I have challenged pastors to follow the example of D L Moody, who was an aggressive personal evangelist. Moody also held highest rating as a personal worker. He wrote no books on personal evangelism, but numerous references in the D. Moody literature prove that he was a practical and persistent personal evangelist and that he inspired many others to engage in this work.
That he gave top priority to personal soul-winning as a Christian responsibility there can be no doubt. Good perspective with the article and comments. Just lack of belief, and apathy I would say. If they believed it with their hearts, their lives would show it—not perfectly, but definitely.
Leaders in the church are not equipping the saints to do this work. They may not know how to evangelize themselves. They may not know how to equip others to do so. The members are not requesting such equipping. I am taking a four day seminar in becoming equipped myself to evangelize in my area. As I get some experience, I will invite others to join me and help them do the same in their spheres. The pastors bear a lot of the responsibility for this situation because they themselves are not living at a very high spiritual level.
Leonard Ravenhill once said that if a pastor is not spending at least 2 hours a day on his knees, his preaching will not be worth a plum nickel. That might be a slight exaggeration, but I believe there is a lot of truth in it. A rudimentary way of evangelizing, but who knows how effective. Thank you Thom for your passion for the church and the lost, and thank you Jody Sneed, for hitting the nail on the head.
When the first is the goal, just enough information is provided to get a decision. When the second is the goal, you help the prospect understand the nature and scope of the commitment, and then disciple them in that relationship. They very well may be saved. God is faithful to His Word, even if we do not understand every aspect of the relationship, but how can we expect people to share that which they themselves may not really understand?
So, since all of our focus is on the people who are least likely to share the Gospel, it is not shared. The shift that needs to happen is to focus support and energy around the core group of people dedicated to Christ, and let the rest follow their example. Instead, the focus is inverted and the efforts are on appeasing the crowd, not on reaching a lost world for Christ.
Why else do we have the large buildings and monuments to human organization? Until pastors and churches get real with what following Jesus is supposed to mean, and focusing the energy and resources around those who are willing to follow, we will have what we have now. That will keep a baptistery dry! I am finding that many Christians today do not believe that we serve a God who would send people to hell due to the disobedience of other believers. They feel that God would not send and innocent person to hell. And they are correct, He will not send an innocent person to hell, the problem is, no one in innocent.
So instead of reaching the lost of this world, I find most Christians just think God will do it on his own. Seems they forgot that the vine does not bear any fruit, it is the branches that are used to bear the fruit. If the branches all wither up and die, there will be no fruit. I have been pastor at my current church for 16 months. Attendance is up, bible study is up, and giving is up. All I have done is preach the Gospel as if no one in the audience is saved. I believe that is what Sundays are for.
We have forgotten that in many churches today. I preached through the entire book of John for 1 year and it was one of the best times in ministry I have personally had. I believe we need better understanding of the books of the bible as a whole instead of flipping around from passage to passage. Thank you for all of your updates, posts, etc. You book Simple Church changed my heart and philosophy as much as did Experiencing God.
I think churches are not equipping the congregations with the knowledge and tools to witness, thus people shy away from witnessing. In our church there is also no discipleship programs in which our new converts are trained, they are left to either figure it out themselves or just to be thankful that they are saved. No matter how uncomfortable it is in the beginning, witnessing has to be taught and practiced. By true evangelism, I mean the kind that produces disciples who follow Christ whole-heartedly.
Two, I think that one thing our church may lack is conviction. The idea that we know what is best for other people goes against our sensibilities, but as Christians it is built into the Gospel itself. Evangelism, by its very nature, should change our convictions about what everyone needs. From what has been posted elsewhere, once upon a time, people switching from one denomination to another, had to be baptised, before being eligible for church membership.
Today, that appears to no longer be the case. Elsewhere, it has been claimed that declining birth rates are responsible for fewer baptisms. That theory requires ignoring the increase in immigration rates. By way of example, The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, Militant, and Triumphant, has been barely holding steading, because of those immigration rates, both legal and illegal. That same increase in immigration rates has fueled the rise of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
I think we as the church should be equipping the saints to go out and reach the lost and make disciples. Jesus said go into,the world. Not go into you pews and let someone else reach the lost. Churches rarely if ever rise above their leadership so that has to be one of the first places to look for the reason there is less emphasis on evangelism.
Also,this trend is actually a fulfillment of the scriptures,as in the last days falling away. For far too long the church has taught that this falling away referred to those outside the church,yet it is painfully obvious that this is also an internal problem as well. Really surprised to see nothing mentioned about families and homes. We can, and should, stress the church DNA in evangelism.
But the church had better make sure parents are equipped for Gospel shaped parenting. It will better 2 generations for Gospel sharing. Both organizations claims other modes of outreach are far more productive, both in initial outreach, and follow-up. The more gated communities, the less possibilities they are. Door knocking after dark is never acceptable. Likewise, door-knocking before nine AM is too early. Two males and a female. Am I seriously expected to open my door to what looks like a potential home invasion?
LDS female missionaries, in most districts, are not supposed to do any door knocking, but exclusively use pre-set appointments. That said, if their scheduled appointment is not kept, they will do door-knocking. Officials in all three organizations attribute that difference to the emphasis placed on relationship-building, prior to conversion, by the Seventh Day Adventists, and Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
What missionaries in the eighteenth century discovered, was that alongside it taking ten or fifteen years to make the first convert, they had to get to know everybody in the community, in order to have any impact on anybody in the community. How the initial contact is made, is not nearly as important as maintaining the resulting relationship. That the potential convert is not seen as another conquest, but rather, as a long term friend, regardless of whether or not they convert.
Great demonstration of unity around the gospel, and hopefully will spark our evangelistic zeal in this part of the world. Thank you for your helpful posts! Take care, Justin. Rainer, Thank you for the article. What a reflection that the church needs to make on itself today. I began to think about what or who is this church that has become less evangelistic?
This Church is people that have been saved by the graciousness of the God. In this church is me. Knowing that the Church is less evangelistic, the first question that comes to mind is what is my part of this decline, how does my life as follower of Jesus impact this decline in evangelism? Lets us, the Redeemed, The Church, who believe; Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, when people die they are judged based on what they have done with the Lord Jesus Christ, there truly is a hell where without Christ as Lord people really die and go, Let us look at our self and ask What am I doing about it.
I think many churches fail to equip their members. I am in public speaking as a career, and I still need help. It is something that requires training and practice, and no church seems to figure out how to do that. Only in the last few years have I developed my personal testimony, but now I struggle with who, when and where. There is a plethora of pathetic pantywaist pastors, positioned behind pretty pulpits, placating parishioners proudly positioned on padded pews.
I pity America without pastors with the power of those who have preceded them. If we are seeing a decline, then that could explain a lot of it, since we know that most people come to Christ through the influence of their family:. I think all 15 are great answers. The top 7 I would say are very accurate and scary.
We must pray and pray a go out and go out not just be cookie cutter Christians. For me the main reason I am not going to church anymore is because I am a 21 st century person and can no longer turn my brain into a bretzel anymore I am living in a time after Einstein,Darwin kopernikus etc and can no longer accept a gospel which guilts you into hell belief. Where you have to accept creation stories,talking snakes and donkeys ,lots of discrepancies.
Well, Hans! Its easy to sit back and judge others when I wonder how many unbelievers are brought into church by everyone who criticizes other Christians for not evangelizing. I am in my 50s and was raised in the Baptist church. I have also been attending church for most of my adult life. It means practicing kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, etc to everyone we meet. They are more of a social environment then a ministry to the lost or an encouragement to the saved. I think nonbelievers see the multimillion dollar buildings and wonder exactly what we are worshiping.
We need to get back to discipling people on having a relationship with Christ and how to live out your faith when you are in the presence of unbelievers. Save the theological messages for Sunday school classes and get passed the tired cliche phrases that have been used for centuries but mean nothing to a nonbeliever. Every service should be presented as though the audience is full of nonbelievers or people uneducated in how to have a relationship with Christ. Above all — be Christ to everyone that comes through the door of the church and everyone you meet.
The average office worker will know the colleagues in her office way better than the church pastor, and yet all too often the church evangelism strategy consists of church members doing little or no evangelism all year but then having a big push to invite colleagues to an annual week of mission talks. Greed, idolatry, porn has such a grip on many believers that they are uninterested in building the Kingdom, and are trapped by the lies of Satan. Personally I think the way out of almost all these things is to be an infectious evangelist — do not try to change other people, do not try to fix others, but rather let the Holy Spirit work to change you, give yourself over to mission, and naturally that will bring others along with you.
I firmly believe that taking our eyes primarily off the church, off other believers, off problems within the church, off mission etc, even off ourselves and focusing primarily on Jesus is the only thing that can help to heal the church, other believers, problems within the church. Too often reading an article like this I am tempted to think about strategies to put into place to fix all the symptoms, but the heart of the problem is my heart. And when that gets fixed, others see and want the same.
May God give us grace to change. Two problems. For several decades, we have not made disciples.
We have told them what to do, but have not shown them or held them accountable for their obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Those are the only evidences of true salvation.
Thom, this is thought provoking and heartbreaking. Thank you for what you share, it is motivating. I can only love them and try to be a good example that others could follow. Acts tells us what the church was busy doing during the early days of rapid growth. These new converts had heard the Word of God preached Acts and for those that heard, by the working of the Holy Spirit, faith was given Romans This is still how it works today.
Acts tells us how everyone not just the church leaders prayed together. Acts tells us that after the conversions, the early church continued in this manner of devoting themselves to prayer. It really is just that simple. I have heard Dr. Douglas F. Kelly of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte make a startling comparison with the moral decline of our nation with the actual timing of our Methodist and Baptist and Presbyterian churches systematically doing away with the prayer meeting.
There was a time in our nations history when churches faithfully gathered together once a week for the purpose of prayer. Kelly argues that the church needs to return to the weekly prayer meeting if she wants to see the tide turn. I am convinced that the Lord will indeed add to the number of His church, and I also believe that He will do this through the prayers of His church.
You can find it on tractplanet. I believe J. Apologetics consequently takes its place at the head of the departments of theological science, and finds its task in the establishment of that knowledge of God which forms the subject-matter of these departments. When believers discover that the factuality of the Truth-claims of Christianity, their spiritual walk is impacted. My solution is FOOD, back in my early salvation days, we had Monday Night visitation, and I suggested a food fellowship during visitation, and of course everyone reported back how their visits went good or bad.
That was one of the greatest evangelistic churches at that time Westside Baptist Church w Dr. Make visitation FUN and of course educational. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. We had a huge launch and great success in terms of numbers and budget but it became increasingly harder to continue that momentum. All of our time was spent on the weekend service prep and there was very little connecting with people taking place. The core team that come together to start the church had all come from a frustrated organized church experience where we felt the leadership was more concerned with building buildings than building the kingdom.
So we had as a value that we were not going to focus on getting property but building relationships. The problem was people in the OKC area were concerned with our lack of motivation to build and left. Two years into it, it was shocking when I finally admitted that we were doing the exact same thing — chasing people and money to keep it going — that the churches we left were doing. If as a Preachers Kid I am feeling this way how many more people are also getting this feeling and rejecting this idea of ministry?
There is something to be said for quality — until quality is the goal and not connecting people with the Spirit. I find it interesting that most the stories where deep chancing connection with God took place in the Bible are in desolate, wanting, places where desperate people discovered God. There is no desperateness in Western Christianity. How can there be when every church is focused on making the experience as smooth, clean and perfect as possible? As our culture becomes blatant as Darkness steps boldly to the forefront, the more we need to be redirecting our teaching to marrying theology and how it must drive our ethics.
The felt-needs focus of our sermons has run its course as ministers continue to make humans the focus. We must begin teaching theologically again. When we are silent on this, we reap a culture where individuals are left to reason their own way. I believe we are living in times similar to Israel in Babylonian exile. We are being indundated with a polytheistic culture and it is time for the scribes and religious leaders to begin penning the story of God!
Our sermons need to be teaching more theology and less humanology. The gospel that Jesus taught was not the cross because the cross had not happened yet. He taught on the Kingdom of God. We must begin teaching on the values of the His Kingdom and seek to live those values out in this world. One of those values — seeking the ones that He is seeking! We have left the church that we planted and are now building home communities that are unashamedly Seeker Sensitive — He Jesus is the Seeker.
The job of the church is to join him in that search for the pennies, sheep and lost brothers He is still seeking! Fifty years ago people could maintain connection with old friends only through letters and phone calls. They were more inclined to seek new friends and form new relationships. No one buys the churchie talk or rhetoric. We are also responsible for Whose we are, do not be hypercritical — identify with Christ that is all.
I know that sometimes I risk relationship with those that believe differently. If I am led with Love, and by His Spirit it will have been worth all the risk. It is a reasonable sacrifice for what Christ has done for me. Thom, thanks for your ministry. It takes time, grace, and effort to help the Church of God and you supply all of those to us. I think that the 15 reasons are good and there are probably many more reasons for the lack of evangelistic fervor in our churches. I skimmed through most of the responses and was thankful for many of their insights. For me I come simply to one thing. I believe until the men in the church 1Tim.
Our people must pray that God sends them into the harvest first. That is the primary point regardless of all the reasons stated above. When the men are burdened to pray to be sent into the harvest, buy more chairs. After reading the reasons our churches are less evangelical, it would seem that there is one ingredient that may correct this problem.
If we compare ourselves to first century Christians, we all have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and we all have the gracious gifts of the Spirit — both being critical ingredients for growing the body of Christ. The one thing that we seem to be missing is persecution! Human beings seem to be actuated and bonded when the heat is turned up in our lives. Based on recent events and the changing attitudes in our country, it may not be long before we get to put this theory to the test. Persecution my be the impetus that moves us to tell our neighbor that sin is wrong, hell is hot but God is love.
We have a church full of pews with people sitting in them who have not felt the flames of hell. We have a lack of hell preaching today, therefore our people are not aware of or afraid of hell. Until we hear of the wrath and love of God, we are no to concerned about my friends.
We must feel the heat an experience the love of Jesus Christ. Evangelism is as much a work of God as it is a work of men. In North America and western Europe especially, there is more to evangelism than planting seeds. Far too often, we find ourselves spending so much time trying to break rocks and pull weeds that seed-planting takes a back seat. And to be sure, for the seed to germinate, those rocks need to be broken and those weeds need to be pulled. After all, Paul planted and Apollos watered. And to extend the analogy further, where the soil is good, we really are seeing tremendous — I would go so far as to say miraculous — increases.
I read almost all of the responses particularly those blaming the pastor. Well, I have been pastoring for 7 years and I can sum up the problem with one example. For this trip, tons of people show up. Yet those very some people will not come to Sunday school, Sunday night, Wednesday night and you can forget about evangelism efforts! Yes, leadership is important no question about it. But in the end, people are self centered. I am trying to figure all of this out that is why I am reading this blog and all of these answers. Sometimes…I think…the church of today is less likely to follow the direction and leadership of there pastor.
They are not unkind to the pastor, but they do not respond to requests or directives from him when it comes to the foundations of the church in scripture — personal prayer, Bible study, and outreach. They do not seem to acknowledge the pastor as an true spiritual authority — they know what is best…for them. Alas, you are correct. Thanks for the post, Dr Rainer. First, I wonder if the increase of Calvinism among Southern Baptists should be considered alongside the decrease of evangelistic effort?
If it is to be understood in harvest crusades and revival meetings of the 19th and 20th centuries, I fear we might have a distorted understanding of what effective evangelism looks like. The invitation, understood and practiced this way, is central to later tent revivals and evangelistic crusades. Large net crusades and revival meetings were an effective way at the time to get the gospel message to the masses.
Charles Fuller eventually used the technology of radio to increase the reach. Today, the internet, satellite communication, and other technology continues to make the gospel available to more of the world than ever before. However, the appeal to a decision of repentance and confession remain.
My questions are are these: These methods make converts and produce baptism numbers, but do they make disciples? I ask because I think the missing elements here are a recognition of the variation of conversion experience, and the consistency of personal relationship community in NT evangelism. Paul was converted in a blinding light and in a powerful instant. Did each disciple convert at the same time? What about Thomas? It seems our standard evangelism metric accounts for the Pauline experience, but not so much for that of the others. In addition, we find conversion in the NT linked to relationships with people.
Again, something hard to measure. In J. Packer wrote a slim volume titled Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. The main point in his book was that while God is sovereign in matters of salvation, we are not excused from proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. God works through those who formally preach his Word and those who informally share their faith with others.
They are his instruments. Packer is a theologian in the Anglican Reformed tradition. Whitefield was a Calvinist. A number of the leaders of the eighteenth Century Evangelical revival were Calvinists. Charles Simeon who was a contemporary of the Arminian brothers John and Charles Wesley devoted a life time to recruiting, mentoring, and sending out young men as missionaries.
Simeon was a Calvinist. To suggest that the growth of Reformed theology in the Southern Baptist Convention is behind the decline of evangelism in that denomination not only shows a lack of familiarity with evangelical Calvinism and Reformed Baptists but points to a willingness to scapegoat a part of the denomination for a problem that is denomination-wide. If you taken the time study the history of the Baptist movement in English in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, you should be aware that Reformed theology has been a theological strand in early Baptist congregations as well as Arminianism.
Southern Baptists have their roots in the English Baptist movement, not continental Anabaptism. Trying to blame them for the problems of the denomination is unhelpful. A lot of factors explain why Baptist churches are not evangelistic as they were fifty years ago. Reformed Baptists are concerned about this development as much as Arminian Baptists.
If God has chosen the local church to be an instrument of his salvation, why are the local church disobeying God? What we are seeing is the spread of a spiritual disease affecting the heart. The will follows the heart and thoughts and actions follow the will. It is a disease that is related to the condition of the heart.
The Southern Baptist Convention is historically Calvinistic. James P. Boyce, the founding president of Southern Seminary, was a staunch Calvinist. Some people to Calvinism to unscriptural extremes, but people do the same with Arminianism. When the pastor takes time to intentionally train his people in evangelism and regularly models evangelism for them, most of these concerns fade away.
Unfortunately, I think many pastors have become slactivists. The pastor has a role in equipping. No doubt about it. I absolutely agree that the Great Commission applies to all believers. Unfortunately pastors generally do no better in evangelism than the average church attender. Next time you participate in an ordination council ask the candidate when they last led someone to Christ, outside of the church … watch how they squirm.
Of course, exceptions exist, but I stand by my claim. A pastor who takes time every week to intentionally train men in and model evangelism will see his church grow. This means the pastor must actually go find lost people and share the gospel while the person he trains watches. Has it ever occurred to you to examine your own heart? What the pastor does, has a tremendous influence on the congregation.
In contemporary times, the low hanging fruit is converting Richard Dawkins, or any of the Four Horsemen of Militant Atheism, to Christianity. If the preacher is willing to harvest that, then the congregation will do so. At this point, somebody will no doubt jump up, and point out that the entire book of Acts is about outreach.
And it is. There is a difference between reading about a subject, and doing it. An individual can struggle alone, learning how to apply what is found in Acts, and the Pauline Epistles, in doing outreach. Or they can skip the stage where everything they do is wrong, by having somebody show them how to do things correctly. If the congregation has both an evangelist and a preacher, then the evangelist can be model, rather than the preacher.
Either way, it still requires somebody for the congregation to use as an example to follow. The attitudes mentioned can grow in a person or church that is isolated. But any true Christian will be activated when they actually see and interact with people who need Jesus. But we can keep our hard hearts by isolating ourselves from our community. What needs does our community have? Do students need tutoring? Do people need food?
Do people need financial planning help? Do people need counseling? It makes it really hard to have a hard heart. I am not sure entirely what the perfect solution is, however I think of going back to basics. For an example… every believer should know and be equipped with some essentials. Like WHY they should share?