What Coronavirus Reveals About Church

If church is all about Sunday then for many of us church is effectively over for the time being. If church is about putting on a good show on Sunday then church is done for the foreseeable future.

You and I both know that isn’t what church is really about and that the church carries on even if we can’t walk in the door. In many regards church may be at its best right now than it has been in a while. Members are serving and loving and connecting via social media. Needs are being met. People are being checked on.

What is most important is becoming obvious in a way it couldn’t before all this happened.
The big question is, what changes when we return to assembling? Does this change anything? Does it deepen our relationships? Does it change our emphases? What is going to be different, if anything, when we return and all of this settles out?

I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to put some pieces in place that weren’t there before. There are ministries that need re-focused. We need to be thinking about that now. There are things we don’t need to keep doing. That will become clearer and clearer as things progress.

But maybe the biggest question of all is, are we even willing to consider these things or is our church culture so strong that homeostasis (reverting to the same state) will instantly set in with a gravitational pull back to tradition that no amount of energy can generate escape velocity to a better approach?

Let’s be reminded of Acts 4. The church in struggle becomes a bold church.

Let’s recall Acts 8, a church scattered is a church spreading the gospel.

Let’s look at 1 Peter 1 again, a faith tested results in glorifying God.

Let’s not lose sight of the opportunity for fear of the threat. We cannot come back from this as if it never happened.

Church Renewal: No One is Going to do it for you

Many churches are waiting on finally making the right hire to finally find revival. It isn’t realistic. No one from the outside can do what you can’t do from the inside.

It is Deus ex machines – a last minute rescue from an unlikely source.

Your Savior already came and He wasn’t your next preacher.

If you want to see church revival it falls on you to begin doing what you can do to see it through. Stop waiting on someone else. Start embracing the opportunities God has put all around you to make a difference.

“But you don’t understand my elders…”

I can assure you, I do.

Elders won’t stop you from praying. They won’t tell you to stop encouraging people. They won’t tell you that you aren’t allowed to disciple people.

If you want revival stop waiting on humans. Start waiting on the Lord. Do what you can do to see it through. The most important pre-requisites for revival are “yes” not “no.” So start getting the easy wins, the small victories and be faithful. Then watch and see what God does with it all!

Restoring our Foundation: When Systems Are Saviors

In our conversation on church restoration it is important that we examine our foundation. How many home renovation shows have you watched where the drama of the episode focused on a major and unforeseen problem with the foundation. Everything looked good on the outside but underneath it all, there were cracks.

We have to examine our foundation and my concern is that over time we have shifted our foundation to a system that we were profoundly confident in.

If our certainty is founded on and is in a system we can act like we have certainty but underneath it all is extreme anxiety and uncertainty. Christians in our fellowship (Churches of Christ) so often seem certain in our teaching but very uncertain about our salvation. When the home inspector comes and finds that to be the case, she has found crack # 1…like stairstep cracks in a block wall, it is symptomatic that something underneath has shifted and the house is sinking. Things need to be shored up.

Systems have inconsistencies and where those inconsistencies crop us we have to do something to hold it all together…either question the system or twist things up to keep the system in place.

We need to deconstruct the system and see what we are left with, what is true vs what is tradition.

Then we need to reconstruct something far more robust with a new foundation…no longer will the foundation be the SYSTEM. The foundation will be the SAVIOR. He isn’t inconsistent and He cannot be twisted. We must conform to Him rather than Him to us. Systems and Saviors don’t operate the same way. Praise God!

Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15,

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

The only foundation the house can be built on is Jesus. Period. If we move away from that we move to uncertainty. Uncertainty is always present when things depend on imperfection and impotence. We move to anxiety. Fear. Worry. That is a gospel that isn’t the Gospel. If you use church as Gospel rather than Jesus as Gospel, you have shifted the foundation. If you preach salvation coming through attendance in the proper church rather than salvation coming through Jesus and the work of the Spirit, you have another gospel.

We need to go back to the Bible, look at the word “Gospel” and define it as the Bible defines it and preach that message. Instead, we have often defined gospel in terms comfortable with our tradition and conformed the Word to our work. That is crack #2. The home inspector is going to find it. As Paul said, that doesn’t mean the house is doomed…it just means it is compromised.

Once we make the move from system to savior, we will finally find certainty, peace, and lack of fear/anxiety about our salvation. The system lends itself to judgment and fear. The Savior lends himself to grace and peace.

What/Who his your faith in?

March Theme: Church Renewal

Many of us feel a longing in our bones for something fresh. Something alive. A movement.

We can (and must) start new churches.

But what is God doing with existing churches? Not all of them are struggling. Some are growing. Growing churches are not the majority. Studies have been done that out growing churches around a quarter to a third of churches are growing (mostly growing through programs).

What will it take to turn churches in decline? Some will need to die, that’s natural not morbid. Some have life left in them, they just need vision and direction. They need healthy governance. They need the release of members’ gifts for kingdom work.

What is God doing to renew legacy churches and how can we get in board?

Churches of Christ Are Turning The Corner on Discipleship…Here is Why That is Important

For many years even saying the word “discipleship” raised suspicion. It is tempting to feel stuck today where we were stuck in the past. We aren’t stuck there anymore and we don’t need to act like we are. We can openly talk about discipleship, not because we “got over it” but because it is in the Bible and it is perfectly biblical.

And we are talking about it. Lots of people are talking about it. Movement is happening. Traction is being gained. From the New Day conference to Renew.org and the Renew gathering to the work of discipleship.org and the National Disciple Making Forum…the discipleship movement is gaining steam. In an article two articles back, Scott Sager outlined how Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration (their lectureship) will focus on discipleship and making disciples this Summer. I don’t believe they will be the last. Other gatherings associate with Churches of Christ will eventually do the same because what God is doing is becoming so much in our faces it cannot be denied!

This is only just a start but it demonstrates that God is getting our attention. If you want to dwell on the past when it comes to discipleship don’t dwell on 30 years ago or 40 years ago (Crossroads)…dwell on 2000 years ago when making disciples was the norm. Dwell on 40 minutes ago when people all over the world were (and are) in Bible studies with non-believers. Movements are happening. The Spirit is working. The mantle of ministry is being passed from professionals to lay people. That is, by the way, the only way for a movement to be viral – you can’t have bottlenecks if you want to see viral.

It is all so refreshing and so hopeful. I am as hopeful about the future of Christianity as I have ever been in my life.

At a time when we point to so many things unhealthy in the way we “do church” here is something that is healthy. This is something Jesus told us he wants and somehow we turned discipleship into a teachings and attendance thing – we mapped his teaching onto our practice, rather than the other way around.

In the next 10 years we are going to see our people get healthier by engaging in this work. People are being trained right now and sent to make disciples, right in their own neighborhoods.

I asked God a year and a half ago to show me how to make disciples. I promised Him if he would show me, I would do it. People came out of the woodwork, unsolicited, to show me how. He will show you too. The resources exist. God put people to show us the way in our path decades ago – it is just now bearing fruit in our backyard.

So buckle up. Please be in prayer. Be in study. Read Jerry Trousdale. Read Kingdom Unleashed. Read Miraculous Movements. God is moving and His people are moving. I couldn’t be more excited! This is real. Watch and see.