Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Church Strategy (9) Kingdom of God

Fourth Strategy
The Holy Spirit will not be defeated. He will eventually push back the darkness and build the Kingdom of God.

  • The Kingdom of God is not national.
  • The Kingdom of God is not the church.
  • The Kingdom of God is not political.
The Holy Spirit will give the Kingdom of God to restored local communities.

We need a church model that can receive the Kingdom of God. We need a church model that the Holy Spirit can use to bring the Kingdom of God into neighbourhoods and local communities where people live.

This full series (with additional links) can be found at Future Church Strategy.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Church Strategy (8) Rescue Vehicle

Third Strategy

As darkness spreads, the pain and sorrow of life in the world will grow massively.

Many people in the world will need to be rescued from the spiritual powers of evil. This will be a huge opportunity for the church, but only if we are ready for the task.

We need a church model that is capable of rescuing people who are crushed in the world and restoring them. They will need to be rescued into an environment of love and service.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Church Strategy (7) Be a Place of Safety

Second Strategy

The darkness is squeezing out the light in our society.

Christians are becoming a small minority in our society. We are currently tolerated, but as evil grows in confidence, this will change. As the world becomes hostile, standing alone will be dangerous. Christians are currently spread thinly throughout society. That was fine when were a strong influence in society, but is risky now that we have becomes a small minority. Isolated people are easily crushed.

We need a church model that can provide safety for Christians living in the world during a time of darkness and persecution.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Church Strategy (6) Live and Love in the World

First Strategy
We need to get serious about doing the One Another Stuff. These are not optional extras for an hour on Sunday. They should be the heart of how we live. Read the list here. If you have to get into you car to do most of these things, something is wrong.

Jesus promised his disciples that if they loved one another, people of the world would be drawn to him. For people to see us love one another, we must be living in a way that allows the people of the world living around us to see our love for each other working out in our daily lives.

The solution is to go and live amongst them. A person/family going in isolation on their own would be hopeless. They could be overwhelmed by the pressure and fall. However, if some believers go into the world as a group and live close to each other, they will be able to sustain each other despite the pressure.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Church Strategy (5) Gospel Barrier

Here is the Big Question.

The modern church lives in separation from the modern world. This leaves us with a communication problem. How do we get the people of the world to hear the gospel.

How do we get the gospel over this barrier?

This is a serious problem for the church. More of the same will not get the job done.

Announcing the good news from a pulpit in a church building will not work. Most of people in the Modern World will not be willing to drive to a strange building.

Shouting from a distance and telling them what is wrong with them will not work. They already know that they have problems. They want workable solutions not more condemnation.

A preacher standing on a pedestal where his people have placed him cannot reach over the divide to them. It is more likely that the people of the world will knock him down with accusations (true or false).

Flying in an American Evangelist will not do it. His communication model belongs in a different time, and his gospel is not good news for the modern world.

We need a Future Church model that can jump over the barrier and reach the Modern World. If we can’t solve this problem, the church will be swamped by the modern world.

The church desperately needs a better strategy.

I am not going to give the solution here. People who care enough can find it for themselves. However, in the next four posts, I will identify four elements that are essential for an effective strategy in the current situation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Church Strategy (4) Serious Problem

Modern church strategies do not touch the Modern World of the eighty percent.

The church has made a massive investment in reaching the Church Memory group, including buildings, car parks, video and sound technology, theological training of preachers, and training in video and sound production. However, this massive investment has gone into structures that are becoming less and less effective, as our sphere of cultural influence shrinks dramatically.

We have put all our eggs in one basket, but the model that was designed to reach people with a Christian Memory can’t reach over the dividing wall into the Modern World where most people now belong.

The irony is that under the drive-to-church model that we have made a massive investment into, Christians spend most of their time in the Modern World. However, they live there as isolated individuals within the structures of the Modern World, and under the authority structures of the Modern World.

The massive irony is that we are living in the world that we are trying to reach, but the main Christian thing that we do is to drive out of it to a building where the world cannot see our connection, or hear what we are saying.

Were cannot communicate effectively to the Modern World we are living in because we are isolated from each other and dominated by the spiritual authority structures of the Modern World.

The House Church movement has not done much better.

This is a serious challenge.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Church Strategy (3) Shrinking Influence

The people within our cultural orbit are getting older and less open to change. Their numbers are shrinking rapidly. Young people are leaking across the boundaries in a huge flood.

If they get their model wrong, house churches can be limited to rescuing people that are falling out of the church.
Many of the people who join house churches are in danger of falling out of the church, because they are hurt. They were Serious Christians once, but bad experiences have deadened their passion. They are slipping out into Christian Memory. House Churches are a powerful tool for rescuing these people, but it is hard work. Many have been burned by over-zealous authority, so they are hard to get close to. Most carry unfinished baggage, so few will become world changers.

Many Christians are seeking a revival. Traditional revivals occurred among people with a Christian Memory. They were stirred by passionate preaching and revival meetings. Even if revival occurred in New Zealand, it would hardly be noticed, because it would only touch the lives of people within the shrinking twenty percent who have a Christian Memory. The rest of society would not be touched. Revival is a false hope for New Zealand and most countries in the West. Something more radical will have to happen.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Church Strategy (2) Attractional Model

Modern church strategies are effective within the Christian Memory group.

The church has developed good techniques for drawing people from within a narrow sphere of influence. Most efforts are focused on getting people with a Christian Memory to become Serious Christians.

  • Church growth strategies are based on the study of this group.

  • The first Billy Graham crusades in 1958 had a huge impact on this group.

  • The Charismatic renewal really touched this group.

  • Seeker-friendly services are still effective with them.

  • Because people in the Church Memory group have become used to more sophisticated communications, church service production has to be slick to keep them amused/interested.

  • The main form of service/minsitry for many Christians is ensuring that the Sunday meeting goes off well. In this model, the worship leader is perceived to be the ultimate calling.

  • The task of Christians is to get their friends and work contacts to go to church with them.

  • They don't have to know how to share the gospel or answer questions about it. They just have to tell people about how good their church is.

  • These strategies are all centred on church meetings. If we can get a person with a Christian Memory to come to a meeting, the professionals can swing them into the Serious Christian group.

This is an attractional model. Our task it to get people from the Christian Memory into church meetings of some kind.

  • Attractional strategies have been effective with people within this narrow sphere of influence.

  • Home/life groups may just be the last legs of the attactional strategy. Attracting people to a church is getting really difficult. Attracting people who are losing their Christian Memory into a home is easier than attracting them to a church building. They might be more comfortable sitting in a lounge of a friend’s home sipping coffee in front of a warm fire.

  • When a person from the Modern World is reached by the gospel, they have to be socialised into life within our cultural orbit. The new believer is expected to change to be like us. A new language has to be learnt. They have to learn to be comfortable in our church meetings. They have to learn a new way of thinking.

  • Home/life groups can make this social, cultural and philosophical transformation easier.

  • The House Church model still focuses on getting people to attend meetings. Hopefully they are better meetings, where the Holy Spirit is freer to move.

Unfortunately, as the Christian Memory group is shrinking fast, attractional methods become less effective.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Church Strategy (1) Target Population

From the perspective of the gospel, our target population can be thought of as three groups.

Serious Christians
The hard core of serious Christians is probably about 5 percent of the population.

Serious Christians have the following characteristics.

  • They are serious about serving God
  • They attend church regularly.
  • Their numbers are shrinking rapidly
  • This group is aging rapidly.
  • The future of the church depends on this group.

Christian Memory
The second group have a Christian memory, but do not participate in the church. They might be a twenty percent of the population.

The Christian memory group have the following characteristics.

  • They may have gone to church or sunday school when they were young.
  • Their mothers were active in the church.
  • Their fathers went occasionally
  • They can sing How Great Thou Art at a funeral
  • They do not think about it much, but sort of believe there is a in God
  • When things go wrong they pray,
  • They do not know how to pray, so it is usually a desperate cry for help.
  • When things go well they believe someone was watching out for them.
  • They love spam messages about miracles and prayer.
  • They forward on emails about angels.
  • This group is getting older and is probably shrinking.
  • Perhaps they should be called the "Church Memory" group, because many have a quite distorted understanding of Jesus and the gospel.

Modern World
The third group belongs in the modern world. In parts of America this group is getting up toward 60 percent of the population. In New Zealand, they could be 80 percent.

The Modern World Group has the following characteristics.

  • This group never goes to church, except for funerals and weddings, and they feel about as comfortable as a Christian would feel in a mosque or masonic lodge.
  • They do not call themselves atheists, because they do not define themselves in terms of an attitude to God.
  • The possibility of a Christian God just never occurs to them. The idea is simply not on the radar.
  • They never think about God, even in a crisis.
  • They never pray, except to say “Oh God!”
  • When things go wrong, they go to the doctor or the gym.
  • They hate religion, because they believe that it causes most of the problems in the world. Like John Lennon, they would love a world with no religion.
  • These people know a few Christians at work or at the gym, but they do not particularly like them. Christians seem a bit odd. They tolerate Christians, but they would not see them as role models or want them as friends.
  • This group is quite spiritual, but they live in a complex spiritual world with a whole bunch of spiritual ideas and realities all mixed up together.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Two Kings

Anyone who thinks that Paul taught that we should submit to two different kings (Jesus and a worldly king/emperor/president) does not understand how well Paul understood Jesus, or how much the Holy Spirit trusted him.

I find that the people who are the most staunch about submission to political power, are pastor-leaders who want their church to submit to their power. The problem is that if they let submission to rulers go, they are in danger of losing submission to their authority.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Two Kings

A king who says to his people, I want you to serve this other king who hates me has lost the plot, and will eventually lose his kingdom.

Jesus has not lost the plot.

Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters (kurios - lord)”. “You will love (agape) one and despise (kataphroneo “think against”) the other”. Christians who choose to love their political rulers will eventually begin “thinking against” Jesus and his kingdom.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Two Kings

I do not understand why Christians who have Jesus as their king/ruler, are so keen to serve another king/ruler/president/prime minsiter, especially one who hates Jesus or who is controlled by a powerful government-spirit.

I do not understand why people who (should) have security in the body of Jesus, are so keen to look to a rulers who hate Jesus for their safety/security.

It does not compute.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Spirit and Soul

Soul and spirit seem to be different, but it is hard to understand how. The problem is that the Greek and Hebrew words for spirit both mean wind or breath, too.

  • Watchman Nee sliced and diced spirit and soul in his book the Spiritual Man. It was sort of interesting, but not really real.

  • The letter to the Hebrews says that word of God can divide between soul and spirit like a spiritual sword (Heb 4:12) but it does not explain how they are divided.

  • The Old Testament seems to use soul and spirit quite interchangeably at times (eg 1 Sam 1:15; Job 7:11. I have never been able to find a consistent pattern that makes sense.

  • The Greek word “psuche” is used for “life”. It can be the life that God breathed into Adam. It can also be used to describe the entire person. So I think that we have to be careful.

  • Jairus’s daughter is interesting, because most translations say her "spirit returned" when Jesus prayed for her. However, because the word pneuma means breath, Luke would must be saying that her “breath returned”.

  • Similarly with Jesus on the cross. Most transaltions say that "He gave up his spirit".The gospel writers might be just saying that Jesus “stopped his efforts to breath”, which is the most difficult thing when you are on a cross. Giving up breathing would quickly end his life.