Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Is it worship STYLE or worship SUBSTANCE?

Kevin DeYoung writes an excellent article on church growth.

Here are some questions that he thinks each church should be asking:

  • Is the gospel faithful preached?

  • Is the Bible taught with clarity and passion?

  • Are the sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?

  • Do the elders/pastors and deacons meet the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament?

  • Are the sacraments faithfully administered and protected?

  • Is church discipline practiced?

  • Do the elders exercise personal care over the flock?

  • Are there good relationships among the staff and other leaders?

  • Is the worship service put together thoughtfully and carried out with undistracting excellence (as much as possible).

  • Do the people in the congregation sing the songs with gusto or are they going through the motions?

  • Is a high bar set for church membership?
Continue reading…

The gospel health of your church on Easter

This from Doug Wolter

As people enter our doors this Easter Sunday, will they see us as real people worshiping a real Savior? Will they enter a community of grace? Tim Chester, in his excellent book, You Can Change, lists some great questions to discern if your church is a community of grace, and thus attractive to broken, needy sinners.
  • Are people open about their sin or is there a culture of pretending?
  • Is community life messy or sanitized?
  • Are broken people attracted to your community?
  • Is conflict out in the open or is it suppressed?
  • Are forgiveness and reconciliation actively pursued?
  • Do you constantly return to the cross in your conversation, prayers and praise?

Organized Religion is Dying

Some Statistics
In the past decade, many books, endless blog-posts, and countless conference sessions have illuminated this exodus away from organized religion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (and used) the statistic that 3500 churches will close their doors this year, never to reopen. In many cases, the death of these churches is not a tragedy. Looking at a recent Pew Forum survey will help make this point.

Researchers from Pew Forum discovered the following when surveying a cross-section of adults who claim to be evangelicals (Southern Evangelicals are the subject here only because they tend to have a higher adherence rate than evangelicals in other regions – this is best case scenario):

  • 98% of all southern Evangelicals believe in the existence of God
  • 41% of southern Evangelicals believe there is only one true interpretation of the Bible’s teachings
  • 36% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe their religion to be “the one, true faith that leads to eternal life”

If 98% of Southern Evangelicals are certain about the existence of God, but only 36% of the same group believes their faith is uniquely true, then 64% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe in a gospel contrary to that of the Bible. Simply put, the average church and the average Christian in America do not understand or believe the Gospel. When a church loses the revolutionary power of the Gospel, legalism and religion replace it. Churches are dying because they are nothing more than organized religion, which cannot change the heart of men. When a legalistic dinosaur dies, that’s a good thing!

To read this entire article from the Resurgence Blog simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.

When culture invades the "church"

This is an actual church that is located in Sanford, NC. Here is the 5 week sermon series going on right now! Do you really think this is cool and hip and helps us to identify with the culture? I want those in our class to understand there are many today who sit in “church” and never hear the gospel of Christ because it is NOT popular and trendy. Remember the gospel is radical and counter intuitive and very divisive. It divides truth from error, wheat from tares, sheep from goats and believers from non-believers.

Just click on the LINK below if you want more information on this series.


Beware of "church growth" strategies and movements

An article from Pastor Marty Fields

The first crack in the church growth edifice came a couple of years ago when church growth advocate George Barna expressed frustration that - since the full-blown implementation of church growth principles 20 years ago - there has been no net growth in the Christian church to speak of; in fact it has declined in America. He found that mega-churches have both a big front door and an equally large back door.

All mega-churches seemed to have accomplished is to kill off smaller churches that resisted the temptation to compromise Biblical Christianity.

The final nail came when Willow Creek Community Church - the “Mecca” of the church growth ideology - recently released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, on staff at Willow Creek, conducted the study. The conclusion? Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said, to his credit, “We made a mistake.” They didn’t make disciples - they made dunces.

Continue reading…

We need small churches

“Many young people have been drawn into an ‘entertainment’ view of Sunday worship by what I will call ‘big church culture.’ They are attracted to the services by the ‘performances’ of a spectacular music group or a big name preacher with his superbly crafted sermon. Such things are simply not to be had in the majority of small churches. Sadly, even unwittingly, many large churches are thereby fostering a culture which, as it stands, probably guarantees the demise of small churches. Will the large churches be prepared to change this? The rising generation of young Christians are often groomed (unintentionally?) to become religious consumers who treat churches like spiritual supermarkets, not to become humble servants willing to take on uncomfortable situations or the wider needs of Christ’s kingdom. But if small churches close, our land will be even more spiritually impoverished than it already is” - John Benton