Late last year my pastor called and asked me to speak at William Carey University’s BSU Luncheon. I had been there before and with a couple hundred people trying to get in out of there for a free lunch you only have about 10 minutes to communicate. And the fact that the audience is primarily college kids (with A.D.D.) makes it a tuff crowed. So I pulled out an old Top Ten list I had created years earlier when I had tried to do a few youth group talks. So I updated it as it appears below. Now all of these have context to understand them, so if you are interested in what I mean by any of these just comment.
- DIE (To Self)
- Consider Changing your Last Name, but don’t
- Don’t get a tongue ring
- Mary someone who looks good without make up
- Break Up with negative friends
- Watch out for light poles
- Never Trust a GPS
- Go to Funerals
- Sell Snowballs
- Tie your Twitter Account to Your Facebook Account
Well maybe? But the “warming” it talks about seems to come in a moment, not gradually.
2 Peter 3:10 (NIV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (some manuscripts “be burned up”).
Amos 9:5 (NIV) The Lord, the Lord Almighty, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn–
Nahum 1:5 (NIV) The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
Mal 4:1 (NIV) ”Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty.
Rev 8:7 (NIV) The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
OK, OK, OK, this is no light matter, but one question remains and it is asked and answered for us in 2 Peter 3:11-15
2 Peter 3:10-15 (NIV) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.
If you are leading a small group Bible study here are a few things to consider.
Your role as a small group leader, in many ways, is that of pastor. You are on the front lines of life. People lives are changed when they can have meaningful relationships in the context of a small group.
What I’ve learned is that small groups; like everything else organic, has life stages.
Every small group will be birthed, grow, plateau, decline and die. Most people will get discouraged if they don’t’ understand this when their group starts to decline, but they all go through these stages. The people that you meet together in your small group tonight/today will not go on together forever. It’s important that before a small group starts to decline that it considers what it would take to birth a new group. Since change in the group is inevitable; it makes sense to think about ways to birth a new group out of your current one.
New groups will eventually be started by new leaders. So basically what I’m advocating is allowing others within your group to start lead NOW. IF everyone in the group doesn’t have a job, give them a role. By giving others responsibility for the group, you prepare them for the future when they will be able to lead/facilitate another small group. Here is a list of roles I’ve currently established in the small group I lead.
- Bible Study Coordinator- This coordinator prepares engaging questions during the week, and facilitates the weekly Bible study allowing everyone the opportunity to participate and share what God is teaching them through his Word.(can be more than one)
- Fellowship Coordinator– This coordinator helps the class develop closer relationships through activities and events that bring people together for fun.
- Worship Coordinator - This coordinator is responsible for building worship skills in learners and for guiding the class toward spiritual transformation through music and song.
- Prayer Coordinator – This coordinator leads the class to become involved in the prayer by coordinating the prayer effort of the small group. (email the prayer list, etc)
- Outreach Coordinator – This coordinator looks for ministry opportunities for the class. Coordinating service projects for the class to minister to those in need.
If some of these don’t fit for your group, then make up new roles. People will buy in and give ownership to the group when they can play in the game instead of sit on the bench. Lead others to lead and help them to understand their dependency upon the LORD.
- Want a new car?
- How about a house?
- Or just another house?
- What about your job? Want a different one?
- Many single adults want a spouse.
- Many married adults want a new spouse.
- If they are remarried often times they want yet another spouse.
- There are couples who want kids.
- There are some who want more kids and others less kids
- Most of us want more money. Not a whole lot, just a little more.
- Overweight people want to be skinny.
- Skinny people want to be muscular.
- Muscular people want to be a “little” bigger, or a little smaller.
- Most of us want everything just a little different than it is.
OK so let me let you in on a little secret. Unless we deal with this discontentment in our lives we are NEVER going to be happy. I hope you see that. Do you want to be happy? I do. SO if we do we must move toward contentment.
Paul wrote to young Timothy, in 1 Timothy 6:6-11
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Paul had Earlier Written to the church in Philippi
12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
The good news for us is that contentment is something we can learn. It is understanding that God is enough to satisfy us. David wrote at the beginning of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Sheppard, I shall not want.” I like what another version reads, “The Lord is my Sheppard, and I don’t need anything else.” As my old buddy Micheal Dean’s says “Understand this”, God is more than adequate to fulfill all of your discontentment’s, but you must seek him believing this. And at the end of it all he will help me and you to understand that we already have all that we need in Him, In his Son, In His Blood, and In His Cross. So take the cup and take the bread and be satisfied; Content with HIM alone.
His is the last of a three part blog on why we should start new churches in churched areas.
While there are many Christian resources in North America, most of the North American population no longer has a biblical worldview or understanding. There is some who question if they ever did. Instead, their religious ideas tend to be distorted reflections of biblical truths. (For More on Church Planting Follow This Guy: http://www.edstetzer.com/ )
Shockingly only HALF of Protestant Pastors have a Biblical Worldview.
A Christian worldview could be described as believing absolute moral truth exists, based on the truths found in scripture. These truths could be considered as coming from these six core beliefs:
- The accuracy of biblical teaching
- The sinless nature of Jesus
- The literal existence of Satan
- The Omnipotence and omniscience of God
- Salvation by grace alone
- The perusal responsibility to evangelize the world
In short there is Biblical illiteracy. They either people don’t know the scripture, or refuse to believe it.
Below you will find more statistical research done by George Barn about Worldview. Read on if interested; I’ve taken it from http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-
Overall, the current research revealed that only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview. Among the sixty subgroups of respondents that the survey explored was one defined by those who said they have made a personal to commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and that they are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Labeled “born again Christians,” the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.
The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barn in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.
Components of Worldview Thinking
Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:
- One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
- Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
- Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
- Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
- A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
- Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.
There is a myth that people in our communities have already been reached.
Among the strongest myths that discourage church planting is the flawed understanding that the United States has already been evangelized. Certainly North American Christians have access to abundant resources of information. Evangelicals listen to Davey Ramsey for financial information, read James Dobson for advice on raising kids, sing along with Third Day or Mercy Me and purchase “Christian” fiction novels. But unchurched persons in the U.S. remain generally untouched because the Christian subculture is not providing a culturally relevant gospel witness.
About ten years ago I had the chance to share the “good news” with a neighbor that was dying of cancer. A week before visiting with him, I decided to visit the small church that was within a mile of his home (our home). The night I visited the pastor gave a stirring message about the need to share the gospel with our neighbors. After the service JJ and I had several people stop us to talk, since we were the new young couple visiting the church. When I shared with one guy about my burden for this neighbor, whom most seemed to know, he said, “I’m sure he knows the gospel.” But I wasn’t satisfied with that answer. Even if he did, shouldn’t we make sure?
I was very nervous and scared to talk with him, because of his usually harsh demeanor. He and I had developed a good relationship and I often would sit with him and watch TV. He affectionately referred to me as, “My little preacher boy”. So I finally got up the courage to ask him where he was in his relationship with Christ and he just looked at me. I shared the message of grace and love with him and that it was Christ sacrifice, not his own efforts that paid the price for his Soul. Because of the look on his face, I asked him had he ever heard that story and his reply,………… “No.” Here was a 60 year old man living within a mile of the church who had never heard the message. He placed his faith in Christ and within a week he saw his savior face to face.
So here is the take away. People don’t know they message. In the South, we have developed a Moralist Deism that recognizes the existence of God and demands that we be good little boys and girls to earn his Love. This is a false Gospel. So remember share the message with others, they may have never heard it.
This is the first in a 3 part series on why we need to plant new churches in churched cultures. These answers come from a resource I received last year during a local weekend conference from George Ross, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Senatobia, MS. I’m often met with many questions, when I share with people that I moved to help with a new church plant. Most of these come from individuals who have been a part of a church for most of their life and really don’t get why anyone should put so much effort in to starting a new church. Hopefully these facts will help
ANSWER: Older Churches are dying while the population is still growing.
Churches in the first decade of the twenty-first century are closing at a phenomenal rated. Around 85% of local churches are on the downside of their life-cycle.
Churches often die because people move out of rural areas to the urban and suburban settings. Yet new churches are not often started in the new areas because they are too close to other established churches of the same denomination. In short there are many more people living in areas where only a few churches exist. See the following church to population ration by Thomas Clegg and Warren Bird:
- In 1900, 27 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 1950, 17 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 1996, 11 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
While the number of churches in the US has increased b just over 50% over the past 100 years, the populations has increased by 300%! There are fewer churches today (per population) than there were in 1906.