Saturday, June 7, 2008

Church Growth Consequences

If your church is going to grow from:

70 to 120
180 to 250
400 to 700
1,200 to 1,800
2,500 to 6,000
7,000 to 20,000
25,000 to 100,000

You are going to have to change your mindset. Much of what you are doing now won’t work later. Some things that will be different:
  • Your relationship with staff and church members
  • Your meetings, organizational structure, policies, and financial management
  • Your schedule
  • Your inward comfort or discomfort
  • Your style of leadership
  • Your means of communication
  • Your family

If you are unwilling to change and grow, your organization will not likely follow.

Your assignment:

  • Find someone who is where you want to be and learn from them. Don’t just try to learn what they do, but learn how they think.
  • And pray like you’ve never prayed before that God will grow you as a leader.

[Craig Groeschel]

Bible Maps

What do you get when you cross an online Bible with Google Maps?

This is a very nice and helpful tool for geographical and historical context. There's something about seeing the places described in a story, even on a map, that helps get our minds into it.

Check it out!

Pray For Your Pastor

Pastors need prayer more than criticism. Pastors need prayer more than advice. Pastors need prayer more than finances.

If you are not praying for your pastor, consider stopping the talk to others, and talk to God about the following needs of your pastor:

#1 - Their Connection With God

Nothing is more important in a senior pastors life than his personal walk with God–nothing. This is where vision takes place–there is where God sets our hearts on fire like in Jeremiah 20:9. This is where PERSONAL conviction, correction and encouragement takes place…and the thing EVERYONE OF US NEED more than anything is to REMAIN IN HIM so that our ministry will be fruitful. (John 15:5).

#2 - Their Family

The pastor's family goes through things that most pastors will not talk about in front of their church. There is usually constant pressure on the children. People expect the pastor's companion to be perfect. AND … what the family goes through spiritually is INTENSE. One pastor confided that their companion has nightmares five or six nights a week. If you want to BLESS your pastor–COVER their family in prayer!

#3 - Their Relationship With The Staff

The elephant that exists in many churches is that the pastor and the staff don’t really like each other … or there are some serious jealousy issues in regards to the senior pastor and the church staff. “I do as much as Pastor does … so why do they get …” You get the picture.

Pray for the staff to be loyal to the vision. How marvelous it would be to have an environment where everyone loves each other. Pray for the staff to help lift up the pastor's arms so the enemy can be defeated. (Exodus 17:8-16). Pray that there never to be any unresolved conflict so that ministry does not turn into a war zone.

#4 - Their Spiritual Warfare

You would not believe what a pastor faces in regards to spiritual warfare.

Most pastors have serious bouts with depression (especially on Sunday night and Monday morning.) Every time a critic attacks, it takes a chunk out of his soul … whether they admit it or not. Pastors have SERIOUS struggles WHILE preaching messages … thoughts like, “Hey idiot, these people hate you. They aren't listening to you – they all wish you were dead.”

The pastor goes through INTENSE spiritual warfare … so pray he would walk in victory, resist temptation, hear the voice of Jesus … and so on!

#5 - Their Rest

Many pastors are borderline hypocrites. They teach their churches to follow God’s Word – but then they often violate one of the top ten commandments by not taking a day of rest. (See Exodus 20:8-11, I wonder why God took more time to explain this command than the rest … maybe because it is IMPORTANT!).

It’s tough for some pastors because, well, they serve a lazy bunch of people who expect him to do all the work while they sit on their pew and have meetings about how inefficient the pastor is. (This is why the average stay for a pastor in America today is less than two years – many churches KILL pastors!).

But, for others, where the church does not expect the pastor to do it all, the pastor still can never truly disengage from what God has called them to do. They are always thinking about what’s next. They can’t shake the upcoming sermon from their thought pattern. And, they always feel like they should be doing something.

Pray for your pastor to get rest – the last thing the world needs is ONE MORE burned out pastor. Pray that they will have at least one day a week where they completely disengage from the ministry. And, pray that they will have about four or five times a year where they can get away for at least three or four days to chill and relax.

(For the church member somewhere out there that just thought, “I don’t get that.” True … but you also don’t have to go to bed at night with the reality of Hebrews 13:17 hanging over you. So, just pray for your pastor. If your pastor will take more time off, their walk will be stronger, their marriage will be better, and God will fill them with greater vision.)

So there you have it. Please pray for your pastor. If you want to know how to pray for your pastor more specifically–ASK them. I'm sure they will let you know.

[Based on Perry Noble]

Church Re-Imagined

Is it realistic to think the church culture can change not only its image (which would be a great thing), but also fundamentally change the way it does church? I am concerned that if it doesn’t we are not only going to lose the numbers game but more importantly miss the whole point of the kingdom of God. The point as I understand it being to love God and love others. I want to live an open and honest life that is full of adventure and full of Jesus.

Some recent events and conversations have brought this once again to a heightened level of concern for me. Yesterday, having lunch with my oldest daughter who has (along with her husband) blessed us with two grandsons, she began sharing her views and feelings about church. She doesn’t like church; although she grew up in church she has little interest in its present form. She said that at church she got a picture of an angry God and a God who is distant from her, but growing up at home she had a very different view of God. Home gave her a sense of God’s love and acceptance, which of course made me feel good. By the way, her husband holds similar views. And her 22 year old brother feels the same way about church-life as experienced on most Sundays. They all love Jesus, but they are not overly drawn to the church scene.

If you read at all in today’s Christian environment you will know that this is not an uncommon point of view among the “twenty somethings” of the church world. Look around your local church next Sunday morning and see how many young adults in their twenty’s and early thirty’s are in the pews.

And then there was last nights cave meeting at my local church. (There’s a story behind the name “cave” for our meetings, but it would not interest most of you.) For the last few years (five or so) a group of guys anywhere from 5 to 15 of us meet together to share life in Christ. It is probably the closest thing to New Testament Christianity I experience on weekly basis. There are no sermons and no ties allowed. Just open sharing on how we’re doing and we discuss whatever we feel led by the Holy Spirit to discuss or we will make up something to talk about. It’s great and I try not to miss it. But last night one of the guys shared that we tend to dance around some of the more serious issues that we as guys face on a daily basis. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know what those “issues” are for most men, but here’s what struck me as interesting. In the cave we attempt to be transparent, honest, and open about our struggles and yet even this group experiences difficulty truly loving one another at a level that fosters disclosure and confession. We are all afraid … of something. We are still hiding from God and one another just like Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3.

This is not church as it is supposed to be. To borrow a phrase from Larry Crabb, church is to be a safe place. It should be a place for broken people to come and find grace, mercy, and love. It should be a place of openness, acceptance, and genuine authenticity. Not a place where sin is overlooked, but where the sinner/saint is embraced, forgiven, and challenged to live in their new identity.

The Scripture most often describes the people of God as family. I can’t help but wonder if the “twenty something” crowd experienced church as family and not a business, or a formal event, or whatever makes it irrelevant to them if they would not be drawn back to it. Jesus is not building an institution, He is growing His kingdom and it looks and feels like family. Church is all about relationships, not positions and programs not even sermons and lessons. What if Jesus was serious and we really are not to run our churches like businesses and corporations (Matthew 23:1-12, Mark 10:41-45)? What if the church were to become more and more organic and less and less organized? I believe I can build a solid biblical basis for such a view of church as contrasted with what is in place today.

It is said by change agents of our time that only 3% of the population can envision something different from the way we have always done things. That being true, it will take guts to challenge the status quo of present day church life but the potential results, at the very least, will be worth beginning the conversations. And hopefully, we can move toward an experience of church life that will release the priesthood of all believers, engage one another in kingdom love, and become attractive to a generation seeking acceptance and relational connections.

Marvin Eskew
International Director of Christian Education
Church of God of Prophecy

AG General Superintendent Releases Statement on Revivals

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, with concurrence of the Executive Presbytery of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, has released a statement in an effort to provide a response to questions concerning ministries and revivals held in both AG and non-AG churches.

In his statement, Wood begins by turning to scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, where the Apostle Paul admonishes, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."

Wood explains that the Bible provides the assessment tools needed for evaluating doctrine and experience, making it possible for both ministers and laypeople to discern the validity of a ministry or revival. "Our former general superintendent, Thomas F. Zimmerman, once compared the Holy Spirit to a mighty river, and the Scriptures to the banks of that river," Wood said in his release. "Brother Zimmerman said that great harm occurs when the river overruns the banks, but that the river does great good when it stays within the banks." To know whether or not a ministry or revival is of God, Wood says it must withstand the test of Scripture, including: Is Jesus Christ exalted? Is the Word of God proclaimed? Are persons repenting of sin, and being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit?

Wood explains that first, the focus for any lasting revival must be on Jesus. Then, the "truths" being taught must be found in Scripture, saying the content of the preaching must be the same as/line up with what Jesus and the apostles taught.

He also cautioned that "miraculous manifestations" are never the test of a true revival as the Bible warns that false prophets will do miracles in His name, but He does not know them (Matthew 7:15-23). "If the message and the messenger line up with God's Word, then the revival is on safe biblical ground and it should and must be embraced," Wood said. "If not, then even though miracles and manifestations occur, it should be avoided."

Wood's complete statement has been videoed and can be seen at The statement is also available in print and a downloadable PDF version on this page as well.

Planners Deny Permit for Daycare at Campbell Community Church

[By Chris Vongsarath - Campbell Reporter]

The Campbell, California Planning Commission (near San Jose) denied a conditional-use permit for the operation of a daycare center and preschool at a church on Virginia Avenue in a split decision on May 27.

Neighbors had publicly criticized the proposal for bringing more traffic and noise into the neighborhood. The center was looking to operate on weekdays at the Campbell Community Church of God of Prophecy, which neighbors argued is already supporting enough operations at its facility in addition to its weekend services.

The May 27 meeting continued a discussion from April, in which the planning commission asked the applicant to provide more in-depth information and to hold a meeting with concerned neighbors.

The neighborhood meeting produced mixed results.

"Nothing has changed from my standpoint," neighbor David Meyer told commissioners.

But the applicant, Merat Ayalew, said traffic generated by the daycare center would be scattered throughout the day, with various pick-up and drop-off times for children. Proposed hours for the center were 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"The neighbors are assuming that there is going to be a pile of cars in the parking lot," Ayalew said. "I guarantee there won't be cars blocking traffic from going smoothly."

Ayalew, who holds a state license for an at-home daycare center, offered to reduce the maximum number of children allowed at the church's center from 30 to 22. The center would have served 1- to 5-year-olds.

Although the church is in a residential neighborhood, commissioners struggled with the decision because the proposal was consistent with the city's General Plan, and the area is zoned for public facilities.

Commissioner George Doorley noted that there are few properties in Campbell available for such facilities.

Neighbors responded by asking what would happen if the business failed, considering the conditional-use permit applies to the building itself and not the applicant. Therefore, neighbors argued, it would be feasible in the future for another, possibly bigger, business to operate in the facility.

They provided the commission with a petition signed by 61 residents opposed to the center.

Subsequently, some commissioners felt the proposal was still missing vital information.

"I am challenged to consider this application because it is so incomplete--it is so broadly brushed," Commissioner Liz Gibbons said.

Chairman Bob Roseberry added, "I'm not comfortable that the rules and requirements have been really thought through."

Commissioner Gary Gairaud disagreed.

"It's meeting the needs that it has to, and I could support this," he said.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to deny the permit. The decision is final unless Ayalew files an appeal.

Church Sex Abuse Cases Continue in Brooklyn

[By Ryan Thompson - Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

A 72-year-old pastor from the Original Church of God of Prophecy was convicted yesterday of sodomizing and sexually molesting a little girl on numerous occasions.

Dieuvais Surin was convicted on all 22 counts of sexual abuse that he faced. He began with taking the little girl into his van, where he fondled her in 1998. On subsequent occasions, he made her perform oral sex and various other perverted acts on him. These incidents occurred in the pastor’s van and apartment, and in the basement of the church.

Surin often waited outside the little girl’s middle school in Brooklyn, and on eight occasions, he then took her into his van and sodomized her.

The pedophile pastor faces up to 56 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 9 by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice.

The Original Church of God of Prophecy is not affiliated with the Church of God of Prophecy of Cleveland, Tennessee.

What Is Really Happening at Willow Creek?