Category Archives: Community

You’re going WHERE?

Let me begin by telling everyone this: I’m proud of my upbringing and the heritage I’ve been raised in.  I was raised on a Pentecostal church pew.  I don’t want anyone to think I have resentments or regrets for the good experiences I’ve had in my walk with the Lord. This is not a knock or attack on Pentecostal Church. If you read it that way, this is not my intention.

Throughout my life, I looked at people who left Pentecostal churches to attend a different “flavor” – a Baptist church for example – as someone who was going weak and didn’t want the “full-gospel.”  Many Pentecostals I know do the same. I’ve heard the talk, gossip, and speculations.  However that didn’t stop those who left from leaving without ever looking back.  Whether I’ll look back or not is yet to be said, but for now. We’re happy, plugged in, and growing again.

The last few years has been an entertaining ride, should I say, for us.  It began about 6 months before I stepped down from an eldership position at a church that we moved here to work with.  I began to disagree with so much of what was being said not just from the pulpit, but from my mind as a result of the dogmas I had adopted over most of my life.  There were issues in my personal life and marriage that were not above the grace of God, but it was my responsibility to the health of that congregation for me to step down. So we stepped down and left abruptly so we wouldn’t talk ourselves out of it.  It wasn’t a popular decision, but it was the right one for us.

We visited churches all over the area to just attend, regroup, and grow.  Every one of them we visited (except one) was of a Pentecostal influence, because that was what we were used to.  We looked for the energetic (mildly put) music, fiery preaching, and emotional experience we were used to.  There was plenty of it, but all of them ended up to have a common thread that we needed to steer away from.

For a year and a half, we drifted around, and even helped another couple plant their ministry.  Because we didn’t feel we fit in at the churches we visited, we even “helped” them by starting a Sunday morning service.  As time went by, we realized that this kind of “help” wasn’t the answer we or they needed.

So we realized, maybe we were avoiding the very kind of place we needed at this time of our lives.  We visited one church, one of the largest in the region that is negatively referred to a “seeker-friendly.” Just about everything I heard about them was false. The first Sunday we visited, they preached on idolatry, and in a very convicting way.  We really enjoyed it, but it was too far from the area we live to really plug in.

Then we re-visited another church that we had not given much of a chance before.  

Our kids went to camp with their friends that attend this church, and they did so much to make them/us feel welcome as part of the group – but not in a “we have to have you here, we sure can use people like you” kind of way.  We decided after we returned from our vacation the following week we would come back and really see what it’s all about. Why did not give them a chance before? Because it was a Southern Baptist church. Period.  It was all based on preconceived notions that it was lukewarm, dead, and condoned the mentality of “sign the card and you’re saved no matter what.”   However, I found that those notions, too, were lies.

We are just as imperfect, and as jacked up as we ever were. However, we are no longer having to put on a mask to look good for everyone.  We no longer have to smile when we are hurting.  I no longer have to pursue doing “platform” type ministry, when my heart is not in it.   All my talents and abilities are available to the Lord’s work, but it feels good to know there are capable people doing everything I know how to do, so there is no excuse or opportunity for me hiding behind a keyboard, soundboard, camera, or even pulpit while God deals with me.

I have to say, we have thoroughly enjoyed finding a church “home” once again in Little Flock Baptist Church.  So often when looking for something we need we avoid what we need because we’ve been told something about it that is untrue.  Maybe you are like us.  Looking for somewhere to worship, where your family will grow, but you won’t go to “that” church because of what you were told.  Let me tell you, forget what other people think about you and do what you need to do for yourself and for your family.

For those who are reading this, wondering “why don’t they come to OUR church?” It’s not because we don’t like you, or your church.  It’s because this is where we felt the Lord wanted our family, and we know now this was finally, Him.

Tagged , , , ,

Hurry, hurry, hurry…

Being in church all my life, and being in the circles I’ve been in, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people operate under the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the way the Lord intended, and I’ve seen them turn it into a mockery looking like a circus side show – “Hurry, hurry, hurry, step right up and let our prophet tell your future.”

Honestly, I’ve quit caring about the hoop-lah and the next “exciting time in the Lord we’re going to have at our ‘look how spiritual we are extravaganza.'”  I’ve quit going to those things until I really take the power of the Holy Spirit to the lost.  We’ve (I mean we, as in the Pentecostal church world) turned the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit into a thrill event for those who should be actually demonstrating it.  People get prayed for to receive the power, then flop over on the floor under a power that God wants us to actually walk in daily. This isn’t for our thrills and amusement. This power is given so that we can reach the lost with it.  The power that is in you – believer who claims to be overflowing with the Holy Ghost – is meant to give you power to be witnesses of Christ! It’s not in you to show off how spiritual you are when you get to church.  This is not in you so you can go become a superstar evangelist!  The superstar is Christ. If we are not pointing to Christ with this, we are pointing to ourselves.

Jesus said “these signs follow those who believe” (mark 16:17) – rather than those who believe following the signs as we are seeing in American churches today. We hear of the stories over and over of supernatural miracles taking place in other countries, yet it is so rare here. Look at the venues these miracles are happening in.  They are not believers conferences and campmeetings.  They are in places where the lost have been gathered together in the masses and are presented the Gospel message. They are in the villages where people haven’t heard of Christ.

This isn’t to say miracles and healings don’t happen where believers gather. Of course when we are sick are to call upon the elders of the church, lay hands on the sick and they will recover. I don’t dispute this.  I’m talking about the circus show we’ve turned the “greater works” Jesus declared we would have into.

I’m reminded of stories of both Charles Finney and Smith Wigglesworth, while minding their own business, having people around them convicted of their sin by just being near them.  They didn’t need a Hammond B-3 or a great worship band like Jesus Culture or an angelic choir singing “just as I am” to generate that atmosphere.  All they had to do is know how to walk with God.  Smith Wigglesworth wouldn’t allow newspapers in his home.  He wanted to hear what God was speaking about the world around him rather than the worlds own interpretation of itself!  Do we really want to walk with God like that?

I wonder if God is tired of our meetings and gatherings where we out-do each other’s spirituality.  Jesus didn’t say “Greater works than these shall you SEE,” He said “Greater works than these shall you DO.”  Let’s take this message and power to those who need it, not to those who already have it.

Tagged , , , , ,

Rethinking Discipleship

My title may be a little off. I don’t want to “re-think” discipleship. I want to think about discipleship in the way Christ taught us how to do it.

It’s no secret I was raised on a Pentecostal church pew, have attended and served in Assemblies of God churches most of my life, and am heavily influenced by Pentecostal/Charismatic teachings.  In the past few years, however, I’ve been on a journey to ensure that what I believe and practice are truly Biblical in how we interpret them today.  I don’t think in concept those in my circles disagree, however, in practice it’s not happening.

Discipleship is one of these practices.  Over the years I’ve seen a trend where discipleship has been a buzzword that few know anything really about.  The reason few know what it’s about is because few are really doing it.  Discipleship is not Sunday School. Sunday School/small groups/Christian Education (whatever you call it) has an important place, and can be a small part of one’s discipleship, but is not the whole package. We need to be taught the deeper things of the Word, and we need to build community with other believers, but this doesn’t disciple us.

Going back to the Word, in Matthew 28:18-20:

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Jesus didn’t say to get them into our church pews or start a Bible study, He said to personally go out and train everyone you meet.  Teach them how to follow and live for Him!

Discipleship is dirty work.  When Jesus had 12 guys follow him all over Israel, He didn’t do it to have body guards or to have people carry his stuff for Him (although they gladly would have done these things). He did this so that His work on earth didn’t end when He ascended into Heaven.

According to His command, you and I today should have disciples.  We should have people who we are personally teaching by example and demonstration how to walk with God.  We should be teaching them by example how to live by faith, how to have hope. We should be teaching them by example how to grow the fruit of the Spirit.

Tagged , , , ,
The Pastor's Desk

A Pastor's thoughts on life, church, God, & other stuff

social networking ate my blog

or probably I'm just making excuses

Discipleship Avenue

Discipleship Avenue exists to Educate, Equip, and Empower our communities by providing strategic services and resources that meet their needs.

A journal of my faith, family and life

EdStetzer.com

Ed Stetzer writes and speaks on theology, missiology, church planting, church revitalization, and church innovation.

Notes from the Trail

Life, adventure and faith from southwest Virginia

Soul Health Care

Proclaiming Christ as the Great Physician of the Soul

%d bloggers like this: