Tag Archives: God

The results are in – people prefer short sermons followed by discussion.

To me this is ideal! What do you think?

Posted on January 18, 2014 at Church in a Circle

This week, I conducted some research on Twitter. I asked which people would prefer; short sermons with the opportunity for discussion, or long sermons without. The results of my poll were resoundingly conclusive – 100% of respondents would like to have short sermons or even long ones followed by the chance to respond and explore the topic together.

Now, I’m not going to pretend these are statistically significant results. This was a small sample group, and a very biased one. But I still think this is a simple and easy-to-implement strategy most pastors and churches can take on board, with the potential to equip and empower God’s people.

Next time you are preparing a sermon, think about stripping it back to the essential points, then letting people break into groups of 4 or so to discuss what they have learned. They could answer questions such as;

What stands out to you?

What did you learn about God?

About people?

Any life-lessons to apply?

How do you plan to apply them?

How can we pray for one another?

The advantages to this approach are huge. You are training God’s people to have spiritual conversations. You can give them the tools they need to think for themselves, and to communicate their knowledge to others. You are sending the message that the church is an equal laity under the headship of Christ, not artificially divided into “professionals” and “consumers”. You are giving them a chance to respond to God’s Word and message, and to teach one another.

However – please take note – this suggestion comes with the following warnings;

WARNING 1: Once people get used to participating and having a voice, they’re not going back. They will find it difficult to sit passively through lengthy monologues, once they realise they can be actively involved.

WARNING 2: Some people won’t like this. They think the current format for church is the way it has always been. They don’t realise the early church meetings were interactive, multi-voiced and participatory.

WARNING 3: Dialogue is an open floor, not a pop-quiz. People are allowed to give any answer at all. Pastors may have to go through a period of “unlearning” – instead of having all the answers, they have to learn to shut up and listen. Get used to a whole new way of thinking as you move away from performance towards facilitation and empowerment.

Don’t rely on the results of my not-very-reliable research – conduct a poll of your own. Ask your congregation whether they would prefer a 40 minute lecture next Sunday, or a 10-15 minute presentation followed by a chance to explore and discuss it together. Your ego may take a bruising if they tell you to shorten your sermons – but it could be the start of a new journey for you and your church community.

Read more great articles via Church in a Circle.

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Except you be converted

Matthew 18:3

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

So what does this mean????

In order to understand this lets define ‘convert‘. Here is a list of examples.

  • Change from one system to another or to a new plan or policy
  • Change the nature, purpose, or function of something
  • Change religious beliefs, or adopt a religious belief
  • Exchange or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category
  • Cause to adopt a new or different faith
  • Make (someone) agree, understand, or realize the truth or validity of something

The word ‘converted‘ is defined as follows:

  • Spiritually reborn or having changed religion as in “a converted Christian”

If we look at this scripture and John 3:3 we see that being born again and being converted go hand in hand.

Many people question, “converted, why? From what?”

The answer is, if there is no conversion from the life of sin then there is eternal death.

To be converted or born again involves repentance; a turning back – reversal – to think differently. It means transformation, a change of heart, to change from habitual sin to holiness, from old life to new. Rom.6:4 / 2Cor.5:17

Turning away from all that is ungodly, turning to God, and producing fruits of righteousness.

We humans are selfish and self-serving, we need to learn to repent and turn to a better course, and that course is through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Being converted does not come naturally but it comes as we surrender every aspect of our lives to Christ.

A person does not have God, has not been converted, if he/she continues to do the things of the world. 1John 1:5-10

A person cannot enter the kingdom of heaven while remaining worldly and full of sin!

This change or conversion that is required by Christ begins with our becoming as little children humble, weak, dependent, and ready to be molded by God the Father into what He wants us to be.

We must humble ourselves; there can be no pride and no self.

There is no true conversion without humility and a person filled with self cannot turn to Christ. Jesus insisted upon conversion (verse3).

We must turn totally with the whole heart, mind, soul, and body.

Each of us, as individuals, must have an actual knowledge of that change, of that conversion from an inward experience. That inward experience/change will reflect to the outside, to those around us.

Jesus was telling the disciples, to turn from their earthly ambitions, jealousies, rivalries, and their bickering. He is saying also to us today, to turn from these and all sin, or else we cannot enter the kingdom.

With TRUE CONVERSION, changes WILL take place.

Conversion does NOT mean just a single act of sorrow or repentance, but a new attitude of life. It is part of genuine saving faith and a basic requirement for salvation.

With conversion comes fruit Matt.3:8Our relationships, pleasures, commitments, habits, and our whole outlook on life will change as the result of our new relation with God.

believe there are many, many people who have said a ‘sinners’ prayer, but have not had that conversion experience because they do not want to let go of sin and the world.

The Bible tells us in 1John2:15 that if we love the world then the love of the Father is not in us. Also in James 4:4 it says, if we are friends with the world then we are enemies of God.

Each one must turn from the world, sin, and self to God in order to have eternal life.

In other words, WE MUST BE CONVERTED TO ENTER THE KINGDOMOF GOD!

Finding Ekklesia | Crossroad Junction

AUGUST 11, 2012  BY JIM WRIGHT

Several weeks ago, I was asked how to find “ekklesia” (the Greek word in the New Testament often translated as “church”).

Many today are frustrated because they can’t seem to find authentic fellowship, or feel stuck in the “wilderness” after leaving the institutional church.

As I’ve thought about this, it’s been hard for me to know how to respond. The last thing anyone needs is another “program”, “method” or “three easy steps” to find something that God designed to be authentically birthed, and sustained, organically.

You see, God intends that life reproduce life. That principle is built into the very fabric of creation. Like all things that impart life, real ekklesia is organic, through and through.

And by “organic”, I mean simply this: The authentic and diverse life of Christ in me, which is then expressed among us and through us as we become the wonderful, dynamic, multi-gifted and participatory Body of Christ.

The key to finding this, I think, is found in those two words: authentic and diverse.

So here’s my response on how to find ekklesia, rooted in my own experience of finding, and then helping others find, real life and real fellowship – not as one who’s arrived, but simply as one who has been on the path maybe a little longer.

The Authentic Life of Christ

I think the greatest challenge facing Christians today is the prevailing tendency to create Jesus in our own image – based on our own hurts, sensibilities or whatever.

Without an authentic Jesus, you will not find authentic fellowship.

That’s because the foundation for true “ekklesia” must be this, and this alone: i the authentic life Christ in us, which is then authentically expressed among us and through us; ii as confirmed by the internal witness of the Holy Spirit which is concurrently subject at all times His authoritative external witness of Scripture.

That’s just my complicated way of saying what Jesus said much more simply: If two or three of us gather in His name i.e., in the authenticity of who He really is and has authoritatively revealed Himself to be, He is there, alive among us. Matt. 18:20

Apart from the authentic life of Jesus – where we continually are being created in His image through a dynamic, transforming relationship with the Living Word which conforms to the authority of His written word – entering into true Christian community simply is not possible.

Otherwise, you are reduced to seeking “fellowship” around the need to affirm your own hurts, biases, attitudes, ideals, aspirations or even your own “better selves” – and that simply doesn’t work.

Oh, it will feel validating, comforting and even liberating at first, but eventually, at best, you will end up being just another anemic, insular “meet up” of cookie-cutter look-alikes trapped in your own shared sensibilities.

I have heard from too many Christians who can’t seem to ever find healthy fellowship. Unless they are in legitimate transition and I’m not talking ten years, folks, more often than not they share the same characteristic – they only want or know a Jesus of their own creation.

I also have visited too many “organic” or similarly-described fellowships that are anemic and insular. More often than not, they too share the same characteristic – they only want or know a Jesus of their own creation.

Finding Fellowship

So you want life and real fellowship? Good. Let the dynamic, authentic life of Christ be birthed in you – and then seek out…… read more via Finding Ekklesia | Crossroad Junction.

Church Leadership

Here is an article I am reading which I found on ‘Church Expatriates’. The author has given us much to consider and to truly ask ourselves some very good and possibly pointed questions regarding church leadership. I hope you will take the time to read it completely before drawing any conclusion, whether pro or con. Then please submit comments, [again] no matter pro or con, as well. In so doing we all may learn and grow in Christ.

Remember this passage as we endeavor together to live for Him who gave His life for all of us.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:1-10 emphasis added)


CHURCH LEADERSHIP
The biggest reason why so much confusion exists around the term “Church Leadership”
today is because of the system of control within which the Bride of Christ is attempting to function. The intricate web of politics and the man-made hierarchies are suffocating the Body with its pious regulations, making the Body bend forwards and backwards at its will. In contrast, the majority of people who have a title of some sort stuck before their names within the contemporary church seem to be thriving within the system they have helped to create. The one group is struggling and the other is thriving – doesn’t there seem to be some sort of correlation here? Continue reading

WOW!

Wow, what a trip! We returned home May 26th after being out on the road since April 23rd. In that time frame we drove 21,239 miles! 😮  I thank God for His protection!!

We expect to be gone again in a few days. So hopefully, I’ll be able to post a bit and share some of the other blogs I have read recently while also taking care of things that need to be done here at home. 🙂
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It is amazing at how the pace of life changes from one area to another here in America. From easy and laid back to a high fever pitch.

These reach into every aspect of an individual’s day to day life and whether at home, work, or play it seems the pace never changes. I have encountered many folks in my travels, through the years and even recently, in which this has given me pause for reflection.

Have I, in my pace [whatever it may be] without judging, expecting repayment or accolades, shared the love of Christ through….
– seeing and helping the hurting?
– giving help to those less fortunate than I?
– grieving with those who grieve?
– etc, etc.

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Rom. 12:15  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Also see Matthew 25:34-46

Think of this as well…..

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
(James 2:14-18)

Too many times we pass up, as followers of Christ, “…doing unto the least.”
We get so caught up in our own lives that we are blinded by self.
People forget that we are to BE Christ and not just talk about Him nor to even plan or program what we intend to do except BE Him to others in spite of our differences.
We are to be spontaneous in being Jesus to those around us.

Jesus said, in John 12:32,  “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” verse 33 says, ‘He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die’.
Yet I believe it goes even further.
If we lift up Jesus in our lives, let His life be seen and truly live in us, then HE will draw others to Himself.

Just as the chorus says from the song by Casting Crowns ‘If We Are The Body’,
But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

Jesus loves us as we are! He will clean us as we surrender to Him!
Jesus was known as ‘friend of sinners’!
Jesus came to redeem us!