Archive for May, 2013

What Do Yinz Think?

Posted: May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Unlike some languages, like Spanish, which has differentiating words for second personal singular/plural pronouns, the English language uses the word “you” to refer to one individual or a group of people. This can be confusing sometimes, especially if one does not read the Bible carefully. For example, in the ESV Jeremiah 29:11 reads like this: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This is a popular verse because people apply it to their own life and believe the promise from God is to give them a bright and hopeful future. Although this might be true in a person’s life, this verse is not a promise from God for them. The “you’s” in this verse are plural indicating that God is speaking to the nation of Israel as a whole. This is a perfect example of why we shouldn’t pull our favorite verses out of context without understanding the whole.

I use Chrome for my web browser and recently came across this little plug-in. When I go to a Bible site for reading or studying it will change the second personal pronoun “you” into a local dialect. For example, if you live in Texas, you can change it to to read “Ya’ll” every time the plural version of “you” appears. In Pittsburgh, when you are talking to a group of people you say “yinz.” Therefore, in Pittsburgh, one could read Jeremiah 29:11 like this: “For I know the plans I have for yinz, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give yinz a future and a hope.”  Since we are moving to Pittsburgh soon I have decided to install this plugin in order to get used to hearing the word “yinz.” I have also found it helpful because I can clearly see the instances of when the word “you” is supposed to be read in the plural and not in the singular. I don’t see this plug-in changing the way English is spoken, but it’s still a fun little way to help us understand God’s Word a little better.

This article was published at Churchplanting.com by Scott Thomas. It’s so good and resonated with me so much that I wanted to share some of the highlights and my thoughts…

“The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches,” according to Peter Wagner (1990), former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Denominations and mission boards are investing much time, money and personnel into church planting. Why is there so much interest in church planting?

1. People Need the Gospel

New Churches make disciples more proficiently than established churches (Matthew 28:16-20).

Church plants reach different people groups.

Church plants can reach a whole different demographic of people by strategically positioning ministries poised to serve the community in fresh and effective ways. 

2. Communities Need Churches of Reconciliation

More education, more sports options, more parks, more community centers or more gun laws do not answer the brokenness in the community. The real need in a community is a reconciled relationship with God through Jesus.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (Ephesians 2:13-15, ESV, emphasis added)

David T Olson said in his book, The American Church in Crisis, that every state in the US has experienced a decline in church attendance percentage. Planting new churches is Olson’s main solution to this church attendance decline in America. He claimed that denominations needed to plant at least two percent of the total number in the denomination to keep pace with population growth (Olson, 2008). Olson warned that if the evangelical church wanted to survive, established churches “must courageously strive towards health and growth” and they must “actively plant new churches” while denominations support the local congregations in these essential church-planting endeavors (Olson, 2008). 

3. God Needs Laborers for His Harvest

Jesus saw the crowds of people who were like sheep without a shepherd. His response was for the disciples to pray for more harvesters (Matthew 9:35-38).

Our God is a sending God whose harvesters gather His people together to send them into other places to gather and scatter. God sent His Son Jesus into the world to save and redeem it from the curse placed upon all mankind. Jesus sent the church as laborers to make disciples of people of all nations. Where this is practiced and adhered as the battle cry of Jesus, more churches will be necessary to handle the births of new believers.

4. Christ, the Head of the Church, Needs a Body

It seems heretical to say that Christ needs anything. But Christ chose to use His spiritual body as the means to represent Himself to the world. The local church is a representative of Christ’s body in that community. To call a church’s mission “incarnational” (as some do) is somewhat belittling to the incarnation of God as Jesus.

A better term may be representational (as Andreas Kostenberger said). This simply means that the church embodies the Spirit, words and activities of Jesus Christ, especially amongst those in the community. The incarnation of God was fully accomplished by sending Jesus in a human body to live among humans in order to seek and to be able to save them from their sins. The new church plant seeks to become Christ’s representative in a specific local community or region. A church does not exist just for its own interests; it exists for the greater good of the community in which it resides—and that to bring glory to God. To properly represent Christ, a church embeds itself into the community with the clear message of hope through the One who can save them from their sins (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

5. The Local Church Needs a Reproducing Mission

Aubrey Malphurs believes that the secret to a vibrant Christianity is a pregnant church, culminating in reproduction. He emphasized the importance of a sending church preparing itself for reproduction (Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting, Malphurs, 2011). As a church is developing leaders, clarifying vision, sending people and resources, articulating doctrines and strategizing for mission, it will have a spiritual vibrancy accompanying these pre-birth activities.

In a scientific research project done in a PhD dissertation researching 624 SBC churches that had planted a church, attendance rose 21.5% for the five years after a church plant. Additionally, monetary growth was favorable in 7 of the 8 variables tested, including designated gifts (77% increase) and tithes (48%). (Source: Jeffrey C. Farmer, 2007).

A church on mission prioritizes its sending capacity over its seating capacity. This reproductive generosity brings health to the mother church as well as to the baby churches.
Read more here: Five Reasons for Church Planting – ChurchPlanting.com

My thoughts:”The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

There are many places in America that are ripe for harvest, especially in the cities. New churches are the best way to reach lost people  for three reasons: 1) they tend to reach people with the gospel who have never been involved with church, 2) they tend to reach people who have not been a part of a church for many years, and 3) new churches are appealing to people who have recently moved.

It was helpful to see how beneficial it is to be a supporting church of a church plant. It would seem like sending money and people away from the mother church would lessen the Kingdom-impact of that church. However, from the studies done by SBC, the opposite occurs. A sending church becomes a growing church.

I was reading a book that I picked up for free the other day, and this book was worth every penny. It’s called Ir-rev-rend, and it was written by a pastor of a large church in South Carolina. He had good intentions in writing the book. He says he wanted to tell stories and help people in their faith. I think he was trying let people know that pastors are real people by telling cute stories that were supposed to be funny. Overall, I did not think the book was funny, cute, or faith-building. It had a few good stories, but I don’t think it would help someone in their Christian faith because I don’t remember him talking about Jesus or the gospel at all. 

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One of the worst stories in the book was when he mentioned that he did not like to tell people that he was a pastor whenever they asked him what he did for a living. I can relate to what he was saying. It’s interesting because some people will clam up when they find out I’m a pastor, some will take a more defensive posture, and some will start sharing stuff with me that I never asked about. But no matter how people react, as pastors, we cannot apologize, gloss over, or even misrepresent what we do. The author of the book “joked” that his response to such a questions is to respond by saying that he is a “behavior modification specialist who does weekend lectures.” As I think about my calling as a pastor, I don’t even think for a second that I would come up with an answer (even jokingly) such as this. In my short time as a pastor, I have come to realize that I cannot change anyone’s behavior. Granted, maybe I could make a rule and force people to follow it for a short time. But I have not modified their behavior long term or have changed their heart at all. Only God can do that through the Holy Spirit. Secondly, when pastors preach they are not giving a lecture, but rather proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ through God’s Word. I understand that his answers and much of this book was written in a light hearted manner. But after reading this book, it makes me wonder if other pastors sincerely focus on changing people’s behavior by giving a lecture instead of preaching God’s Word to affect people’s hearts. 

World Population

Posted: May 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

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This picture represents how concentrated the population of the world really is. Two thoughts come to my mind when I reflect on this picture. First of all, we tend to think the world revolves around the people in North America or Europe. However, it appears that by judging by the mass of people we should value India and China more. Secondly, in my opinion much of the focus of American missions seems to be focused on Africa, especially when talking about the need for providing adequate food and water. While this is important, maybe we should also be emphasizing the larger needs in the east as well.

Using controversy to proclaim the gospel

Chris Broussard is an analyst for ESPN. After Jason Collins became the first professional basketball player to announce that he is a homosexual, ESPN interviewed Chris Broussard, a Christian, to get his opinion. I was amazed at how well he did in that interview. He did not sound ignorant or unkind in any way. He defended his position using the Bible as his foundation calling homosexuality a sin. I was even impressed by how he anticipated the backlash and tried to get in front of it by saying that his homosexual friends are tolerant of his views just as he is tolerant of theirs. 

What is even more impressive is how well Chris Broussard did in this follow up interview on a morning radio program. He was unwavering. He was clear. And his authority was not an opinion of his own, but clearly came from Scripture. I believe all Christians can learn a lot from Chris Broussard on how to use conversations, even difficult public ones, to proclaim the good news that we are all sinners but Jesus came to save us.