Archive for the 'Pastoral ministry' Category

26
Mar
09

The Gospel is not about me

I was recently reading through Mark Dever’s book “The Deliberate Church” and ran across the following.

“The Gospel is not ultimately about me.

It is about God’s glory, and gathering worshipers for Himself who will worship Him in spirit and truth. It is about God vindicating His holiness by punishing Christ for the sins of all those who repent and believe. It is about making a name for Himself in the world by gathering people and separating them to Himself for the spread of His fame to the nations.

“Benefit evangelism” fills our churches with people who are taught to expect everything to go their way just because they became Christians. But Jesus promises persecution for following Him, not worldly perks (John 15:18-16:4; cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). We want to build Christians and churches who persevere through hardship, who are willing to suffer and be persecuted and even die for the Gospel of Christ, because they value God’s glory more than the temporal benefits of conversion. We don’t want people to become Christians because it will reduce their stress. We want them to become Christians because they know they need to repent of their sins, believe in Jesus Christ, and joyfully take up their cross and follow Him for the glory of God.

There are indeed wonderful benefits to the Christian life; but being God-centered in our evangelism by focusing less on the temporal benefits and more on God’s character and plan makes for more Christians ready to suffer, and more churches motivated by God’s glory.”

I thought Pastor Mark’s words summed up our mission and motive for establishing a new church in Ada.

The motive for our ministry in Ada is to establish God’s glory in and then through the church then to the world around us. We intend on doing this by building this ministry on God-centered worship that comes through Bible-driven exposition and Christ-centered worship as opposed to man-centered worship.

We desire this so that they may see the manifold wisdom of God through the church to the praise of God’s grace.

Ephesians 3:7-12 (ESV)

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

To find out more about our mission and our heart please go to our website.

Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Ada, Oklahoma

http://sovereigngracebc.wordpress.com

20
Mar
09

I love the smell of Sheep!

As you may know we are embarking on a new journey in church planting in Ada, Oklahoma. This new ministry has given me much to pray and ponder about lately. In preparation for the journey I have been looking at the lives of other pastors in the past to help prepare my own heart to “shepherd the flock of God” in the present.

Lately I have found myself reading about the ministry of R.C. Chapman who was referred to by C.H. Spurgeon as “The saintliest man I ever knew.”

Men like Chapman and Spurgeon give me great hope and great guidance in serving as God’s undershepherd. The following thoughts from R.C. Chapman have been in my mind and heart for some months now and I have found them to be a source of joy. I love to hear fellow pastors express their joy and love in serving as undershepherds and their testimony only fuels my burning desire to honor Christ by loving His sheep. I find great delight in the pursuit of loving and leading Christ’s church as a result of testimony and advice I have discovered here in Chapman’s life and ministry. Much of the following is derived from Alexander Strauch and Robert L. Peterson’s booklet on “Agape Leadership”.

“For those who are to exercise any office in the Church – that of evangelist, pastor- it is not knowledge and utterance only which are needed; but also, and above all, grace and an unblameable [lifestyle]…

Our joy in Christ speaks a language that all hearts can understand, and is a testimony for Him, such as mere knowledge and utterance can never give…

The figure of the mote [log] in the eye [Matthew 7] shows what skill and tenderness he has need of who would be a reprover to his brother. Who would trust so precious a member as the eye to a rough, unskillful hand?…”

R.C. Chapman

Chapman was never rough or harsh with people. Describing him, a friend said that Chapman was ‘bold as a lion and gentle as a nurse.” His model of handling others was God himself…

Chapman once said:

“Do we meet with unkindness from brethren? Instead of shooting our bitter words at them, let us judge ourselves; and endeavor, in love and wisdom, to overcome evil with good.”

Chapman found no satisfaction when a problem of sin and unrepentance had to be resolved by disfellowship from the church. He continued praying for restoration. Chapman cautioned that we must remember God’s love toward us when dealing with the sin of others.

“In reproving sin in others, we should remember the ways of the Holy Spirit of God towards us. He comes as the Spirit of love; and whatever His rebukes, He wins the heart by mercy and forgiveness through Christ.”

As a good undershepherd Chapman was constantly looking out for his sheep individually. He desired to encourage and equip them to serve others in the body of Christ by the exercise of their spiritual gifts.

“The Church, the body of Christ,” he said “cannot rise above its present low estate until there be a conscience in the members of fulfilling each one his office in the body.”

Chapman believed his responsibility, as pastor was to help people individually as well as corporately develop their faith in the Lord by laboring alongside them one on one.

“The lonely, the mournful, the friendless, the tempted, the defected, the despised, the forsaken, the outcast, Christ will wait on each one of them, whatever his case, as though that one were His only charge.

By this exact and special oversight of each member of His body, how precious, how lovely, how glorious, does Christ appear!”

As wonderful as Chapman’ testimony has proved to be as a minister of Christ I find that the Apostle Paul sums up my heart and the heart of all men who desire pastoral ministry better than anyone in 1 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ESV)

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

As I ponder the responsibilities of pastoral ministry I am reminded that pastors like other Christians are ambassadors of Jesus Christ – we are called to be His representatives to the flock!

Pastors must be known by their clean hearts, clean hands, and clean conversation.

These traits are only possibly by grace alone that is why pastors must lean upon Christ in order to lead like Christ.

Pastors are called to be examples for the flock to follow as they follow Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:11-12

Prescribe and teach these things.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

“It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

I love the smell of sheep!

Pastor Randy

Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Ada, Oklahoma

Dedicated to the doctrines of grace and expressing those doctrines with grace.

 

(A church plant in progress for the glory of God and the good of the saints!)

06
Mar
09

Declare His Glory!

Psalms 96:1-13 (ESV)
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

01
Mar
09

Preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes

George Whitefield,

“Yea, that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ.

And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace.

They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat.

They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

Seek the supremacy of Christ in all you do and all you do will be glorious!
Pastor Randy

26
Feb
09

Spurgeon’s Burden

I want to share some words with you from the “prince of preachers” Charles Haddon Spurgeon these words were taken from sermons preached during the years of 1855-1889.

Spurgeon’s words are compelling, convicting and Christ honoring. I pray they will stir our souls to worship the Lord Jesus more fervently and move us to obey His commands more excellently.

The burden of a preacher…
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay…

Do we really believe that sinners will be damned forever? Do we think about their fate very often, if ever? Or do we busy ourselves in the work of the Lord, and never bother to implore them to come to the Savior? In general, the modern pulpit is deathly silent when it comes to the horrors of Hell. When do we hear preaching about the reality of the Lake of Fire or of the terrible wrath of God? Such themes aren’t popular with modern preachers. They never have been. They are not popular with me. Other topics are more attractive, but preachers must not ignore the fate of the lost, because if we do, we run the risk of it also being ignored in the pews…

If we don’t implore the world to turn from sin it’s because we don’t truly believe God’s Word. We cannot be so deathly cold, so evil-hearted as to not care. We haven’t let the reality of Hell sink into our minds and soften our hard hearts. The fact of its existence should horrify us beyond words, and then it should be reflected in our prayers and in our preaching.”

“The burden, which the preacher of God bears, is for God and on Christ’s behalf, and for the good of men. He has a natural instinct, which makes him care for the souls of others, and his anxiety is that none should perish, but that all should find salvation through Jesus Christ…”

“You cannot preach conviction of sin unless you have suffered it. You cannot preach repentance unless you have practiced it. You cannot preach faith unless you have exercised it. You may talk about these things, but there will be no power in the talk unless what is said has been experimentally proved in your own soul. It is easy to tell when a man speaks what he has made his own, or when he deals in secondhand experience…”

The proper use of the Bible…
“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself!”

“The sermons that are most likely to convert people seem to me to be those that are full of truth, truth about the fall, truth about the Law, truth about human nature and its alienation from God, truth about Jesus Christ, truth about the Holy Spirit, truth about the Everlasting Father, truth about the new birth, truth about obedience to God and how we learn it, and all such great verities. Tell your hearers something, dear bretheren, whenever you preach, tell them something, tell them something!”

“Preach Christ or nothing; do not dispute or discuss except with your eye on the cross.”
“They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore, the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place…
The Law is the surgeon’s knife that cuts out the proud flesh that the wound may heal. The Law by itself only sweeps and raises the dust, but the gospel sprinkles clean water upon the dust, and all is well in the chamber of the soul. The Law kills; the gospel makes alive. The Law strips, and then Jesus Christ comes in and robes the soul in beauty and glory. All the commandments and all the types direct us to Christ, if we will heed their evident intent.”

“I do not think I can preach more, for a faintness has come over me, nor is there need for more if you will but chew the cud of this one precious truth: Jesus is the Lamb which God provided, and He is the Lamb, which God Himself presented at the altar. Yet, I must rouse myself to say a little more. Who was it that sacrificed the Lamb of God? Who was the priest on that dread day? Who was it that bruised Him? Who put Him to grief? Who caused Him the direst pang of all when He cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Was it not the Father Himself? This was one point in the hardness of Abraham’s test – “Take now your son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him a sacrifice.” He must himself officiate at the sacrifice. This the great Father did! He is the Lamb, the Lamb of God. And now today the bright side of this truth remains. He is the Lamb that God always accepts, must accept, glories to accept. Bring but Jesus with you, and you have brought God an acceptable sacrifice.”

20
Feb
09

Mission All

We hear a lot of talk in Christian circles today about going into the mission field but just what is our mission and where is the mission field located?

When it comes to the issue of missions we all tend to think about third world countries, swamps and mountainous tribal people but what about the mission field in our neighboring cities?

What about those cities and towns all around us that are filled with man-centered churches rather than Christ-centered churches.
There is no shortage of “program” driven groups organized by men who are great motivators but where are the Bible-driven churches that are filled with men who are called by God to be humble expositors?

Maybe our mission field is closer than we think.

What is our mission?
The Apostle Paul gave Timothy very powerful God inspired instruction regarding this very issue in 2 Timothy. “Preach the Word” Timothy that is your mission.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Our mission is to feed people the life giving Word of God.
This task is not limited to taking the gospel to people in far off lands. We are also called to take the Word of God to all those who are starving and in need of the bread of life.

We are commanded by the Lord Jesus to go into the entire world and make learners, baptize believers and teach them to observe what Christ commands. This commission was given to the church hence the need of planting new churches in areas where this is not being accomplished.

This commission is not aimed at just going to a foreign land or our respective communities and just dropping gospel crumbs and leaving. We are called to go and proclaim the Gospel and establish biblical churches.
This commission encompasses going to all people wherever they are and feeding them the bread of life one verse at a time, reproving, rebuking, exhorting and patiently teaching those who are starving for the truth. This mission requires the establishment of biblical churches. Once churches are established they are to prayerfully continue sending others out to plant new churches elsewhere.

The church of Jesus Christ was established to equip the saints for ministry so that we might take the gospel to those all around us and this commission is given to local churches. Imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to send new converts to a city and know that in that city there is a solid bible teaching church. That desire will not be fulfilled until someone obeys Christ’s commission to go into the entire world and see churches established for the glory of God.

If you have eyes to see you will notice that the mission field is all around us. Today we are experiencing a famine of great proportions even here in the Bible belt and the need for biblical churches here may be greater than ever before. The result of this famine is that souls that are hungry for truth and seek to hear the Word proclaimed in the church find themselves starving because the Word has been set aside in many pulpits today. Sadly many pulpits have exchanged proclamation of the Word for programs of the world.

The need is all around us and the need is great but the solution is greater!
2 Timothy gives a clear warning about the problem and Paul gives us the biblical solution, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ESV)
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The churches work and mission is to proclaim truth not engineer new programs.
It is painfully obvious that many church programs we see today within evangelicalism are geared to relieve itching ears. I say this brokenheartedly I am not trying to be pious but I am trying to be honest about the need in our day. So I sadly realize that many have abandoned the God ordained means of ministry and life transformation for man-made attempts to improve our lifestyle. This does not have to be so because God has given us His all sufficient Word and Spirit that gives “all things that relate to life and godliness.”

The church of Jesus Christ has not been commissioned to improve your lifestyle. The church was commissioned to proclaim God’s objective truth as revealed in scripture. The Word of God has the inherent power to change the hearts and lives of all that believe. So the overarching mission of the church is to bring the people of God this life giving Word of truth. This is accomplished by a clear-impassioned precise explanation of the Word of God. Biblical exposition brings the Words of eternal life to those who have ears to hear and transforms people into instruments of God’s grace. Those transformed by the Word will go into the world around them and that is the mission of the church.

Over the last two years the Lord has opened my eyes and my heart to see this desperate need in our communities and has provided a solution. Souls need to be fed and led to the living water and bread of life found in the Holy Scriptures.

There are souls all around us who are hungering and thirsting after God’s glorious Word yet they have no place to go to find food nor drink. As I look out over the spiritual landscape of the Bible belt I am all to aware that even with all that is around us many are starving to death in communities where church buildings abound.

Those who are starving for God‘s Word often look in vain for life giving truth in many pulpits today. Many people are looking for spiritual food and instead find man-made placebos proclaimed in the pulpit rather than God ordained truth. This compels me all the more to reconsider why those who are called to ministry must take up the commission of Christ and go wherever the need arises.

The need is great all around us and the saddest part is that many men behind those pulpits do not even know that they are replacing the life giving Word in exchange for bankrupt systems of the world. I believe this has happened because many of today’s church leaders are more informed by Wall Street and Corporate American rather than by reading their Bibles. Just look where Corporate America has led us lately, right into bankruptcy and decline this is not the model the church should follow.

We are called to be mission minded and willing to bring people the solution.
When it comes to fulfilling our mission we are given a divine solution that is based on an infallible Word that contains eternal promises. The great commission is most easily displayed in the establishment of Word-centered churches. The restoration of souls and the recovery of our churches within the Bible belt is necessary today and possible by God‘s sovereign grace. That restoration and recovery must start by men willing to step out and see new churches planted for the glory of God. Men of God must be willing today to take this radical step because all to often those who have been called to stand on the rock of the Word in all to many pulpits have slipped off into the sinking sand of the world.

Many of today’s leaders are spiritually bankrupt because they constantly seek to exegete the cultural rather than trying to learn how to exegete a text in context. All to often churches have built their ministry on the sandy ground of shifting culture rather than the solid rock of scripture.

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Sadly, today some churches have gradually replaced Bible exposition with man-centered medicine. These churches have reinterpreted Christ’s commission. Many think the mission of the church is to satisfy felt needs of sinful men rather than administering the life giving Words of God that exposes the heart of sinful men and ministers to our real need of salvation and sanctification. The mission of the church is to administer the double-edged sword of God’s Word. The Word of God alone accurately handled can plunge into the heart and bring healing in its wake this is the churches mission as ordained by God.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

It is now obvious the mission field is closer than you may have realized.
Just look around and when you see men and women starving as they roam from church to church in search of life sustaining food and fellowship you know you have arrived at your mission field. The only way to end this famine and feed the starving is for someone to take the life giving Word of God to these dying souls.

Who should be going into our neighboring communities reaching the lost and feeding the saints? That mission must begin with those who are called and equipped and willing to go out into the neighboring cities, and to the ends of the earth to establish Bible-driven churches that shepherd the flock of God and love His sheep.

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Here is our own domestic mission field.
The mission field is in plain sight and our mission is clear to those who have eyes to see. The mission should begin with prayer and then move us into action. We must long to see the establishment of biblical Christ honoring churches in every city. The mission is to see churches established that would faithfully hold forth the scriptures. We must strive to accomplish this mission through expositional teaching and expositional living and loving one another according to scripture. We see the power of that kind of missionary effort in the book of Acts as well as in Paul’s pastoral admonition to Timothy.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that,
15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.

The mission of planting gospel-centered churches is not some new revelation.
God has ordained the establishment of Word-driven churches at Pentecost. The church is God’s ordained means of reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ. It is not a new revelation to go establish churches when the need appears and it is obvious that there is a real need all around us today.

The good news is that there is a real solution for those who desire to see God’s name honored among the nations around us today and desire to obey His call.
Those who are called and qualified should fearfully and joyfully obey this call. There should be a burden, a passion and a prepared heart and life.

This is not a small undertaking. I have observed in others who have planted gospel driven churches that this is a labor of love but it is most assuredly laborious. The price may be great but I do not think from what I have observed that there could be any greater joy for the man of God than to see God‘s people in every city loving and living in His Word.

Now that we see the need and know where the mission field is the next question to ask is when should people go into this mission field?
Do we wait until we have forty people or more or funding from other groups? Or could it be that God might use a handful of people that resemble Gideon’s army so that He gets the glory and not us?

Maybe God could use just twelve people or maybe even one or two, to turn the world upside down, establish churches, care for the hurting, proclaim liberty and set the captives free!

“We are not mighty, noble or strong” but by God’s grace and for His glory those gifted and called can go and must go. Those called will also want to go into the world and proclaim God‘s gospel message of sovereign grace and establish Christ exalting churches for His glory and the good of His people.

Soli Deo Gloria

Pastor Randy

12
Feb
09

A Compelling Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ephesians 3:8-12 (ESV)
Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Through the Church the manifold wisdom of God is made known, through the Church God has called us to reach  all the nations as well as the communities we live in. Through the church people are to be discipled, baptized, taught and edified through the explantion of God’s Word so that the eternal purpose of God would be accomplished. That purpose is to open blinded eyes to the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
God compels us to obey this commission.

This subject has been heavy on my heart for sometime now.
As hard as I try I cannot escape the burden I see all around, it seems God has captured my heart and my mind regarding this need.

It breaks my heart to think about the how great the need is for “gospel-driven” churches that preach the Word in season and out through exposition and living, loving application.

This heartache can be a motive for heart-action, we must all commit to pray, plan and persevere in seeing the great commission accomplished through the planting of Christ-Focused churches. I see the need all around and yet as I look around I see that we need to be compelled to obey this command. Pray this my heartache will produce heart-action.

God has given us a compelling commission.
In the excerpt from the article below Mr. Newton helped me see this need with new eyes.

Phil Newton – Founders Journal
In a given community where there are plenty of church buildings with dying congregations limping through the motions of Christian worship but no viable gospel ministry, no passion for the lost, no missionary spirit, and no one willing to engage the culture with the gospel, then it’s time to plant a church! The goal, however, is not to trample on the existing churches. Perhaps in God’s mercy, existing but lethargic churches will be reinvigorated by a new church planted in their area. The new church will focus on reaching the unchurched that the existing churches are not reaching; and the new church will become a refuge for gospel-starved believers that struggle through their membership in gospel-weak churches.

Accompanying biblical, theological and geographical reasons for new churches is the desire to see Christ magnified and honored through churches that are unashamedly gospel-driven. Not given to the latest fads or gimmicks to attract uninterested people, gospel-focused new churches seek to display in their relationships, worship, preaching and ministry the centrality of Christ’s glory in the church. Unfortunately, many existing churches are depressingly void of Christ’s glory. They have organization, programs, liturgy and money but the savor of Christ and His gospel is noticeably absent. They may draw numbers and claim converts but lack the distinctively biblical marks of a church. In such a setting, it’s time to plant a new church for the sake of Christ’s glory in a community.

The New Testament offers many images to describe the church: the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), God’s household (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15), dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22), the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). That last picture of the church as the bride of Christ reminds us of the constant goal that must motivate our church organization and ministry. Rather than being shaped by the marketing techniques of the world, the church must prepare for the eternal marriage with Christ. He gave Himself for the church to sanctify and cleanse her “by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Yet many churches lack the evidence of Christ’s sanctifying work. Could it be that many are nothing more than religious organizations with Christian titles? New churches must be planted that live with the passion to do all that they do to the glory of Christ…
(full article is found on http://www.founder.org)

I am learning that God’s commission is irresistibly compelling to those called to this work. Those who are compelled must pray that God would establish new churches that preach the Word and carry out the great commission. We must pray that God would use whatever means it takes to see that happen even if it means using “clay pots” like ourselves so that His name would be great among the nations.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (NASB)
5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

Pastor Randy