Are they fooling themselves?

Ok, I will come right out and say it! 

Many that go to church each weekend, most weekends, and some weekends are fooling themselves if they think they are Christians. Image result for Raising hands in church pictures

Why would I say this?  Christians are followers of Jesus Christ.  Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ.  Christians are active members of His Body that are led by Him; He is the head.

  • Can you be saved and not be a disciple of Christ? Can you be a disciple and not be part of the body that is fit together and directed by Jesus Christ?  Can you be saved and not be part of the body of Christ?
    • If you said yes to any of the above, I challenge you to look at all the scriptures and not just the ones that seem to support your view. Look into them and pray for understanding on how they all fit together.  I believe you will find as I do that the answer to each question is “no.”

I have several friends who are pastors, and we talk regularly and have had many discussion on what we see as a major issue that affects the churches in the area.  We survive in a society that is becoming more and more self-centered, has less respect for authority, less respect for other’s viewpoints, and less feeling of responsibility to and for others.  These aspects have infiltrated the hearts of many in the church body.  (Read 1 John)

The mindset of “what is the church giving to me.”I see this becoming the norm and replacing the biblical base of “how can I be used of God to help those in His Body, the church?”

  • It this the heart and mindset of a person that truly believes in Jesus Christ? A mindset of one who truly understands how their sins are forgiven?  A mindset of one who knows the door to eternal life and to live in the presence of our Creator has been opened?  The mindset of one who understands this all was possible because of what our Lord Jesus Christ did through His death, resurrection, and ascension?  That our salvation is only because of His Grace and Love?
  • To attend church without these foundational beliefs operating in one’s life I have to ask, “Is that person save?”
  • To be “In Christ,” to be part of “His Body,” to be “Born Again,” to be “Saved,” are all much greater than simply attending church!

You may be asking “Pastor John, what is occurring that has stirred you up to write this?”

Well, it is not an incident that has occurred but a general change in attitude I have been witnessing in those that attend church over the past thirty years.

  • Less interest by many that attend church in the Scriptures, Gospel, and Truth and more interest in music and programs.
  • Worship is becoming more of an emotional environment lead by excellent musicians and singers and less on worship from the heart for Who God is and what He has and is doing.
  • Involvement in church, body, activities are becoming optional based on what a person perceives they will get out of it instead of looking at each activity is an opportunity to share with and edify others in the body that are present.
  • The internet and numerous Christian TV networks are creating an army of self-proclaimed These experts are parrot out the theological flavor of the month or some other personal belief they found support for on the internet. The teaching of the elders, teachers, and pastor become minimized, and the experts’ unstudied belief is preeminent to the point they will not listen to another’s viewpoint even when the scriptures are behind the different view.

When you read the books in the New Testament, the picture of the church body as a tight community, caring about each other and being responsible to one another stands out loud and clear.

What I am seeing develop in the churches today is the replacement of this biblical view with one that places more value on the numbers that attend, music, programs, and priority of church involvement have dropped close to the bottom.

  • Biblical priority as I see it: 1) God, our Lord Jesus Christ 2) Spouse and family 3) Church body 4) Personal time, work, community…
  • The Priority that I see developing: 1)Self & personal time 2)Work 3)Family 4)Church 5)God

What can be done?

Now is the time for those truly committed to Christ to live their belief like never before.  To talk and encourage those coming to church but not committed to Christ to take the step into seeking Jesus Christ in prayer and the scriptures.

The purpose for this post has been mostly to vent, and more on what true believers can do to encourage the church going lost will be shared in later posts.

In Jesus Name, John

Do We Really Want Unity?

The Challenge of Unity in the Face of Denominationalism

You may agree with my view or not and that is fine, but seeking unity in the church within the denominational backdrop seems very contradictory.

I am a pastor of a non-denomination church.  A frequent question asked deals with my thoughts on denominations versus non-denomination and unit of the body of Christ.

Let me first state I have developed great friendships and relationships with several pastors in my area who lead denominational churches.  Baptists, Assemblies, Vineyard, and others.  We have a bond of brotherhood that has turned into a true strength for each of us.  We meet each week to pray and talk, sharing lessons we are teaching, bible discussions, issues we may be having and prayer.  Over time many the walls that have separated us because of our denominational associations have slowly disappeared brick by brick. We have come a long way in our overcoming division in our move toward unity.

As a non-denominational pastor, I do see the benefit of being part of a denominational organization.  Denominational pastors have available to them and the church they lead resources over and above what is available to a non-denominational church.

  • Financial availability, advice, and direction
  • Discipline issues regarding the pastor or other church leaders
  • Teaching support programs
    • Seminaries and universities
  • Coaching support for new or young pastors and leaders

Being part of a denomination does have its strengths, but it also creates a real challenge to unity in the church within a community.  I love my fellow brothers who pastor denominational churches around me, but no matter how sincere hearts are, divisions exist within the body.  There are formal and informal rules that create these divisions.  Think about why there are denominations in the first place.  They were not created to advance the Christian influence and ministries but created because of differences in beliefs. (1Co 1:10 NKJV Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.)

I am sure all believers and disciples of Jesus Christ would love to see a powerful body that works together strengthening and edifying the entire body.  For the church to show the unbelievers the love of Jesus Christ by our love one for another. (Joh 13:35 NKJV By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”)
I cannot see how the unity of the body of Christ will occur with denominationalism in place as it is today.  Why keep the denominational names and ties unless there is a need to keep some semblance of individual identity.

My brother pastors are awesome men and smarter than me for sure.  I am a simple pastor and a believer in Jesus Christ and the simplicity of the Gospel that struggles with the whole notion and concept of denominations.

I can only imagine what our Lord Jesus Christ would tell us if He physically visited us here in the United States.   Would He start with the moral decay we are witnessing in our society, or rebuke us in the church for our thought process and lack of unit?  I am thinking the latter, for if we were as unified as the early church was, we probably would not have the problems in the church we presently have.  It is hard to influence society when the church is not that much different many times.

  • Divorce
  • Drugs
  • Pornography
  • Love of money
  • Love of self

Shall I go on?

You may agree with my view or not and that is fine, but please do not forget to pray that His Spirit influences the hearts of the leaders God has placed in His Body here in America, to do His Will and create the unity in the church body that glorifies Him and effectively does His Will. (1Co 12:25 NKJV that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.)

God Bless, John, the simple pastor

The Church’s Greatest Opportunity

What do I see as the greatest opportunity presently in the Christian church in America?

  • To fulfill this commandment given by Jesus: John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

It is because of the present situation within the church that presents such barriers to attempt to accomplish this that I say this.

To start with let’s look at some present challenges I see that are symptoms or the real problem:

  • Sectarianism and division caused by denominationalism.
    • To start with, Non-believers are confused when looking at our divisions. It becomes challenging to determine who is correct.  The Bible even comes into question because denominations and churches profess they base their belief in the it, yet there exists so many differences among us.  There even seems to be variations of denominations within denominations!
      • They ask themselves “is there actually a truth?”
    • Judging one another stops the interaction of God’s Love among us. There is judgement as one denomination or group places themselves as “more right” than the others.
      • This judgement of one another must stop if we wish the commandment given by Jesus to be fulfilled.
      • This is also a stumbling block we place in front of the lost. Christians are seen by non-believers as being judgmental not just because of our beliefs and stands on present social issues, but it is confirmed by how churches and denominations judge one another.
    • The actual and perceived hypocrisy occurring in the church.
      • How we preach that God is King, to live a righteous life and follow what He commands but to the non-believer we appear to say one thing but live and act just like them.
        • Saying the words “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” without supporting them with a life dedicated and lived for Christ has a very hollow echo in a lost world.
        • John the Baptist said it best in Luke 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance”
      • We can leave out what Jesus commanded yet have no problem believing we are believers. Do we believe or not, it is 100% or nothing the way I see it.
    • Materialism! This can be several sermons or blog posts all by itself.  All I will say on this item is most churches and believers are held within its grasp and we don’t even recognize it.  What decisions do we make that the thought of how it will affect us financially does not come into play?  For most it is hard enough just giving out of our abundance and could not imagine giving sacrificially.
    • Church services have become performances, activities, programs and times of receiving. Feelings have replaced the Gospel.  The Gospel is offensive, exposing sin, stating one must die to self, Jesus in the only way to eternal life.  This truth is how the early church grew and is the core of how churches presently are growing in areas Christians are experiencing severe persecution.  Here in America I read that people choose the church they will attend based on; Parking lot, chair comfort, music quality and does the preaching make them feel good.
      • It seems overall the interaction between brothers and sisters in the Lord is becoming less and less important.

Lack of biblical love

After considering each of these issues and their effect on the church body the answer that I have come up with as to what the greatest challenge facing the Christian church in America is the lack of biblical love shown by believers to one another. I see the lack of love, actions driven by love, as the major hurdle.  Tying love to a “feeling” is extremely shallow and does not connect with what Jesus and the Holy Spirit have shared in the Word of God.  Love is an action.

Here are some scriptures to consider and set the stage for my answer:

  • John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • 1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2)  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  (3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Overall what I have been witnessing within the church community is a move towards church services that:

  • Greater dependence on music to create a value
  • Greater dependence on “feeling” to establish relationship with our Lord
  • Greater dependence on visual presentation of materials to establish validity and impact

As the church seems to have moved towards greater dependence of the above items when Christian are judging the value of belonging to a particular church or if a church service was impactful or not, the following have tended to become less important:

  • The actual Word of God. Scriptures are cherry picked to promote the preachers message or belief and not taken in context of full text or situation the text was initially written.
    • Example: Isa_53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. & 1Pe_2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.  These versus are often used to support physical healing when the actual context is spiritual healing.
  • Basing the value of a church body or service on Biblical truth being taught, environment where discipleship grows, and full functioning body (member literally all working together to perform the will of God for the body).
  • Personal interaction between members of the body that allows each person the environment to care for help other members, to edify one another.
    • What drives a saint to assemble together for a church service it the feeling of responsibility for the other members, that you can give and not receive.

We have been commanded by our Lord to love one another as He loved/loves us.  Example of what God tells you and I to:

  • To look around the church body you are presently attending and allow the Spirit of God to flow through you in a way that whatever face you look into, you are able to prefer their needs over your own.
    • This becomes a challenge for churches as we tend to hang and interact with our friends and minimize our involvement with the others. This especially a challenge for churches over 100 people.
      • Involvement in small groups can help.
    • Treat all those within the body in a loving way that stands apart from the way the world treats one another. Joh_13:35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
      • Ask yourself what could a brother or sister in the Lord do to or for you that your friends, family or neighbors would take notice of. Then when in this mindset begin placing faces of those you go to church with and what you can do.

What the lost are seeing in the local church is we often are not fulfilling what God has commanded.

They see us as acting just like them and in turn they do not witness the power of God active in a person’s life.  Not only are they not witnessing our love in the local assembly, but what do you think the non-believers think when the see absolutely no love between churches.  They see the judgement and competition between us, not the love.

To conclude, please consider praying on how to love one another, care for one another.  If Jesus literally was in the flesh in the church you attend, would you feel and know that He would be their when you needed?  Well, He said we were to love others as He loved us…for us to be Christ like then how should we live and act with those around us.

We need to grasp this commandment more than ever as the times and society are becoming more challenging by the day…

May God Bless You, John

Persecution by 1000 stones

The messages I have been sharing at church recently centered on the persecuted church.  Here in the U.S. we look at the persecution we see our brothers and sisters face in other parts of the world and pray it does not come here to greet us.  But, has it not already visited us?

The purpose of persecution is to accomplish:

  • To create fear in our hearts, to fear the ones that can injure our body or our status in society.
  • Intimidation through this fear to hinder the sharing and spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Demonizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through lies, misstatements and half truths and in effect minimize the words Christian will share.
  • To physically kill those that will not stop sharing the Truth

Here in the U.S. we presently do not fear prison, torture, or physical death, but there are key elements of persecution that are occurring.  We may not fear the bullet or sword, but we are fearing the stones that are being thrown.  We are being persecuted by 1000 stones instead of one big element as a bullet or beheading.

Is persecution by a 1000 stones actually occurring?   (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)

  • Intimidation – Look at the increase in fear and anxiety we have regarding sharing our faith in public, work, and school.  Just sharing the name of Jesus Christ in public will make many people wince.  We now often fear what people say about us when we share our belief and faith.  We are told it is “unlawful” to share.  We are told that if we disagree with teachings of evolution, homosexuality and gender issues we have no right to share our views or even believe in them, and in many cases are told we are breaking the law.  Have we have moved closer to acting as an “underground” church in many respects keeping our faith and beliefs out of the public eye?
  • Demonizing- You would be hard pressed not to agree that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word have not been demonized and minimized over the past several decades.
    • Share your belief and faith, share the truth of what God has written to us in His Word, and many times what are we told?  We are called haters, small minded, weak minded, brain washed, judgmental, intolerant….the list can go on.
    • The political process has entangle the Gospel and made it a part of a political system…something it was never intended to be.
    • Our news media, History channel and other venues on TV and the internet have done all they can to share manipulated information to minimize Jesus, His Word, and His church.

There are more examples that can be drawn out, but just looking at the two items above is it not clear that persecution by a 1000 stones is occurring?

If this is persecution, is it effective?

This type of persecution has been tied into a society that has worked for 60 or more years to rid itself of belief in God.  Add to this the belief that man is in charge and more recently the earth is in charge and man is the problem.  Compounding this with our lives of materialism and this has created a perfect scenario for the type of persecution we see here in the U.S. to be extremely effective!

Here is some data that supports this thought:

Christian growth

These are the annual growth rates (AAGR) of those claiming to be Christian in countries where severe persecution of the Christian belief occurs.

Here in the U.S. the number of people claiming to be Christians has declined by over 7% from 1990 until 2012.  I am sure that the decline has increased in the six years since 2012.  The enemy’s plan of tactics and persecution are showing to be more effective here in the U.S.  than the outright brutality of persecution used in the 10 countries that have shown the greatest increase in Christianity in the world.

So, what should you do?

  • Read 1 Peter (Peter’s letter to the persecuted church on how the body should act)
  • (Mark 8:38) Determine in yourself and your heart if you are truly a citizen in His Kingdom that will not deny his/her citizenship.
  • (Romans 12) Find a body of believers that truly care for one another, support one another.  The number in the congregation is not important, but are the fruit of the Spirit of God occurring among those in the body.

And stay tune, I am sure I will share more on this in the near future.

Christian Unity, are we strangers in this world?

We are in the world but not of the world…Christian unity needs to become a priority.  If we truly believe we are citizens of the kingdom of God and not citizens of the world, we need to treat one another as part of the same team. 

travel-photos NKJV  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  (2)  elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied….1Pe 2:9-12   But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  (10)  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.  (11)  Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,  (12)  having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

These verses expose a critical fact that many Christians never really grasp or even consider in their lives.  It can change the way they look at the world around them and the lost of this world.  It can also change the way Christians look at one another.

We are in the world but not of the world…Christian unity needs to become a priority.  If we truly believe we are citizens of the kingdom of God and not citizens of the world, we need to treat one another as part of the same team.  Unfortunately Christian denominationalism has produced a Christian Body that fights more with itself than the true enemy, Satan and his army.

Let us first look at how we view situations and the way we view others.

I live in northern Minnesota and we view people who live in various parts of the state differently.  Some people we see living in certain areas as the “rich and yuppie”. Other areas of the state are the “artsy”, and still other areas have people who we see are “clickish and clannish”.  We identify the differences they have with us and hold our identity as different and apart from them in many ways.

However, have you ever traveled to a different state or country and run into someone from Minnesota or the state you reside in?  Those differences seem to disappear and we find unity with a fellow Minnesotan.  Why is this?  It is because we are on someone else’s turf or territory and find comfort and a relationship with someone from the state we live in.  Our paradigm of how we view that person has changed and it reflects in the way we act with them.  They can easily become a friend and companion.

How does this have anything to do with the Christian Church?

The scriptures throughout the Bible make it clear this world is not our home.  The example of the Israelite’s shows how no matter where they were they were not considered welcome or part of the area.  The apostle Peter describes us, who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ, with the Greek word parepidēmos, which is defined as: one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives, a stranger, sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.

Do we act as Peter describes?  As aliens, strangers living in this world with worldly cultures and beliefs? 

  • We should see other believers that go to different fellowships as having something in common that creates a relationship of unity that supports us in the face of the “world” we live in.
  • For those that truly believe that Jesus is God and Lord and King, the world sees that in us and sees us as strangers living in their world. The Holy Spirit in us leaves an identity mark that the world sees clearly in how we act, talk and share the truth.
    • Do you find yourself trying to hide this distinguishing identity?

We as believers must get past the divisions that we have put in place with one another. 

  • Is the difference we have with another Christian fellowship really that critical that we will not nurture a relationship with them?
  • Do we place the pride in the name of the church we attend and the number that attend there over the unifying name of Jesus Christ? The tower in Babel was seen as an object that all the citizens could claim identity with and have pride in what they were a part of. (Gen 11:4)  Churches can fall into this same error with placing their identity on items like holiness standards, exercising of the gifts, number attending, and doctrinal statements that the Bible does not prove out.

We as believers in the truth and salvation in Jesus Christ need to live and share in the fight for independence from sin, Satan and the world.  We need to bind together and not separate.  What Benjamin Franklin stated to those promoting independence from England is relevant to us.  Ben stated, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

John

Tolerance or Intolerance?

Intolerant to our views but we must continue in tolerance

I just read an email from Frank Viola discussing the new environment of “tolerance” that Christians are now facing. What Frank shared hit home with me.  First, I need to share the definition of tolerance before I move on.

Tolerance:  the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with

On the surface society preaches tolerance and respect for one another.  I see bumper stickers, signs and even great looking commercials preaching the message of tolerance.  Unfortunately, what I have experience in recent years is anything but tolerant when I am asked about my Christian beliefs and views if they go against the present views of our culture and society.  My views are based on Biblical truths that often fly in the face of our present society’s moral beliefs.  I am finding that the tolerance that has been preached by many non-Christians actually means the are intolerant of everyone who doesn’t bow to their values and beliefs.

Frank Viola puts the new “tolerance” this way. “If you don’t agree with my beliefs and my value system, then you’re intolerant. “Which being interpreted means: “In the name of tolerance, I’m intolerant of everyone who doesn’t bow to my values and beliefs.”  Or   “I’m intolerant of everyone except those who agree with me, and in the name of tolerance, I will brand them intolerant.”

How should we deal with this change in culture?  We must remember the rules and parameters we live by as believers has not changed simply because society around us has and is changing.  The biblical principles of loving our neighbor as yourself, loving others as Jesus loved us (even when we were sinners and opposed to Him) should direct our actions when confronted with intolerance.

When you find that your views come in conflict with another person, we can land in a place where we agree to disagree and not bring it to a place of strong judgement and breaking a relationship apart.  After all some of us not long ago may have espoused the same views of the person you now find opposing and judging you.

So, what happened to change our minds?  Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word and Holy Spirit worked the changes in us.  For almost all of us that started by another Christian’s love and care for us.  Love enough to not give up on the relationship.  Love enough to pray for our soul.  Love enough to trust in the Lord and His time.

We will find in the future the number of times our Christian views and beliefs come into conflict will most likely increase more each year.  Don’t retaliate, but stay the course with how Jesus Christ wishes us to act.

As the poem Mother Theresa had hanging on her wall said.

  • People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway
  • If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway
  • If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
  • What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
  • Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
  • In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

John

Bible Truth – If it is on the internet it must be true!

Eph 4:11-16 NKJV  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  (12)  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  (13)  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  (14)  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  (15)  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (16)  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

One of the challenges of being a pastor in this age of information is dealing with all the information that is out there.  One hundred years ago sharing a strange or heretical teaching was more difficult and time consuming than it is now.  Presently between Facebook, thousands of websites all spouting their brand of theology, and YouTube, Christians are being inundated with teachings that many are ill prepared to determine if they are true or not.  To further complicate the situation the general mindset of of laziness and not digging into what is heard or being taught.  I am not saying people are lazy, but we are definitely accustomed to getting things easy and quick.  This can lead to the hearing that tickles your ears that is incorrect or inaccurate leading to something you believe but never taking the time to study it out.  It guess worse when the person now feels they have become the expert and shares it with another ignorant person that does not take the time to study.

For a pastor and a teacher, it is challenging because what people come across on the internet can carry more weight than what a pastor or teacher that Jesus Christ has called to minister to them may teach. It is not just the internet, it includes radio and TV.  I am not saying everything they hear or see on these lines of communication are wrong, just that so many Christian take this information as coming from and expert and can begin to minimize the local ministry.  Christians can become glib and without knowing it can slide from a believer in the truth standing on the foundation of the Word and prayer, to becoming a “fan” supporting what someone is teaching without understanding what the Bible actually says.  Christian are to study and interact with the other believers the Lord has place around them.  Unfortunately, from here it gets worse.  A person can easily slide into the view that only the expert they have lined up with can understand the Bible and totally minimize their own ability to read and understand what God has shared in His Word.  This is dangerous ground for a Christian to stand on.

As a pastor of a small church, I realize most people want to take a mental shortcut and skip the study and prayer involved with understanding the Bible and they simply gravitate towards ministries with large numbers behind them.  A person can begin to trust in the numbers and not actually understanding the Word. The Bible’s teaching on numbers paint a dark picture. Mat 7:21-23 NKJV  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  (22)  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  (23)  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ and again Mat 7:13-14 NKJV  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  (14)  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Many begin believing Biblical Truth is based on the numbers. The more that attend a church, the more valid the ministry can replace how a ministry should be validated.  As a small church pastor this can be challenging.  Let us not forget those that have not studied the Bible yet thinks they are an expert because of what they have read or heard in a favorite book, internet, radio, TV, or favorite pastor.

I am fortunate that the saints I am a pastor for dig in and search the scriptures discussing with one another what is stated in the Bible and what it means.  This was not the case when I first became a pastor.  I tried many approaches to have a meaningful discussion with those that thought they were experts without taking the time to study.  The process I now use with people like this is simple and I think more effective.   I simply talk and ask questions and it goes like this:

  • I ask what it is they believe. I let them tell me what it is and I do not try to argue a point if I see it differently.  I let them talk.
  • I then ask if that is what the Bible says. Again, I let them talk and share what they believe the Bible says about the topic.
  • I them ask if that is fully what the Bible states and we check it out. (having the Bible on the smart phone is a great tool)
  • If I believe differently than they do I ask if they would “consider” a different take on the subject and study it out so we can talk about it in a day or so.

I have found allowing them to do most of the talking has allowed me to share a different view on a subject without them feeling they need to challenge it.  Many during the next time we get together admit they really had not studied the subject out and appreciate being able to get into the Word and study it out.  Slowly they grow in confidence in their knowledge of the Word and become less susceptible to falling for “every wind of doctrine”.