Body of Christ

The Church is on a mission with Christ, the head of the Church (not Pastor Bill, the elders, or lay leaders) i our world to carry out the Father’s redemptive kingdom purposes.

No one individual has the total vision of God’s will for a local church.
When the Church comes together, it is vital that the counsel of everyone is included.
God places members in the body as it pleases him. God made us mutually interdependent.
Apart from the body, I cannot know God’s will for my relationship to the body.
Every believer has direct access to God and the church comes to know God’s will when the whole church is on the same page and understands what Christ, the head of The Church is saying and asking. Not just what a pastor is saying.
A spiritual gift is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit at work in and through a person’s life for the common good of the body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit decides to give assignments and enables spiritual leaders to accomplish His work.
God puts spiritual leaders and members in the body where he wants them to be.
The body is not complete without all the spiritual leaders and members God has given the body.
Members of the body should have equal concern for one another.
Spiritual leaders and members of the body have different assignments from God for the good of the whole body.
Right relationships with God are far more important than anything else. God does not add members to the body by accident. He builds the body to match the assignments.

Every single person at Cross Pointe has a place in the church. Every single person at Cross Pointe has a spiritual gift that the Lord has given you through the Holy Spirit.
As a member at Cross Pointe, we love you and we need you at Cross Pointe. You are essential for the common good of the entire church, because together as a whole we can know the Lord’s will together if our relationships are right with God.
One body part cannot function properly away fro the rest of the body. An eye without a mouth or eyes is useless.
Similarly a body without an eye makes life incredibly difficult. That is why every member is so important. God puts each person in a local church for a mighty purpose to use the Gifts he has gifted each with.

Scary statistics

Some upsetting statistics from my Seminary Evangelism class. I do not recall the exact source but I believe these numbers are from Barna Research Group and the Southern Baptist Convention :

USA total population increased 11% in last ten years; church membership declined 9.5%

Church attendance is declining 10% over the past 7 years

Evangelical Church failed to gain additional 2% of population in the past 50 years.

No county in America has a greater percentage of churched people since a decade ago.

Half of all churches in America last year did not add one new member via conversion.

Churches are closing their doors….

1900 -27 churches for every 10,000

1950- 17 to 10,000

2004- 11 for every 10,000

We lose 72 churches per week or 10.27 per day

Gain 24 churches a week, 3.4 a day

Net loss of 48 week and 6.85/ day

USA is the Largest post-Christian nation.

It is the 3rd largest unchurched nation.

USA Lead world in all crime categories

North America is only continent where Christianity is not growing, in fact other Countries have sent Christian missionaries to us, when we once sent Christian missionaries to them!

13th (some ranked us even as high as 4th) highest receptor of missions nation

Fastest growing affiliation is “not religious”

(Canada + US) is only 3 t o5% truly evangelical

Bill Easum-estimates that in American churches 60% median age of 60 or higher

The body of Christ: We are a team!

God has given us each talents and abilities and spiritual gifts! We each have a role to play within the church. Modernism has brought on an extreme amount of individualism in American culture. One thing the church has got to get back to is being a community of believers. The church of Acts 2, that Bill preached on this morning is the example. Every person played a role in the church. When one of us is not correctly functioning in the role that God has for us, then the rest of the body is handicapped and suffers.

Another problem in American church today is “Ministry misplacement” which is the problem of 20% of the members doing 80% of the work in ministry. I pray our church does not fall into this trend.

Other reasons for meeting once a week for a worship service are:

1. Bible Commands it: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful… Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23, 25)

2. Learn and grow together Proverbs 27;17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”

3. A place for regular Confession. God cannot have anything to do with sin. Sin blocks our spiritual eyes and ears from understanding God.

4. Opportunities to serve/ use gifts that God has given us

5. Serves purposes of God/Bible: Worship, Fellowship, Evangelism, Discipleship, Ministry!

6. Helps us follow God’s Will together as we share together

7. Leads to discipleship

The Importance of discipleship and mentoring:

A disciple is a learner and follower. The first disciples followed Jesus Christ. Discipleship is the intentional training of disciples, with accountability, on the basis of loving relationships. All Christians are disciples of Christ. We are to become complete and competent followers of Him.

I am super excited about the vision for our church! Soon we will be launching a church 0wide discipleship program. The idea is to get everyone in a one-on-one intentional relationship for the glory of God with a mentor. The relationship is about multiplication: both to increase and deepen your own faiths respectively but also for the purposes of prayer, evangelism, and service together. By focusing our time on building into each other and serving the community, not only will your faith grow but also the church will expand.

one of the toughest things about the state of discipleship in America right now:

Time:

Discipleship is a process, it takes time. It is not meant to be transformation quickly. (2 years, 40 days, 12 weeks, etc)

Our Spiritual formation and relationship with God is on-going and matures slowly. We are to be investing our lives into learning more about God.

Churches that are becoming more effective in discipleship have 2 or 3 year processes of learning the general worldview of Christianity, they also encourage and hold other classes for more mature Christians who want more training…(which all this is fine and great)

On one hand, it is difficult to but all of the Christian worldview in a 2 or 3 year program.
On the other hand, American Christians today need some sort of structure:

because we (as Christians) are losing out in discipleship and in spiritual formation and our Christian worldview. Americans have prioritized everything else in conquering their American dreams and have lost their worldview. They have lost their faith to secular world.

So I am encouraging these two-year processes but I am also saying that is not the end! Do not stop when the program is over because our faith is a process. It is a relationship of maturity. We continue learning more and more about God and being transformed more and more every day.

But even these “weak” and shallow structured programs are not enough. Because Christians will not make time for them The problem is no the program, this is a starting block.

The problem is in priorities. Christians say they have a time problem, but I beg to differ. They have a love problem and are not making time for their first love. 😦

How new people come to church for the first time

How new people come to church for the first time

Now Crandall’s original study was done in the 10 years ago, when church growth scholarship was really studying the impact of such advertising. From research done some time ago and still in print from Amazon (Source:The Inviting Church, 1987 p. 44), here is what was found:

  • 2% by Advertisement
  • 6% by the Pastoral Invitation
  • 6% by organized evangelism campaign
  • 86% by friends or relatives

from: http://www.evangelismcoach.org/2009/15-strategies-to-increase-first-time-visitors/

Cricket County Colorado Christmas

“A Cricket County Colorado Christmas”

Dessert and Drama
at Cross Pointe Church
657 E. Main Street Lancaster, Ohio 43130

Saturday, December 13th 2:00pm or 5:00pm

Tickets are $5.00 each for adults and
$2.00 each for children 10 & under

Join the Country Cousins and the City Cousins on a wacky adventure to celebrate Christmas in Colorado.

Advance ticket sales only! No tickets will be sold at the door.

Contact Mariruth Gilman at 740-503-4891 or
Alex Dolin at 740-590-3598 for tickets.

This is a non-profit ministry of the Cross Pointe
Free Will Baptist Church.

the tithe today

Recently I read a theory that the tithe is a Old Testament law that is not required. McConnilve says that it is not necessary for Christians to give ten percent of their earnings as specified in the Old Testament. According to his theory, it is completely up to the individual on the issue of giving money or not and how much money they should give.

I have heard opposite theories where Christians are required to give 10% at the least and the more they give the more they are blessed. And they relate to the story of J. C. Penny. when Penny opened his first story he started giving 10% to his church. And as he began making money he continued to give more and more money to his church, eventually he gave God 90% and he was living off 10% and as the story goes J.C. Penny was blessed and today, his stores are still profiting as a corporation.

Whether you think that the tithe law is is absolute or obsolete, I think we can agree:

The old covenant required 10 percent. The new covenant does not specify a percentage, and since we do not have a clear command from Scripture, we cannot press a command for a precise percentage. However, the new covenant admonishes people to give what they can, and tithing still provides an instructive comparison.
And God will bless you for completing your duty to give back what is his to Him.

The Pushy Christian

This is a reflection and call to action about chapter 4 of UnChristian by David Kinnaman. This is a book every Christian should read, in my opinion. And I will soon have a reflection from each chapter up shortly.

This chapter is called “Get Saved!” It addresses the perception that Christians are insincere and concerned only with getting converts.

In today’s post-modern mindset, the journey of life is stressed as more important that the destination. The process over the product! So with that said there is a lot of skeptism about any religion, far more about which religion is right!

Outsiders sometimes relate Christians to salesmen. Not only are outsiders skeptical about which message is correct, but they also question Christian motive and intention for sharing and being pushy about sharing the Gospel mesage.

Thinking about the reading, here are some thoughts that stick out about what is happening and what we should be doing:

Instead of converting the masses, focus on the relationships.

Don’t do risky things. Be a good steward of the Gospel and remeber that how you choose to share the Gospel is as important as actaully doing it!

Respect people. Do not offend someone in order to share the Gospel!

The logical barrier is not the only one. In fact most people come to know Christ for emotional reasons, rather than logical ones. The point is let the Holy Spirit do the convincing and do not focus just on the logical reasonings.

Keep in mind a lot of people think they are “Christian” (becuase they live in America, their parents were, they went to church when they were young, or they truly have gotten off track…)
so be respectful of their pasts, get to know them. Talk through the issues. Where do they stand with Jesus Christ? Is it a shallow superfical belief or is there something really there?

Others have truly had a real expireince with the church. It might have been a negative expireince and they have left the church completely. They have formed conclusions are really skeptical of anything you are going to say. They were searching and did not find the truth or anything worthwhile at church. This should be a wake-up call to the church!
If we are missing these oppurtunities, then how well are we truly loving and sharing God’s love?

It is time to stop living self-righteously as a church. Time to stop. Open up the doors to the outsiders and listen to them!

It should not be about a mere conversion, but about full transformation. Not just a “get out of Hell free,” but discipleship and growth in lifestyle.

Think, Love, Listen.
Let outsiders think about the Gospel. Love them. Listen to them. Build a real relationship and not just a conversion. Make visible the invisible, God and his love!

Social justice…and church today

I wanted to continue the discussion from a post I made a week or two ago. I promised to open up some questions I left unanswered….here are some of those questions:

Does the NT also address social justice/issues the same way the Old Testament does?
How does this relate to us today in modern world?
Why should you care?
What social justices should we be concerned for/ fighting for?

The OT addresses social justice. I think that is clear in the Deuteronomic law as well as in the prophets. For example, caring for the poor and needy widows and children. Does the NT continue to address these topics?
Yes, indeed it does! Who did Jesus minister too? He lived among the poor.

Look at James:
“Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field” (1:9-10).

“But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like” (1:22-24).

“My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there,’ or ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (2:1-4).

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply these bodily needs, what is the good of that?” (2:14-16).

“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one who does not resist you” (5:1-6).

We should care about this because the Bible tells us to. Because we should follow Jesus’ example. And because there are real issues of social justice that need to be dealt with today.

Here in America, we have it all. And we are well off!
And we are well aware of the issues at hand around the world.
We know that we are wealthy and we know that not everyone else in the world has all the luxuries and toys the we have.

God is calling us to not be complacent and to share our wealth with those in need world wide.

Complacency has a way of creeping up on us all. Those of us in America live our lives in comfort, free–for the most part–of concern for the rest of the world.
Just as in Amos’ time,
the scene in Israel during a time of prosperity (mid-8th century BC). On the surface, things probably looked great. Religious services were well attended. Unfortunately, God’s message wasn’t getting through. The heartfelt relationship to God had grown cold.

It is like that in America. This is why we should care and be concerned!

What issues can we deal with?

Criminal Justice

Economic Justice

Environmental Justice

Health and Family Justice

International Human Rights and Justice

International Peace and Conflict

Racial Justice

*disclaimer: I copied this list from http://www.uua.org/socialjustice/issues/index.php
And I do not agree with all their solutions listed in their hyperlinks….
The list is a great tool and for my use is to show you that Christians need to take a stand and put action to our words and God’s Words!

I leave you with lyrics to Tree63 song “The Revolution”:
Who will feed the hungry if we don’t?
There’s people losing their lives ‘cos we won’t
If we believe but we still do not follow
Then maybe we don’t believe

If we could only love this world like we’ve been loved
Then all the world would know what love is really made of
We live in plenty, there is more than enough
For what the world needs, but not for our greed

Another world is possible yeah
Another world is possible yeah
The revolution’s far from over – it’s not over, it’s not over

Once upon a time a small seed
Died in the soil and became a small tree
Now it’s a forest still growing silently
And waterless earth turns green

Another world…

Full stomachs and both parents
and a church that acts like it
really believes that the Good News
is is good news for everybody everywhere…