Church & Ministry

Ministry Success & The Great Commission

A two-fold assumption is often evident when believers are evaluating the effectiveness of churches, ministries, movements, and denominations. The assumption is, first, that the Great Commission is the standard of measurement and, second, that effectiveness is measured by the number of people who are hearing the gospel or are being brought into worship services.

Certainly it’s exciting whenever thousands or tens of thousands are gathering for worship and hearing the gospel. If they’re doing so in multiple locations linked by cutting edge video technology—well, many of us see that as progress into a new and wonderful future for the body of Christ.

But, to understate, exciting and wonderful in our estimation is not always exciting and wonderful in God’s—even when our hearts are in the right place. Four principles argue that if we’re going to evaluate churches, ministries, and movements in a way that approximates God’s evaluation, we’ll have to consider more than the Great Commission, understood as number of souls reached. Read more about Ministry Success & The Great Commission

“Whatever it takes”: My Summer at Minnesota’s Gigachurch

Yes, Minnesota has a gigachurch. The baffled reaction of most hearers notwithstanding, it’s true.

For the unconversant, a “gigachurch” is one with average weekly attendance of at least 10,000. The United States has about fifty in total; about half of the states have none. Churches that reach this size frequently have wide-ranging reputations, with many people near and far at least cognizant of the church’s existence. In contrast, mentioning Minnesota’s gigachurch often triggers perplexed looks even from long-time Minnesotans. Yet this church is perhaps America’s 12th largest, with average weekly attendance currently twice the gigachurch threshold.

Over this past summer I became drawn to discover who this inconspicuous colossus is. And so a fascinating journey began. Read more about “Whatever it takes”: My Summer at Minnesota’s Gigachurch

The Church and the College

From Voice, Nov/Dec 2014.

Leading a Christian college, university, graduate school, or seminary is a challenge in the varied uncertainties of our day. It is especially disheartening when academic publications use terms like “tsunami” and “danger” and “at risk” to describe the perilous nature of the traditional education landscape. One wonders how the smaller private Christian colleges will surf the coming tsunami and overcome the challenge.

This brief presentation is not meant to be a “how to” survival guide for the small college. Rather, it is a perspective on why ecclesiology matters in the overall mission and purpose of a Christian liberal arts college. In what follows I address the nature of the church, the mission and core values of the college, and then consider how ecclesiology informs college life and operations.

What I mean by the church

So what do I have in mind when I reference the Church? I am not writing about a particular denomination nor am I writing about a specific style of ministry. Rather, I am considering what the Bible reveals to us about the nature of the Church in both its universal and local significance.

The Church, in its universal design is the body of Christ, made up of all true believers who are spiritually united by faith in the finished work of Christ, who paid sin’s debt (Ephesians 3:10; 4:12). According to 1 Corinthians 12:13 true believers are placed into this body by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. They have been delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Read more about The Church and the College

Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Continued from Part 1.

3. Reject everything contrary to God’s Word

2 Chronicles 17:6, 30:14, 31:1, 34:3-5

King Jehoshaphat was clear about the prohibition of idol worship. So had all the other kings before him that had allowed it. But in 2 Chronicles 17:6, it tells us that Jehoshaphat did something about it. The text says, “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” This courageous heart sought to obey the Lord in all things, including the destruction of the popular high places of worship and the Asherim.

For his part, King Hezekiah did similarly brave acts recorded in 2 Chronicles 30:14 and 31:1. And Josiah at the ripe young age of 20 likewise followed in the godly footsteps of these two kings (2 Chron. 34:3-5), making sure to defile the graves of the pagan priests. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Used by permission.

There is no doubt that the church today needs revival. But not revival as it is sometimes defined: evangelistic tent meetings in which the Holy Spirit is scheduled to arrive on our set dates. Revivals or “awakenings” as they used to be called, mark a special time when God moves upon God’s people and there is evidence of the Spirit’s powerful work among His people and those He draws to salvation through the proclamation of the gospel message.

Today there is a lot of activity in the evangelical church—lots of money being spent, books printed, and conferences held, churches planted and sermons preached. With the technology of our day, there is more access to the Bible, sermons, and the gospel worldwide than ever before. We have in our country a majority of the world’s largest churches.

But would we say that there is revival happening in our nation or our churches? Most of us would say no, and I would heartily agree. There are victories and people are being saved but the Church today, especially in North America, is a long way from revival. Do you desire revival in our churches and our nation? I do, and I think that you do as well. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

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