Category Archives: So You Don't Want To Go To Church

ReThink Church: Pt 2 – What is Worship?

I am currently teaching a series called ReThink Church which I am recapping on this blog with a few extra  thoughts.  This second teaching will be broken into several parts so the post won’t be so long and allowing me not to rush through it.  If you haven’t read Pt.I, take the time to read it first.  It lays the foundation that informs all the rest of this series.

Having looked at what the church is, we find a living organism, not an inanimate building.  If you grew up “in Church”, you probably thought of the building you gathered in and everything you understood to be the Church was defined by the building, it’s location, it’s programs and the forms of worship that took place there.  My attempt is to decentralize the church as it is commonly defined by the building and all that goes on there and see the glory of the Church that is not the building.  If we can do this church will take on a whole new life a much larger and satisfying life. 

I will start by asking this question: “If the church is living and not a building and the living church belongs to God and it is distinguished by His presence and is to be the full reflection of His image in the earth; THEN, how does this change our understanding of worship?”

“When worship is our response to the One who alone is worthy of it – Jesus Christ – then our lives are on their way to being turned inside out.  Every dimension of self-centered living becomes endangered as we come to share God’s self-giving heart.”  Mark Labberton – The Dangerous Act of Worship (pg. 1, ¶.2)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”   Romans 12:1 (ESV)

The first principle: “Worship is about unbroken intimate Relationship.”

There are people who will debate over worships being for God and not for us or about getting into His presence or bringing His presence.  I want to say it is both.  From the above passage we find that worship is presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.  Why sacrifice? Because it’s all about relationships.

In Genesis 1-3 we find the story of God creating man and woman and their subsequent sin and dismissal from the Garden of Eden.  The word’s Garden of Eden mean “the garden of His (God’s) delight.”  Man enjoyed unbroken intimate relationship with God.  This was His plan.  However, man sinned and this relationship was broken.  God had to separate Himself from man.

God sacrificedan animal and made skin coverings to replace the fig leaf coverings man made.  In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel bring offerings to God. Abel made a sacrifice of the firstfruit of his flock.  His offering was acceptable, Cain’s was not.  Cain got angry and killed Abel.

In Genesis 8 Noah comes off the ark and first builds an altar and makes sacrifice to God.  Abraham was instructed by God in Exodus 25 to take the son of promise, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar he built.  From the beginning, God instituted a way back to relationship with Him.  The altar has always been a place built for God’s presence.  The sacrifice has always make a way for God to come to man and man to be in His presence.  God created a way to have moments of unbroken intimate relationship with Him through sacrifice.

Now we know Jesus became for us the final, once and for all time, eternal sacrifice, so we can have a relationship with the Father.  (Hebrews 10)  God’s plan has always been to make a way for us to experience the fullness of unbroken intimate relationship with Him.  Worship is both a need on our part and a desire on God’s for us to connect with Him.  The greatest honor and worth we could extol on God is to pursue and live in the presence the He so desires for us to experience.  We should sacrifice everything so we can come unhindered into the presence of the one who has pursued us from before time. 

We have been made worthy to enter into God’s presence by Jesus’ sacrifice.  We can now simply come to Him.  Anything we do because of His presence is worship.  If I stand for justice, because of His presence, that’s worship.  If I sing because of Him, it’s worship.  If I love because of Him, it’s worship.  If I work hard because of His presence, it’s worship.  If I rest, give, study, pray, share, invest, gather with others, recieve persecution, or go green because of His presence, it’s extoling Him and giving worth to Him.

Worship is about unbroken intimate relationship with the One who loved us first.

It is not about the religious forms of worship, but rather giving our life to the God who offers relationship to us.

In the next part we will look at Worship and the experience Grace.

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ReThink Church: Pt 1 – What is the Church?

Do you remember this from Sunday School? I thought I’d start with how our thinking had been shaped from a very young age.  So, what is the Church?

I just started a teaching series called ReThink Church.  As I was working on the second segment of this series I realized I had made a statement in a previous post that I said I would follow up one.  The post entitled “Honor“, was about my Granny Hobbs’ 90th Birthday Party.  I had concluded with saying I had experienced the presence of God and and a greater sense of church than I had on many Sunday’s even in my own church.  There were a few of you who commented and were interested in me sharing about that.  So here it goes.

Let me begin by making four observations about what the church is: 

Firstly, the church is organic.  Romans 12:4-5 tells us the church is Christ’s body.  Though this is just one illustration, a careful search of scripture reveals that all the descriptions of the church are living ones.  To list a few, the church is a body, a bride, a family, one new man, a living temple made of living stones, a vineyard, citizens,and a flock.  Therefore, the church is to be relational not institutional.

Secondly, the church is God’s church.  The Greek word for church is Ekklesia, meaning an assembly of people called out.  For the every day person of Jesus’ time, the ekklesia was any group of people who came to gather together.  For the Romans it was the body of people called out into public service.  However, Jesus reveal a new meaning in Matthew 16:18.  He says, “upon this rock I will build My church.”  The emphasis is on “My” not “church”.  He indicates that the church is unique, not because it is called the church, but because it is the assembly of believers who belong to Jesus.

Thirdly, the church is the dwelling place of God’s presence.  Ephesians 2:22-23 tells us that in Jesus we are God’s dwelling place by His Spirit.  Additionally, in Exodus 33:15-16 Moses tells God that if God did not go with Israel into the promised land then he didn’t want to go, because it was only His presence that distinguished them from the rest of the world.  The church is where God’s presence is.

Lastly, the church is the image and reflection of Jesus.  Ephesians 1:22-23 reveals the church is the fullness of Christ, in whom God was pleased to make dwell the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  The church is to be the full reflection of God’s image in the earth.

Taking all these things into account, when we gather with other believers on any occasion, not just Sunday, there is an opportunity for amazing things to happen.  Because the church is God’s people, possesses His presence, reflects who He is and has life; then anytime we get together we should experience the life giving presence of God.  This is the fellowship of the Saints.  This is not a building, a program, an institution or a service.  It’s His people sharing His life.

Quit just going to church and be the church.

The Future of the Church?

What is the future of the Church in America?   How are we reaching the men of our culture?   Where are the good soldiers?

There is a shifting going on in our churches and culture causing people to long and looking for something more. Some have a growing discontent and a division is happening between those who want to attend church and those who are looking to be the church. There is a battle to strip away the dependency on an institutional church to find the all sufficient living Lord Jesus and thus revealing a glorious church made in His image. These are incredible times we live in and we have an awesome opportunity to raise up men of God, good soldiers, to lead the way.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill shares this great message about the church and church planting.

So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore…Pt. 2.5

Recession and Church

Here is another great post by Jeromy Johnson at A Mending Shift entitled DEEP RECESSION and THE CHURCH. You need to check this out.

How do you think a recession will affect the Church?

What would happen to your church if you lost your church building?

You can also see all posts related to the Series: So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore…HERE.

So You Don’t Want to Go To Church… Pt.2.2

Here’s your chance!   Say what ever you want on the subject of church and a relationship with JesusLeave your raw and uncensored comments.

A few questions I’m interested in but not limited to:

What are you looking for in a church?

What do you struggle with in church?

What should the church be doing?

What are you struggling with in your relationship with Jesus?

If you could change something about church, what would that be?

 

Come on, jump into to discussion.

If you are interested in the current blog series “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” Book by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman you can READ IT HERE.

So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore… Pt.2

CHURCH LEADERSHIP: What motivates our decisions?

So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman

www.jakecolsen.com

As I write this series I realize I will not be doing so in any chronological or orderly way.  These just happen to be my thoughts for the day, generated from my life as it connects with this book.

The following, taken from the book on page 109 had a profound impact on my personal view of church leadership.

 

“But don’t we learn how to trust him through the body?”

“Actually, it works the other way around. Trust doesn’t flow out of body life, it flows into it!”

“But what if people don’t know how to trust?”

“Certainly we can help one another learn to grow in trust, but that growth is the prerequisite for sharing life together,not the fruit of it.  Remember when you were back at City Center?  How many decisions and policies were made because you were afraid – of people not coming, not growing, not giving money, or falling through the cracks and getting lost?”

“Probably ninety percent,” I responded.  “Most of our discussions had to do with our concerns that someone would make a mistake – hurting themselves or embarrassing the congregation.”

“Then ninety percent of what you did was based on fear rather than trust.  And you passed that same insecurity on to others as a way to keep them involved.  You have yet to see what body life can be when people are growing to trust God, instead of living in fear.”

When I read this, I had to evaluate how we made decisions and what was the root motivation behind them.  This means a real gut check.

If you are in leadership, Here’s the question:

When you plan and make decisions, why are you doing it and is any of your motivation rooted in building the institution or maintaining the system?

This is critical.  If we are trying to maintain or build the church as an organization then we will manipulate people with guilt to get them to do things.  This is not born out of trust and faith in God.  Paul said anything not born of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  This makes people dependent on a church system, programs and leaders, instead of a dependency on the living Jesus.  The result is a people who when crisis comes into their lives they expect the church to sustain them instead of Jesus.  They think they are trusting Jesus until the system and organization disappoints them.  Instead of thriving through crisis by the life of Jesus, they are let down by a dependency on man and are left with feelings of anger or guilt.  This also creates a works or performance based religion by making people think that if thy do certain things they will mature or God will be pleased and bless them.  And, If you’ve been in leadership long, you know the pain of being blamed for things that people expected from you that they will only find met in Jesus.

So, what do we do?  What do we expect?  Nothing?  As the church, do we do nothing?  What about leadership?

We have to see ourselves in the people business, not the church business.  We are making disciples, not building churches.  We are to be equipping people to know Jesus and encouraging them to live deeply in Him as we journey together so He can lead them.  Our job as leaders is to serve.  Leaders lead by serving, not leading.  Too much of our own agenda can get in the way of leading.  We can easily find ourselves thinking we are doing the will of God when actually we are feeding our own insecurities. 

Do we as leaders trust God to build His church while we serve Him in equipping others to follow Jesus for themselves, be dependent on Him and respond to His leading?  Will we let people be led by God in our congregations?  Is this a scary thought?

My job is not to use people to fulfill my personal vision.  It is to lead people to Jesus.  Here is Paul’s leadership philosophy:

“For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.”  2 Corinthians 4:5

Leaders, who’s leading you and are you teaching people to be lead by Jesus or making them co-dependent on a substitute for Him?

Anything else is building our own kingdom.

So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore… Pt.1.5

Along with this current series “So you don’t want to go to church anymore”, I will be inserting some others thoughts on the subject so we can see how God is moving on the hearts of people in other places.  When we talk about the church, we need to begin to see how God is speaking to the church universal, not just our local congregation.  God is moving in His body and it’s encouraging to see it’s not just me.  That’s humbling to know.

With that said, here is a post by Jeromy Johnson in Folsom,California (The home of that prison  famous by Johnny Cash.)  What is God doing in His church on the other side of the continent?  CLICK HERE or the above banner which is Jeromy’s Blog “A Mending Shift” and read his thoughts entitled “Going to church to avoid being the church”.

You can also read another good post by Jeromy entitled “What if the Church was invisible? HERE.