Monday, August 31, 2009

Do Church Growth Strategies work?

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I spoke recently with a Salvation Army leader about "Church Growth Strategies". The discussion focussed around their effectiveness; are they effective or are they a hindrance?
Interestingly, after attending a conference with both speakers from Baptist and Pentecostal circles, there were different emphases. The former would speak about the importance of planning strategically for church growth, with intentional focus on connecting (assimilating) new people to the church, on discipleship, etc. The later would speak on the absolute importance on relying on the power and work of the Holy Spirit, because God in essence is the one who "grows the church".

We like to divide the issue, and say, "Yes, its just about the Holy Spirit', or "No, its all about how we sow the seed, and where we sow it". It's really about both.

You could say, strategically, God said to Paul, 'Go to Macedonia and preach the gospel' because this was a strategic decision that would benefit the Kingdom of God. But on the same hand, you could say, Paul was Spirit-led and Spirit-inspired to travel to Macedonia and preach the gospel. See how they are one in the same?

Did the Spirit of God lead Peter to the Centurion? Yes. Was it a strategic move of God? Seems to be. The choosing of David as king, was a Spirit-led decision, but also a strategic decision.

You get the point. Strategy is important. The Holy Spirit's guidance in that strategy is even better.

God bless you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tithing - Just Old Testament?

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You hear occassionally someone say with a little bit of attitude, 'Tithing is such an Old Testament thing!' You know right there and then, they have some sort of issue with giving; maybe that it is too legalistic, or we feel pressured into giving or its too much of an expectation. Here's a reply I like to give people who complain about this "Old Testament" idea of tithing. 'Well, if you have an issue with giving 10%, that's fine. Let's go to a New Testament way of giving. Some people were selling properties and giving ALL their money to the apostles!! Hmm... I think tithing 10% is small and relatively easy compared to that. The New Testament teaches generosity in our giving and in our living. I don't think the Old Testament way of tithing is outdated or been superseeded by the fact that Jesus came to earth. I encourage people to tithe and then to give offerings. To live generously.

I challenge people reading this blog to tithe their TAX Cheque. Think on it. Doing this is putting God first! If you are a follower of Jesus, I don't see why this is something we shouldn't do; especially noting the fact that most people tithe only their NET amount of income, and so any tax they pay has not been tithed. Anyway... Too legalistic? I think it's about honouring God first with our living and our giving. A friend of mine received $4,000 back from the Tax Department, and only recently has considered tithing that amount to the work of God. Hmm... Good challenge. Take it or leave it.

God bless you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

At that time...

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I was reading that chewing gum enhances your brains cognitive capabilities. That's maybe why Ricky Ponting and Mark Taylor have both been Australian Cricket Captains and not others?? Chew on that for a little bit...
___________________
Here are some causes of procrastination:
* Waiting for the “right” mood or the “right” time to tackle the important task at hand.
* A fear of failure or success.
* Underdeveloped decision making skills.
* Poor organizational skills.
* Perfectionism ("I don't have the right skills or resources to do this perfectly now, so I won't do it at all.")
* Feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand
If you're in Christian ministry - don't procrastinate. Too much is at stake. Especially if the issue at hand is someone's salvation.
___________________
Check out www.shapevine.com, it has some great missional content.
___________________
God's timing is important. "And the Lord directed me... at that time... to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess." (Deut 4:14)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lots to chew on...

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Jo spoke about giving God our time today. How often people become caught up in watching mindless television, or continuously playing PS3 games, or "facebooking" or "ebay-ing" and whatever else it might be... and maybe God is saying, 'Hey, why don't you pray?' 'What if you spent that hour with me?'
I quite often will challenge myself; that I find it so easy to watch a 2 hour movie, but how often do I pray for 2 hours non-stop? Prayer is powerful, and I've been seeing that locally. I pray for unity in the church, and I see some relationships being mended. I pray for people to get saved, and while I haven't seen a flood of salvations, I see God working on people's lives. I believe for the harvest.

I'll be honest with you. I'm a bit of a visionary. I'm always visualizing a better day, when the Kingdom of God has grown beyond our imagination, and churches are 800 strong, and lives are being transformed... Though when reality hasn't reached the vision, I have that burden inside of me that won't go away. Prayer becomes a time of that inner groaning and longing for the purposes of God to be fulfilled. Maybe you understand what this means? Maybe you're in that place. I know God is answering your prayer, and while you may not see it yet in the natural, if you ask in Jesus' name it will be done for you. That's it. Finito! Done! Thank you Jesus.

God bless you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Engaging Evangelical Discussion

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I've spent two weeks in Melbourne recently, before flying back up to Palmerston (NT) the other day. I have a new found passion and boldness to speak about things of God. I sat at the local markets last night, and spoke with one of the young ladies connected to our church. We spoke about her reasons why she has never come to our Sunday morning service (She comes to everything else!). Her fears and opinions were valid, but God is stirring something in her heart.
She spoke to her husband the other day while driving home from Darwin, and she said, 'You know, I've been thinking about God...' And her husband replies, 'Yeah, that it's all bull****'. The discussion ends. Later they talk about this original discussion a little bit more. God is stirring something in her heart. She has lots of questions. She has fears. She has concerns. But God is using believers to just chip away at preconceived ideas about Jesus, wrong assumptions about the church, and to offer hope.

I encourage you, as do many other blog writers encourage (Cpt. Stephen Court - http://www.armybarmy.com/blog.html or Cpt. Dave Collinson - http://captaincollo.blogspot.com/) . It's time to go beyond talking about the weather! Be bold, and open up discussions about faith. Ask people what they think about Jesus. Ask them, 'Is there anything I can pray for you about?' 'Have you ever thought of coming to church?' etc, etc.

God bless as you step into these discussions. Exciting times are ahead!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm on the brink...

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Jo and I watched last years Commissioning DVD (On Fire). It seems so long ago that God called us to train to become Salvation Army officers and finally be Commissioned into service. Well it was over seven months ago now, and the Witnesses For Christ of the Australia Southern Territory have been out at their appointments for six months.

What has God showed me after this time? What has the Lord spoken into my life? Am I still passionate for Jesus? Is the world still worth changing?

I broke down in tears tonight, reflecting on how God has changed my life, from curious wandering in the desert, to focussed discipleship; from purposelessness to life; from my will to his will. My heart began to ache for the many people we come in contact with who are still wandering; are still feeling hopeless and are following their own will. What great joy there is in ministry, when we witness someone literally hand over their own life into God's and say, 'Not my will Lord, but yours'.

Over the last six months, I have begun to see God turn lives from wandering to purpose. One of our soldiers is stepping into the process of becoming a Salvation Army officer. I have seen one young lady become a passionate committed disciple of Jesus. I see so many others on the brink of the life giving flood, but who are seeking to understand who this Jesus really is that we talk about.

I stand on the brink. I stand on the brink of revival. I lean over, and while pearing into the distance I see hundreds of people getting saved and finding true meaning in life. The faith train is coming, and people are getting on board. I can see it. I can see Governmental influence, where leaders are seeking our advice on issues of policy. I see the Church of the city uniting in such a way that the devil no longer has a grip on any person or sector of society. I feel the power of the Spirit sweeping through the City in a way that affects lives; where the sick are healed and the depressed sense joy and the busy tradesman finds time to turn to Jesus. I'm on the brink of the life giving flood. I sense it.

I'm on the brink of the Church becoming a respected voice in the community. I'm on the brink of a city that turns to God when a problem arises, not just to the local member for Parliament. I see a city falling on its knees in repentance, acknowledging Jesus as their Saviour from all the issues of their life. I can see worship not just being a song fest, but a heartfelt expression of people's love for God. I'm on the brink of Church growth being the norm not the exception.

Maybe I'm not on the brink? Maybe right now; just now; right here... I'm actually IN the life giving flood.

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