A Street Gang Better Than The Church?

A Pastor writes…

A while back, an ex-gang member got baptized at our church. He fell in love with Jesus and turned from his old lifestyle. But after several months at the church, he stopped attending. When we asked him why he stopped attending, he answered: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week-we were family.”

That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church was intended to be. It saddened me because I realized that the gangs paint a better picture of loyalty and family than the local church body does.

But what if the church looked like this?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

There must be more to being the church…

Megachurch or Homechurch?

September 1, 2010
I’ve been wrestling with what is the best and most effective ‘function’ or ‘format’ of a church? What is the most healthy? I’ve been reading authors such as Alan Hirsch and Eddie Gibbs who speak of going missional as a church rather than attractional. Recently, Francis Chan walked away from his megachurch ministry in order to start a homechurch movement. Here is a video of him talking about it very candidly with other pastors. They asked him some very direct questions. I appreciated watching this video and his response…

Wow! … Fast forward to today, Francis Chan’s house church movement is growing with disciples multiplying and Mark Driscoll’s church imploded because of his bullying leadership control and was forced to break into smaller churches. Now a new leadership is focusing on disciplemaking movements also! How… interesting… and also how both men’s personalities come through in this video… Francis admits pride, while Mark succumbed later to his pride which led to his firing.

(Note: I’m not entirely against large churches, just leery of ones with a focus on building their own kingdom, rather than God’s, and/or on one man’s preaching rather than teaching people how to hear from God.)

Also, interesting is that Josh Harris, the other interviewer, has completely walked away from God’s calling on his life.

Making Waves as a Church

Francis Chan says we should stop trying to make people love Jesus, and learn to rely on prayer, elders, and the Holy Spirit instead.

It’s been a gradual thing over the last five years. For several years in my ministry, I really operated as though the Holy Spirit didn’t exist. The truth is I trusted in the flesh—the natural abilities that God gave me—the same way unbelievers trust their natural gifts. With my natural communication abilities, I could probably gather a crowd even without the Spirit. But I realized that, with the church, there’s got to be something more behind it. There’s got to be something supernatural, something only the Holy Spirit can do.”

Read more…
via ChristianityToday.com.

Francis Chan Gives Up | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

Francis Chan shares his insight after 15 years of ministry and seeing no life change in one man in his church…

“Churches that are built through our effort rather than the Spirit’s will quickly collapse when we stop pushing and prodding people along.

Now we should push, prod, and persuade men, but I’ve learned to spend a lot more time praying and asking the Spirit to move and begging God to send forth laborers.

The more you look at Scripture, the more you realize that nothing happens unless God is behind it.”

Read more here… Francis Chan Gives Up

Living life without peace?

Are we content with living our comfortable lives with a little bit of God mixed in? Do we seek only enough peace to get through the day or the week? Or do we live in such a way that we fully depend on the Holy Spirit and others praise God because of seeing the fruit? People ought to see the transformation in our lives and respond by saying “He is Lord – He is God!”

God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him. Just read the Bible stories and you’ll see this. Living a life that is fully surrendered is the abundant life. But, too often we try to live life on our own strength and this only leads to anxiety, depression, helplessness, and hopelessness.

There is no such thing as a real believer or a real church that exists without the Holy Spirit.

Letting the Spirit lead requires repentance and daily submission to His leading, not ours. A church grows like wildfire not due to clever planning but by the Holy Spirit. The church was unstoppable in Acts because of the Holy Spirit – not because of clever and talented people.

When you live a life characterized by walking in the Spirit, that is when people see your life and praise God.

As we learn, may we grow and confess and let the Spirit change us into the people we were created to be – by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Ask God to work so mightily in you that people take up and notice and worship Him because of the transformation in you – a life so supernatural that no one could consider giving you the glory – but Him!

We grieve the Spirit when we resist Him. Let us do this no longer. Let us invite Him to use us to bring hope to the world and glory to His name.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” – Gal 5:22-25

(I’m reading “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan.)