Archive for October, 2011

“Issue Christians” by Ed Stetzer

Posted in General Advice, Outside Article Reference on October 25, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners

author: Ed Setzer,
author, speaker, researcher, pastor,
church planter, and Christian missiologist.
His blog can be found at EdStetzer.com

Yesterday, I had an “encounter” after services in the line where I shake hands after the Grace Church worship service. A well-dressed man came up to me after church, shook my hand, and immediately started a conversation about prophecy.

I listened initially, but within a couple of minutes he had quoted one passage he feels is related to the founding of Israel in 1948 and another about Israel occupying Jerusalem in 1967. “Why don’t churches talk more about prophecy?” he asked.

At that point, I could have redirected our conversation and tried to persuade him that we believe in biblical prophecy and will teach on it another time (both of which are true). Or, since he approvingly referenced both Jack Van Impe and John Hagee, I could have found some ways of positively connecting with each of these men.

In most cases, I’ve decided that “this is not the church for you” is actually the right response for “issue Christians” who are visiting the church.

Honestly, if this person were unchurched and told me they thought highly of Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, I would have sought a point of contact and encouraged further discussion. I probably would have tried to get together– if they were open– to see what the Bible says about the kinds of things that Wayne Dyer talks about. I would have used the bridge to talk about Jesus.

However, in this case, I simply said something like, “We are not one of those churches that you would think talks about prophecy enough– this would not be the right church for you, but I do hope your search for a church home goes well.”

You see, I don’t spend a lot of time with “issue Christians.”

It’s not just the issue of prophecy either. I’ve had similar conversations with “issue Calvinists,” “issue political Christians,” “issue charismatics,” “issue homeschoolers,” and many others. These are often good people and those are important issues, but when these are the primary defining issues in the first (and every other) conversation, the correct response is help them move on and do so quickly.

Here are four reasons why I have no difficulty helping “issue Christians” to move on:

1. Some “issue Christians” get stuck on specific ideas–you don’t have time to persuade them.It is simply not a good use of your time and energy to debate with “issue Christians.” Instead, reach your community, pastor your people, and get on mission. Focus on reaching the unreached, not debating church members about eschatology or pneumatology. If they know Christ, but are stuck on an issue, they will be just fine without you. Generally, you can’t “fix” them anyway and they will (eventually) come out of it on their own.

2. Some “issue Christians” have divisive views–you don’t need them to fit in at your church’s expense.

You can disagree in our church (to a reasonable degree) and still be a part–I’ve pastored cessationists, charismatics, Calvinists, and Arminians all in the same church. The issues are not the issue, it is that this person wants to make them an issue. Simply, “issue Christians” generally do not fit in well in a mission-focused congregation. They don’t want to.

3. Some “issue Christians” drift from church to church looking for willing ears–you do not need to let that in your church.

“Issue Christians” love to debate and display their knowledge. It is not good stewardship of your time to have these debates and you are not being a good steward of your church to let them loose inside.

4. Some “issue Christians” will talk forever if you do not cut them off–you will probably offended them less than you think.

For many, listening for hours is the Christian thing to do. Many pastors listen, set up appointments, then seek to reason and redirect the confused. That’s not a good plan if it is obvious that this person has dwelt in and studied on an issue.

My experience is that people like this get “cut off” all the time. So, I say, “Thanks Joe, but that’s not what we are passionate about here–I do encourage you to find a church that is passionate about what your issues.” Surprisingly, that does not generally offend–people like that have been cut off many times before this time.

So, let me encourage you to thank “issue Christians” for their passion and time, and encourage them to find a church home that fits their values. Of course, I should say, this is different if someone comes to me confused on an issue. In that case, we can counsel and provide more information.

In conclusion, we should always provide guidance, but we should not always provide a platform. “Issue Christians” want a platform with you and your church because they are passionate about an issue–don’t let that distract you or your church from being and doing all that God has in store. Move on… and move them on.

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The New Church Era

Posted in Church Visits on October 21, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners
author: Harry Gill, Director of Church Relations
Today I worshipped in a church that had no stained glass, organ music or a formal benediction.  There were policemen in the hall, but not to restore order, just to help with the traffic.  There was a lot of traffic.  The guys in the parking lot waved at me and guided me to a parking spot.  Two ladies shivering in the cold, held the door for me with a smile.  A guy inside, wearing a red polo shirt shook my hand and welcomed me.
From the hallway I could hear the music start.  Probably could have heard it out in the road; it was 93 decibels by actual measure.  In the hallway it was like mass confusion but everyone seemed to know just what to do and the signs around the place gave me as a visitor a certain comfort level.
Inside the high school auditorium, several folks asked if I needed them to find a seat for me as the place was nearly filled. Then it started!  Three songs I didn’t know; that is they weren’t “The Old Rugged Cross”  or “Rock of Ages.”  But then the pastor, as he was called, gave a great explanation of what the Lord’s Supper was all about, and then it was passed through the congregation.
The sermon had a neat way of presenting the profound Gospel truths in a manner that was challenging but not offensive, (except for the brownie story.)  The six hundred of us were impressed by the logic of the message that explained that we know much more of the Word of God than we practice.  The plea was to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
When it was all over, I stayed for the second service to see if they could give me that great experience again, and they did.  WOW! Practical! Biblical! Sensible! Casual! but Tasteful!  Thank you,  Journey of Midlothian.

Catalyst Church: Starting Something New

Posted in Church Planting, Outside Article Reference on October 10, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners

author: Matt Hafer, Church Planter
Catalyst Church in Morgantown, WV

So ladies and gentlemen, we are two weeks in to public services and I wanted to give a little update on where we are at the moment.

Last week we opened, it was a wonderful opening. We had 166 people come out and for me, I felt like it could not have gone better. Our kids stuff was wonderful from check-in to the kids band downstairs, our guest services folks were totally on top of things with greeting people and handing out bulletins to everyone who came, and our band was as good of a band as you will find anywhere, and I am talking a church, a coffee-house, a bar or a reality show competition. They were just stellar. My sermon was just a vision casting sermon that kicked off our 1st ever series, Handbook to a Revolution and it went well enough I suppose.

Week 2 was similar. Lots of new people, lots of new stories. We actually were hit with the challenge of having several of our core group out-of-town and we spent a week restaffing kids stuff, set up and tear down among other things. This caused some very new people to step into some new roles and find out that they really are capable of huge things if given the chance. With new people we actually ended up being done with set-up 25 minutes sooner than we have ever, and it was all due to new people who have never really had a church home but know that this is a place where they are honored, loved and cherished.

We got to meet so many diverse people. Catalyst is a place where we have college students, babies, elementary kids, teens, young professionals, hipsters, hippies, southern rockers, active and former military, gypsies, well-known politicians and even lots of homeless call their home. You come in and a collection of people who you would never ever see hang out in normal life are all standing in a lobby, enjoying fair trade coffee and conversations before they are let into an auditorium where they see amazing visual effects, a stunning newly restored playhouse and more skinny jeans than they know what to do with (not always from stage).

Each week we give people the realization that although this might be the best part of your week, it isn’t the only part of your week. The rest of your week is where the worship happens, the rest of your week is where the real service and devotion happen, this hour is our time to regroup, our time to celebrate, our time to be feed before a week of feeding ourselves. Each week our kids are reminded that their curiosity is God-given and a big staff full of people are there to nurture that and use that. The parents are reminded that it is up to them to disciple their kids, but we are all here to help them in that process and share as much of their lives as we can.

This is Catalyst Church. One of the most special places with some of the most special people you will ever encounter. We may seem over excited but we absolutely know that for someone, every day is opening day and we should treat it that way.

This post was originally written for the blog ‘100 foot Jesus‘ by Matt Hafer.

“The Mentor Leader” by Tony Dungy

Posted in Book Review on October 10, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners

What are the five most important words a mentor must keep in mind when mentoring a person?   According to Tony Dungy they are, “IT IS NOT ABOUT ME.”  WOW! Incredibly simple and yet totally profound.  They sum up the attitude of a person who is willing to take an interest in someone else, pour his life into that person and make him a better success.  This is the philosophy of this book and the example that is presented by Tony.

“The Mentor Leader” is a book that every Christian Leader, team leader, father, mother or big brother or sister should put on their list as a must read.  Chapter after chapter gives you every angle of the mentoring process.  From the mind-set to the methods, mentoring is set out as a most powerful tool a leader can use to be successful, not only in the short run but also over a life time of leadership.
Do you preach at a church whose leadership could be stronger?  This is the book!  Do you have a neighbor whose family leadership should be stronger?  This is the book!  Do you have a son or daughter that you want to prepare for ultimate success in this life?  This is the book!
I always save the Five Hazelnut Lattes award for books that are just special beyond the normal expectations of a book review.  This is one of those books that I would rate a very high Five Hazelnut Lattes.  Get the book and don’t just read it but study it and internalize its methods.  It will make you a better person and leader.

“The Unity Factor” by Larry Osborne

Posted in Book Review on October 5, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners

book review by: Harry Gill, VEF Director of Church Relations

One of the comments made in Larry Obsorne’s The Unity Factor is that it is amazing that Board members get so little training when the minister gets so much.  Continuing education of the ministry in conferences, seminars and conventions is just a routine thing these days. His point here is that the Elders and Leaders should be trained as well.
He makes a great point about the difference between lobbying and training.  Lobbying is  done in the middle of a decision making process.  Training is done away from the pressure of decision making.He then proceeds to give an example of doing just that.   So the difference between having a set training program or a continuing flexible program was easily seen.
Another good part of the book deals with some of the paradoxes that we take for granted.  For instance, the idea that we spend 80% of our time on 20% of the congregation.  Is it on the strong ones or the weak ones?  Most of us feel as though we must give the weak ones the 80%, but the author says that is wrong thinking.  He goes on to point out six more paradoxes of strong churches.  Good Stuff!  There must be a God and He lives in this guy’s church, because the congregation views the budget as an educated and somewhat hazy guess, not a document chiseled in stone. (His words, “it is a guide, not a straight jacket.)
The best piece of advice in the book is dealing with change, “Go slow, churches are like horses.  They don’t like to be startled or surprised.  It causes deviant behavior.”
This book is one I would rate at 4 and one half hazelnut lattes.  I would recommend it for every church leader, that is Preacher, Elder, Deacon and group leader.  Study it together and it will make your church stronger.