Simple Church

My church is starting a new series this coming Sunday on ‘The Simple Church’ that has me more than a little nervous. I believe (but has not been verified yet) that it is based on the book, ‘Simple Church‘ by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. Pastor will preach 4 messages each Sunday morning over the month of July. Evening services will not be held. In its place, we will divide into small groups and discuss the morning message.

So what has me on edge? Continue reading

Coming Out From Among Them – Epilogue

Are you familiar with the tale of the pied piper?

The story goes that a small German village called Hamelin suffered from a terrible rat infestation. A man calling himself a rat catcher boasted he could rid the town of every single rodent. The villagers promised the man, (known around those parts as the pied piper) a great sum of money for accomplishing this task. He played his flute, mesmerizing the entire colony, leading them to the nearest river, and drowning them all in the rushing waters. However the villagers weren’t as thankful as they ought to have been. Like many of us would do in the midst of a desperate situation, they made a wild promise they could not possibly hope to keep in order to rid the town of its plague. But once they were relieved of their burden they had no intentions of paying the man his due.

After all, the problem wasn’t all that bad in the first place, right? It’s similar to how quickly a sailor’s fear of drowning fades after the storm subsides. The pied piper did not take the villagers’ snub very well, so he plotted revenge. One day, while the adults were all gathered together for church service, he came into town and spellbound all the children with his soulful tunes. He led them away to a dark cave. All of the children entered without hesitation, but none of them ever walked back out. Continue reading

Coming Out From Among Them – Part 4

I had arrived at a crisis point in my spiritual life and I just didn’t know what to do. Our church had bowed its knee at the altar of Purpose, worshiping the Church Growth Goddess, who had seductively lured it away to her sinful bed. She had successfully inflamed passion for numerical growth, fame and influence to a fever pitch among our leadership. They had yielded to her will in matters of faith and practice. I strongly felt God’s call to come out of her, that her sins would not be imputed unto me or my family. However, I didn’t know where to go. I felt I needed a well thought out plan before exiting stage left.

I still had not found a church home for us to root ourselves in. After 11 years in a pentecostal\charismatic type church and seeing a lot of goofiness done in the name of God, I was looking to make our home in a more conservative, scripture-saturated atmosphere. I didn’t completely rule out a ‘full-gospel’ church since there are a couple in our town with good reputations, but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to attend them. I have too many questions and concerns about tongues, prophecies, prophets and spirit baptisms to be comfortable in one right now. Most of the other churches I considered have been influenced, to some degree, by Rick Warren. So many choices, so few options. So while I pondered and prayed over our future, we continued to attend services on Sunday morning and on Wednesday nights. Continue reading

To Fight or To Frolic

“In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men and women conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Humans, our fathers held, had to choose sides-they could not be neutral.

For them it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on God’s side they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. People looked forward to heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them…

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. People think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.”

– AW Tozer

Coming Out From Among Them – Part 3

The writing was on the Banner. I just didn’t immediately notice it.

I pulled into the church parking lot one bright Sunday morning, going through my normal routine. I delivered my kids to their various classes and sat down in our gym-turned-auditorium. Service began as usual, with our pop-star praise and worship leader grooving and crooning to the beat. I gritted my teeth, closed my eyes and attempted to worship God despite the distractions. When our pastor stepped up to the pulpit he declared, “Welcome to XXXX XXXXXXXXXX Church.”

Excuse me? What did he just say? I looked around, first to assure myself I had not taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Yep, it was the right place. Next, I gauged the reaction of the congregation. However, nobody blinked an eye at his calling the church by a different name. Continue reading

Random Ramblings – TD Jakes, Mimes and Helping Yourself

Ok, this is a quick post – a little bit of live-blogging if you will. I’m sitting here at home watching in disbelief as TD Jakes promotes his new book, Reposition Yourself – Living Life Without Limits on TBN. First of all, he has four mimes complete with white face make-up, acting out his sermon in the background as he talks about breaking free of the bonds of mediocrity.

Yikes! And I thought Powerpoint presentations had great potential to divert our attention away from the word, Oh my! Four clowns making wild hand gestures and overly dramatic physical contortions to the tune of a Christian message cancels out the effectiveness of Bishop Jake’s usually compelling delivery. Welcome to the brave new world of self-defeating ministry, folks.

He’s promoting this book pretty heavily. The sermon he’s preaching is lifted from the book and he interrupts himself every few minutes to run a mini-infomercial giving us an inside flap style synopsis of the book’s contents. He says it’s about personal fulfilment that can be achieved by making small adjustments to your life that, oh by the way, you can only discover if you buy his book. He made a remark that God had given him fresh new perspectives that he is unveiling to the world so we can live the abundant life. The hair on the back of my neck rises every time I hear preachers using words such as ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ in the same sentence with ‘God’ and the ‘bible’.

And in an ‘Oh my goodness, no he didn’t’ moment, he actually spouted the old worn cliche’ ‘God helps those who helps themselves’ in the midst of his message! He even quotes the ‘faith without works is dead’ scripture in support of it. Does he have any inkling of what the grace of God really is? Can man help himself in any way in regards to salvation? Does God expect us to work our way to glory in our own strength? It is utter foolishness at best and rank heresy at worst to make this unsubstantiated claim as if it had any basis in scripture.

I’ve had enough, time to change the channel. If you are a fan of TD Jakes, may I humbly suggest you do the same.

Coming Out From Among Them – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series I wrote that three major events led directly to my departure from my old church several months ago. I want to chronicle those events here in hope that some of my readers may be able to detect the infiltration of the heretical principles of the church growth/seeker sensitive/purpose-driven movement creeping into their own congregations.

In October of 2005 I underwent my own personal reformation of belief, turning away from Arminianism to Calvinism, away from a man-centered theology to a Christocentric theology. This startling change began, due in part, to my intense dissatisfaction with the church and the preaching from the pulpit. As I examined the messages I couldn’t help but feel the biblical content was minimal, with the wisdom of men used as filler. That sent me on a journey to discover the truth about the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This, in turn, led me to embrace Reformation Theology. However, I did not leave my church immediately. Instead, I turned on my discernment radar and listened closely to every word spoken from the pulpit. Sadly, I must report, the results were appalling. Continue reading