There has been much written in recent years about the Christian’s role in producing wealth on the earth. The following are common misconceptions in the church regarding prosperity and wealth creation that need adjustment for us to have biblical balance & integrity, and experience transformation in our families, communities, and nations.
Scripture teaches us that in the days of Paul the Apostle there were teachers who taught the people what they wanted to hear, turning them away from the truth. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus commended the Ephesian church for testing those who claimed to be apostles but were not and found them to be liars (Rev. 2:2). Jesus even called some congregations synagogues of Satan (Rev. 2:9)!
In the past several decades we have seen massive church growth. Church attendance in the world is at an all-time high. Yet, in most places of the world, cultural decline keeps accelerating at an alarming rate.
Since my connection to Christ in 1978 I have observed many models or views people have regarding how they connect to the body of Christ. The following are some of the popular views I have observed regarding how believers define the church for themselves.
1. The “I am the church” concept
Many people do not have any personal affiliation to any particular local church even though they still attempt to cultivate a relationship with God. They may even read the Bible, pray, and share their faith but they have no organic connection to any community of believers.
I have been a pastor almost thirty-four years and have been involved in initiating or participated in many local, citywide and national prayer gatherings. God has made it very clear that our first priority as leaders is to spend time with Him before we are sent out to minister (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul also implores all believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In spite of all this, there are many denominational and non-denominational churches that do not have a regular prayer meeting. Consequently, in spite of the many good programs they may have, there is a huge gap in the church.
We are presently witnessing a transition in ministry across this country. There are many senior pastors who are about to leave the scene and many, if not most, are not ready to pass the baton to someone else! Some of the larger megachurches have an even bigger issue on their hands when their senior leader steps down or retires because they have to find a leader with the gifts and charisma to fill huge auditoriums. (If their successors cannot fill them, it will be interesting to see how they will be able to pay their utility bills with half-empty sanctuaries!)
My wife Joyce and I planted our local church over thirty years ago (on January 29, 1984) in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, New York. We were not sent out with any money and with only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
I. Be sent from your local church
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