Oftentimes we in the church emphasize what a person can do more than what a person should be. Molding Christ-like character is the most important element in a person’s life that determines the trajectory of their talents and influence.
The church has often been taught about the times of refreshing that come during seasons of revival. The first such time recorded was the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when 3,000 were saved. In Acts 4 and 5 God continued to add to the church daily while there was unity and purpose of heart which released great signs and wonders that confirmed the resurrection of Christ. And in Acts 9, after Saul was converted, the church enjoyed a season of blessing, growth, and renewal.
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
I have written numerous articles alluding to the fact that culture has changed and continues to change theology, biblical interpretation and the way we do church. I wish I could say that historically church leaders have allowed only the Bible to transform their thinking. But the truth is that we are all products of our cultures! Even when we try to be objective, our objectivity is in the context of our cultural surroundings, thoughts, vocabulary and education.
Ever since the fourth century, when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, the church progressively went from a decentralized “saints” movement to a temple-centered “clergy-dependent” movement. We went from focusing on marketplace presence to building elaborate cathedrals with clergy-led rituals. We went from people “being the church” to people “going to church”. I call the latter mentality “the box church”.
As a pastor I have been involved in political, economic and social issues in order to be holistic in ministering to the needs of our community, as well as functioning prophetically to influential elected officials. In this context, I have observed how many leaders also involved in holistic ministry have “behaved themselves” in regards to speaking out prophetically on major biblical issues. My opinion is that we are all called to be prophetic—especially preachers of the gospel (1 Peter 4:11)!
The Evangelical church has been in flux the past several decades—going from one extreme to the next—and in many respects losing its center. Thus it is really hard to define what an Evangelical is today except for the very ambiguous definition of a person who believes the Bible is the word of God (there are even varying degrees of this within Evangelicalism) and in salvation through the vicarious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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