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Posts Tagged ‘church growth’

The ‘church’ keeps changing and metamorphosing into something else – as fast as I think I’ve got a handle on what’s happening – it changes again , to go along with the latest fad. It’s scary that so many are now following church growth patterns [ all under the supposed guidance of the Holy Spirit] without even bothering to question or compare it all with the early Church pattern.

Rick Warren’s philosophy has invaded the church at large now , traditional, reformed or evangelical – it makes no difference, so that whereas at one time you could at least separate false doctrine from true, it has become almost too much to unravel ,  a mish-mash of influences that are affecting the very preaching of the Gospel itself.

I’ve known for some years about Marxism and what is called the Dialectic Process, but always associated it with politics, as I suspect most folks do. But I’m prone to search out the truth of a matter when faced with teachings/happenings that come across my path. I don’t like being in a fog [how well I remember being in those good old London, thick pea-soupers!] and the mental ones are even worse…..

So it is that I was able to learn more about the Dialectic Process [Diaprax] and it’s infiltration of the Church – hence everything has to change as the old ways are discredited and the new is in. The old sin- convicting Gospel has gone – enter the new Social Gospel. Even the faithful [to the Word], legitimate Churches seem to feel shamed into being more socially and politically active in the world, afraid maybe of being thought too ‘narrow?  The focus  is on ‘relationships’ with each other and the world – ultimately leading to another Jesus of course. 2 Cor 11:4

For a good understanding of what is going on, please take the time to visit the web site of Dean Gotcher  http://www.authorityresearch.com  He is also on You Tube, and Berit Kjos’  web site  http://www.crossroad.to/articles  for insights into the machinations of the UN.

I know there will be many Christians who will find it too burdensome to investigate for themselves, but it’s good to get into the habit of checking out things you hear or read with a little personal Bible study – especially if you have that little nagging doubt that something isn’t quite right.   It’s imperative that we become lovers of the Truth of God’s word – how else will we know if we’re being deceived?

Some will say – the Gospel is simple and following the Lord Jesus Christ and living in harmony with sincere fellow believers is all that God requires of us – he wants us to be as little children.

That is true initially – but God also requires that we mature and grow in our understanding and obedience of His word. [although 1 Cor 14:20 is said in the context of ‘tongues’ , I believe it applies to all spiritual things …]

The Lord gave Ministry gifts to the Church – Eph 4: 11-15  so that we needn’t be children who are tossed about by the false doctrines of cunning men. Sadly, today those Ministers are often failing us in that they tend not to want to be ‘negative’ and believe the Scriptural warnings are for others, not them – after all, don’t they pray to be led by the Holy Spirit ? Haven’t they done many wonderful things in His Name? mmm ….

I always try to approach my re-search with an open mind. I do not want to be prejudiced against any ministry or preacher because of what I’ve read or heard. This has been my position since the very earliest days of my Christian walk. I listened to what the JWs and Mormons had to say and read the literature they gave me, some of which sounded legitimate until I investigated further. I often discovered that the rank and file members , had the truth about their Leaders and origins hidden  from them. BUT – these enthusiastic cult members enjoyed the love and fellowship they had with each other and were convinced their respective Leaders could do no wrong, plus – all their thinking was done for them and even false prophecies didn’t appear  to bother them. {sounds a familiar pattern doesn’t it?}

Later, I came across an ad. by the Catholic Enquiry Bureau for anyone interested in finding out about their beliefs to sign up for a series of booklets – which I promptly did.  Again, my interest was in not wanting to dismiss them on hearsay.  Well, as you can imagine – it was even worse than I’d thought because the authority of the Pope and the church superseded anything the Scriptures might say, so they felt free to add all sorts of false ideas and commandments. Now I had it from the horse’s mouth.

It’s much easier and quicker these days to use the internet to look up the Horses’ Mouths web sites and You Tube videos of actual preaching. Plus of course the enormously helpful discernment ministries articles.

The huge deceptions that have arisen within  Christian churches are, I believe, the result of a lack of trust in and obedience to the Bible as the inerrant and  infallible word of God, together with a faulty view of eschatology [end time things]. I will enlarge on this in my next Post.

see you soon,   Maranatha!

 

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I don’t like to think that I am being overly critical and seeing error where there is none, but in the course of researching the obvious questionable teachings and practices in the current church scene, I come across what appear to be genuine, sincere ministries, committed to the gospel and to the Bible , and I have to re-examine myself and the scriptures to see if I’m wrong after all, because on the surface all seems well …..  they don’t appear to be following or part of any extreme groups.

These churches’ websites show they are very active in evangelism and almost all are proclaiming great blessings, over-flowing congregations, together with prophecies, visions and the like telling of revival in their midst and spreading throughout the whole world.  Undergirding all this is a huge desire for change – as one ministry puts it  – ‘to turn the tide of anti-christian pollution in our society’.     So why – instead of rejoicing with them – do I get an uneasiness that compels me to dig a bit deeper and look behind the scenes so to speak?

This uneasiness is usually triggered by noticing what a high opinion they tend to have of themselves. There is certainly no lack of ‘self-esteem’. Of course, I suppose you could say that their confidence comes from the belief that God is ‘showing up’ at their meetings and in answer to their prayers, sometimes over many years of lean results.  I can so easily find myself confounded in the face of so many testimonies of wonderful changed lives and miraculous moves of God,  which seem to be the proof that God is indeed at work. BUT – I have to return time and again to the solid ground of God’s word and it’s warnings of deception by seducing spirits.

Church growth seems to be what it’s all really about. They may disassociate themselves from the teachings of Rick Warren, but they nevertheless pick up on his ideas, consciously or unconsciously.

The mission these days seems to be less about saving individual souls, than ‘impacting’ and making a difference in your locality and christianising the world. The main aim is to show non-churched people how loving and friendly we are as God’s family and what better way than via a social gospel that will meet their emotional needs.

To that end also, we have to break down the old denominational barriers to achieve unity and co-operate in our common cause  –  no separation from the world for the truths sake allowed here!

Don’t they know the Church needs to be doctrinally sound to be in God’s will?  The Holy Spirit led the Apostles and the early Church into all truth and as we follow their New Testament example, so we will be led too. It’s just as important to follow the right practices and methods of evangelism too.

There is much targeting of young people – they are much easier to manipulate and influence – especially if music is made the attraction. Disturbingly, I came across this quote by James Ryles who had a dream in 1989 : ‘ And I remember the dream thinking to myself, wow – this is like the Beatles music was new. The Lord spoke to me and said, ” What you saw in the Beatles – the gifting and that sound that they had – was from me. It did not belong to them. It belongeth to me. it was my purpose to bring forth through music a world-wide revival that would usher in the move of my spirit in bringing men and women to Christ” [ Harvest Conference, Denver 1990]        I can see no Biblical precedent for using music in preaching the gospel , or ‘worship’ as a means of evangelising the lost, or    for entertaining anyone!

I don’t know when the title ‘Worship Leader’ crept into the church , but it has always made me cringe.  It misuses the word worship and in actuality is simply a ‘churchy’ name for a Musical Director.    I always thought that worship was something from the individual, redeemed heart to his/her Saviour and Creator. My Bible tells me that is the only true worship that God will accept.  ‘ But the hour comes and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in TRUTH: for the Father seeks  such to worship Him.  God is a Spirit and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH’. John 4:23,24

        Christians are told to  ‘be filled with the Spirit; speaking to YOURSELVES in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’. Eph:5:18

        The gospel of Christ needs no extra trappings to make it more palatable – the gospel itself is the power of God to save. ‘ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’. Rom 1:16    Genuine gospel preaching will produce genuine conversions and teaching the truth of God’s word will produce true disciples.

           What are all these new converts taught I wonder?  Most likely that they must submit to their Leaders , attend as many church meetings as possible, find their ‘ministry’ in the Lord [ what an asset if they are a musician!] ; but will they be taught to check everything out with scripture? will they be warned to treat any ‘leadings’ with caution? will they be warned of false prophets and teachers and deception in the church? Probably not – we don’t want to be too negative do we??

          So – if todays prophetic utterances are correct and God is moving by His spirit , bringing great revival to the whole earth, in answer to  all the dedicated ‘prayer ministries’ and spiritual warfare activity – then logically, we cannot be in the Last Days – for we are told of a great falling away of the church before the Lord’s return.  And yet – the world is certainly fitting the pattern of ‘as in the days of Noah’ and it is getting increasingly difficult to live as a Christian in our sin-sick world.

           I have known great anxieties and fears in my life and some very stressful situations over the years that have almost overwhelmed me  – but it has always been the word of God that I’ve turned to and it has kept and sustained me.  Christians have been taught to run to other Christians for help, but they are not always the answer and some will let you down. Don’t live your Christian life off the faith of somebody else  – be strong in the Lord. It is the Lord and His word that we need. It is only through the scriptures that we know His will, how to follow Him, how to keep from deception and how to pray.

        I have been fortunate in having to deal with cults and aberrant Christian teachings from the beginning of my Christian walk, so I have been aware, by God’s grace ,when things haven’t been right scripturally. And now that the church at large is falling away , in spite of my own temporary doubts and sometimes confusion  – I have to be true to my own convictions and my prayer to the Lord, as always, is that in His grace and mercy He will use what I write to help others  – just as I myself have been helped by the many articles written by other concerned believers. Their insights and experiences have been of enormous value, often simply confirming what I’d only suspected.

May God bless and keep you,      Eileen

 

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I am not keen to write this post as it is specifically addressing issues I have with the church I’ve been [loosely] attending for roughly 3 years now.

I have often said that truth is very important to me and that is why I invite comment and correction when I get things wrong.

Well – it appears I have got things wrong and caused great offense by associating the Pastor with the false teachings and practices of the AoG, thereby harming his and the local church’s good doctrinal standing publicly [even though I did not identify them by name].  Of course , I am truly sorry if that is the case.

In a face to face meeting, the Pastor assured me that he has spoken out and written articles many times against the path that AoG UK are on and that I was too eager and hasty in writing what I did, without checking the facts.

In my defense, I have to ask why he didn’t enlighten me during our prior email exchanges and give me refs/links ? and why didn’t he immediately correct my blog? It was his silence that led me to assume what I did. Anyway – the bulk of my post was about AoG  not about him and the church.

The fact remains that he and the church are still affiliated with and pay subs to the AoG – so what is one to think?

This whole episode was triggered by two sermons the Pastor gave on ‘Church Membership'[ which he deemed important and invited our comments on] coupled with my viewing of  the AoG website.  This led to my assumptions of their influence …..

Up until this point , I had never been pressed on ‘ membership’ by the Pastor, but now an official eye was going to be kept on who was an actual  member and who wasn’t. They are currently deciding whether this will include signed up or verbal ‘commitment’.

Whether the Pastor realises it or not , [he says nothing has changed]  it is part of a church-wide emphasis nowadays  that says you have to prove your commitment to the church and each other by this covenant, [although the Pastor insists he doesn’t believe in such], and by your attendance at all church meetings unless you have good reason not to be there.

Congregations must be persuaded this is what God requires of them as part of the church ‘family’ with an outward show to the world of how much they love each other. All very noble sounding and scriptural of course . But what of those who, on scriptural grounds , don’t agree with this organised and manufactured unity of love and submission? Well – you have placed yourself outside of the collective haven’t you? You are no longer ‘pastorable’ – if there is such a word.

There seems to also be an unhealthy separation between Leaders and Laity, as their inner circles keep any church problems secret and hidden. What happened to openness and accountability?  Are they not supposed to be servants to the church?

There is a false idea about what constitutes ‘gossip’ , so nothing is discussed and dealt with as it should be. Along with this is the false idea that ‘judging righteously ‘ is mere criticism, so it simply ends up in a pretense of being humble by keeping quiet about issues.

Submission to Leaders is surely done willingly and in good conscience – you cannot be made to submit to something you believe is wrong just because the Leader tells you it’s scriptural to do so because he’s called by God to his office.

I despair when I see/hear Leaders manipulate people into an outward show of loving one another by telling them to hug each other or say ‘I love you’ to the person sitting next to them, or getting them to shout a loud response to their cheer-leading exhortations…..  they are kept perpetual babes in Christ and nothing is taught about scriptural discernment. They are treated as school children and not the mature adults they should be.

Well – I am truly sorry if this post is regarded as negative and pessimistic.  I am hopeful that individual born again believers will see the need to examine everything and seek after the truth that will set them free – free from man’s ways  and the bondage it brings.  The Lord  is teaching us in these last days to rely on Him more as our churches fail us.  He is faithful to His word to keep us in His care as we seek Him through  that very Word.

Maranatha!

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When I first started to go along to my little New Life church, I knew that it had previously been known locally as the Assemblies of God. In my ignorance – and I should have known better – I’d thought the name change was because they’d maybe separated. But only recently did I discover that all AOG churches had the same name change. I’ve never liked the modern desire to rename churches -because ,at least when they had denominational names you knew where they stood doctrinally.

But that’s ok – what’s in a name? After all I knew AOG and my Pastor were doctrinally sound and I never thought it necessary to check what they believed…..   until now that is.

Changes seem to be afoot – particularly in the area of emphasizing Membership and expanding the church building in order to prepare for growth. I won’t go into details here as it is church ‘business’ and I’m in email correspondence with my Pastor about it.  But – what I can do is voice my concerns about AOG in general.

I’d been aware of criticism about the AOG in America through the Lighthouse Trails web site. As this was concern about the Emerging church influence I didn’t pay much attention to it because I know Emerging , at the moment is much more rife there. AOG in the UK had been very strict about dealing with ‘heresy’ in the past so I’d no reason to think they wouldn’t be now.

A friend alerted me to the UK web site , which I’d honestly never thought to visit before. Oh boy – was I dismayed!  I was rather perturbed to see the words ’emerging leaders’ and the marketing and growth language and buzz words, slogans and the like too.

As with a lot of churches and christian groupings – it’s becoming very hard to pin them down – as someone said – it’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall to try to categorise them or separate them now. Things overlap a lot.

There’s a tendency to treat them as periphery things that don’t really matter as long as the core doctrines are right eg Trinity, Virgin Birth etc.  At one time I believed this too, but as time has gone by and this attitude prevails , the errors increase and become accepted as truth because Leaders have become so reluctant to speak out against anything. The mixture proliferates and God hates mixture.[ Jacob Prasch has an excellent article about this on his web site].

The thing is ,they all claim to be Bible-based and Gospel preaching, but what we find in practise  is that they use methods and have ‘visions’ or goals that are definitely alien to the Bible and the Gospel, and the focus is for Church Growth and prestige .

On the web site there is an invitation to the Leaders conference in 2014  and in the words of the National Leader, John Partington it will be “…. bigger and better than ever before! In the middle of our journey together to transform this nation …. We’re passionate about building leaders to build churches that are going to have a massive and influential impact  on their community and their world ….  you’ll be treated to world class preaching and teaching designed to get right inside the mind of leadership ….”

Can you imagine what the Apostle Paul would have said about this? Didn’t he say he came in fear and trembling, not using man’s wisdom and clever speech, but in dependence on the Holy Spirit in his weakness?

But no – the old way is no longer good enough as the church rushes to join the world in opening their doors to the marketing and management methods currently dominating every area of our lives , in Government, Education, Business, NHS , Charities etc etc.

Is church growth really dependent on our own methods and whipped up enthusiasm to succeed ? Every church, Pastor and member must ‘ be connected’  and have it’s shared vision to meet the needs of and be relevant to, their local community.

Excuse me?  Am I hearing right? I thought it was the Lord’s job to build His church by means of the preaching of the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ -for  it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes ….

Instead of sorrowing, the church today is forever excited about forecast growth, success, influence and impact  in the world. Isn’t it wonderful what God is doing with us?

Mmm – the preaching of the Gospel antagonises and alienates the majority. We can’t manufacture what isn’t there, however much human effort , ‘prayer’  and ‘claiming’ we may do.  The true church can’t be manipulated and whipped into shape however motivational and charismatic the Leaders may be. WHY DON’T THEY KNOW THIS??

Could it be that God has given them over to the Lie they want to believe while the church goes on it’s merry way?   It’s never too late for the individual christian, by God’s grace , to stop, reflect and return to Bible truth.

I pray that there may be people out there who this will help …. may the Lord bless and keep you.

Footnote

It can be a traumatic thing to realise the truth and then be rejected by people for declaring it. They usually turn the tables so that it is you who have pride, bitterness etc. Yes – and if you’re anything like me , you re-examine yourself  and things go around in your brain … but love for the truth will out and God is faithful to His word.

What will happen in my little church remains to be seen as it depends on the Pastors response to me I guess. From my experiences in the past, the direction is already set and won’t change, but I live in hope.

As always – please feel free to comment or correct me on anything.

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