Questions for every church leader

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Many church leaders look to mega-churches for guidance. The more notable Churches are Andy Stanley’ North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community in Chicago, Illinois, and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Leaders are often drawn to these mega-churches in hopes of learning how to make their own approaches to ministry more effective.

The fast and frightening pace of change in our culture causes many traditional churches to feel as if they’ve lost touch. When ministries are ineffective, leaders who care about the Church ask questions about how to “do” Church better. Unwilling to become stagnant or to accept status quo, these leaders pursue new models for their ministries.

Since mega-churches give an appearance of success, church leaders from far away places rush to them in search of new and more effective ways to do church.

The mega-churches attracting others usually have uniquely gifted leaders…

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3 tough questions for the Church

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Contemporary context

What do you think about the practice of some churches when they invite people to belong before believing.

The leaders in these churches prefer to see life with Christ as more of a journey or a conversation. They are reticent about viewing Christianity as a destination or a conclusion one reaches.

Perhaps their readiness to think about belonging before believing is reactionary to the many non-negotiable lines drawn by their spiritual predecessors. These lines were used to distinguished those who were in from those who were out. Separation from those on the outside of the Church was a major emphasis. Yet the separatist approach often came with the ugly hypocritical baggage of legalism–a major aversion for younger evangelicals.

Theological context

While we could raise a number of important concerns, it seems that the belonging before believing position is partly based on a theology of shared humanity rather than…

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Looking deeply into the heart of God

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

We can only think accurately about how God relates to the evil actions of humans (and to His own acts of judgment), if we respect an important distinction concerning God’s will.  

Along with God’s sovereign and revealed will, one must consider God’s dispositional will. This dimension probes deeply into God’s heart toward His creation.

II Peter 3:9 reveals God’s heart 

The apostle Peter reminds us that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Obviously this aspect of God’s will refers to something other than the sovereign or predetermined will of God because some people will perish. What it tells us is that God is not inwardly disposed to or delighted by people perishing — even though in His judgment He will cause some to perish.

R.C. Sproul explains

“All things being equal, God does desire that no one perishes, but all things are not equal. Sin is real. Sin…

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To love and to cherish

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

I typically use the traditional vows in wedding ceremonies. Some couples, however, ask to write their own vows.  When they do this, I always ask to review their vows to make sure they align with the substance of the traditional ones.

The vows below are the ones I’ve used for most weddings I’ve performed. If you’re married, review them and recommit yourself to them. If you’re single, reflect on the depth of their meaning.

The line that stands out to me in light of many troubled marriages is the vow “to love and to cherish.” It might sound redundant but loving and cherishing could be two different expressions. Certainly, one cannot claim to cherish someone without love. But is it possible to love without cherishing? I am commanded to love others but I am not sure I am ready to say that I cherish everyone I love.

To cherish implies…

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An eye for an eye?


Did Jesus change this law?

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Can you remember or identify with these familiar sounds from small children. 

  • “That’s mine!” “Mom, he took my toy!”
  • “I was there first!” “Dad, she took the swing I was on!”
  • “It’s my turn!” “Mom, he won’t share.”
  • “You got the last prize out of the cereal – I get this one!”
  • “He hit me first!” “But it was an accident!” “I didn’t mean to!” “Yes you did!” 

We are born with a tendency to protect and defend what we believe to be our rights. And we’ll defend our perceived rights to the point of revenge if others violate them.

No one has to teach children to respond like this. It’s innate for all human beings; it’s part of our nature. And, instead of dissipating with adulthood, it tends to intensify. 

Some of the most spiteful, vindictive and vengeful people are adults – not children. The offense and…

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Words are windows into hearts

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

When things go wrong in a relationship, we can almost always be sure that people are talking in hurtful ways to each other. 

This is one reason why it’s important to often take personal inventory about the way we use our words.

Another reason relates to local Churches. Teaching people the right ways to speak to one another (and about one another) is essential to preserving the unity of Christian fellowship.

Believers are called to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).  Some of the most destructive forces threatening unity are related to speech (James 3).

The first practical problem faced by the early Church involved verbal complaints.

“But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food” (Acts…

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I will not remember your sins

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

If you believe the promise of I John 1:9, you will not hold against yourself the sin that God does not hold against you.

What is the promise? 

  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Reinforce this truth with these Scriptures

  • “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness” (Psalm 131:3-4).
  • Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32:2-3, NLT).
  • God said, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
  • “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the…

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