A powerful new creation / evolution documentary is about to be released: “Dismantled”
(A scientific deconstruction of the theory of evolution)
You can watch it for FREE during the world premiere in two weeks’ time: Fri. 9 – Mon. 12 October.
Mark it in your calendars today. Details and trailer are linked below.
Whether you believe in biblical creation, evolution, or some amalgam of the two, you will find this documentary fascinating and informative.
Scientific evidence for creation, not evolution, has been growing for some time.
Creation scientists have been working on this and promoting it for many years, but our God-denying, evolution-believing scientists, the media, and our educational systems have clung to evolutionary explanation of origins. It is the principal reason many people have walked away from God, faith, and the church.
What is interesting is that evolution-believing scientists are increasingly recognising that the evolutionary model is broken, and that the creation model is a far better fit with the scientific data.
Strengthen your faith: the Bible can be trusted from the very first verse!
Help your non-believing friends to return to their loving God: watch it together and use it as a discussion starter.
Mark your calendars to watch the free premier. Promote it to your friends. Order the DVD to spread the message further.
Produced by Bible-believing scientists “yes”, but “no”, you don’t need a PhD to understand it!
Watch the trailer at the link above.
Go, Make, Grow, Disciples of Jesus
This blog post is adapted from an excerpt from my latest book, The Church Planting Journey, and was originally posted on loganleadership.com.
In any healthy ministry, there needs to be a strategy in place for passing discipleship along from one person to the next. Here I cover a few of my most important recommendations and options for discipleship processes.
Make the method easy to pass on
Whatever type of system or approach you take, ensure that it’s something easy to pass on. You need a simple, reproducible disciplemaking process. You can create your own process, or you can borrow one of the following options.
Focused discipleship conversations:
Any discipling relationship must be intentional and developmental, with both an inward and outward focus: 1) helping people celebrate where they’re at, 2) listening to God together to pinpoint where he may want them to grow, and 3) thinking about how they can disciple and serve others outside of themselves.
Life Transformation Groups (LTGs):
Another option designed for two to four people is the LTG. I've found it to be a helpful way to empower ordinary people to make disciples (free downloadable handout). These groups meet weekly to challenge each other in the reading of Scripture and for accountability in life choices:
• Describe your interaction with God this week.
• How did you share Jesus with others?
• What temptations did you face this week? How did you respond?
• What did the Holy Spirit teach you through your Scripture reading this week?
• What next steps does God want you to take personally? With others?
Guide for Discipling (Logan Leadership):
As Jesus discipled people, he expected that there discipleship would touch all aspects of their life, relationships, and even society as a whole. Along with Dr. Charles Ridley, we developed a picture of what a disciple looks like:
• Experiencing God
• Spiritual responsiveness
• Sacrificial service
• Generous living
• Personal transformation
• Authentic relationships
• Community transformation
There are 40 guides can be used as a resource for focused discipleship conversations, or in a peer discipling group. People can read Scripture together, pray together, and ask one another questions about their growth (Hebrews 10:24–25). You can download the free overview and a sample guide here.
Discovery Bible Study (Cru):
This study has a simple structure with three basic parts. The first is connection, thanksgiving, and prayer. The second is reading and engagement with Scripture. The third is committing to living in obedience in response to what you’re hearing and learning. Check out the details here.
There are many, many others...
Precisely which discipleship processes you use doesn’t matter, as long as it includes both an inward and an outward journey—a way of personal growth and a way of reaching out to others. Choose one that is simple enough to be reproducible, but flexible enough that people don’t feel forced into a mold.
Pitfalls to avoid
Avoid the temptation to scatter your efforts. To be effective, just start with one—or maybe two—approaches that work. When you have too many options and too many activities, it’s easy to overwhelm a newcomer or a new believer. They may try to attend everything rather than focusing in on one thing that will facilitate growth and outreach.
Also, while curriculum can be helpful initially, there are also risks to becoming curriculum-dependent. It can feel intimidating to laypeople if it’s too complex to pass on. It can also be viewed as a course or class that, once completed, is never revisited. You’ll need something transferable, ongoing, and relational. You also need something flexible enough to allow people to listen to the Holy Spirit—sometimes people need to address issues in a different sequence than traditional curriculum allows.
Listening to the Holy Spirit and responding in loving obedience—that is the essence of discipleship. We tend to give people more direction when they’re younger in the faith and less when they’re more mature, but we want to encourage people to take responsibility for their own growth at all times. We are not “gurus” —everyone is on this journey together.
Good discipleship processes focus more on facilitating the reproduction of the message than about teaching specific information. The responsibility goes beyond one generation:
You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; 2 and what
you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people
who will be able to teach others as well. (2 Timothy 2:1–2)
Consider what type of simple and reproducible method you might use to create a disciplemaking pathway that moves people from not knowing Jesus to following and helping others follow Jesus.
The Church Planting Journey- This newly released book is a comprehensive guide for the church planter. It is the culmination of experience that includes being a church planter myself, and coaching and consulting church planters for more than 40 years. Within the pages of The Church Planting Journey, you will find wisdom, systems, and processes that can help you launch well as well as sustain your unique vision and call.
The Discipleship Difference- This book lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are.
Finding the Flow Small Group Leader Training: Training your leaders to listen well, recognize the Holy Spirit at work in people, and respond accordingly is an essential component to all discipleship processes. Adapted from the book, Finding the Flow, this downloadable training kit maximizes your small group leader training, equipping facilitators for a myriad of circumstances.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Joe and Mary enter the church and talk to long-term friends. They get a cup of coffee and ask how Sarah how she’s enjoying their new house. Joe and Mary sit down in their familiar seats by the center aisle so they can leave quickly. They sing some songs, hear a message, and then go home.
A church culture has dominated a mission culture in many of our churches. Too many "Christians" are busy playing church instead of seeking the heart of Jesus. As a result, the church is declining in the US. Jesus’ example and teaching in Luke 5 helps us change a church culture to a mission culture.
1. Obey Jesus’ word
After not catching any fish, Jesus asked Simon to let down his nets in deep water for a catch. By obeying His word, their nets broke with so many fish. Simon Peter fell down at Jesus' feet saying he was sinful. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men." They left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:1-11). Obey Jesus' word and admit sinfulness to bear fruit in evangelism.
2. Pray for spiritual power
A leper was cured immediately when he saw Jesus and begged to be made clean. Jesus ordered him to see a priest and make an offering for his cleansing as Moses commanded and as a testimony. News spread as great multitudes gathered to hear Jesus and be healed of their sicknesses. Often times, Jesus would slip away to pray alone (Luke 5:12-16). Pray to provide power for physical and spiritual healing.
3. Show compassion for sinners
Because of the crowd, some men carrying a paralyzed man went up on the roof and let him down through tiles to set him in front of Jesus. So skeptical and condemning Pharisees would "know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins," the paralyzed man rose from his stretcher where he had been lying and went home, giving glory to God (Luke 5:17-26). Show compassion instead of condemning sinners.
4. Share a clear verbal witness
Jesus told a tax-gatherer named Levi to follow Him. He left everything behind and followed Him (Luke 5:27-28). Witness verbally and challenge people to follow Christ so they will repent.
5. Socialize with those who need to know Jesus
After Levi invited other tax-gatherers and gave a big reception for Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes grumbled at His disciples saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax-gatherers and sinners?" Jesus answered that since the sick need a physician, He was calling sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Luke 5:29-32). Influence sinners by having meals and personal relationships.
6. Delight in God's presence
The religious leaders said John's and Pharisees' disciples fast and offer prayers, but "Yours eat and drink." Jesus answered that it was appropriate for his disciples not to fast since He, as the bridegroom, was present with them now and not later (Luke 5:33-35). Delight in God's presence and have fun relating with others.
7. Use new methods
One doesn't tear a piece from a new garment and put it on an old garment since it won't match the old. You also don't "put new wine into old wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough'" (Luke 5:36-39). Use new methods for greater effectiveness in making disciples.
To move from a church culture to a mission culture, I will do the following:
1. Obey Jesus' word and admit sinfulness to bear fruit in evangelism
2. Pray for physical and spiritual healing
3. Show compassion instead of condemning sinners
4. Witness verbally and challenge people to follow Christ so they will repent
5. Influence sinners by having meals and personal relationships
6. Delight in God's presence and have fun relating with others
7. Use new methods for greater effectiveness in making disciples
For more posts, go to www.markpomeroy.com ;
I have a new theory—I would even call it a discovery—about two of life’s greatest mysteries. The two mysteries are related, and my theorem explains both.
The first mystery is why there are so many unhappy marriages, and the second is like it: Why is it often so difficult to find fulfillment in the modern-day churches we attend?
I call both of these “mysteries,” because God intended something far better. He created marriage and the church to be enjoyable, life-changing institutions.
So what has gone so terribly wrong?
That brings up my theorem, which I discovered while cooking eggs for breakfast recently. I’ll start by applying my discovery to churches, then proceed to marriages.
Most modern churches are like a carton of eggs. People come and sit together in neat rows of stadium seats, never touching, never relating, never sharing their hearts. They just sit there and observe the show, which probably would be more enjoyable if popcorn were served. After an hour or so, it’s time to leave. But the churchgoers, like eggs still in the shells, are usually unchanged by the experience.
How sad! No wonder millions of Christians have chosen to opt out of the egg-carton church experience. They’ve concluded that they might as well stay home and listen to a podcast.
Here’s the problem with this scenario, as my theorem so beautifully illustrates: Life-change only happens when there is vulnerability, and vulnerability requires brokenness.
Put simply, the eggshell must be cracked open if anyone is going to enjoy the egg. I don’t know anyone who eats the shells—it’s what’s inside that counts.
So if you’re going to have a meaningful experience with other believers, there must a touching of hearts (involving the egg whites and yokes), not just a superficial touching of the shells. That’s why so little transformation occurs while you sit, unengaged, as a spectator in a church congregation. The experience failed to reach your heart, will, or emotions in a meaningful way.
That brings us to an even more illuminating application of my theorem: unhappy marriages…
Last year I overheard a conversation that really troubled me. A recently divorced man was complaining to a married friend, saying he didn’t like being single. The married man just smiled and said, “Brother, do you realize how many million men would gladly trade places with you?!”
Ouch. The statement reflects today’s common view that it is preferable to be single than to be in an unhappy marriage. It’s a pretty sad commentary, but King Solomon reached a similar conclusion (Proverbs 21:9, 21:19).
Fortunately, my egg analogy helps to explain the demise of marriage in our culture, and it also offers hope for better outcomes if we learn its lessons.
The Bible says marriage involves TWO people who become ONE (Genesis 2:21-25, Ephesians 5:22-33). However, this phenomenon is often misunderstood, as my egg theorem shows:
- Eggs in a carton are like individuals who live in close proximity, yet never interact on an emotional or spiritual level. This could describe singleness for many people, but it also helps to explain unhappy marriages. Many husbands and wives today start with prenups, move on to separate bank accounts, and end up with separate bedrooms. They are under the same roof, but become more akin to roommates than marriage partners. Do you see why this would be unsatisfying? The eggs are together in the carton, but they are back in their shells.
- At the other extreme are scrambled eggs. Although many people think churches and marriages are supposed to model this kind of extreme “oneness,” that is NOT what the Bible teaches. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “one” but retain their separate identities, so it is with happy marriages. The husband and wife each have a unique role and some individual interests. They have not become “scrambled eggs,” where their identity is forever lost. No, God made us to remain distinct, “male and female” (Genesis 1:27)—and marriage is meant to enhance that fact, not erase it. So if you’ve allowed your identity to be swallowed up in a relationships that resembles a pile of scrambled eggs, it’s no wonder your unhappy. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always preferred my eggs cooked over easy, touching and overlapping in some ways, but still separate.
If you are unhappy in your marriage or church, I wish I could sit down with you and apply my theorem to your specific situation. The good news is that it may not be too late to unscramble your scrambled eggs. But there’s no time to waste.
To rediscover the joy of intimate relationships, here’s what I recommend:
1. Make sure you are broken and vulnerable in your relationship with the Lord. Let Him get past your hard outer shell and deal with the issues of your heart. You’re never going to restore your marriage or find a life-changing church experience unless you first have a tender heart before God.
2. After you’ve been broken before the Lord, you can expect a new fragrance to emerge in your life, affecting all of your relationships. In a pivotal story in the Gospels, a woman broke an alabaster jar of perfume in order to worship Jesus. The resulting fragrance filled the house and changed the entire atmosphere (Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8). The same can happen with the atmosphere in your home or church.
3. As hard as it may be, you must let down your guard (i.e., remove the eggshell) and expose your heart and your emotions to the people closest to you. Men tend to have an especially difficult time with this. Too often, we come home from work, curl up on the couch to watch our favorite sports event on TV, and never take time to become emotionally vulnerable. Hmmm…no wonder that scenario doesn’t lead to a satisfying marriage.
Wow. There’s so much more I could say about my eggshell theorem. I’m praying for you to regain your tender heart and the joy of true intimacy—starting with God and then working outward to your marriage and close friendships. You’ll be amazed by how the atmosphere can change.
Lately I’ve been pondering what’s the primary reason so many marriages and churches ultimately fail. Is it because of self-centeredness? Narcissism? A refusal to die to our own interests so that the love of God can reign in our hearts?
I guess we could debate this all day. All sorts of core issues could be cited, and entire books have been written to analyze the subject.
However, I’ve been increasingly focusing my attention on an obscure passage in Nehemiah 4:2 that seems to describe where much of the problem lies. Nehemiah and his followers wanted to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, but their efforts were ridiculed by critics as impossible: “Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” (Nehemiah 4:2)
The imagery here describes people who want to build something grand and glorious, but the available building materials are seriously flawed. Rather than coming directly from some manufacturing plant, the bricks have been drawn from a “rubbish heap.” No longer in pristine condition, they are charred and broken.
This explains a lot about the difficulty of constructing healthy marriages. While the bride and groom typically dress up in their finest apparel on their wedding day, underneath the tux and gown are flawed, burnt, and broken people.
You may not want to own up to the fact that you’ve been “charred” by your life experiences, but we ALL have. We’re in this together, so we might as well be honest. If “original sin” wasn’t a big enough problem, we’ve all been scarred by imperfect childhoods, toxic relationships, poor choices, or mishaps in our career.
So what happens when two flawed, broken people come together in holy matrimony? Well, ideally, God’s healing process can begin. But too often, the opposite occurs: The flaws and brokenness come to the surface in even greater ways than before, and the couple has no idea how to handle them.
And no wonder it’s so difficult to plant healthy churches these days. People may bring their “Sunday smiles” to church, but during stressful times their dysfunctions emerge. Unity is strained, because everyone wants to get their own way.
Yes, it’s hard lay a strong foundation when you’re working with charred materials.
In case you think I’m being far too negative, let me also point to one reason for hope. God knows all about our flaws and imperfections, and He loves us anyway. The whole point of the Gospel is that the cross of Christ provides both forgiveness and a remedy for our sin-wrecked nature.
However, here’s the problem: In order for the Gospel to do its restorative work in our lives, we have to acknowledge our brokenness and sincerely want to change. Otherwise, our inherent flaws will be compounded rather than healed.
If you’re feeling like a charred stone today, don’t despair. You aren’t alone. There’s hope for a turnaround when you cry out to the One who’s able to make ALL things new (Revelation 21:5).
And I almost forgot to mention another very encouraging fact. Despite his persistent detractors, Nehemiah and his team were successful in rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall—even though their building materials came from the rubbish heap. With God’s help, you can build something beautiful as well.
Churches all over the world claim to have Jesus “in the house,” but sometimes there is scant evidence to support that claim. Mark 2:1-12 provides us with a vivid outline of what it looks like to have Jesus actively working in our gatherings. The chapter begins by saying that Jesus had come back to Capernaum, His home base, and word had gotten out “that He was at home.”
I pray that this kind of word-of-mouth marketing is happening for your congregation today. Long before Facebook and Twitter, word quickly got out that Jesus was in the house, and a number of stunning results followed.
Here are 5 things you can expect to happen when people hear that Jesus is regularly “in the house” during your church gatherings:
- Crowds will come. Verse 2 says, “Many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door.” While your congregation may not be a megachurch, the Biblical model makes it clear that large numbers of people will be attracted if they truly know that Jesus is in the house.
- The Word of God will be taught. Verse 3 tells us, “He was speaking the word to them.” Other aspects of Jesus’ ministry would be demonstrated later in the story, but first He taught the Word. Today we have many churches that teach the Word, but which demonstrate no power. We also have churches that are highly experiential, with very little teaching from the Scriptures. Yet when Jesus is in the house, the two go hand in hand.
- Radical faith will be sparked. Hearing that Jesus was in the house, four men carried a paralyzed friend to the meeting place. When the large crowd prevented them from bringing the paralytic through the doorway, they climbed up on the roof and dug a hole to lower the man on a pallet in front of Jesus. What radical behavior! This kind of passionate determination would be so out of character for polite, conventional, American Christians. Verse 5 says Jesus SAW their faith—quite a contrast to the common misconception today that faith can be a private, personal matter that we keep to ourselves.
- Forgiveness will be released. Although the man had been brought to the meeting for healing of his paralysis, Jesus saw a much more critical need, telling the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). Countless people today are paralyzed because of a need for forgiveness. Either they are immobilized by guilt and shame over things they’ve done, or else they are locked in an emotional prison because of their unwillingness to forgive others. Jesus was about to perform a miracle of physical healing as well, but first He made sure that the forgiveness issue was fully dealt with in this man.
- Miracles will happen. When was the last time you witnessed a genuine miracle in your church? Yet that’s the kind of thing that can be expected when Jesus is in the house. After He had taught the Word and dealt with the forgiveness issue, He boldly told the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your pallet and go home” (v. 11). When people saw the man immediately set free from his paralysis, they “were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this’” (v. 12).
I absolutely love this conclusion of the story. God was glorified by what had happened, as He always is when we invite Jesus to freely work in our gatherings.
People testified that they had never seen anything like this before. That’s exactly what will happen again today when you and I allow Jesus to come and fill our house today. Even if we’re longtime Christians, we will marvel at the blessings and miracles released by our Lord’s presence among us.
So let’s not settle for anything less in our churches and our homes than to have Jesus in the house.
When I first started in ministry, I had a policy to never preach the same sermon twice, even in different locations. But in recent years, I’ve taken a new approach: If God gives me a powerful message, I assume it’s likely to apply to multiple people and places. So why not preach it more than once?
But I’ve learned something shocking in the process: The power of my message often has as much to do with the responsiveness of the people as to my own prayer and preparation beforehand.
Not long ago, I preached a very similar message to two different groups, and I’m convinced the message “fit” both groups equally well. But although my preparation and delivery were the same, the message had a powerful impact on one group, while the other group yarned most of the time.
What is the lesson here? I asked the Lord.
I was reminded that the impact of a message is greatly affected by the prayerful, responsive hearts of the recipients. People who are hungry for God’s Word will be impacted far more than people who are just sitting in their seats, often with their mind on other things.
Somebody once observed: “If people are eager to hear and be transformed by the Word of God, you can sing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and everyone will shout hallelujah at the great revelation you presented!”
Of course, sometimes a truly anointed preacher can break through people’s apathy and dullness of hearing. But even Jesus commented that some of His hearers were much more responsive than others. And in some cases, people missed His points entirely.
One of my conclusions is that preachers probably get too much credit for “good” sermons and too much blame for “bad” ones. So if you think your pastor has been boring lately, I encourage you to do two things: (1) Pray for him and (2) Make sure your own heart has been prepared to receive and heed the Word of God.
And speaking of credit and blame: What about a situation where a church isn’t growing? Typically the blame is put entirely on the pastor. But many visitors to a church are repulsed not by the pastor’s message, but by the unfriendliness of the congregation or the lack of volunteers to provide excellence in the ministry to children and teens.
Instead of blaming your pastor if the church isn’t growing as fast as you would like, how about taking time to regularly pray for a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit? And what about making a new commitment to invite people to the church and give visitors a warm welcome?
One thing both pastors and parishioners can be blamed for: Pastors in today’s American church have been put on pedestals that are virtually impossible to maintain. No wonder the pastors receive too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when they don’t.
The local church ministry is a volunteer army. Noah Webster pointed out in his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828 that a volunteer is “a person who enters into military or other service of his own free will. In military affairs, volunteers enter into service voluntarily, but when in service they are subject to discipline and regulations like other soldiers.” This is an accurate picture of the Christian life, as verified by Paul’s instructions to Timothy. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.”(2 Timothy 2:2-4, HCSB) Because the Holy Spirit has uniquely gifted each believer who has been sovereignly placed by God into the local church, every member has the privilege and responsibility to serve in the local church ministry.
THEOLOGY OF VOLUNTEERISM
There is an ancient story of a Spartan king who boasted to a rival monarch about the walls of his city. Upon arriving, the rival was baffled and asked the king, “Where are the wall in which you boast so much?” The king pointed at his troops. "These," he said, "are the walls of Sparta, every man a brick." A commentator who used this illustration concluded, “The point is clear. So long as a brick lies by itself it is useless; it becomes of use only when it is incorporated into a building. So it is with the individual Christian. To realize his destiny he must not remain alone, but must be built into the fabric of the Church.” (www.preceptaustin.org/1_peter_24-6.htm)
The Apostle Peter uses this same imagery of building in his explanation of the church body. In discussing the theological foundation of the church, he stated, “Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” ( 1 Peter 2:4-5, HCSB) This theological statement is referred to as the “priesthood of believers,” which means that Christians have access to God through Jesus Christ. On three occasions in the Bible (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, and 1 Peter 2:5,9), the word priest is used “for Christians who have been set apart by God for service to God.” (William Mounce, Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) The phrase “priesthood of believers” means that Christians have a duty and a responsibility. Believers are a volunteer army that has been deployed for duty.
Question for Today: Why do some people choose to come to church, occupy a seat, and refuse to serve? I would love to get your comments.
Check out my site at www.SpiritLedConnecting.com.
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