Friday, May 22, 2009

THE BIBLICAL CHURCH THAT GLORIFIES GOD
...which one are we known for in America today?

updated

Taking some license by illustration with Stephen Covey's best selling tome, "Seven Habits of Higly Effective People." Here are three very different, but apt discriptions of church models that exist today. These lists are not exhaustive... and they were written with broad brush strokes, intentionally, to include a wide variety of church "experiences" in each category. 

I would like to know what would your lists comprise of? Read Ephesians 4:11-16 to get a glimpse into the church that glorifies God. As a complimentary piece, Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church has written an excellent taxonomy of Christianity in America called "Has Christian America Come To An End?" for FOXNEWS. It is his response to the recent controversial Newsweek cover story by Jon Meacham, "The End of Christian America." Driscoll insightfully compares Christian America and Christendom America from a biblical worldview. 

This is a must read.


Seven highly effective habits of the Contemporary Church that almost always guarantee church growth with very little spiritual impact:
1. Go political, not biblical
2. Go pragmatic, not theological
3. Go psychology, not discipleship
4. Go anthropocentric, not Christocentric
5. Go postmodern, not transcendent
6. Go “share your story”, not preach faithfully His Word
7. Go calling sin sickness and disobedience disease


Seven highly effective habits of the Traditional Church that almost always guarantee church stagnation with very little spiritual impact:
1. Go traditional, not spiritual
2. Go legalistic, not grace
3. Go corporate, not community
4. Go “count converts”, not “make disciples”
5. Go pastoral/elder ruler, not shepherd/servant leader
6. Go moralism, not Christlikeness
7. Go programs, not prayer


Seven highly effective habits of the Biblical Church that glorifies God:
1. Go supremacy of God, glory in Christ Jesus and worship by the Holy Spirit 
2. Go sola fide, sola scriptura, sola gratia, solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria
3. Go The Great Commission and the Two Great Commandments
4. Go take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan
5. Go preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as a slave to others
6. Go pray without ceasing
7. Go equip the saints for the work of the ministry

Some very good input from one contributor in the meta on this theme
1. Go simple, not complex 
(An authentic church displays their priorities by their financial expenses and by the way they want to appear to the world. In short, they are frugal on non-essentials, but always rich on truth, worship, discipleship and fellowship.)

2. Go theologically passionate, not piously stoic
(An authentic church loves God with their minds by exhibiting careful and deep thinking on the great truths of the Bible and its relation to contemporary life & An authentic church loves God with their affections by displaying the full range of emotions which are in proportion with Biblical truths and which glorify God.)

3. Go 24/7, not just one-day a week
(An authentic church is much more than a Sunday operation. It extends throughout the week as the leadership provides avenues for the ongoing maturity of the people.)

4. Go reverent, not light-hearted or cavalier
(An authentic church is very serious about pursuing maximum satisfaction in Jesus Christ and is very serious about killing sin that blocks true affection for Christ. This reverence is marked as well by a joy in the Lord and His Word.)

5. Go outward missions-minded just as equally as being inward focused
(An authentic church has a global vision of the spread of the Gospel by highlighting God’s triumphant global purposes and by actively sending risk-taking missionaries.)

6. Go risk-taking, not safe haven
(An authentic church will take the necessary safety and financial risks in the spread of the Gospel and thus show the infinite value of Christ to our God-belittling world.) 

7. Go richly Christ-centered, not earthly-dieted 
(An authentic church is permeated with the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ in all things by displaying Him and delighting in Him in all their ministries and gatherings

I thought that these things were well stated in the meta here and I wanted to feature them for your encouragement as well. 

Thank you Elizabeth Davis for posting these things here.


this has been an updated encore presentation

24 comments:

Paul Schafer said...

Steve,
Are you going to give a brief description on each one in each group?

Group 1 #7 What do you mean?
Group 2 #5 What do you mean?
Group 2 #6 What do you mean?

loren said...

Hi Steve,

I'm actually disappointed to be the first to make a comment here. I thought there would be a chorus of agreement by now. It makes me wonder just how far gone we may actually be?

The other side of your excellent points is that those who have not followed them before now will seldom want to hear about them; and once it's been that way for a while, they'll dread the conflict that will come through 'changing course', (even though that course change would be a correction!)

Starting with 'no compromise' can mean less church growth at an initial, and therefore crucial, stage, and that is the temptation ministries face. But if God really called them to start it, the only acceptable beginning can be no compromise with Him. That way, too, any growth that is achieved will be genuine and stable, even if it's slower. Otherwise one is building on the sand.

Lot's of thoughts, better stop now before I'm carried away. Thanks again for the post.

Bhedr said...

I think it is all a question of contentment. Are we content with what Yeshua did at Calvary or must we try to dress it up and add to it?

Add to your list for a sound church:Go contentment with Calvary

Jeremy Weaver said...

Very good post, Steve.
Success should always be measured by God's glory, not numbers, wealth, or programs.

MARK JOHNSTON said...

Good post Steve-- Sounds very familiar to some of the suggestions in a book that I read a few years ago titled Soultsunami:10 Life Rings for you and Your Church by Leonard Sweet . Here were some of the titles of his chapters:

Life Ring 1--Get Souled Out- The God Rush

Life Ring 2--Get Morphed--The Multiverse

Life Ring 3--Get Green--Seven Heads: One Body

Life Ring 4--Get Deidolized--The Godlet Phenomenon

Life Ring 5--Get Bionomic--The Loss of Genetic Innocence

Life Ring 6--Get Epic--HOT(Hands-On-Truth) Churches for a HOT(High-Online Technology) Culture

Life Ring 7--Get Dechurched--De-Everything

Life Ring 8--Get Glocal--The Global Renaissance

Life Ring 9--Get Chaordic--Chaordic Churches and Chaordic Leaders

Life Ring 10--Get Into It--A Pre-Christian Society

The only beneficial thing about the book was some interesting statistics that he cranked out. The bottom line for him is that the church needs to change.

Bhedr said...

Loren said:Starting with 'no compromise' can mean less church growth at an initial, and therefore crucial, stage, and that is the temptation ministries face. But if God really called them to start it, the only acceptable beginning can be no compromise with Him. That way, too, any growth that is achieved will be genuine and stable, even if it's slower. Otherwise one is building on the sand.

Elohiym has given you depth brother. I hope others will take notice of Yeshua's work in you.

littlegal_66 said...

This topic has really been in my thoughts of late. For example, last Sunday night at the church I attend, one of the elders was in the pulpit discussing a church homecoming he had attended in Texas recently. He said that the church had really gone downhill in recent years, and the purpose of the homecoming was to solicit donations to get the church back on its feet. He said that in its glory days, the church was a very healthy church-both numerically and financially. I'm still scratching my head, trying to figure out why the spiritual health of the church in question was not even mentioned or considered! (Guess it's just not important anymore, in some folks' eyes).

Timely post, Steve--thanks, brother.

ephphatha said...

The "Go x, not y" format of these points seem to assume that x and y are mutually exclusive, but it seems to me, that all but one are false dichotomies. The one that says, "Go anthropocentric, not Christocentric" is the only one that strikes me as being a legitimate dichotomy.

Reformer said...

ephphatha - you make an excellent point! Setting up such a strict dichotomy presupposes that (for example, 2:1) "traditional" cannot be "spiritual". The Scripture reminds us that there is value in the traditions of our theological and spiritual forefathers (2 Thes 2.15). I do understand what Steve is getting at I think, however. Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees for their commitment to tradition that trumped their commitment to the revelation of God. (Mark 7.1-13, particularly verse 8)

Also, the law does not stand in contradiction to grace, "legalalism" does however!

Again, "counting converts" does not have to so strictly separated from "making disciples." We recognize that the spiritual health of a chuch is not determined by its size, of course. However, if we are not growing, reaching our community with the life-transforming gospel, then we are not "making disciples." I once heard a very notable, very reformed scholar speak with seeming pride that his Reformed Baptist Church was so small.

Steve, I am still sure what you meant by "Go pastoral/elder ruler, not shepherd/servant leader." Are you suggesting that these are mutually exclusive? That an elder cannot "rule" in service and care? Not quite sure I am following you there.

Grace to you!

SJ Camp said...

Great comments here y'all. Here is some further clarification:

Group 1 #7 means: many churches today have adopted a psychological view of sanctification. Sin is now called sickness and disobedience, disease. When therapy replaces discipleship we are left with a church that wants to "feel" their God, but not know their God. In addition, sin is then minimized to a medical or clinical definition. Rather than being an offense to God, we are now simply "sick."

Group 2 #5 means: pastors/elders confuse their position with servanthood many times. When I served as an associate pastor with John MacArthur at Grace, he would constantly remind us that he had no authority except that which was given in Scripture. John is a true servant of the gospel not wielding his authority as a dictator would, but as a servant-leader would. Elders must rule, but not in a power-control fashion; they serve the church... not lord over it. And they are under-shepherds of Christ. In addition, many elders feel that because os their position, that the thoughts and opinions of the congregation don't matter--they're in charge. That spirit will divide a congregation and not bring healing or growth to one.

Group 2 #6 means: many churches today are on a "download of information" trend. They just keep pouring more and more doctrine at their people rather than disciple them to be Christlike. We mustn't confuse knowledge with spirituality... and there is that temptation to do so by all of us. The knowledge of God's Word should conform us to further Christlikeness...not puff us up. As my late friend, Keith Green used to say, "how can we be so dead, when we've been so well fed; Jesus rose from the grave, but you can't even get out of bed!"

Hope this helps,
Campi

~Mark said...

Thanks for a great post! The killer for me over the past few years has been the political affiliation. It almost seems like you have to be a White male Republican to be truly following Christ.

Bhedr said...

You said:

We mustn't confuse knowledge with spirituality... and there is that temptation to do so by all of us. The knowledge of God's Word should conform us to further Christlikeness...not puff us up.

Amen and God bless you

Shawn L said...

Steve,

You are right about Group 2 #6.

Here's a quote that reminded me of what you meant.


"A man may be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant. --Stephen Charnock"

Bhedr said...

Hey Shawn are you trying to say something to me:-)

Shawn L said...

Bhedr,

I seriously think of this quote applying to myself more than other people.

Thanks,
Shawn

Bhedr said...

Shawn,
Jus playin' as Steve said the temptation is within all of us to use the word of God to puffeth ourself up. In one sense it is just as dangerous as the wave riding trend in the contemporary church. It is Simon the Sorcerers desire to be great. Oh that we all would fall on our faces and only glorify the living God. We are proud critters down here always seeking a vice. Steve's blog is all of this put into practice. This is what I like about his articles. He leaveth not one standing. You know ol Spurgeon kinda had that thing about him. Don't get a big head Campi elsewise this would then be untrue. Yet I knoweth that there remaineth in all of us that desire to be whole and have all this dross burned from us. Longing for the day this wretched tent is dissolved.

Elizabeth Davis said...

1. Go simple, not complex - An authentic church displays their priorities by their financial expenses and by the way they want to appear to the world. In short, they are frugal on non-essentials.
2. Go theologically emotional, not piously stoic - An authentic church loves God with their minds by exhibiting careful and deep thinking on the great truths of the Bible and its relation to contemporary life & An authentic church loves God with their affections by displaying the full range of emotions which are in proportion with Biblical truths and which glorify God.
3. Go 24/7, not one-day/week - An authentic church is much more than a Sunday operation. It extends throughout the week as the leadership provides avenues for the ongoing maturity of the people.
4. Go serious, not humorous - An authentic church is very serious about pursuing maximum satisfaction in Jesus Christ and is very serious about killing sin that blocks true affection for Christ.
5. Go missions-minded, not inward focused - An authentic church has a global vision of the spread of the Gospel by highlighting God’s triumphant global purposes and by actively sending risk-taking missionaries.
6. Go risk-taking, not safe haven - An authentic church will take the necessary safety and financial risks in the spread of the Gospel and thus show the infinite value of Christ to our God-belittling world.
7. Go Christ-intoxicated, not earthly-dieted - An authentic church is permeated with the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ in all things by displaying Him and delighting in Him in all their ministries and gatherings.

SJ Camp said...

Elizabeth
Very well said. Excellent thoughts. Thank you!

Michele Rayburn said...

For the Biblical Church that glorifies God...

I didn't read anywhere in the post, comments, or links to "Go love one another".

If we do not love one another, as Christ loves us, it is my heartfelt belief that we can't do the rest. We can't "do" all the things that Christ would want us to do as effectively if it is not first founded in love, not just for Christ, but for one another.

Sometimes I think that the Church takes for granted that because we are Christians, and that Christ is in us, and that God is love, that of course we love one another. We just assume that we love one another because we're Christians.

To me, good preaching is evident when it causes us to love not only Christ more, but when it causes us to love each other more.

And then we wonder why Church attendance is shrinking.

SJ Camp said...

Michele
3. Go The Great Commission and the Two Great Commandments
4. Go take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan
5. Go preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as a slave to others.


That is what I meant by loving our neighbor: the two great commandments; taking care of the poor, widows and orphans; and being a slave to others.

I appreciate you bringing this up though. Thank you.

Steve

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Steve,

I thought you or someone would point that out, but the point I was making is how obscure it really is from our view. It is certainly not central to anyone's thinking when we ponder why Church attendance is declining.

I know that the lack of love in the Church is a heartfelt concern of yours as well, but as I have read over everything written overall, you have to admit that the emphasis to love one another just isn't there. It's the elephant in the room that nobody really wants to talk about.

Someone might ask "How can we love one another with only one hour or two a week that we have on Sunday?"

And I would say that we should abandon the Roman Catholic style of worship that we have chosen to imitate since around the year 325 A.D. with the reign of the Emperor Constantine, and return to the Biblical style of Christian worship that was demonstrated in the book of Acts. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it sounds more appealing.

Many of us don't have fellowship with our own local Church. Paul the Apostle had such love for his brethren that he couldn't wait to be with them. But I don't see fervent love in the Church today. It's more like a friendly club.

The words of Keith Green that you so often quote haunt me. I have pondered those words for years, how he sang, "How can we be so dead, when we've been so well fed; Jesus rose from the grave, but you can't even get out of bed!"

Well, I think that I can answer that now, for myself. I think I would say that the reason we're so dead is because we're not well fed. If we were, we wouldn't be so dead, would we?!

So, we have to ask ourselves, "What are we being fed?" But we also have to ask ourselves, "What are we not being fed?"

And I think you know it's true. We're not loving one another. How can we? There's virtually no time or place for it. At least not in the 30 years that I've been a Christian. Except of course in my own home. But even that suffers when the Church isn't functioning according to Christ's Two Great Commandments.

You mentioned loving our neighbor, taking care of the poor, widows and orphans and being a slave to others, but what about brethren loving brethren within the local Church?

Unfortunately, I think that the emphasis of loving one another within the Church is being thought of as a man-centered idea rather than being seen as a result of being truly Christ-centered, and so seems to be almost frowned upon.

Michele Rayburn said...

Steve,

Re: my comment "Go love one another"

Just wanted to add that if you notice in your list of "Seven highly effective habits of the Biblical Church that glorifies God", I would say that many Bible-believing Churches strive to do just about all the things in that list, but maybe not perfectly.

But what is not practiced enough in that list, and should be added to your list because you touch on it later, is the importance of spiritual principles being taught, rather than the cramming of only theology into our heads, since knowledge puffs up. And the preaching of grace rather than legalism.

I think there is way too much emphasis on theology for its own sake rather than on Christ Himself, and almost to the exclusion of spirituality, and the life that we have in Christ.

Because of a backlash to the Charismatic Movement, I think that may be why true spirituality is being avoided and even frowned upon in the rest of the Churches.

In your list of "Seven highly effective habits of the Traditional Church that almost always guarantee church stagnation with very little spiritual impact", it is a very insightful list of problems in the Church that should be taken serious note of. And, specifically, when you mention:

1. Go traditional, not spiritual
2. Go legalistic, not grace

Again, that is where the beginning of the problem lies within the Church. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. So, if we are not taught spiritual principles from spiritual men of God (because it trickles down from the top), it will be reflected in the congregation in their ability to love one another.

The traditions of men and legalism will rob any Church of it's ability to love one another.

You linked to Ephesians 4:11-16 which really sums it up beautifully.

Arthur Sido said...

I like what Michelle is saying. We can often assume we are doing certain things because we are following certain traditions or confirm certain beliefs. We cannot reasonably be in fellowship with one another and love one another when we don't know one another. How can we know one another based on a couple of hours of scheduled time that leaves little opportunity to be in real fellowship? I would agree that we need to abandon the Romaist style of gathering we cling to. Five hundred years since Luther nailed his 95 these to the church door in Wittenberg and we still gather in a similar way to Rome.

Tak178 said...

Campi,

It's been a while, and I am perusing your latest posts.

It seems that the Church on the whole is divided at this time into two camps:

Traditional God-fearing Churches
Non-traditional God-faking Churches

Those who do not understand the uniformity of Scripture, and the eschatology that has been endorsed, taught, and understood for centuries try to "re-invent the wheel" every generation. As believers in Christ, the message has been the same for the past 2 millenia...REPENT, for the KINGDOM is nigh! When we understand that as Christians, we represent the Kingdom through our words, deeds, and actions, the decision to follow God so much easier to define.