Category Archives: The Church

Are We Planting Churches or Campuses?

I have recently been having several conversations with people about multi-site churches and it reminded me of a paper I wrote in seminary about this topic. I hope it is useful in getting us thinking about what is a church.

INTRODUCTION

I grew up outside of Washington D.C and until recently my old neighborhood was the home of some serious tobacco farming. For several years of my childhood our house was literally surrounded by a tobacco farm. I remember walking home from school and seeing farmers tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and gathering the tobacco leaves. It was clear to me that my neighbors knew what they were doing. If I asked them anything about tobacco farming they could have told me more than I ever wanted to know. Imagine if one day while I was walking home I asked each of the different farmers what they were planting in the ground. What do you think are the chances that I would have got a different answer from each of them? Each farmer may have different farming methods, but they would never even slightly disagree about what they are planting, right?

Yet, I wonder if I could say the same thing about most pastors and church planters. If I went and asked a large group of pastors and church planters what they are planting, would I get different answers from each one of them? Now, I know that defining and identifying a church is much more complicated and subjective than defining and identifying a tobacco plant. However, I am concerned that many pastors and church planters today are redefining what is a church. All you need to do is begin listening to those pastors and planters who have been advocating the recent multi-site church planting model. If you listen closely to what they are saying about the church and then compare it to what the bible says about the church the differences will be clear.

What I hope communicate in this post is twofold:

1) Provide a biblical and historical definition of the church.

2) Compare that definition with a definition of a multi-site church by quoting the men who are advocating the practice. Continue reading

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Off the Map! – The Character of God and the Cosmic Scope of the Church

The following are my notes of Jorge Mendoza’s breakout session at Legacy 2013 Conference.

Today we are going to look in the book of Ephesians at the big picture view of the church. We could look at Acts and see the church really banging. We could look at 1 & 2 Corinthians and see a church struggling. But today we want to look at God’s view of the church.

1. God Wants to Display His Wisdom

What is wisdom? It is knowledge skillfully applied. God is the only wise God. He is in a category of his very own. No one can light a candle to his wisdom. It is manifold. It is multicolored. It has great variety.

You ever watch a movie and then watch a second time you catch something new you missed the first time. God’s wisdom is like watching a movie again and every time you watch it you see something new every single time.

Who is the audience to whom God is displaying his wisdom? God needs an audience that can appreciate it fully. Who does Paul say this audience is?

It is the heavenly beings. The angels and rulers of heaven. The angelic hosts that did not fall.

We see angels all through scripture. From Genesis, through the Old Testament, all through the life of Christ, and all over the place in Revelation. Usually they are called messengers, but in Ephesians 3 we see that these messengers are being recipients of God’s message of wisdom through the church. Continue reading

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Can Someone Be A Homosexual Christian?

The following post is the 4th of a 5 part series of posts on “Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality?” In this 4th post I will be answering the question “Can Someone Be A Homosexual Christian?” If you would like to see the other questions addressed in this series of posts, then just click the links below:

Pt. 1 – Is Homosexuality A Sin?

Pt. 2 – Are People Born Gay?

Pt. 3 – Is Homosexuality Worse Than Other Sins?

Pt. 5 – How Did Jesus Treat People With Sexual Sin?

I originally wrote the content of these posts when I was asked to address these questions at a summer youth camp. The intended purpose of these posts are to help Christians who already have a firm conviction about the authority of Scripture. I want them to better understand what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. So my hope is that these truths will help instruct Christians who want to share the gospel with the homosexuals they know.

Can Someone Be A Homosexual Christian?

Like some of the other questions in this series, this question can be a bit tricky. If I were to be asked this question in a conversation I probably would not want to just answer it right away. Instead I would want to know what the person asking the question means by “homosexual Christian.”

What makes someone a homosexual? Is it having homosexual desires or temptations? Is it having a history of homosexual activity in your life? Does it mean that you are currently practicing homosexual behavior?

How we define what makes someone a homosexual really makes a big difference in how we answer this question. Continue reading

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Filed under 1 John, Christian Living, Discipleship, Evangelism, Sanctification, Sexuality, The Church

What Does the Word “Church” Mean?

Every time the New Testament authors use the word ἐκκλησία (“church”) they are not always referring to the same thing. Sometimes they are talking about the universal church. Sometimes they are talking about a particular local church. Sometimes they are talking about a group of churches in a region. So below I have attempted to group the ἐκκλησία passages into 3 different categories so that we can see the different usages and meanings of ἐκκλησία.

If you would like to just see a list of all the New Testament passages that include the word ἐκκλησία – “church.” Then click HERE.

The Universal Church

These passages seem to be referring to all the collective churches all over the world and throughout all time.

Mt 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

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New Testament Passages Using Εκκλησια

This is a list of all the New Testament passages that include the word ἐκκλησία – “church.”

Mt 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Mt 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Ac 5:11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Ac 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Ac 8:3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

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Planting Missional Churches

Thesis

The thesis of this book is to teach church planters to plant a biblical church in a local culture. This is essentially what he means when he uses the word “missional” throughout the book. In the preface he actually defines missional as “taking the approach of a missionary – being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting methods to the mission field – but winding up in the biblical form of a church.”

The rest of the book simply unpacks the above thesis and definition. Stetzer walks the readers through the church planting process and all along the way he explains how to be a “missional” church planter. He explains how to understand the current culture and some of the different church planting models. One of his key points is to understand the difference between an attractional church plant and an incarnational church plant. Therefore, all of his suggestions about how to go about the church planting process have this distinction in view. Missional churches “desire to show the love and care of Jesus Christ in [their] contexts and be Jesus there” (162). Continue reading

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Filed under Book Reviews, Book Summaries, Church Planting, Evangelism, Missions, The Church

The Holy Spirit and Church Planting, Pt. 2

This post is the second part of a two part series on the Holy Spirit and Church Planting. Click HERE to read the first post.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CHURCH PLANTING

There really are a number of useful methodological applications that we could make based off of what we saw from the book of Acts in the first post. For the purpose of this post it is best that we narrow our focus to one specific application. Consequently, the remainder of this post will focus on the relationship between making plans and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

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Filed under Acts, Church Planting, Evangelism, Missions, Prayer, The Church