Posts Tagged ‘Church’


Advice to a New Pastor of a small town Church

1. Spend an hour a day doing nothing but considering what the Lord wants to do in your life right now. Anchor your thoughts with a section of Scripture or with a relevant Biblical concept or even a problem you are facing. Take the time to lift Him up and consider what He is doing or wants to do. Make it your time where you are centering your life and duties upon Him. Develop an inward core that centers itself upon God.

„ 2. Realize that your ministry to your family is more important than the ministry itself. Your ministry will grow from your ministry to your family.

„ 3. Learn to be content with the people and building God provides for you. Give thanks for them every day. Express thanks and appreciation publicly and constantly.

4. Realize you will always be an outsider to the community. Just accept it. But counter that with your insider status to the power of God. Manifest a supernatural life and they will desire to be an insider with God like you. When they know the power and reality of your faith in God, they will want that ‘insider’ faith as well.

„ 5. Look for someone to mentor/disciple. Make this a priority. Hopefully it is someone in the church, but be open to men outside the church.

„ 6. If there are leaders, let them know your expectations about discipling them.  Hopefully they will agree. If not, don’t push it the first year, but try to draw them in as you share discipleship successes with those whom you are able to disciple. If they still resist after a year, go through Titus and Timothy with them. If they still refuse, have the courageous conversation of asking them to resign.

7. Don’t be afraid to make a change in something your first year. You will discover that some are wanting you make a change.

Will Willimon reports in his post, “Non-synoptic church leadership in church” that he was given the following advice as a young pastor which he now shares with others,

“I am sure someone has told you that you shouldn’t change anything when you go to a new church for at least a year,” he said to me.  Indeed, someone had told me just that. “Well, forget it!  Don’t change anything in a new church unless you become convinced that it needs changing! Change anything you think that needs changing and anything you think you can change without the laity killing you.  Lots of churches are filled with laity who are languishing there, desperate for a pastor to go ahead and change something for the better.  Lots of times we pastors blame our cowardice, or our lack of vision, on the laity, saying that we want to change something, but we can’t because of the laity.  We ought to just go ahead and change something and then see what the consequences are.”

8. Learn everyone’s name (first and last name) including the kids. Make a personal photo directory or flash cards if you need to. Learn all the names of the leaders or “gate-keepers” in town. Invite the bank president or mayor out to lunch and find out who the community leaders are.

„9. Discover who the “gate keeper’s” of you community are. Get to know them, and look for ways to make the power of Christ known.

10. Schedule as many meals and coffees with people as possible. Go to their workplaces and pick them up and take them to a place that they normally go to lunch. (This is tough on a minimal salary)

11.„ Ask these kind of questions to ask when you meet with people (don’t try to evangelize them the first time you meet):

a. Where did you grow up? Where have you lived?

b. What is your job? Help me understand what you do and what kind of pressures you have. Is it a great job or just so-so? Why? How is your relationship with your boss? If the boss, what kind of struggles do you have with your employees?

c. What is your church background? Why did you come to our church? (of if they don’t come to church-what is your attitude toward church in general)

d. At some point tell them you would like to say a little prayer for them, but you wonder if there is anything else you could pray about? (In other words, you will know enough already to be able to pray for them). Do a quick prayer for them.

People will be surprised at how interesting and good it is to meet the pastor and you will not feel pressured to ‘convert’ them or get into church politics until you get to know people. The people are more important than the church. When you get to know people, you will understand where they are coming from. Try to understand their passion. Then followup your visit with prayer for turning their passions into a relationship with Jesus Christ. He will guide you in how to reach them or grow them.

12. Don’t make fun of their rural lifestyle, don’t use big words, don’t be condescending. Be genuinely interested in their lives, their problems and their needs. Be willing to go the extra mile in helping them out. The sooner they trust your intentions the sooner they will trust your ministry.

13. Normally pastoring is 1/3 preaching (study, prep, reading), 1/3 administration (meetings, email, phone calls, mail, chaos), and 1/3 pastoral care (meeting with people).  But for you it will be ½ pastoral care and the other two ¼ each. You will have to initiate and be intentional to meet with anyone. Very few will reach out to you.

14. Force your wife to meet folks by inviting people to dinner. Your kids may embarrass you, but the other couple or family will get to see you as you really are. They don’t want fake. They want real.

15. Get to know the history of the church and who used to go there and what happened.

16. Look at the church constitution and see what the purpose of the church is. Make sure your leadership accepts that purpose and wants to work toward its fulfillment. If not, either the purpose or the leadership needs to change. Design projects to involve the leadership in the fulfillment of the church purpose.

17. „A small church is not leadership driven. Small churches are “interwoven” meaning that the people have strong relationships based on blood or long friendships. They will tend to take the church very personally. They will see it as “their” church. You may want to make some changes or start certain programs, but while they may say “that’s a good idea, Pastor,” they will be looking to see what the church ‘patriarch’s’ are thinking. If you do not when the true leaders over, you will never get the support or participation you need.

The following letter was written by Mrs. Floyd K. Chapman, who lives in a small [pop. 1,064] Midwestern town. Her letter was written in response to an article about the suspicions some folks have of their pastors.

The folks in a small town don’t really care to hear what some author says. They only want to be convinced of your sincerity. Few of the common people read as much as we’d like to think. Many I know read only the following: the headlines, daily funnies, lost and found items; local items. Also they read some farm magazine, after a fashion–then they turn on TV. This is truth, whether we want to admit it or not.

On Sunday they go to church–they like to hear about Jesus, because he loved them enough to put up with their failings. They are not especially interested in economics, except as it affects them directly, or in politics, except in presidential years. But they respect freedom beyond words. They despise anything that makes them lose their self respect and much talk to the contrary they fear the creeping socialism that has made so many dependent upon the monthly government check that puts the bread in their mouths.

They know that they are not learned or smart and they fear people who are, unless they love them. Love is something one feels and if one loves he overlooks so much.

Can you take the big truth, the fact that too many of our ministers do not like people. They love subject matter, but are not sympathetic with the daily problems and weaknesses of the common man. This is not a weakness confined to our denomination.

Too many think they know it all–and do not give the other fellow credit for any knowledge. For instance, a pastor in our community a few years ago attempted to tell one of our more successful farmers of the superiority of horsepower. If it was or was not superior was not the point: the farmer was operating a large farm successfully and happily with his modern machinery. The minister should have been more tactful. If he knew nothing about farming he should have kept still or asked questions.

Sir, I am only a small-town woman, but I am sincere when I say there are a few qualifications a minister must have. Without them, regardless of denomination, he will be accused of everything under the sun–including communism.

1. He must have had a sincere Christian experience and must sincerely love the Lord and His work.

2. He must have had a certain amount of training in Bible, organization and method.

3. He must be willing to work–not too good to use his hands at times–and not too proud to ask help if he needs it.

4. He must really like people–more than books, more than organization, more than position.

5. He must walk ahead leading the people gently as a shepherd, and not try to drive them with a whip. 

Advertisements

The First Century Church Experienced the Power of Grace and Touched the World with the Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They did so because they were not ashamed of the Cross of Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of following a God who had been cursed on the unspeakable Cross of Crucifixion. They were not ashamed because they were LIVING PROOF of the Power of the Cross over the corruption of the flesh. Jesus Christ was not only Savior of their Souls, He was the Savior of their LIVING! 

Church must emphasize a 24/7 devoted living in Christ and His commands, not just a segregated devotional (quiet) time.

Church must emphasize a 24/7 praying life not just a prayer time.

Church must direct Disciples how to bring their spiritual existence into touch with the physical reality of living.

Church must lead Disciples to put into daily practice what Christ commanded and taught.

Church is a Community of Love in Christ centered around a Grace Missional purpose to bring the lost and hurting into the reality and power of Christ.

Church builds Disciples not motivated by guilt but empowered by forgiveness and redemption.

Church builds Disciples who Share Christ with friends and neighbors because they Love and Trust Jesus Christ.

Church builds Disciples who Give because they Love and Trust.

Church is Powerful to the Community when it is a Powerful Community of Love that empowers people to Break Bad Habits (Spirit conquers Flesh).

Church is Powerful as Disciples grow past guilt to productive change built upon Confession and Abandonment to Jesus Christ.

Church preaches Repentance to Abandon the fleshly world and live in the Spirit of Grace

Church leads Disciples to Abandon themselves to God’s Grace and God’s responsibilities for them.

Church leads Disciples to Greater and Growing Trust in God, because mistrust leads to sin.

Church leads Disciples to the Dominion of God’s Kingdom over their own Kingdoms.

Church that Grows and Develops Disciples will constantly Apply the Truth of Redemption to the Disciple’s Life.

Church will constantly strive to bring ALL lives into Christ’s Life.

Church will Grow from a Growing Relationship with Christ’s Life.

  • Church can change if there is a goal that can be accomplished with specific steps of action.
  • That goal is to build Disciples who experience and share the Reality and Power of Christ’s Life in their daily living.

VATICAN CITY, Oct 24 (Reuters) – – Pope Benedict called on Monday for sweeping reforms of the world economy and the creation of a ethical, global authority to regulate financial markets as demonstrations against corporate greed continued to spring up in major cities across the globe.

Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. He said the financial downturn had revealed behaviours like “selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday Oct 26th 2011 called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

The Vatican called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” and a “true world political authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions and work for the common good.

Such an authority should start with the United Nations as its reference point but later become independent and be endowed with the power to see to it that developed countries were not allowed to wield “excessive power over the weaker countries”.

This startling announcement brought back to my mind teaching I heard in the late 60’s that the Pope was the Antichrist. Then I started thinking “ What if this idea gets traction, and the Pope succeeds in getting the world leaders together to put this plan into action. Then some of what is written in the Book of Revelations would make perfect sense.

Revelation 13:17 (ESV) so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

How easy would this be if we have only one world bank and money?

Then what happens in Revelations 18 would make sense as well:

Revelation 18:1-3 (ESV) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Many teach that the Antichrist will come from ‘Babylon’. Revelation 17 says he will carry Babylon, but then he will carry out its destruction.

I can see the world’s financial collapse leading to such a plan as the Pope is proposing. One of the great supporters of it will be the Antichrist. But after the plan is in place and he comes to power, he will turn on the religious power of Babylon, destroying it (Rev 17) and then turn on the political power of Babylon (Rev 18). This is because all power will belong to him!

So much for conjecture…

Regardless of who or what Babylon is, it plays a prominent role in the events of the Revelation of the end times.  This brings me to the deeper issue…

I.   What Does Babylon Represent in Scripture?

To understand Babylon, we need to go way back, to the time just after the Great Flood. As we examine Babylon’s place in history, we will find that it represents the Best that Man can do and be. Babylon is man exalting himself to God, and even above God.

Babylon represents man’s efforts to replace God with himself!

A. The First Sin of Babylon

The First Corporate Sin that Manifested itself after the Flood took place on the planes of Shinar, the sight of Babylon. Here a mighty ruler named Nimrod built a tower that reached to the heavens.

Genesis 10:8-10 (NIV) Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.

The Sin of Nimrod and his subjects was seeking to Minimize God’s place in their lives.

  • They were seeking to exalt themselves above God.
  • They were seeking to take God out of their lives. They were also seeking a guarantee that God could never destroy them by a flood again. They would simply go into their ‘tower’ of escape!

Genesis 11:4 (ESV) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Babylon represents Man’s efforts to MINIMIZE God. They wanted a God whom they could control. The attitudes revealed in their actions indicate how they sought to accomplish this.

What we glory in reveals the god(s) of our lives.

  1. Glory in Splendor – a beautiful city
  2. Glory in Status – the tower that reached to the heavens
  3. Glory in Success – make a name for ourselves

Man wanted to make a name for himself, through the work of his hands. He wanted recognition for what he could accomplish. So man built a tower on the plains of Shinar, at Babylon. The very first place in the post-flood world that man exalted himself above God was at Babylon. Indeed Babylon became a symbol for the greatness of man!

In his book, Structures or why things don’t fall down (Pelican 1978–1984), Professor J.E. Gordon considers the height of the Tower of Babel. He wrote, ‘brick and stone weigh about 120 lb per cubic foot (2,000 kg per cubic metre) and the crushing strength of these materials is generally rather better than 6,000 lbs per square inch or 40 megapascals. Elementary arithmetic shows that a tower with parallel walls could have been built to a height of 2.1 km (1.3 mi) before the bricks at the bottom were crushed. However by making the walls taper towards the top they … could well have been built to a height where the men of Shinar would run short of oxygen and had difficulty in breathing before the brick walls crushed beneath their own dead weight.”[1]

This desire to rob God of His glory is so entrenched in mankind, that no matter what God does to mankind in the tribulation, mankind will curse God and refuse to repent and give Him glory!

Revelation 16:8-9 (ESV) The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

Indeed, Psalms 2 reveals this intrinsic attitude toward God in the heart of man:

Psalms 2:1-4 (NIV) Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

God had the last laugh:

Genesis 11:6 (ESV) And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

Where Does Man Get this desire to rob glory from God?

SATAN

What man was saying was eerily similar to something Satan (Lucifer) had said centuries before:

Isaiah 14:13-14 (ESV) You said in your heart,

  • ‘I will ascend to heaven;
  • above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
  • I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
  • I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
  • I will make myself like the Most High.’

We all know what happened to Lucifer: Luke 10:18 (ESV) And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.

B. The First Sin of the Promised Land

The first Sin that spoiled the Promised Land for the Jews was the pride of wearing a Babylonian Garment.

Joshua 7:21 (KJV) When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Achan just had to have that babylonian garment…

Joshua had warned the people

Joshua 6:17-19 (ESV) And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

Jericho, an evil city, full of evil inhabitants, so evil that Lindey Lohan could have been a priestess, was dedicated to God for destruction. It was so evil that everyone in it was to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. The silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron was to be given to the treasury of God.

Achan cheered at Joshua’s decree. Yeah! Everything is wicked! We’ll destroy it all!

But there he was, checking out the spoil of one of his victims, and his eye was attracted to this snazzy Babylonian garment. The material was so soft, the design was so intricate. The beading and jewels adorning the garment took your breath away. This garment took a year to sew.  He had seen something almost as nice in the latest issue of Babylonia Today! If his friends would see him wearing such a garment, they would be so jealous! He could go anywhere in the Kingdom wearing such a garment. It was fit for a King!

Actually, that garment was fit for destruction. It represented Man’s Pride in his accomplishments, accomplishments made apart from God!

Achan was seduced and brought trouble upon Israel:  “then I coveted them and took them”.

The life of Achan ended in a heap of stones.

Joshua 7:25-26 (ESV) And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

C. The First Sin of the Church

Acts 5:1-4 (NIV) Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Ananias, in lying to the church, embraced all the sins of Babylon. He wanted the splendor that the money could by him. He wanted to status of appearing to be such a giving saint. He wanted to appear successful in the eyes of the church and his friends. Satan filled his heart with the spirit of Babylon. Ananias tried to minimize God, and exalt himself. God had the last laugh once again.

D. What is the Danger of Babylon?

  • Nimrod built one tall building
  • Achan took one fancy robe
  • Ananias told one little lie

Yet their small act of sin represented a danger to what God wanted to accomplish.

  • Nimrod looked at the Tower of Babel reaching to the sky and said, wow, look what we did!
    • God saw the Tower and changed the course of Mankind!
  • Achan looked at the Shiny Robe and said, Wow wouldn’t I look like somebody in the Robe?
    • God saw the robe hidden in his tent and changed the course of Achan’s life! (In a dramatic fiery heap of stones!)
  • Ananias told a partial truth but still gave the church a lot of money
    • God saw his heart and startled the church

What is so dangerous about Babylon? What dangers was God wanting to protect His people from?

The Best Way to understand the danger of Babylon is to understand what the Babylonian Garment represented. This garment pictures Babylon far better than the silver or gold that Achan also took. That is why it was mentioned.

This Babylonian Garment represents Three Things that are a Danger to our love for God. They are seemingly innocent things, things that we all need and appreciate and even desire. But the Seduction of these three things will work their way into our lives until they minimize our need for God.

The Babylonian Garment Represents:

1. Splendor

We all appreciate beauty. We are drawn to it. Whether it is a car, a woman, even a horse, we love beautiful things. Advertisements shout this loud and clear. Television shows, even reality TV shows, shout this. Women (and men) spend billions of dollars to make themselves beautiful. Architects design buildings, even stadiums, to display the splendor and beauty of their imagination.

King Ahasuerus, reigned from India to Ethiopia, and in the third year of his reign, he gave a feast for all of his officials and servants and nobles and governors that lasted 180 days. All the days of the feast he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness.

We love to display our splendor and glory-whether in our clothes, our car, our home, our possessions.

America is a land of BLING! We even do it with teeth fillings, piercings and tattoos! We trick out our trucks, our cars, our motorcycles, we wear our jewelry and accessorize!

a) Even Satan was all about BLING!

According to Ezekiel 28:13, a probable reference to Lucifer, we learn that he is an amazing being to behold: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created”.

Splendor is seductive. It lured Lucifer into rebellion. It lured David into deep sin. It lured the wisest man on the earth into committing unspeakable acts against his God, whose very wisdom he possessed.

b) Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:29-30 (NIV) … as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

God Had the Last Word. Immediately a voice came from heaven:

Daniel 4:31-32 (NIV) “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

c) Israel:

Hosea 2:11-13 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days –all her appointed feasts. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.

God and Splendor

1. Inner beauty and splendor matters to God

    • 1Pet. 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

2. God Looks on the Heart

    • 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

3. God Must be our Splendor

    • Psalms 96:9 (ESV) Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
    • Psalms 104:1 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    • Psalms 111:3 (ESV) Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

4. We are to make Known His Splendor to our Children

    • Psalms 145:12 (ESV) to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

5. In the End Times, Men will seek to hide from the splendor of God!

    • Isaiah 2:19 (ESV) And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.

6. The Splendor of Babylon will be no more

    • Isaiah 13:19 (ESV) And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.

7. The Church will be presented to Christ in Splendor

    • Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

2. Status

Tradition has it that this robe was a priestly robe, used in worship to the Canaanite gods. This robe not only was beautiful, it represented power. It represented standing. It represented status.

Whoever wore this robe was always on the “A-List” party invitations. This robe granted its wearer access to the power people of Jericho and Canaan. The wearer was somebody. Nobody messed with whoever wore this robe. If they did, they found themselves being sacrificed to Baal!

Status is very important in our world.

  • Satan began it all by saying “I will be as the most high”. He wanted the status of God himself.
  • Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be like gods.
  • Lot chose the well watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and instead of hating the sin, he became enmeshed in it, even becoming a man of ‘status’ a judge at the gate.
  • Judas followed Jesus for the status he thought it would bring him. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to become King, he set out to betray the Son of God!
  • Aaron and the Levites set out to worship God in the Tabernacle. But by the time of Christ, the High Priest had become a perverted, corrupt institution motivated by power and status.
  • Ministry today is often corrupted by a pursuit of ratings and donations and status. Pastors focus their efforts on the Four “B’s” – Building Size, Budget Size, Number of Baptisms, and Number of Bodies. Spiritual growth and Character growth are not emphasized, because they do not build the churches ‘status’ as far as the world is concerned.

Focus upon STATUS is PRIDE!

There is no room for Pride in God’s Kingdom: Mark 9:35 (ESV) And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

3. Success

Nothing says success like Excess. Or a Rolex, Cadillac, or ___________.  You name it, we’ll wear it or drive it as long as it makes us look successful!

I can just see Achan trying on that shiny robe. Oooh he felt so good. He couldn’t wait to be seen wearing it. Everyone would be jealous of his apparent success!

Daniel 4:4 (ESV) I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace.

Look at America. We are swimming in debt, but we still consume and charge and buy our way into success. Just a few months ago the politicians were encouraging us to consume more to get this economy going.

We trade our souls for stuff. Stuff to show our success. Stuff to make us feel secure at night. Possessions, Money, those are things we can rely on. Our future is secure if we have money. We don’t have to worry about growing old, or caring for our loved ones, if we have money in the bank.

Man’s Success is Failure before God

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV) And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Revelation 3:17 (ESV) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

 This is God’s Plan for Success:

Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

E.The Splendor of Babylon Will Vanish

  • Revelation 18:10 (KJV) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
  • Revelation 18:14 (NLT) “The fancy things you loved so much are gone,” they cry. “All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.”

When Babylon Falls, there will be the greatest Hallelujah ever!

Revelation 19:1-3 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

F. The Solution for A Heart Infected with Babylon

Joshua 7:19 (ESV) Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

To counter the effects of the Babylonian Garment, Joshua told Achan to give glory to the Lord God!

When we do what we want, when we go our own way, when we place our confidence in splendor, status and success, we are robbing God of His Glory. God wants His people to give all praise and glory to Him. Everything in our live depends upon God!

We are Losing a Generation of Young People because we are wearing Babylonian Garments

The Millennial Generation or Generation Y consists of young adults born after 1980. The latest research from Barna indicates that this generation is growing up without a Biblical Foundation of Jesus Christ. Only 15% of Millennials profess faith in Jesus Christ. Yet their parents, the Baby Boomers, profess a 65% Christianity.

What happened?

The Garment of Babylon is what happened. We have put on our Sunday Faces and Clothes at Church, but throughout the week we wear our Babylonian Garment. We pursue our splendor, our status and our success.

We embrace the spirit of Babylon in our homes and work. We display a MINIMAL DEPENDENCE upon God in our homes, our work and our lives.

Jude 1:11 (ESV) Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

We have danced with Cain, we have partied with Balaam and we have colluded with Korah. And so Babylon has infected the hearts of our families and children.

  • Cain wanted to seek the God in his own way. He thought his splendor was good enough.
  • Balaam was divided between pleasing God and having the status of the King’s Prophet. So he corrupted the message of God, and gained the status of the King, but lost his soul to the ways of Babylon.
  • Korah wanted to make his own success, apart from Noah and God. He had enough of Moses, and told him, everyone is holy enough. He wanted to go his own way and be successful apart from Moses and God.

We have two choices…

Allow Babylon to Steal our Love for God or

Give Glory to God in everything,  Seek His Glory through Everything and most importantly, allow our lives to display His Glory to those around us!

We Can Live Hallelujah Lives or Crying Lives!

  • The World cried at the downfall of Babylon. It had become their life!
  • Those Saints in Heaven Shouted Hallelujah!

Revelation 19:1 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

When we seek satisfaction in the Splendor, Status and Success of this world, we will end up miserable, dissatisfied, on medication for depression.

Or you will come to the Salvation that only Jesus Christ offers, accept the misery of sin, and fall into the Love and Hope that Jesus Christ alone offers.

When Jesus Christ becomes your Savior, then God can say to you:

Jim, you are the most wretched and hopeless man, and in yourself you will never be anything else. But I have looked upon you through your faith in My Son as though you never sinned at all. I chose to see you in my Son by your faith!

Glory! God alone is worthy of Glory! My Joy, my happiness, my accomplishments are all in Him!

What Does that Babylonian Garment offer me that could even compare? It is temporary, it is fading, it will be soon eaten or destroyed or lost!

We need to embrace Christ with our children. We need to quit putting emphasis on the Babylonian Lifestyle of self effort and success, and focus on the splendor, the standing and the success that come from putting on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 43:7 says we are created for God’s Glory! Isaiah 48:9 says God will not give His glory to another.

So God did not create us so that He would become more glorious, for His beauty and perfection are complete. He is already Glory defined. God cannot become more God by making something that is not God.

No, God created us to display His Glory! This world is to KNOW God’s Glory by our lives! We are not to seek our own glory through splendor, status or success. No, in all our lives we are to display God’s glory to the world, not our own glory!

Babylon is man-centeredness. It can be in our churches, our worship, our work, our families, our lives.

God will give His glory to no one. We cannot make God more glorious by accumulating stuff and bringing it to Him. But we can bring our lives and all we have to HIM and ask Him to use it to bring glory to Him.

Never hold on to stuff if it starts to become more important than God or worshipping Him! We are to display God’s Glory to the world with all our lives, with all our being, with all our STUFF!



This outline was the basis of our “Covenant Sunday” We began the process of revising our archaic Church Covenant over six months ago, and finally arrived at a church covenant that was relevant and applicable for our church, that was also in harmony with the teachings of Scripture. After reading the new Church Covenant, all members affirmed their support of the Covenant with their written signature.

I. The Church is Built upon a New Covenant

  • Matthew 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
  • Mark 14:24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
  • Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you

Hebrews 9:15-17 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.

The New Covenant is Conditional

Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Purpose of our Church Covenant

Our Covenant Reinforces the Conditions of this New Covenant with Jesus Christ

Our Covenant is the Practical Application of God’s Word to our Church Family

It is a Promise of how we will live our lives in the Church, in our Family, and in the World

It is a Summary of our Family Values

It is our Commitment to each other as a Family of Followers of Christ

It is our Ethical Statement to the World

It is our Biblical Standard for our Family

A.  Basis of Membership (Partnership)

  1. The first century church transformed the way believer’s thought, lived, and used their resources of time and money.
  2. A bond united genuine believers and exposed those who were not a part of the body of Christ. Acts 5:13
  3. The Distinguishing factor between those who were part of the fellowship and those who were not: 1 John 2:19-20

1 John 2:19-20 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (anointing is the word charisma “the special endowment of the Holy Spirit”)

B. Basis of Discipline

1. Fellowship was so vital and valuable that early discipline was to be disallowed from fellowshipping with the church.

1 Corinthians 5:13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

2. Loss of fellowship was so powerful that it would produce great sorrow.

2 Corinthians 2:6-7 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

C.  Basis of Mutual Edification

1. Ultimate purpose of the body is to edify one another so that each believer can come to full maturity and a unity in faith.

Ephesians 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

2. Primary purpose is to provoke one another to do good works.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

  • Twenty five “one another” commands in the N.T. are listed in our new Covenant

Our Church Covenant serves to unite our family together as the Body of Christ meeting as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. He is our Head and we are to function and grow as His Body. Our Covenant is the practical statement of how our body will work together and live together and relate with each other. Our Covenant is what distinguishes our family from the families around us. Our Covenant also provides the basis for dealing with problems in the family. The purpose of the Covenant is not to chain people together, but to promote growth with one another in Jesus Christ. The wellness of the body is the chief aim. Our Church Covenant is to serve to Edify the body meeting as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church.

II. The Power of Edifying One Another

A. The Goal of Fellowship is to produce spiritual maturity through mutual Edification.

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Church is to provide opportunities for believer’s to give testimonies of God’s Working in their lives.

Paul testifies to the Power of public testimonies:

1 Corinthians 14:23-25 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

    • Secrets of his heart will be exposed
    • Conviction of sins
    • People falling to their face and worshiping God
    • Knowing God is among you

Teaching of the Apostles was the ‘rhema’ of the Word, not the ‘logos.’

  • John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words (rhema)that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
  • John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words (rhema) abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

A “RHEMA” requires confirmation of two or three witnesses

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word (rhema) be established.

Paul gives further instructions about the importance of sharing what God is doing in your life:

Strengthens the Body

1 Corinthians 14:26-27 26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

Provides Training in Godliness

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

  • Testimonies-Psalm, message in sacred song
  • Instruction from Scripture
  • Personal rhema from the Word.
  • Insight into Christian living
  • Report on how truth was applied.

B. Specific Types of Edification

  1. Build faith by sharing rhemas – Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God.
  2. Glory to God for Answers to prayer (Psalms 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”)
  3. Sharing fruit from building spiritual disciplines in your life.
  4. Sharing your growth from salvation
  5. Sharing about others coming to Christ
  6. Testifying to the truth of God’s Way of Life – problem in life and how obeying God’s Word has resulted in life.
  7. Dealing with Sin and the illnesses it causes
  8. Sharing the rewards of suffering, or thanking God.
  9. Wisdom gleaned from wise men
  10. Results of good works
  11. Benefits of Godly standards
  12. Praise others for their example

C.  Powerful Potential of Fellowship

  1. Testimonies often reveal needs that the Holy Spirit then impresses others to meet.
  2. Builds ‘koinonia’ -partnership, interaction.
  3. Fellowship of the churches in Macedonia

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Our New Church Covenant:

The Foundation

Believing that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one and only Savior.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ; and for His sake love, accept, and forgive each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling; and to work to prevent division in the body.
  • To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another, bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, exhorting one another, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another, being kind and tenderhearted to one another.
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • To practice Biblical stewardship of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
    • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
    • To flee sexual immorality; to shun pornography; to reserve sexual activity for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage;
    • To initiate divorce proceedings only when there has been clear and continual violation of God’s Word regarding divorce and marriage. Anyone in such a situation agrees to consult with church leadership and seek Christian counseling.
    • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
    • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
    • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary; in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.



I had a call this week from the daughter of a couple that lives near our church. Many of you would recognize her parents name. Seems her parents have been living together the last 20 years or so and never got married. Now they are thinking about making it legal and are looking into having a quaint church wedding. She said that because I was the priest they would want me to do the wedding. I corrected her of course, but I said that as Pastor I take marriage very seriously.

For Your Information I have four prerequisites that must be met before I will bless the marriage of a man and woman.

  1. The couple must believe that marriage is a Covenant Vow before God
  2. They must not be living together
  3. They must go through premarital counseling before I agree to marry them.
  4. They must have the blessings of both sets of parents.

We see the church out of focusSome of you are thinking, Brother Jim, that seems pretty harsh. After all, they have been living together and need to make it official. Plus they are our neighbors, and this is a chance to reach out to them. I understand your thoughts, but consider this: Do we ever have an excuse to take God for granted? NO! God is Holy, He is Righteous. He has standards and He reigns in Heaven whether we acknowledge Him or not. One day everyone will have an appointment with the God who created them and will answer for why they took Him for granted. If we can’t ever take God for granted, then we can’t take Jesus for granted. And if we can’t take Jesus for granted, we can’t take His wife for granted. And the church is His wife. Now when it comes to the church, the bride of Christ, we see a Universal application, but we also see a local application.

I believe Pleasant Prairie Baptist can be a great church. I believe we are sitting in a mission field. And we need to start taking our church more seriously. We can not take it for granted, just as we wouldn’t dare think of taking God for granted. I believe the community around Pleasant Prairie takes us for granted. They see us as a qaint little country church instead of seeing us as the powerful Bride of Jesus Christ. I think that is because we have failed to be a church, we have failed to be a bride, we have taken the Word of God for granted.There seems to be a couple problems in America:

  • We are extremely self-loving.
  • We dishonor the Word of God.

Because we love ourselves we tend to do what we want when we want it. Because we dishonor God’s Word, we dishonor God, we dishonor the church, we dishonor preachers, we dishonor pastors. When you dishonor God’s Word, you start to dishonor everything about God and what God says is important. We dishonor marriage, we dishonor the family, we dishonor our relationships with each other.

So for the next two weeks I want us to see from God’s Word Why Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church was put here on the corner of 215th & Y, and then I want to see from God’s Word what we should be doing so that we do not take God’s Word for granted. To do so we need to answer 2 Questions:

  • What Makes a Church?
  • What is Membership All About?

First, let’s look at Black’s Law Dictionary and see what our Courts say a church is.

A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of one faith, and the observance of the same rituals and ceremonies. Black’s Law Dictionary 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th eds.

jesus keys to peterLet’s see how this meshes with how Jesus Views His Church:

  • He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, THOU ART THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, THAT THOU ART PETER Petros (stone), and upon this rock petra (Christ is the great foundation, the “chief corner-stone,”—Vincent’s) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:15-19

1. Jesus says the church is something He is Building.

  • Jesus is the Architect, the owner, the developer, the reason there is a church.

2. Jesus says His church has Great Power.

  • Stronger than Hell, Able to Bring Heaven down to Earth

3. Jesus says His Church is built upon Stones that all Declare the same Message.

  • Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Church is all about Jesus and His Living in us, empowering us to reach out to those who are without Jesus.

1. The Church is a Living Building of “Called out Ones”

Jesus says “I will build my church”

  • Church Universal
  • Church Local

Church made of Living StonesChrist appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: “On this rock will I build.” The church is a collection of pieces of living rocks that when combined by the power of God are impenetrable. Peter was the first, just as Abraham was the first.

A. Jesus Selects Living Materials:

  • John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
  • John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
  • What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

church is an altarB. Jesus Transforms “called out believers” into “LIVING STONES”

  • To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16

The church is to be like the altar of stones upon which the Jews sacrificed to Holy God.

  • Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

C. Jesus Uses Special Stones to Build the Church

  • And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-1

2. The Church is the Power of Christ to an Enslaved World

We have the AUTHORITY & POWER of our King.

  • King Jesus Will ReignMatthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
  • Ephesians 1:22-23 And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.

We follow an unseen King, and obey His commands. That obedience keeps us in His Kingdom and not in the devil’s. As long as we obey our King, we have our King’s Authority in this world.

reconciliationWe are ON MISSION to be Ambassadors to the World

Since Jesus is reigning in an undisclosed location, and since He is still seeking more living stones to keep building His church, He needs you and me to be Ambassadors to this enslaved world.

  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 jesus pierced cross

We are always on mission. This world is always watching the King’s people. We are to go into all this world and hold up the Good News of Jesus Christ. But we are not to merely say it, we are to show it!

3. The Church consists of Believers in a Covenant Relation with Jesus Christ.

  • We Have a Responsibility to Each Other because We are in Christ.

We are not a collection of lonely islands. No we are a collection of stones that are made into a huge rocky peak, by the power of God through our Belief and Confession of this Blood Covenant.

  • From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16

I can’t see it, I can’t even feel it sometimes, but there is a bond that is stronger than anything else I’ve ever faced. That bond is my marriage with my wife. That bond may be just a piece of paper filed in the Jackson County Courthouse. But it is a bond designed by God to be so tough, that if you ever break it, it will mess your life up and leave scars that only Jesus can heal.

God_cuts_covenant-abrahamWhen you come to Jesus because His Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, and has spoken into the wee small crevices of your heart, a bond was forged between you and God. God says that bond will never be broken because He places the seal of His Holy Spirit within your life. You may not feel it, you may not sense it, but GOD LIVES IN YOU! And if you turn away from God, you neglect His word, it will mess you up! If it doesn’t mess you up to ignore Jesus Christ and neglect Him, there never was that bond.

It’s like marriage, you know it when you neglect it and turn away from it.

Now because of this Bond we have with God through Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to love and pray and support others who have entered into this relationship with Jesus. The easiest way to take care of one another is through a local Bible Believing, Bible Preaching Church. The local church is built by Jesus on the Power of our Communion with Him through our Covenant Confession with Him.communion-WITH-JESUS-HANDS

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

My wife and I have experienced the Power of our Covenant Relationship in Joining in the care of our Children and now our grandchildren. We have begun our own body of Tompkins, and I pray that we will all be built upon Jesus Christ.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

  • We Have a Responsibility to Build Strong Marriages and Families because they Reflect the Power of Christ to the World.

The Church is the Bride of Christ:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

The Church (those written in the Book of Life) is the Bride of Christ

bride christ marriageAnd there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:9-27

We See that as far as God and His Plans are concerned, the Church is central, it is key.

So Why is it important to Join a Church? When we are born again we become members of the church universal, we are baptized into one Body. Why do we need to join a Local Church?

How Important is Church Membership?

The leadership of Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church considers membership to be important from a polity and relational perspective.

  • Polity: only members are allowed to have a say in the direction of our church by voicing their concerns and by voting.
  • Relational: Membership enjoins us to certain responsibilities and obligations as detailed in our church covennt.

We believe church membership is very important for our Spiritual Well-Being, as the following illustrates:

Five Proofs of the Mandate for Membership in a Local Church

Each of these proofs reveal that lack of membership would minimize or deny our spiritual growth in Christ.

1) The Metaphor of the Body

Church membership is implied in the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The original meaning of the word ‘member’ is member of a body, like hand and foot and eye and ear. That’s the imagery behind the word ‘member’ in the text. Verse 12: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

So the question this imagery raises for the local church that Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 12 is: Who intends to be treated as a hand or foot or eye or ear of this body? There is a unity and organic relationship implied in the imagery of the body. There is something unnatural about a Christian attaching himself to a body of believers and not being a member of the body.

2) Christians Required to Submit to Their Leaders

Church membership is implied in the biblical requirement of Christians to be submitted to a group of church leaders, elders, or pastors. The point here is that without membership, who is it that the New Testament is referring to who must submit to a specific group of leaders? Some kind of expressed willingness or covenant or agreement or commitment (that is, membership) has to precede a person’s submission to a group of leaders.

Consider the way the New Testament talks about the relationship of the church to her leaders.

  • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. (Hebrews 13:17)
  • We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
  • Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)

How is this leadership and this submission going to work if there is no membership defining who has made the commitment to be led and who has been chosen as leaders? If we downplay the importance of membership, it is difficult to see how we could take these commands to submit and to lead seriously and practically.

3) Shepherds Required to Care for Their Flock

shepherds care for the flockChurch membership is implied in the way the New Testament requires elders to care for the flock in their charge. Of course elders can extend their love to anyone and everyone, and should, within the limits of their ability. But the question is whether the Bible tells elders that they are to have a special responsibility and care for a certain group—a group of members. Consider Acts 20:28 where Paul tells the elders how to care for their flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:8

This verse does not say elders cannot visit unbelievers or those who are not yet members. But it does make clear that their first responsibility is to a particular flock. How are they to know who their flock is? Who are we as elders and pastors responsible for? For whom will we give an account to God?

The way Peter speaks to the elders in 1 Peter 5 is even more clear on this point. Verses 2-3: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

“Those in your charge” (your portion, your lot) implies that the elders knew whom they were responsible for. This is just another way of talking about membership. If a person does not want to be held accountable by a group of church leaders or be the special focus of the care of a group of church leaders, they will resist the idea of membership. And they will resist God’s appointed way for them to live and be sustained in their faith.

4) The Church Is to Discipline Its Members

Church membership is implied by the way the church is supposed to discipline its members. Consider the implication of Matthew 18:15-17 where “the church” (ekklesia) appears to be the final court of appeal in matters of church authority as it relates to membership.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 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.

If there is no church membership, how can you define the group that will take up this sensitive and weighty matter of exhorting the unrepentant person and finally rendering a judgment about his standing in the community? It’s hard to believe that just anyone who showed up claiming to be a Christian could be a part of that gathering. Surely, “the church” must be a definable group to handle such a weighty matter. You know who you mean when you “take it to the church.”

5) Excommunication Exists

Church membership is implied by the simple fact that excommunication even exists. Paul implies this in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 where he deals with the necessity of putting someone out of the church. He says, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

There are two implications here: One is that there is an “in the church” group and an “outside the church” group. Being in the church is definable. The other implication is that a person can be removed from being “in the church.” Such a formal removal would not be possible if there were no such thing as a clear membership—who is an accountable part of this body, and who is not?

Expectation for All Believers

So for these five reasons and more we believe that membership is a New Testament expectation for all believers. Each of us should be a member of a local body of believers.

  • We should take responsibility to discipline those of the body who do not repent from public sin that brings reproach on the name of Christ.

  • We should declare ourselves part of the body so that if we are wayward, we ourselves would be liable to such exclusion.

  • We should take our position under the leadership and authority of our church leaders.

  • And we should find our place in the organic whole as a body part—a member—of a local body of Christ.

That is God’s plan for us and for Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. That is what we mean by membership. All of those aspects of membership are rooted in the truth that the local church is an expression of the universal church. Part of what it means to belong to the body of Christ is to belong to a local body.

A Blood-Bought Gift of God’s Grace

Church bought through the crucifixionThe New Testament tells of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. “Lone-Ranger Christians” are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.

Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. We urge you not to deprive yourself of this blessing.

Jim and Clare TompkinsWhen I was about seven years old, my mom went away for a while. I did not know what was going on, but I found out later that there was problems between my mom and dad. Dad was a traveling salesman, gone 4 and 5 days a week, and Mom was raising three rambunctious boys. I think something serious happened, because Mom went away to Texas to live in a Psychiatric Hospital. She had a nervous breakdown. She went through electro-shock therapy. I had to go live with a strange family for a while because my Dad still travelled. My Mom and Dad almost didn’t make it. Somehow, Mom came back home and started dragging us to the Prairie Baptist Church down the street. She started making friendships with good caring friends. A couple men started visiting my dad. Glenn and Merl faithfully called on my dad, and didn’t judge him when he smoked and drank in front of them. They just kept inviting him to church. Finally he went, and went and went. Something different was going on in my family. Mom and Dad weren’t fighting like before. Before I knew it, Mom and Dad joined the church. Dad started taking a leadership role. He was different! It was that church and Jesus Christ that made a difference in our family, and the same has continued to make a difference in my family and now my kid’s families.


The church is Vital and Powerful and is used by Jesus Christ to transform sinners into the children of God!