GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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Where Does the Bible Say We Will Win the World by Getting Them Into Church???

Question-Mark

One day during worship in my home church, a question came to me from God: “Where in the Bible does it say we will win the world by getting the world into the church?”

“But God,” I argued, “Getting people to come to church is the bedrock of all we’ve been doing in church all these years. We’re trying our best to offer great experiences that draw people into the church building so that they can hear the gospel and hopefully accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is what it’s all about, right? And furthermore, we will send missionaries to start churches in foreign lands so that our missionaries will win the world by getting those people into those churches. And we will start churches in our town across the tracks from us, so that their pastors will win them by getting those people into their churches. That’s the way it works in your kingdom, right God?”

But the question came again: “Where in the Bible does it say we will win the world by getting the world into the church?”

“Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah 6:6–7, NIV

Institutional churches are driven by a methodology called attractional worship. It begins with the mistaken notion that our primary strategy to win the world should be getting people into church. Attractional thinking drives the church to present the very best services, events, and activities to attract non-believers. But non-believers are not capable of worshiping God because they are spiritually dead. The Holy Spirit must bring them to life before they can worship the God of life. In contrast, biblical worship empowers Christians to fall deeply in love with God, submit to his transforming process as a disciple, and go on mission to their community.

God did not design worship to create spectators, nor to build the institutional church by keeping members happy, nor to win the world by attracting people into our churches. Worship in spirit and truth is focused on God alone and moves his children to grow up as disciples and go out as missionaries. Why?

God’s primary strategy to win the world is to get his church into the world, not the world into churches.  MP

 

 


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WE DO CHURCH RIGHT!

 Burnout Church  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

I spent 30 years of my life and ministry in the institutional church serving the Church Train. As a worship and music pastor, I poured my life into providing the best Sunday worship experiences that I could lead our teams to produce. No, the doorposts didn’t shake, there was no smoke, and the Lord never appeared visibly, but worship was quite good, if I do so say myself. Many times as I walked off the platform after Sunday worship I would think with satisfaction (paraphrasing a famous chicken restaurant slogan), “We do church right.” The choir and orchestra had sung and played their best; the praise team had lifted us up with excellence; the pastor had preached an inspiring sermon; and the congregation had worshiped with full participation.  My calling as a worship leader had once again been fulfilled, and I could look to the next Sunday and plan for another high time of worship. And that was the total sum of who and what I was as a professional minister of music/worship leader, to my way of thinking at that time.

But then my life took a dramatic turn. After 28 years in local church ministry, God called me into denominational work to equip and train churches for worship and music on the state level. I began to hear and see the statistics that I quoted in earlier blogposts. I had never realized how church decline was sweeping the modern evangelical church. “How could this be?” I thought. Surely these numbers must be wrong. We may not be doing great, but I certainly thought that we were holding our own. After all, we do church right.

But the facts were correct, and the decline was inescapable. And the more I visited churches and studied the findings, the more I could see it for myself. I became discouraged. I was hurt. I was horrified that the beloved institution I had served for 28 years was rushing toward a fall that could wreck it. While my heart recoiled in frustration, my mind immediately began to question and look for answers.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK??? If the way we are doing church is leading us to a steep decline, what can we do about it? Where did we get off on this track headed in the wrong direction? How can we get on the right track? What have WE personally been doing wrong all these years? Join the conversation by clicking and leaving a reply or comment.  I want to hear from YOU. Let’s do some soul searching.

(Photo from Twitter @jaroland74 via Ed Stetzer Blog at http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer)

 

 


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No Bones About It

BonesNO BONES ABOUT IT! 

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of this valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” So I prophesied as He commanded me and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Ezekiel 37:1–3,10, NIV

Do you have the courage to see what is really happening in our churches? Will you ask God to open your eyes and see the truth?  Join the growing number of voices crying out to stop THE CHURCH TRAIN before we go over the cliff.  It’s time to see God’s hand bringing new life to the old bones of church as an institution and re-form us as his living, moving, loving, serving Body of Christ.

That’s not easy. The process is not for the faint-hearted or weak. You will have to confront your own shortcomings and misguided mindsets in the same way that I have had to confront my own. We are people who truly love our churches; and our love reflects God’s love for his church. So I ask you right now for the privilege of leading you on this journey of confronting the old ways of thinking that have led us to decline. I beg your permission to let me guide you lovingly and carefully in the thought process through which God has led me. Will you allow me to speak heart to heart with you from God’s Holy Word?

Let’s ask God to guide us in this journey to rediscover his blueprint for the church. Come alive, dry bones, and go forth as a mighty army—the people of God!  MP

P.S. Leave a comment.  Join the Full Circle discussion and find your prophetic voice.

 


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THE CHURCH TRAIN

Passenger Train on prairie THE CHURCH TRAIN

It’s a recurring dream of mine—a nightmare, really. We are all together on this train. It’s called the Church Train.

We’ve traveled the same track for many years. Those who grew up on the Church Train cannot comprehend any other track. After all, we’ve been on this track as long as we can remember. Traveling happily along in the club car—the church club car—we are very comfortable with the way we do things. The pastor and staff serve as stewards, keeping us inspired and happy, attending to our needs with great dedication as we travel this track. On occasion our train pulls into a station. Those of us on the Church Train eagerly invite those standing on the platform to join us. Don’t they see that our train is a happy place to be? We can’t fathom why anyone would refuse a ride in our club car. We’ve done our best to decorate in a way that would be inviting to those outside. Yet, most of them refuse to join us on our train. We don’t really understand why.

Lately, some riders on our train have upset us. They look down the track and say we’re headed for disaster. We haven’t paid them much attention. They say there is a landslide ahead. We are headed for a plunge into destruction, they claim. How strange to hear those on our own train say such things. Surely God would not allow such a thing to happen to the Church Train. Some keep whispering about how we need to build an alternate track that will take us to a different destination. The radicals say we ought to get off the Church Train and move among the people. But, as hard as I try, I can’t get off the train.

It’s a recurring dream of mine—a nightmare, really. We are all together on this train. It’s called the Church Train . . .

 


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Resource Recommendations

Resources Recommendations

RESOURCE RECOMMENDATIONS to Unlock a MusicArts Mission Movement in YOUR Worship Ministry!

Dictionary.com defines “resources” as “a source of supply, support, or aid; especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed.”

Everyday we have needs as leaders.  Everyday we face challenges that we’ve never faced before. But everyday God is placing before us new resources for “supply, support, and aid” as we join Him on mission to redeem His people. On this blog are posted several resources that can be a help to you as you lead your worship ministry, small group, friends and colleaques, church, etc on mission to your community.

The fourth heading on the right side of this blog contains MISSIONAL RESOURCES for you. Under that heading, you will see four resources immediately available just by clicking on them. They are “readily drawn upon when needed” right here on this blog! (Go ahead… click one now and see what happens.)

The first four resources I have posted here for you are KEY TO A BASIC UNDERSTANDING of missional thinking for worshipers. These are good starting points in our need to first understand what the missional movement is all about.  HERE IS A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF EACH RESOURCE (we’re going to go backward… from bottom to top):

  • Missional Church… SimpleEven though this one is listed last, watch it first. Only two minutes long, this YouTube posted white board presentation will unlock the first realization of how missional churches are different from attractional churches in their intent and methodology. Share this link with others!
  • Missional Community…Simple – The follow-up to the above video, it takes the process one step further and will nudge open the door of missional equipping for churches.
  • Mark Powers NPWI – In February, I had the privilege of teaching from my book GOING FULL CIRCLE at the National Praise and Worship Institute, Trevecca University, Nashville TN.  While there, Randall Bayne, Director of NPWI arranged for me to video record a 50 minute overview of my book GOING FULL CIRCLE.  It was shot in Hi-Def with lots of visual effects and is very engaging if you have a while to sit down and take it in. (Hey, it’s a lot faster than reading the whole book :).)
  • Guest Speaker Mark Powers – A 25-minute video of me preaching my missional sermon “Four Things We Don’t Know That We Don’t Know” last fall at First Baptist North Augusta. When you’ve got a little time, check it out. If this sermon fits your needs for a summer Sunday, or a worship banquet or retreat (or anything else for that matter), give me a call and I’d love to share it with your people.

Okay, GO AHEAD AND check out one of these great resources right now before you leave this page.  Then leave a comment… which resource did you watch and what missional doors of understanding could it open if you use it in your sphere of influence somehow this week?  MP

(photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brenda-starr/3509344100/”>~Brenda-Starr~</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;)


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Return to the Cross: Worship Team Devotional

 cross01

A WORSHIP TEAM DEVOTIONAL:

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is widely regarded as the most popular Christian hymn in the world. Isaac Watts, the English hymn writer, wrote this great hymn of our faith in 1707.

When I survey the wondrous cross,

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ, my God;

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

I keep asking this question. It haunts me as I stand to sing another hymn on another Sunday in another worship service across these long years of church attendance. Would you, Almighty God, the creator of the universe, send your Son to die for me just so we can have a somewhat inspiring and mildly entertaining worship service each week? Is that why you sacrificed your very own Son to a violent death on a cruel cross? There must be more! Show us, O Lord, what more there is to worship. Heal the blindness that comes from being too familiar with church…and worship… and you.

ASK your team: How can our worship truly reflect the power of the cross of Christ?  What barriers are standing in the way?  What obstructions are obscuring the cross before us when we gather in worship?  What must happen in our worship for the cross to be lifted up in all its power and promise?

Prayer: Oh, Lord, when I see what you have done for me by sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, I am overwhelmed. Nothing that I personally could ever achieve could count more than the gift of your Son. Nothing in which I could ever take pride could equal your love for me. Yet Lord, I have taken the cross for granted. Christ’s gift of his blood and his body too easily becomes old news to those of us in church. Forgive me, and help the cross live again in my life and destiny everyday.  MP

(Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Public Domain.)