Why Church?

 

Most people have had a negative experience at a church at some point in their lives.  Maybe it was frustration, confusion, rejection, boredom or just irrelevant.  The word church can bring up some bad memories for many people.  For others the church is a mystery because they did not grow up going to church.  It can actually be intimidating and confusing.  Yet the church exists and has for thousands of years.

The purpose of the church is an extension of the purpose of Jesus Christ.  So what is the church?  In order to accurately look at the church, we need to discover what it is not.

  1. The church is not a physical building – The building is simply a place for the church to meet.  It is a place to gather, but the building does not make the church.
  2. The church is not an institution or organization – The church is not a denomination or an affiliation.  Often times people say they go to a Baptist church or a Methodist church.  That may help to describe the over arching beliefs of the people that make up the church, but it is not the church.
  3. The church is not a set of services or activities – The activities we do are simply the vehicle that takes us to a prescribed result.
  4. The church is not just a congregation – A congregation is simply a group of people who gather together.

In the New Testament the word church refers to the universal church, which is all believers on earth.  It also refers to a particular location and the actual gathering of believers in any place for worship.  The word church also refers to the body of Christ, which is an analogy for how the church should function.  So why does the church exist?

  1. Evangelism – That’s a church word that means to tell people about Jesus.  Through the church is how people hear the good news of what Jesus did.
  2. Discipleship – This is simply the process of becoming more like Christ.  It is growing or maturing in faith and spiritual matters.  It is exploring God’s ways and following him as best you can.
  3. Worship – Worship brings the church to life and life to the church.  It is exalting God’s worth and acknowledging him as Lord.  Worship is expressed through singing, music, praying, reading Scripture, baptism, preaching, having healthy relationships, and the way in which you live your life.  It is keeping God first in all you do.
  4. Fellowship – The church must be a place that embraces a culture of encouragement.  People need healthy human relationships.  This is often accomplished through environments like small groups, mentoring, mission trips, social events, and healthy friendships.
  5. Ministry – Everywhere Jesus went, he extended grace and mercy to those who needed it most.  When people serve unselfishly, they become extensions of Jesus.  Ministering to a messed up, broken and bruised world should characterize the life of every followers of Jesus Christ.

The church is made up of people that all are working together to do those 5 things.  When a church creates environments where people can experience those things it allows them to mature as a Christian.  These environments should be designed to help people connect with God and give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to transform the person.  Environments are worship services, youth events, children’s classrooms, adult classrooms and training, mission trips locally and internationally, small group or home group, accountability groups, one-on-one mentoring, and many more.

The local church is the hope of the world.

Next Generation Mentoring Group

I will be starting a new mentor group on Saturday September 4th. Here is some info on what it is all about. The deadline to apply is this Wednesday August 18th. I only have a few openings left.

>Our church is embracing a Married Men’s group model called Next Generation Mentoring that pairs high-potential men with a more senior, more mature mentor for 10 months with the goal of pointing them toward a fully integrated Christian Life. The result is the life-on-life application of biblical and scriptural principles as the Mentor shares his experiences, successes, failures, and insights to the group.

What it’s not

NGM isn’t for everyone. This is NOT a Bible study. It’s NOT an accountability group. It’s NOT a community group. This is a Mentor-led small group that involves reading (a book per month), memorization (two scriptures per month), transparency, and a willingness to change.

Vision

The vision is to help younger Christian men live God-centric lives, fulfill their God-given potential, and to become mentors to the next generation.

Topics of Study

Understanding who we are in God’s eyes

Deciphering how we can excel in our work, at home, and in our communities

Establishing priorities, work/ life balance

Dealing with sexual temptation

Making good decisions

Leadership and Godly character

Relating to our wives

Raising children

Knowing what it means to have a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ

Are you interested?

Requirements

  • Married career men ages late 20s- early 40s
  • Hopes of children; or Parent to kids under 12
  • Self-objective people: folks who are willing to take direct, pervasive feedback without being defensive; a willingness to look themselves in the mirror and make changes to improve
  • Broken people: hungry for personal growth
  • Passionate commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Willingness to replicate the process at least once and be a mentor to others in the future
  • Cost: $200.00 fee up front for all books, materials, scripture memory cards, and all other content

Disclaimer: This is not for the overly-committed. We also have some limited scholarships available if money is an issue.

At-A-Glance

Who: 8 guys, 1 Mentor

What: read 1 book/ month, memorize 2 Scripture/ month, fully participate in all meetings and discussions

When: 8 three-hour sessions and 2 retreats over 10 months

Where: NewPointe Community Church Dover campus

Why: growth and maturity

How: apply online here

Cut-off date for applications is August 18th, 2010.

Attendance at Launch day Saturday September 4th at 8am is mandatory. No exceptions.

It will take about 15 minutes to complete the application. You will be asked to indicate your acceptance of the NGM Covenant as part of the on-line application, as will your wife. So it’s important that you talk through the commitment with her before you begin the application. A copy of the covenant is attached for you and your wife to review.

Link to Apply: http://www.nextgenmentoring.com/mentoree_signup.php?cid=30

Are You Stagnate?

I have been thinking about some of the things that have influenced my spiritual growth over the years. I must say that there have been many people, events and experiences that have influenced me on my journey. One that was significant for me was a small group Bible Study that I did called Crown Financial Ministries.

There mission statement is “Teaching people God’s financial principles in order to know Christ more intimately and to be free to serve Him.”

I was a banker at the time and interested in money and what God’s perspective was on money and possessions. I went to some training and came back to NewPointe and started my first Crown small group. I ended up leading many groups through this material and I found that I grew a lot during those years. The principles I learned are still with me today.

The group study forced me to lead by example and one of the requirements was to memorize a Scripture every week for 12 weeks. You also had to have your homework done or you could not participate.

To this day I still have many close friends as a result of this small group experience. Building community with other people and learning about what God has to say about our finances helped me to grow in my faith. Those 12 verses I memorized still jump out at me every time I read them, see them or hear them used in a message. I thought I would share them with you today.

  • If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” Luke 16:11
  • “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
  • “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
  • “Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but the wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
  • “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Leviticus 19:11
  • “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
  • “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
  • “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” Proverbs 21:20 and “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
  • “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
  • “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
  • “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

I will soon be starting a new journey with 8 guys in a new Mentoring group I am starting in September. We will be reading a book a month and memorizing 2 Scriptures together for 10 months. Just like the Crown group was an important growth time for me, this mentoring group will also be a growth time for me as I pour into these 8 guys.

Growth doesn’t usually happen by accident. You need to be intentional about it. You also need to step out of your comfort zone by doing some difficult things. Start thinking, praying and planning how you will grow spiritually over the next 12 months.

Better Together

Life doesn’t happen in church. Church should be a great place for people to prepare for life, and it can help provide us shelter when the heat and storms of life come at us. But life happens at home, in your workplace, while your traveling, in your neighborhood, at the ball games, on vacation, at school, at the hospital and all the places we find ourselves during the week.

It’s in those times away from church that tell the most about us. It’s how we live from Monday to Saturday that define our faith. Those are the times our true character is revealed. It’s how you treat your wife during the week. It’s how you respond to your children when they let you down. It’s how you handle those conflicts at work. It’s how you handle your finances and your time.

Our challenge every week is to live out what we hear and learn about on Sunday mornings. That can be a difficult thing when things don’t go your way. When you get bad news, when you get great news. It’s in those hard times and good times that community is so important. Having some other people to share those times with you is an incredible help.

When life happens who do you have that will be there? Is there someone in your life that you can turn to for advice, for comfort, for support? Are you providing that for someone else?

Life change happens best when you are doing life with other people. When you open your life to others and let them into your world you take a risk, but the rewards can be incredible. When you are part of small group of people that you can share your life with, it helps you live out your faith during the week. You can build on what you heard at church and help each other live it out. You can encourage each other, pray for each other, challenge each other, support each other and have fun together.

Community & Change

Have you ever wondered why a growing amount of people are experiencing loneliness in our culture? Have you wondered why we can feel so disconnected even when we are surrounded by people and consumed with the busyness of work, family and church commitments?

The Bible talks a lot about healthy, intimate connections and relationships with other Christians, not only for support and encouragement, but as a vital ingredient for lasting change.

Our culture has encouraged us to be individuals and to face things on our own. It is important to take personal responsibility for our actions, but many Christians have taken the mindset of it’s just Jesus and me battling against my sin nature and trying to become more like Christ. When you make the decision to follow Christ, you are never alone again. God designed His system to have community as one of the main ingredients in personal change.

However, getting involved in community is messy, time-consuming and complicated. It seems easier to just work on ourselves privately with God. Change is something God intends his people to experience together. It’s a corporate goal. Each of our individual stories is part of a bigger picture that God is orchestrating. We each have an important role in that story.

I met with a friend today that has been facing some deep rooted issues. He has been making remarkable changes in his life over the past several months. One of the biggest reasons he has been changing so drastically is because he has fully embraced community. He had always been in groups before, but after this last situation he took his lumps and was open about his struggles with those close to him.

He also pursued accountability with some people he was close with. Having that community of people to surround him has helped him to make real “heart changes”. He turned to God and community as a way to start changing.

I know people that profess to be Christians and yet don’t go to Church or meet with other Christians in a small group. They make comments like as long as I have the Lord in my heart I don’t need that community. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:19-22 about us being fellow citizens and members of God’s household. He gives us a picture of a building or temple that has Christ as the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation. The rest of us make up the remaining building. We are being built together.

Paul continues in chapter three to pray for them as a family, to grow in understanding how much God loves them. As isolated individuals, we cannot reach the level of maturity God has designed for us. This fullness can only happen as we live in a healthy, right, community with one another.

Paul goes on in Chapter four about unity in the body of Christ. We are to be humble, gentle and patient with each other. We are to make every effort to stay in unity with each other. We are to work through conflict, communicate openly, confront lovingly and support each other when there is a need.

So what’s the bottom line? A Christian is not only a child of God, but a member of the family of God. We cannot grow to the fullness God has for us living independently of others. Personal transformation takes place in the context of healthy community.

If you are continuing to struggle with a certain sin or issue, maybe you need to bring more community or accountability into your life. When we get past the fear of what others might think about us and take a risk to be open and honest, real change can happen in your life. god can begin to use you in the bigger story He is writing.