Category Archives: The church

A funny thing happened on the way to defining a church.

While doing some personal research about how an emergent will learn about God I found something very interesting, comedy_and_tragedy_masksfunny, and sad. One of the sites I will frequent in an effort to learn about what is current in the Emergent Church is Solomon’s Porch.

Solomon’s Porch does not a use the word church. There I would agree. They are, as the subtitle says “A Holistic, Missional, Christian Community. Solomon’s Porch is lead by Doug Pagitt, who is by all means a leader in the emergent movement. He has written several books on the movement and is an authority, which is a contrast in the emergent community. But that is another post, article, discussion.

While navigating the Solomon’s Porch web site using their navigating drop-down list I found an entry for “What Makes a church?”. Curious, I navigated to that page. The result can be seen here.  Go ahead, do it yourself.  I don’t know if this was intentional or not. Usually a web site will have something on a page that is published to the public, so maybe this was intentional. Does the blank page represent the open-minded, broad brush,  emergent definition of church? You draw your own opinion.

In contrast I will briefly mention another web site I frequent a bit more, especially to find info about “What Makes a church.” The web site is 9Marks. They have a couple of tag lines: “Church Matters”, and “Is Your Church Reflecting Culture or Re-shaping It?” The 9 in 9Marks represents the 9 marks of a healthy local church. When I navigated to their page on what a church looks like, I found this. It is based on what is  the ultimate authority for every man, the bible.

It is not my intention to bash Doug Pagitt and Solomon’s Porch. I just found it interesting that they do not have a definition for what makes a church. It is my prayer that Doug Pagitt and Solomon’s Porch update their “What Makes a church” page using the same basis. The bible. It is how we know God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ the son and head of the church.

Some food for thought:

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9 ESV)

1 Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us. 12 But he answered, Truly, I say to you, I do not know you. 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria


Keeping Our Priorities Straight, 10 Priorities for the believer, Part 2

Sunday morning Pat continued with our refresher series on the top ten priorities for the church. This is a really great series and it reminds us of those simple priorities given by Christ to His church. Christ is the head of the church. He owns it. He purchased the church with His precious blood, and He cares about what goes on in His church. This relational fact can be found by reading Revelation 1 & 2. Jesus Christ gives blessing and condemnation to the local churches mentioned in those two chapters. So, as a local church we have been given priorities as a body of believers to adhere to. I presented the the first three provided in Pat’s sermon last week. They can be seen at this posting. Today we continue with priorities number 4 and 5. The priority of:

4. A pure gospel – Romans 1:16 – 3:31.

Have you ever considered that there are in fact two gospels; The true and pure gospel of Jesus Christ, and then everything else is “another gospel”. The priority of the local church is to present a Christ-centered gospel. Here is a challenge for you: Can you articulate the gospel message in 90 seconds or less. I understand that this is a requirement for membership at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, where Mark Dever is senior pastor. I am challenged by this. As believers we should all be able to present the gospel in a clear and concise way. The biggest hurdle the unbeliever needs to understand is that no one is righteous. Romans 3:10. As unbelievers we were helpless enemies of God. Does this not enhance the beauty of the cross, and what Christ accomplished there? He paid the debt we owed to God. Our debt due for our sins against a righteous God was His own wrath which He poured out on His son on the cross. When Christ said “it is finished” the debt was paid. The local church should be teaching the lost about their sin. We should not be candy coating it because God takes it very seriously. If we aren’t taking it seriously then we are in fact presenting another gospel. Galatians 1:8, 9 tells us that preaching another gospel is condemned by God. I urge you to know the pure and true gospel and know how to communicate it to others.

5. The great commission – Matthew 28:16-20.

We are commanded to tell others about Christ and His gospel. This same gospel given to the disciples and passed along to us in the 21st century should be passed like a baton to others, and to future generations. Our priority as we are going is to make disciples of Christ. This commission from Christ is not just a commission to church staff and pastors, but to all believers. The gospel is an all inclusive message, not exclusive as some might believe. We are to make disciples of all the nations, all the peoples. But we do need to tell them of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ for salvation. The word of God tells us in Acts 4:11, 12:

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

We also find Jesus telling Thomas in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the only savior for the lost.

The audio for this sermon can be heard online here.


Bob, Cap, and Stan

I am posting this story about life evangelism because my fellow saint at Reformission In Progress posted something similar and it triggered me to recall something similar thatthree friends God actually allowed me to witness for over the course of my early life. This is what I witnessed and desire to write about today. After you read this story, please go read his edifying story.

The story involves my dad (Stan), and two mutual friends of his (Bob and Cap). Bob was a test pilot and colonel in the US Air Force and a very influencial person in the lives of his two other friends. Our families lived in the same small Ohio town and together visited a few of the upstart local churches in the area. As was the nature of Bob and Stan they wasted no time getting involved in ministries in those churches. After getting to know the pastor and learning about his direction they would often disagree with him and have to move on. Cap was an unbeliever at the time and mostly attended church out of love for his wife Dorthy. Cap had shared many bitter stories of attending other churches with his wife and having the pastor or deacon come around to their home the following few days to speak to him about salvation. He did not appreciate the emotional manipulation they would all try on him to get him to repent and acknowledge Christ as his savior. Most of the churches these three families visited were much like that.

Bob and Stan had many bible studies together and through these studies they had developed a desire to grow spiritually and find a church like the one described in the New Testament. But every church they visited down played the sovereignty of God and salvation only through His grace. Cap would attend these bible studies and had also become quite curious about this different God Bob and Stan were discussing and worshiping. This God who chose who He wanted to save. Not through the manipulation of men and the emotional arm twisting. Through Bob’s many connections he discovered a new church a few miles away in Columbus and the three families drove the 20 miles or so to visit this newly started church. The church was meeting in a home at the time and the pastor was not a full time pastor. He also worked full time as an engineer with Ford motor company. As a younger man this pastor had also worked with Albert Einstein’s team to develop what eventually became the atomic bomb. This must’ve been how Bob got connected to the church.

This pastor was not a graduate from any seminary school but he taught the bible as he interpreted it, basically as it was written. He knew enough about the Greek language to help interpretation in the more difficult texts but for the most part he was not what you would look for in a pastor in many churches today. He taught about the doctrines of grace, the sovereignty of God, election, and predestination. For most of these three families the spiritual light bulb flashed on that day. Eventually it would come on for all, even Cap.

Cap learned about a sovereign God who chose those who He would save through the blood of His Son. He learned about love through the lives of two other men who dared to look for the truthful teaching in a local church. He learned that only through the act of God opening his eyes and changing his heart could he ever have peace and restoration with a righteous God. He learned that he needed a savior and only God can save. I believe Cap has encountered such a God and was saved. Cap learned a lot from Bob and Stan, but most of all he learned about real love and real friendships. Friendships that are eternal.

My dad passed away a few years later. Bob and Cap were both pallbearers and I will never forget Cap looking at me on the day of the funeral and telling me not to worry or be anxious that God was still in control. I was just beginning what would later become my rebellious teenage years so it did not dawn on me the awesome story behind that proclamation until later in my life.

I thank God each and every day that He drew me once again to a church much like the one of my childhood. Although I am not perfect and still have a long way to go in my spiritual maturity I pray that God would use me much like he did with Bob, Stan, and Cap.

Thank you Cap.

Thank you Jacob.