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Sunday, February 1, 2015

I'm Done with the "Dones"

I recently read an article about a growing number of people who were once active in church but now are "done" with it. This article said they were once essential to their churches but no longer want someone who will tell them what to do in preaching. The implied suggestion was to keep these people from being "done" with church by giving them decision making abilities.

This article, no matter how long ago it was written, will circle the internet for years. Churches and, especially, pastors will lament what they could have done to have kept these people. After all, it must have been the Church's fault, right?

While I would agree that the Church may have not done so well in making these people mature disciples, I must admit that this is not a new problem for the church. The writer of Hebrews admonished believers to continue in church.

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Evidently, there were once active members who had dropped out. The writer of Hebrews doesn't tell the church to "go out and get them back." No, he speaks to those who have left the church and tells them that they ought to be in church. The author also doesn't tell them that the church has or hasn't been all that they expected. The day of Christ return is drawing close and believers should be in church. If these people were as mature as the article I read implies they are they would have known this and wouldn't have left the Church no matter how flawed she is perceived to be.

The truth is that these "dones" are really immature no matter how long they have been in church. The Apostle Paul addressed this.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (ESV)
1  But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3  for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?  

There was self importance in the church as long as they were able to continue in their own sinful nature. The jealousy and strife can be compared to the sense of entitlement and selfishness seen in those who are done with the Church. They have claimed their own self as more important than the needs of the others in church. They have become bored because the church has not stimulated them like the world which appeals to their flesh. So, they leave.

Let's remember the story of the Prodigal Son. The father continues to look for his son to come home but he doesn't go out and bring him home. He has to come to his senses on his own. So, I, too, will welcome back these immature Christians who have left the church at one time. I will rejoice that they have come home. I will not however go out to get them. I will note that the struggle remains in making disciples who are mature enough to know that they simply can't leave the church because she is not everything it was hoped to be.

Jesus had a number of the people leave Him. It hurt and He asked His disciples if they would also leave Him. 

John 6:66-69 (ESV)
66  After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67  So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Again, it should be noted that Jesus didn't go after them. He didn't say, "Don't go. I'll change my preaching just for you!" No, He turned to His own disciples to see if they would leave too. He wasn't changing what He was doing to keep people. He was doing what the Father told Him to do. He would not deviate even if it meant that no one followed Him.

The mandate given to the Church is to make disciples. That cannot be exchanged for large crowds. Maybe that is why the "dones" left. They were entertained into coming until it was no longer stimulating. They left because their churches used entertainment to get them to attend and never challenged them to become mature devoted followers of Christ who do not seek their own desires.

Philippians 2:4 (ESV)
4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Unfortunately, many churches believe that a huge crowd is more important than solid discipleship. Thus, the crowd of people who seek their own interests grows within these churches. We should not be so surprised that immature people will think they are justified in leaving the Church.

As for me, I'm done with all this. I just want to walk with the people who want to walk with God. I can't understand how I can walk with the people who don't want to walk with God and still walk with God myself. I will proclaim the gospel to the lost but I will not try to "entertain" them into heaven. The truth of Jesus is much more powerful than entertainment.


Anthony Chia said...

People leaving your church...

[Ps Prentis, this one is long, but I hope you can take time to read it, too]

There are multiple reasons why people abandon a church. Really, for the senior pastor or pastor in charge, what he must do, is to bring before The Lord the trend he is observing, and for particular individuals, intercede for a season. The disturbing trend we may hold before The Lord for a long time, but for particular individuals, for a season, which could be short, some longer, as the Spirit may impress. I believe the understanding is that, you just cannot for the life of you, have an ever-growing list of individuals to pray for. The Lord does distribute out, this intercession business to multiple people.

I know God does that, in my church (I am NOT the pastor) . I came to know a sister in church whom The Lord would lay upon her heart to be on the lookout for people whom she knew but seem to have stopped attending the church. She would ask around about the individuals, like their whereabout, like maybe they have moved on, to another church, or no longer attending church, etc., and would intercede for them for a season. This lady is no formal pastor or ministry leader; she, I know has afflictions of life, and still has much to tackle from them (afflictions of life), but is also one who loves The Lord, and so, loves His children. Sure, she does not know everybody and could not be on the lookout for everybody, but she is just doing her bit. If you have home cell ministry, that ministry could be put to use, for his kind of thing.

Can you (as the Senior Pastor) farm the entire thing away? Can you take it for granted, this aspect? No.

The sister I referred to, above, is a sheep. Because of her love for The Lord, and so, her love for His children, takes upon the role as led by the Spirit. She is with no formal appointment by men, nor formal recognition of her appointment by The Lord, before the people, but she is quietly working away. As the senior pastor of a church or for that matter, pastors of a church, you have a greater accountability, for you are NOT just a sheep, you are formally the undershepherd(s) of The Lord, and so, are shepherds of the flock, The Lord has assigned to you. So, you cannot farm away the entire thing. It is best you TRY (and it is NOT a taboo word, that will cause you to fall from grace!) to do that (that much), that any sheep is expected to do.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

Yours, is high (higher) calling as compared to the sheep. You are appointed of The Lord, and appointed by men, before men. We must trust The Lord to provide the grace to see us through our calling. Elijah had his calling as a prophet, and he had his "glorious" times, and he had his most "terrible and shameful(?!)" time, but we could see from Scripture, The Lord is faithful to His servant, and faithful to the calling He has assigned.

If possible, don't farm the entire thing away, and don't take it for granted, for The Lord has certain expectations. One of the understandings about the flow of grace (heads of grace) is that grace flows out to us so that we could be righteous. The hyper-grace preachers/leaders have concentrated too much on "You are already righteous, and so, you will have grace",

Don't be ensnared by this kind of lobe sided persuasion. The common problem coming out from this line of discipleship is "people easily throw their towel in, for matters which they ought to persist for". In afflictions, they crumble, in standing for The Lord, they back off, in resisting temptations, they falter. For a few years now, such voice and teachings have been going out to the nations; and I most regrettably admit one of the prime voices has been coming from my country; and one of the nations most targeted, is the American contingent (I.e. Including Canada). I am not sure how such influence has hit your town Ps Prentis, but it has hit America hard, but I am glad to know The Lord has raised up counter-voice now, in America, even as many leaders of that voice have arisen in America, herself. I have observed these, for a few years, and as I have expected, the sheep would go haywire with those problems I have highlighted here. The snare is subtle, the best of us, can subconsciously received it in, this bad line of teachings, especially when it has been enjoying such wide coverage, even in America. Actually, I am a little surprise, that over the years, I followed your blog writings, I don't remember you mentioning any of it, this bad voice (you did lament about the bad things in your countries, like violent rampages, and daylight murders, etc)

Back to the topic on hand; we have to understand, ultimately the love of God for men is love unto righteousness, and so His grace naturally flows out for that. I always come back to the simple definition of what righteousness is. You are righteous when you are in agreement with God as to what He wants done and when He wants it done. What He wants done is in His calling for you. When He wants it done, is, for some matters pertaining to your calling, "all" the time. When you purpose what He has purposed in you, and do it, His grace will flow out to you, for more often than not, His grace is to empower active righteousness, and righteousness, like I have explained. It is NOT, you are righteous of standing, grace is yours in whatever you will do or will not do; the kind of teaching that is drummed into the sheep, by the hyper-grace voice.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

The Spirit impresses, truth will stand the test of time, His time, not necessary our time-frame, but His. We ought to teach and live out the grace that is of the truth, that will stand the test of time, not some erratic or mystic grace that works for the leaders, but not coming out right for the sheep, over time. God has expectations on His servants, but His grace is sufficient for you, and you and you, Ps Prentis; I declare it for you, Prentis.

There is another reason why you cannot farm it all away or that you can take it for granted, apart from there is the expectation of The Lord on you. It is that you should avoid stumbling others.

The Lord revealed it in Scripture, that He viewed stumbling another, very seriously. It is better for the fellow to tie a millstone around his own neck and throw himself into the sea. God said, that is better! In other words, God is saying, "You wait till I get my hands on you, I will ......". Do you stumble people? Have I stumbled people? Did I stumble people? Yes, we all did, unknowingly and knowingly! If knowingly, we have to deal with it. Again, The Lord has expectations. No, people are wrong to buy in, the idea that "it is the same for everybody". God has different levels of expectations on people. He had expectations on Moses, Saul (King Saul), the Saul who became Paul, David, and the various men, He raised up. More is given, more is expected of us. As a man, I do think about, if God was being too harsh to Moses, expected too much of him. God refused Moses, the honor to step into the Promised Land with the people He led for 40 years, because of a failure of Moses, which, if committed by another, God might have let it go.

Actually, I don't do very much, in terms of amount. Yah, now that I have given up my job, I am still not doing much (why-ha?!, Lord), but as I reflect, perhaps, it is NOT necessarily (I say, perhaps, as I am still posturing before God on this, and that is the thing to do, I believe) that The Lord is wanting the quantity, for our many scenarios.

We have to accept The Lord deploys people in all manner of need, in an all encompassing strategy. We see this in enterprise; for example, the production line workers are busy throughout, in say, their manual work with their hands, a supervisor is not the same, the manager's work is not the same, the Heads of Department, even more different. If the Manager is working like the production workers, then there is something, wrong, wouldn't you say? In a Company I worked for, in the past, we had roving staff. These are staff with certain skills, and because of the skills set, they possess, the job that these people were doing could not be done by just any others; and when something became amiss, like a fruit-cutter at retail store fell sick, the roving fruit-cutter will be assigned to do the job. Such roving cutters, sometimes rest, when everything was running alright, and at other times, he got to go to where the job was needed, even if it was not a convenient place to go.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

I have shared here recently, that The Lord used me to minister to people in terrible afflictions of life, like they are in chronic sicknesses or terminal illnesses, or in marital or family problems (long drawn, protracted issues). As I reflect, and tell myself, "you wanted healing ministry-what, You got what you want. You are not a medical doctor, these kinds of healing you can do, and there is need. Yes, I want to bring miracles, to people, but if The Lord is NOT going to cause a leg to grow, He is the Doctor, I am just His nurse, I just have to do what I am supposed to do, period". I have to accept and I am accepting these few but protracted "businesses", but I am also getting the feel that The Lord is having me to minister in another similar-class situations - situations of God-loving people, God-loving and so, they have served and they have blessed other servants of God, but they have "tired" out for various reasons. One of the reasons is that they have been hurt by one or more of the very servants of God whom they have given and blessed so much. In other words, they were stumbled, and by servant(s) of God whom they esteemed.

I have given 2 grounds for perseverance in the often difficult work of a pastor.

I know, the "but"s. Even as I ministered to 3 siblings who had been disappointed by family members, friends and even by servants of God, and had 2 deaths (their mother and sister), came, one after another, and who were full of questions of how come they did NOT get the kind of things (help, protection and breakthrough) that other Christians got, from God, when they also "did the things these other Christians did", The Spirit impressed upon me to share that were real stories of people who went all the way out for God, like missionaries, but who did NOT even get do any work and died. Even as I shared that God saw it all, and saw the heart of those who died attempting the work of God or persecuted and died, even died young or had their children died with them, I realised that God was also teaching me, I have to get it right in my heart, and just proceed to do, and leave the outcomes to God. We are to be winners, alright, but victory for a believer is NOT defined by him, anymore, but by his Lord; we have understand that, and accept that.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions