one week church devotional

God does not need us to condemn each other on His behalf but to love each other on His behalf.

7 brief devotional readings for a ‘week of Christian love’

John Wesley was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley. Samuel was an Anglican clergyman. John became famous and influential as a revivalist preacher; his brother Charles for music and hymnody.
John Wesley 1703-1791 Charles Wesley 1707-1788
In 1766 John Wesley wrote A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, from which the following paragraphs are taken.
There is also a short bible reading for each day. Read – Reflect – Reach out

MONDAY – 1 Corinthians 12:12-16
We may be wise but have little love, or we may have love with little wisdom. God has wisely joined us all together as the parts of the body so that we cannot say to another, “I have no need of you.”

TUESDAY – Colossians 3:12-14
Even to imagine that those who are not saved cannot teach you is a very great and serious mistake. Not observing this has led some to many mistakes and certainly into pride. Let there be in you that lowly mind which was in Christ Jesus. Be clothed with humility. Let modesty appear in all your words and actions.

WEDNESDAY – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
We should always remember that love is the highest gift of God. All of our revelations and gifts are little things compared to love. Settle in your heart from this moment on you will aim at nothing more than that love described in 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen. You can go no higher than this.

THURSDAY – Colossians 3:15-17
Do all good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of your neighbours. Be active. Give no place to laziness. Be always busy, losing no shred of time. Be slow to speak. In a multitude of words sin abounds. Try not to talk to much, or for a long period of time. Not many people can converse profitably beyond an hour’s time. Especially avoid pious ‘chit-chat’ or religious gossip.

FRIDAY – John 15:9-17
Ceasing to have a reciprocal love for one another is inner disunity which is at the very root of all outward separation. Beware of everything which leads to this separation. Beware of a dividing spirit. Do not despise or run down, not even for some mistake, even if you are right.

SATURDAY – Romans 15:5-7
Do not even give a single thought of separating from your brethren, whether their opinions agree with yours or not. Just because someone does not agree with everything you say does not mean they are sinning. Nor is this or that opinion essential to the work of God. Be patient with those who disagree with you. Do not condemn those who do not see things just as you do, or who think it is their duty to contradict you. Beware of touchiness, of testiness, of an unwillingness to be corrected.

SUNDAY – Hebrews 10:23-25

International
Baptist
Church
Bielefeld

“To seek the lost,
to win the curious,
to build the convinced,
to send the committed.”

Preaching in an Age of Distraction

distracted-listener

From Doug’s Preaching Mentorship Notes:
Design2Delivery #7 – Wednesday October 26 2016 – Rev. D. Johns

More and more we are preaching to an audience that is ‘disposed to distraction’. I have preached outside and had to compete with animals, wind, rain and beautiful scenery. I have preached in old ‘steeple churches’ and had to do battle with rodents on the floor and bats in the air. I think my ability to raise my voice above babies crying and old men snoring scores high on the concentration scale. I have preached through power outages and natural gas leaks. All that being said, the biggest challenge these days is to somehow communicate with an audience accustomed to fifteen-second sound bites; an audience that lives with continuous visual stimulation much of their day. It’s an audience that doesn’t have much patience for a delayed punch-line.

But I think the built-in attention-avoidance to lecture and preaching so prevalent our culture runs much deeper than a quick fix of video or PowerPoint. Somehow we have to capture their interest at the outset in such a way that the subject we speak or teach about is so compelling, so essential, that minds are jolted into awareness that this moment in time could indeed be a ‘game-changer’. This means, though, that each time I speak, I have to be satisfied with the knowledge that my effectiveness is going to be measured in small numbers. I mean, not every Sunday will be a ‘game-changing’ experience for all who are present. It also means that the introduction might be of more value, and therefore demand more preparation energy and creativity than hitherto invested.

Caution: Don’t let the preacher off the hook too quickly. It is all too easy to label the audience as ‘low concentrators’ while elevating the speaker into the heaven-blessed thoughtful, reflective, meditative zone of super spirituality. The preacher can easily be led into ‘the land of lazy’ just as much as the listener. Attention spans for all of us need some serious re-training.

Matt Woodley recently wrote an article in Preaching Today, titled Deep Preaching in a Distracted Age: Will anything capture people’s attention and keep it long enough for God to do his work? You can see the full article here

http://www.preachingtoday.com/skills/themes/state-of-preaching/deep-preaching-in-distracted-age.html?tCode=88A38AAF62&dCode=2B6C58F00B&utm_source=preachingtoday&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=8373036&utm_content=473159901&utm_campaign=email

He says,
Recent articles and books highlight what Microsoft researcher Linda Stone calls our “continuous partial attention.” Consider this trio of recent articles from The New York Times—”Addicted to Distraction,” “The End of Reflection,” and “Don’t Distract Me.” The stats don’t lie about our heightened distractibility. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. Little wonder, since an American on social media receives 54,000 words and 443 minutes of video every day.

I love what he calls a ‘counter-intuitive strategy’ to take face this challenge head – on.

In a distracted, outraged, shallow culture, people begin to hunger for something rare: the focused, balanced, deep. Because we chronically distract ourselves, we crave depth. Deep preaching is our best chance to change lives.

Matt’s plan is to foster four disciplines which impact the development of deep sermons. But be warned, there is no quick and easy solution to reverse the fall into distraction and diversion which has debilitated our society by depriving us of the power of vocal persuasion. Surprisingly though, a slow, deep, and thoughtful preparation on our part can lead to a deep, vibrant and substantial life-change – which in turn becomes noticeable in a loud world that is searching for reality beyond the superficial and transient, above the brevity and shallowness this world has to offer.

why doxology? – why church?

doxology pic

Very few churches sing THE DOXOLOGY any more. Hopefully they compensate for all they lose by omitting this traditional item from Sunday worship. Here’s why ‘doxology’ is so important:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

People out of touch with the glory of God are not grounded, they have no anchor. Eventually they drift back to self-focus, self-elevation, and self-worship. This is why the first two words of the Doxology are crucial!

PRAISE GOD.

This is a bold reaffirmation of monotheism. Church can help us because when we sing the doxology, or at least other songs with the heart of this doxology, we remind ourselves that there is one true God. Life is grounded, it has perspective.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Thomas Ken wrote this hymn at a time when the church believed only Scripture should be sung as hymns—with an emphasis on the Psalms. Some considered it sinful and blasphemous to write new lyrics for church music, akin to adding to the Scriptures. In that atmosphere, Ken wrote this and several other hymns for the boys at Winchester College, with strict instructions that they use them only in their rooms, for private devotions. The original hymn, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun” had 11 verses. Ironically, the last stanza has come into widespread use as the Doxology, perhaps the most frequently used piece of music in public worship. At Ken’s request, the hymn was sung at his funeral, which was held at sunrise (see name of hymn and its first line) – a fitting summation of his life focus.

For Sunday August 3, 2014 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, 16-18; Romans 11:33-12:1
REV. DOUG JOHNS
http://standrewskimberley.com
http://barnabasbridge.net
http://dougjohns.net

K why church ppt pic poster red

do we really ‘get’ worship?

authentic

Sometimes it is so frustrating – I mean we know Jesus said that true worship is a matter of where the heart is, that it is about spirit and not form right?  In John 4:23-24, in response to the question about the best location for a true church to worship, Jesus says = “the time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth – they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  So why do we get sucked in to so many emotional battles over structure and style? I love what Pastor Ron Edmondson wrote on this subject – simple and to the point.   (you can see it on his blog here) I have posted it below. What do you think?

10 SIGNS YOU REALLY DON’T GET WORSHIP: IF …. 

1. The volume or tempo of the music determines whether you think it’s a worship song. 

2.  A slight change in the order of the service makes you think they’ve harmed “worship”. 

3. You think raising hands or not raising hands determines the depth of a person’s worship. 

4. You believe the “proper” length of a “worship” service is dictated by your lunch schedule. 

5. You think worship has to be in a service or part of a programmed event. 

6. Certain instruments keep you from thinking worship is possible. 

7. You think worship is confined to a certain place or a certain time. 

8. The clothes you wear determines the quality of worship…for you AND others. 

9. You think worship always involves music. 

10. Your attempt to worship has more to do with a personal preference than the subject of worship.

why churches grow

Everyone has their own theories. And I have always taken Acts 2:42-47 as my model/philosophy. Five years ago Carey Nieuhof (Founding & Lead Pastor of Connexus Church in Ontario) wrote what follows. I think he is on to something, and last night I shared it with the Leadership Team in our new church. My guess is that these are difficult concepts for most traditional, established churches to embrace. However, here in Kimberley, we are not average, not traditional, and certainly not predictable. I modified just a few of Carey’s sentences to make it more applicable to our situation. I would love to hear reports from other churches, other leaders, as to what you have experienced.  Are these three factors ‘the keys’ to health & growth? What are we missing?

One of the questions that keeps coming up these days is, “why are some churches growing when so many churches are not?

I’ve thought about this question a lot over the years.  I remember a long drive to Chicago two years ago with an emerging church leader.  During the trip, he asked me point blank why some churches grow and others don’t.  It really made me think.  Within two months, I’d boiled the answer down to three factors — three factors that still make sense to me over two years later.

You might be disappointed, because few of the factors are shrouded in the mystery of church “language” or hyper-spiritual talk.  It might be more tempting to say “because God blesses growing churches”…but doesn’t that imply that God curses dying churches?  Or we might say “because the Holy Spirit is with growing churches…”  But again, is He then not with stagnant or declining churches?  And isn’t it possible to grow a church (at least on the short term) through human effort?  Is God actually behind every growing church, or sometimes can talented people grow a church while God has nothing to do with it?  I doubt the growth would last for years or decades, but I bet you can get solar-flare growth for a little while on human effort alone.

So, here’s my short list of three factors that I think lead to long term, sustainable, God-honoring, authentic growth in a church.  In my opinion, all three are necessary.  You can’t have two out of three and grow long term.  You need all three:

I. Biblical Integrity.  If you base your ministry on anything other than the Word of God, long term it will fizzle.  If people aren’t being led into a growing relationship with Jesus based on scripture, then they won’t stick around for long.  Scripture is the guide for life, for churches and for people.

2. Cultural Relevance.  You may believe the Bible, but if you speak Greek to a culture that speaks English…good luck.  Too many Christians love stuffy, antiquated church culture as much as they love Jesus.  That’s going to be an issue if you are trying to reach people who live firmly in 2012.  Musically, language wise and otherwise, churches need to move into a culturally relevant model of ministry that speaks to people where they are at.  Jesus did.

3. Structural Agility.  This is the unlikely inclusion in the list.  I added it because I have met way too many church leaders who base their ministry on scripture, do culturally relevant ministry, and don’t grow.  By structural agility, what I mean is that church leadership has to be sensitive to the constantly changing dynamics of size and scope of ministry at every size of growth and be willing to change how they function structurally as a result.

The structural changes are myriad.  A church of 300 must be organizationally different than a church of 100.  A church of 900 is going to be very different organizationally than a church of 400.  Many leaders get hung up because they try to pastor a church so that they “know everybody” when they can’t know everybody. The expectation of personal pastoral care by a pastor only has to disappear (see Exodus 18 & Ephesians 4:11-16). Biblically, it should always be care by-the-people for-the-people-anyway.

The role of leadership needs to become more and more equipping-based, where instead of doing the work they enable the work to be done by people.  Congregations become empowered when leaders release them to do the work of ministry.

Decision making also needs to change in a growing organization. It needs to move from consensus based decision making at a congregational level to leader-led decision making and leadership team-based decision making.  Elders will function more as the spiritual ‘guardrails’ of decision making.

Many people chafe at these changes (partly because they can only think in terms to the concept of ‘control’, partly because they’ve never been part of a growing church, partly because they are not willing to consider new models), but that explains why so many churches in Canada are struggling to survive.  We condemn ourselves to limited influence because we won’t make the structural and leadership decisions we need to make to grow the Kingdom. To ignore structural agility is to condemn your church to always being smaller than your vision (or even God Himself) wants you to be.

Those are my three. I realize when I say these things that they are counter-intuitive and often make other church leaders or church people angry, but I think they are just true.

–      Carey Nieuhof,  Connexus, Barrie/Orillia, November 2007

Modified by Rev. D. Johns & shared with the Session of St. Andrew’s Kimberley, July 17/12

three pillars of the church

WHAT HOLDS YOUR CHURCH STEADY, SOLID, SOUND? Of course there will be a multitude of answers suggested. My contribution to the discussion will be just three elements; worship, witness, and nurture. I believe all three are so important that this became the last series I preached in Brockville and the first series I preached in Kimberley.

Neglecting any one of these is like trying to balance on a 3-legged stool: you can’t do it for very long. Everything done at our church should be focused on these pillars. If I’m busy with church work, can I say with certainty that what my energy and resources are going to can easily be filtered through the matix of this trinity of priorities?

For more on this please go to http://churchpillars.blogspot.com

magnetic church … walking with Wurmbrand part #1

Richard Wurmbrand, leader of the “Underground Church” in 20th Century Communist Europe, is  well known, and not just to his own Romanian people. His life of Christian faith is an encouragement to all who are persecuted, to all who go through trials and tribulations of every kind. We can learn much from his book, Tortured For Christ,  1967, Hayfield Publishing company.

Born a Jew, but a confirmed atheist by age 14, Richard Wurmbrand was still attracted to churches. He writes:

“I found it hard to pass near a church and not to enter it. However I never understood what was happening in these churches ….. I was very sure that there is no God ….. but I would have liked very much to know that a loving heart existed somewhere in the centre of this universe ….. I had longed that there should be somewhere a loving heart beating for me too.”

 

  1. How cool would it be that our churches possess an irresistible magnetism, even for atheists! If we could just get to that place where something in our speech or behaviour would attract and not repel. In one church I pastored, at a congregational meeting, an excellent leader, recently new to the fellowship, stood up and said “With all of you fighting like this, I don’t want to be around here anymore.”
  2. Never assume that what we do in our churches – our rituals, our liturgy, our language – is making sense to our guests. What we take for granted can be as confusing as a Latin Mass. Do not use outdated, denominationally distinctive vocabulary. Design with the newcomer in mind. Explain. Keep it simple.
  3. Is there anything more basic than the need to know that we are loved? This means that our churches must be places of grace. May our love for others be our badge, our nametag. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) must be said about the people of God as well.