With not being able to meet in person, we had an opportunity with our small group to sing to the Lord together and share a little from Matthew 21:1-11.
The ever-changing and improving technology is nothing new to the church. Martin Luther and his 95 theses caught the fire of communication in Europe because of technology. Between 1517 and 1520, his writings sold over 300,000 copies which were something new for differing religious mindsets. Wycliff who was on the cusp of this new technology was unable to use it the same way. (Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Kindle Ed., location 7511). Luther was born at the right time as technology advanced. On one hand, this was thrust upon him as others took his writing to be printed and on the other, he saw how it was advantageous of getting the truth out.
Here we are five centuries later and we see how technology has advanced. We have digital books, not just the printed book! We are now able to communicate with more people faster than ever. Many churches use technology to communicate but COVID-19 has forced the church to communicate in these different ways more than ever.
Some churches have wrestled more with this over their convictions of streaming their service compromises on what it means to be the church and some churches already stream their services online. I understand both sides and am thankful for both views. A church that is strong in its convictions and one that utilizes the tools on hand. A couple of thoughts regarding this:
Costi W. Hinn responded to the recent debate of church’s moving to do church “online” on Instagram and said, “Friends, let us spend time this week whether traditionalists think of our online efforts and spend more time proclaiming truth through whatever medium we can: Pound the airwaves, Post to IGTV, go ‘Live’, Light up phone lines, and fill up mailboxes. Unleash the hope in Christ.”
Costi showed the bigger picture. We have an opportunity to get the gospel out so as a church let’s do just that. If we write a letter (old school way with a pen, paper, and a stamp) you are using a form of technology. If you call someone you are using technology. When you use a microphone to make it so people can hear you at church is a form of technology. Using a camera and the internet to share God’s Word with your church is a form of technology. So, let us use the current tool of technology to share the gospel message.
There may be some churches that are unable to stream as it is work upon pastors and staff that probably are already stretched. One must not judge them based on conviction or abilities. I think all Christians would agree that we must live with a sense of urgency (Eph. 5:15-16). I know some pastors, though are not streaming a Sunday service, are busier than ever reaching out to the congregation through texts, phone calls, and video meetings. They are doing what they can!
There should be a clarification of what is the church? Does doing church this way constitute “doing church?” No, the church is the gathering of God’s people together living within a community with each other. But, here is a time that people are more open to listening to the gospel. This is the time that this world has many questions and fears and the church can point them to the Savior, Jesus Christ who conquered sin and death. The one who made it possible for us to have peace with God so we can have the peace of God.
This is a tool to get the message out and we are longing to be able to meet in person one day again. This is a longing that is a good longing to have. This is something that should be on the heart of every believer, to gather with other believers, to give hugs, handshakes, and high fives as the local congregation assemble together. There is longing to sit next to other believers singing to God out loud through the poor pitch and deaf tone singers along with those that sing elegantly. I long for that day to come again to be able to place my hand on the shoulder of the brother in Christ as I pray for him. This is the church which is more than just listening to a sermon, it is the living out of God’s word. We have been given the gospel doctrine which lived out which makes a gospel culture.
Though we are called to keep distant from one another, we know that because of Christ we are one and united together. Though we have social distancing for protection and to help curb this invisible enemy, we look to Jesus who defeated the invisible enemy sin, death, and the devil through life sinless life, sacrificial death, and his glorious resurrection.
Is there a right way or a wrong way to do church? The church has been defined as not a building but the assembly or gathering of believers. The location and building of a church do not matter as much as what goes on in the church. You can argue that just because a group of people gather together, does that make a church? No, it is the gathering of saints (faithful and holy, believers) who come together in the name of Jesus Christ to worship him and be unified together in faith.
I am not wanting to define what is the church as I am more so wanting to say the service and goal of the church can be done the wrong way. I do believe Scripture gives some guidelines in how a church should function (Acts 2:42-47). With that, we also have some flexibility within those guidelines as Scripture may not be specific. For example, the building, music style, and the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is not in specified in the Bible. The Bible does not tell one how to adjust to contemporary culture yet is relevant for one to live in context to ones culture. On the other side, there is a danger of being innovative while missing these guidelines that are presented to the bride of Christ, the church. Granted, I would be amiss to assume that my approach to church is the best way or right way.
I think there is a great responsibility for the pastor to study the Word of God, seeking to apply Biblically what Scripture gives as those guidelines with the desire to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Continue reading “Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?”
Christians have always adapted to the advancement of technology to be able to spread the gospel in different ways to reach more people. It was the Romans who created the road system which made it possible for the early church to travel with the message of Jesus Christ to the known world.
It was Johannes Gutenberg who created the printing press in the fifteenth century, which paved the way for the Bible to go from the hands of the affluent to the common person, from the hands of the religious elite to the peasants. The printing press made reading possible for so many people, which meant more people could read the Bible. The printing press paved the way for the Bible to be translated and mass produced for people to read in their native tongue. This was huge! It literally changed the world and how it communicated. Pastors now were able to print their sermons as pamphlets. Christians were able to adapt to this technology with the work of evangelism. Continue reading “Technology and the Gospel”
When one thinks of an institution they may think of education, government, the church, marriage, family, and even state correctional facilities. What is considered an institution? Which institution holds the most influence? Which one should hold the most influence? Each holds its importance. Marriage and family are rooted at society and carry a lot of influence but not most important. Education, good and does it molding of children and influences (negative and positive) should not be the most influential in our society. The government which has its own institutions within it, and holds power, is not the most influential.
Pastor and teacher Ray Ortland defines an institution this way, “An institution is a social mechanism for making a desirable experience easily repeatable. An institution is where life-giving human activities can be nurtured and protected and sustained.” Here there can be many institutions that fit this definition like sporting events but where more than ever can human activities be nurtured, protected, and sustained the strongest? It is the church. (The church in this meaning is the Biblical church made up of Bible believing Christians. Pastor Mark Dever defines the church as “The church is that collection of people who are hearing the Word of God, responding to it with their lives, and who have obeyed Jesus’ specific commands to be baptized and proclaim his death in the Lord’s Supper.”)
Continue reading “What Should Be the Most Influential Institution?”
I just hit my mid thirties this year! Though I am not a Senior Pastor at the church I serve at, I realized that being in a sedentary job was catching up to me. As a kid I was always skinny or fit. I played sports. I could eat whatever I wanted and it didn’t matter. Things changed in my twenties when I wasn’t as active but still ate whatever I wanted. After having some different health challenges that took place in my early thirties I know I needed to change but why? It goes beyond what the mirror revealed when I looked at it.
Continue reading “Are You a Healthy Pastor?”
Yesterday marked the start of Passion week for Christians around the world with it being Palm Sunday. Every year, I try to direct my family on what did the last week of Jesus’ life look like? How can we look through the Gospels and see how he spent his week leading up to his death and crucifixion and ending with his resurrection? As a Christian parent we put the emphasis on what Easter is all about, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. A good resource that I keep going back to is The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Justin Taylor. Continue reading “Are You Ready for Passion Week”
This past weekend, a goal of mine was accomplished by being able to have a parenting conference for our church. It took years of thinking and praying and wrong times to finally pick a date and stick to it. Here is what I learned through the process that could maybe help those out there that are planning on doing something similar at their church.
Child-care is important!
I knew the audience was parents and many who signed up for the conference had younger children who were unable to watch themselves. We knew planning this that child care was important but let me tell you, it was hard to get volunteers for it!
It was hard to find adults who were either not parents themselves who could benefit from the conference or were willing to miss it.
Continue reading “Having a Parenting Conference? 5 Things I Learned from having one.”
Why go to church? Why is it important for Christians to not only go to church but to be actively involved in a church? One of the obvious reasons is because of Jesus. In Ephesians 5:25 Paul gives the example of husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church. How does Jesus demonstrate this love? He gave Himself up for the church (Ephesians 5:25). He died for the church. He prays for the church (John 17). He established the church (Matthew 16:18).
The church is more than a gathering place or a building. The church is the body of believers who gather together on a regular basis and exalt Jesus by teaching through the Bible. The church is the gospel made visible.
What Is Church About?
- The church is about Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the reason why we meet together at church. He is it. It is for Him to be known and proclaimed. Jesus is the motivation for why we get up on Sunday to meet with other Christians. Because of Jesus we have more in common as believers than anyone else.
Jesus is proclaimed through the worship service and the faithful teaching of God’s Word. Jesus Christ is proclaimed when we live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). When we make church not about us but about the reaching of the lost, we can encourage each other as we evangelize.
- The church is about people.
As mentioned above, the church is the body of believers coming together to worship Jesus through songs and teaching and giving—we need to understand that church is about people. Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus with these words:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3 ESV).
We are called to be with other believers in unity. The church is about people and when you make it about others, it is hard for you to make church about you. Church needs to consist of other people—male and female, young and old. That is why church is unique. We have one focus and one purpose: Jesus Christ.
- The church is about sinners being redeemed.
The church is made up of people who have sinned and now are forgiven. The church is made up of flawed individuals who are not perfect. But, the church rallies around the fact that believers are sinners who have been redeemed.
The church cares about the redemption of mankind by giving opportunities for people to repent publicly of their sin and follow Jesus. Every believer’s goal should be to encourage each other with the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is why discipleship is so important. When we make church about others we help the Christian walk of other believers and apply what Paul said in Galatians 6:1–2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch over yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV).
The church is not about me but about God and His glory. When I realize that I am called to meet together with other believers and that it is not about me (Hebrews 10:23–25), I actually grow and gain from the church.
Back to the question, “Why church?” Because of what Jesus has done for me and the church, His bride, whom He loves and died for. The church is where I get together with my brothers and sisters in Christ, where we are united with our purpose—the gospel.
I love the church and I love my church!