Monday, June 18, 2018

Church Growth 1st Century Style

Public Domain Image Produced before 1923

A number of years ago I read a book entitled The Purpose Driven Church.  It was essentially a sales training manual for people in the church business.  The PDC is a retelling  of a church-growth movement many refer to as "felt needs evangelism"  - find a person with a need, fill that need, and then share the gospel with them, they will be far more responsive...or so it is claimed.  It's an approach that "appears" to be working in the United States.  The religious landscape today is dominated by so-called emerging churches, so called mega-churches. and so-called progressive churches.  

The "felt needs" programs of the 1970's, 80's and 90's centered upon what was then called "family friendly" Christianity, most notably customized youth programs, community targeted bus programs, and catered senior activities.  It was all very "plug and play," just show up and plug in your kids here, plug in grandad and gramma there, and find your own plug for yourself!  When you're done, unplug everyone and head on home.  There were as many "small groups" as one could imagine where one could experiment with their ever changing "plug and play" desires!

Today, "felt needs" are no long family or even group centric.  They are individual centric.  "What's in it for me?" is the underlying current among todays "seekers."  "Felt needs" today focus on a repentless desire to be "accepted" regardless of one's sinful state.  "Coffee bars" entertain those who "tag along" but don't really want to engage in anything "Christian."  

Several years ago in Charlotte, one emerging church offered a cigar bar out in the parking lot on Father's Day!

People today want "high energy" worship full of visual and auditory stimulation.  Today's "seeker" is not seeking God, he is seeking an emotional experience with the God of his imagination.  Today's "seeker" is longing for something he calls "relevance."  He's a consumer of religious goods and services, those things that will make him more successful, wealthier, admired and personally valuable in his community.

There was no "felt needs" church growth in the 1st century

There IS, however, a church growth pattern in the New Testament. It is found in Acts, chapter 11.19 - 21 regarding the church of Christ in Antioch, Syria.  

1. Find a place no one else is interested in doing a church plant.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

More Blessed than the Apostles? - In One Way...YES!

Audio and Outline of a Sermon Rendered 3 June 2018, Morning Service, Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 by Russell H McCullough:

Text: Luke 1.26 - 33; John 20.24 – 31
Thesis: We are more blessed than the apostles because we have only HEARD the testimony, never seeing it.
Introduction – Why does no one doubt the veracity of the existence of any other historical figure OTHER than Christ Jesus? 
• Who ever heard; “I would believe in the existence of Julius Caesar if only I could have seen him.”
• Who ever heard; “I would believe in the existence of Abraham Lincoln if only if I could have seen him.”
• Who ever heard: “I would believe in the existence of the law of gravity if only I can see it.”
• Today, people have more faith in the words of Charles Darwin than they do in the words of Jesus Christ!
• NO ONE here today has ever seen any of these mentioned.
1. We know of these and believe in their existence because of the testimony of the spoken word of 3rd parties.
a. People simply believe some 3rd parties and dismiss others.

I – Luke’s Testimony – Do you believe in angels?

a. Hearing is believing
b. Admiral Cochrane
• “Besides 9/11, the only other attack by an outside force on Washington, D.C. was in 1814 when Adm. George Cockburn of the British Royal Navy, literally walked into the White House, at Pres. James Madison’s dinner, drank his wine, and then sat fire to the place.”  DID YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEARD OR NOT?

II – Luke’s Testimony – Do you believe in the virgin pregnancy?

a. Hearing is believing
b. Edwin Booth
• “Months before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert fell from a train platform in Jersey City.  The hand that pulled him to safety belonged to Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln’s killer).”  DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEARD OR NOT?

III – Luke’s Testimony – Do you believe in the eternal reign?

a. Hearing is believing
b. The Polish impostor
• “After a Polish impostor who claimed the throne of Russia was found out, he was executed, burned and had his ashes shot out of a cannon back toward Poland.”  DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU JUST HEARD OR NOT?

CONCLUSION:  People believe what they want to believe without evidence and reject what they want to reject regardless of evidence!

 “The Gospel Call” – Acts 2.38 -

NOTE: Illustrations courtesy of “WTF Fun Facts”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Proverbs Wednesday - April 18

Proverbs Wednesday for April 18, 2018 - Observations and Prayer


* Isolation seeks one's own selfish ambitions and opposes all wise judgement.  (The "anthem" of the recluse is "I Am A Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel):

* The lazy in work are the ally of destruction.

* "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are saved."

* To interrupt another's speech is foolish and shameful.

* A good spirit will make a sick man well but a broken spirit will kill him.

* The wise heart accumulates knowledge and the wise ear looks for it.

* An offended brother is harder to win than a well fortified city.

* The produce of one's labors brings both life and satisfaction.

* A man of many contacts may come to ruin - BUT - a friend sticks closer than a brother!


Our Most Kind and Generous Holy Father;

All glory, power, and honor to Your most Holy Name!  May we reject isolation and instead embrace fellowship, friendship, and brotherhood in ever expanding hospitality.  May we reject laziness and instead embrace hard work and dedication to our vocation.  May this be always on our lips each day; "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are saved."  As we speak with others may we cease interruption and answering out of turn for this is both foolish and shameful.  May Your Spirit infuse our souls so that we will live a sustained life here on earth.  May we all continually seek and accumulate knowledge until the day of our death.  May we seek never to offend others and work even harder to win back those whom we might offend.  May we dedicate ourselves to production of goods and services for this brings about profit, benefit, and satisfaction for both others and ourselves.  May we seek and keep real friends and never be satisfied with mere contacts.
Forgive us, Lord, when we fall short of these things.

In the Name of Jesus we pray; AMEN

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ephesians 5 - The Great Mystery Chiasm

Ephesians 5 speaks about marriage, but it is not about marriage.  Ephesians 5 speaks about Christian living, but it is not about Christian living.  Ephesians 5 speaks about singing in Christian worship, but it is not about singing in Christian worship.  If it is not about these things, just what IS it about?

Ephesians 5 is about God's great mystery, the church of Christ.  It is illustrated here by Paul primarily by marriage and "clean" living which includes "singing to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs."

Ephesians 5 tells us primarily about Christ's relationship to the church which is a "great mystery."  Since Paul in several places reveals the mysterious church of Christ (the mystery is that the gospel is for all, not just the Jews) and makes sure by inspiration that the church of Christ remain a mystery no longer!

The Jews organized their writings (including Inspired Scripture) is a way unlike extant Westerners (shocking!).  Instead of lining up arguments in a line with a conclusion at the end, Hebraic literature would often have a thesis in the middle with arguments on the front end descending to the thesis and corresponding arguments ascending backwards to the thesis.  These "chiasms" rendered emphasis without repetition.  There also was an "internal tension" between the various top and bottom assertions.  For example, the "no uncleanness to be named among you" of Ephesian 5.3 - 5 is contrasted by Ephesians 5.31's "For this reason..."  It goes without saying that a faithful monogamous relationship will allow no uncleanness.  This "chiastic" outline gets its name from the Greek alphabet letter "X" (chi) as it looks like a cut in half letter "X."

Here is Ephesians 5 outlined chiastically.  As Paul did not leave us his outlines, this has been organized by me and me alone.  The Word is without error but my outline might not be!  Feel free to construct your own chiasm's to further your study of God's Word!

2        Walk as did Christ in love, sacrifice and offering
          3 – 5  No uncleanness to be named among you      
                   6        Be wary of deception
                             16      Redeem the time
                                      20 – 21        Submit to all with thanksgiving
                                           22 – 23 Christ is the head of the church – LEADER
                                                                     Christ is the Savior of the Body - SERVANT
                                      24a    The church is submissive to Christ    
                             24b    Wives are subject to husbands in everything
                   25 – 26   Husbands, love your wives AS Christ loved the church
          31      “For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and…
32      This is a great mystery BUT see Romans 16.25 – 26 & Colossians 1.26 - 29

This outline was presented to the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 on 11 April 2018 by Russell H McCullough

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Hallowed Name of God

God is not limited to just one name.  The OT lists at least 21 formal names for God.  We serve and pray to a God who is intrinsically and definitionaly Holy.  Anything else and / or anyone else is only declaratively holy.  God must declare it to make it so.  Holiness can never be self obtained.  In this lesson on prayer, we learn that the God to whom we pray is the only Father, the only Hallowed One, and has many powerful Names for His Infinite Holiness.


Church Growth 1st Century Style

Public Domain Image Produced before 1923 A number of years ago I read a book entitled The Purpose Driven Church .  It was essent...