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.
2. 






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:

https://soundcloud.com/archdale-church-of-christ/sounds-from-sunday-morning-5

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

Observations:

* 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): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKlSVNxLB-A

* 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!

Prayer:

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.

LISTEN! now on SOUNDCLOUD!

https://soundcloud.com/archdale-church-of-christ/sounds-from-sunday-evening

Sunday, March 25, 2018

It's WHEN We Pray, Not IF We Pray!

LISTEN! to this sermon on SOUNDCLOUD!

https://soundcloud.com/archdale-church-of-christ/its-when-not-if-you-pray-032518-russell-h-mccullough-archdale-church-of-christ

Outline:


“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *



Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date:  25 March 2018

Text: Matthew 6.5 - 13
Thesis:  Prayer is to the soul as breathing is to the body.  Breathing is not optional, and neither is prayer!
Introduction
          Sing: “How Long Has It Been?”
          Read the Words to the Song
          Luke 11 – “Teach us to pray”
          Matthew 6 – In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount
* Prayer is to be taught but more important, it is to be lived.
F. B. Meyer – “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
Please stand:

Our Most Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father;
As we study the prayer that Jesus taught us, may we with broken and contrite hearts seek Your Presence in prayer with the breath of our lungs as we receive the Breath of Your Word from the Scriptures.  Forgive us not for what we say in prayer but, for not saying it more often.
In the Name of Jesus Christ;
And All the church said; AMEN
Please be seated:
William Law – “Prayer is the nearest approach to God and the highest enjoyment of Him that we are capable of in this life.”
          Jesus makes 3 points as He introduces the Disciples Prayer
1.   It’s WHEN not IF
2.   Don’t Pray like this
3.   Do Pray like this
I It’s WHEN not IF We Pray!
A.  That Christians not pray is not in the equation of Christ at all.
B.  The question before us today is NOT “when should we pray?” but rather, “when should we NOT be praying[RM1] ?!”
C.   The fact remains though, we are not typically praying people.  Why not?
D.  Why do Christians fail to pray?
1.   They don’t really believe.
a.   God and / or prayer
b.   We really don’t believe “that God is and He is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.”
2.   They neglect the assembly
a.   I Corinthians 11.30 – “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
1)  Dead people don’t breathe, dead Christians don’t pray.
3.   They feel guilty about something.
4.   They are afraid God is angry with them.
5.   They feel awkward.
6.   They feel embarrassed
7.   They don’t know what to say or how to say it.
8.   They are afraid God won’t answer their prayers.
9.   They are afraid God WILL answer their prayers!
E.   George Herbert: “Prayer is the key to the day and the lock of the night.”
F.   BREATHING IS NOT OPTIONAL, AND NEITHER IS PRAYER
II Pray Not Like This – READ Matthew 6.5 - 8
A.  We automatically discount this portion for no one in our society is admired for public praying.
1.   BUT, should we ignore this?
B.  When praying publicly, we often word things in certain ways so we will meet 3rd party expectations.
C.   When praying either publicly or privately, we often say things in such a way to make sure we “say it the right way” so God won’t “hang up the phone on us.”
D.  When praying publicly, we often word things in such a way so as not to offend someone in our hearing[RM2] , or to please someone in our hearing.
E.   We must pray always regardless of how we feel spiritually, physically, mentally, psychologically or any other way and NOT give in to changes based upon any other person’s expectations.
F.   Albert Mohler – “Authentic prayer is never about impressing anyone (for any reason.)”
G.  BREATHING IS NOT OPTIONAL, AND NEITHER IS PRAYER
III Pray Like This – READ Matthew 6.9
A.  Charles Sprugeon, the English Baptist preacher of the 19th century once said; “I would just as soon pray with a machine as to sing with one.”  
1.   Rout praying, like an instrument, is mechanical.
2.   Mechanical prayers are liturgical.
a.   “The Book of Common Prayer”
3.   There is no kind of liturgical worship patterned for us in the New Testament.
4.   The Disciples Prayer is not liturgical and was never meant to be by Jesus.  It was instead, a guide for spontaneous, heartfelt, and sincere prayers for the saints of all time.
5.   How do we know this?
6.   We know this because of Jesus’ very precise use of the compound Greek word, houto, rendered “like this,” “in this manner,” or “after this manner.”
a.   Per Strong’s: “In this way, after this manner, like, on this fashion, in like manner, thus.”
b.   Christians are not robots and Jesus did not teach us to pray like robots.
B.  BREATHING IS NOT OPTIONAL, AND NEITHER IS PRAYER

Let us pray:

Our Most Divine and Majestic Heavenly Father;

May we this day and every day pray to You often as we should.  May we never seek the favor or permission of any human for what we say to You in private or in public.  May we pray as Jesus taught us to.  May our prayers never be mechanical or artificial.  May we approach You in prayer always even if we are fearful.  Even if we are feeling awkward.  Even if we feel guilt and remorse.  Even when the words won’t come.  Even when we are embarrassed.  Even when we are weakened by fear and doubt.  May we hurry to prayer especially when we are tempted by our weaknesses.  Forgive us Lord and draw us near to Your heart.

In the Name of Jesus, we pray;

And all the church said; AMEN

CONCLUSION:

The Word of God is our conclusion today: “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” – Proverbs 15.29

The Challenge of the Text for Christians Today – TO PRAY LIKE JESUS TAUGHT US AS BREATHING IS NOT OPTIONAL, and NEITHER IS PRAYING!


“The Gospel Call” – If you are not a Christian, you cannot pray “Our Father.”  Therefore: “Repent, everyone of you, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2.38

·         My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston
Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Believing Prayer

In the very biblical mode of prayer where we approach our Holy God, here is a prayer that emulates just how Christ taught us to pray.  It is thankful, hopeful, content, joyful, doctrinal and edifying to all!

http://believingprayer.com/you-are-god/


Monday, March 19, 2018

Prayer - Our Spiritual Reality Check

LISTEN! to this sermon on: SOUNDCLOUD!

https://soundcloud.com/archdale-church-of-christ/prayer-our-reality-check-acoc-am-031818-russell-h-mccullough-voice-180318




“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *

Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date:  18 March 2018

Text: Matthew 6.5 – 13; II Thessalonians 3.1 - 5
Thesis: “As we approach God in prayer both God and we know precisely where we are in our Walk”
Introduction
Roger Scruton, an Englishman, once observed; “God is defined in the act of worship (and prayer) far more precisely than He is defined in any theology.” (1)
·         What I believe about God is immediately known to both God and me.
·         This should terrify us.
·         This should bring us to elation!
·         Emulating biblical prayers will soon erase our terror and bring us to elation.
·         Today, we will take a “reality check” regarding our beliefs, our priorities, and our doctrine as they are revealed in prayer.  We will then make application by considering and emulating Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians in the text just read in your hearing.

·         PLEASE STAND




Our Most Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father;

May our ears, our hearts, and our minds now come open to the implanted Word that can save our souls.

In the Name of Christ, we pray; AMEN

·         PLEASE BE SEATED

·         WE WILL NOW HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD!
I Our Prayers Reveal Our True Beliefs (2) About God and His Holiness
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
a.   Reality Check One: “Just what do I think of God as I pray?”
1.   Am I fearful?
2.   Am I distracted?
3.   Am I bored?
4.   Is God Holy or is He not?
5.   OUR PRAYERS REVEAL OUR TRUE BELIEFS ABOUT GOD AND HIS HOLINESS

II Our Prayers Reveal Our True Priorities (3) for Both God and To Us
a.    Reality Check Two: “What are my priorities before God?”
1.   What do we pray for?
2.   Do we use formulaic words and phrases?
3.   Are we just trying to get through?
4.   Are our prayers intercessory or self-centered?
5.   Are we trying to convince God to do something our way?
6.   OUR PRAYERS REVEAL OUR TRUE PRIORITIES BEFORE GOD.


III Our Prayers Reveal Our Doctrine (4)
a.   Reality Check Three: “Do I truly seek to embrace the Apostles Doctrine in its entirety?”
1.   Who is God the Father?
2.   Who is God the Son?
3.   Who is God the Holy Spirit?
4.   Is the Word of God true and without error?
5.   Who is man?
6.   What is sin?
7.   Who will be saved?  Who will be lost?
8.   What must I do to be saved?
9.   The Power of the gospel
10.       The reality of death and judgement
11.       The hope of the resurrection!
12.       The POWER of prayer!
13.       “How shall I now live?”
14.       OUR PRAYERS REVEAL JUST WHAT OUR DOCTRINE TRULY IS AND ISN’T

IV Paul’s Beliefs, Priority’s, and Doctrine Are All Revealed to the Thessalonians in II Thessalonians 3.1 - 5
A.  Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
B.  Paul’s prayer is mutual
a.   He asks the church to first pray for him
b.   He then prays for the church
C.   Paul’s Prayer List:
a.   It’s profound to see just what is and is not on his list:
1.   He prays that the Word of God speeds ahead.
2.   He prays that the Word of God be honored
3.   He prays that they be delivered from evil and wicked men as not all have faith.
4.   He prays that they be established.
5.   He prays that they be guarded from the evil one.
6.   He prays that they be blessed with confidence
7.   He prays that they be directed to the Love of God and to the Steadfastness of Christ
8.   Paul’s prayer action words are: SPEED, HONOR, DELIVER, ESTABLISH, GUARD, CONFIDE, DIRECT.
-      7 Power words of prayer!

9.   Paul reveals his beliefs, his priorities, and his doctrine to God, to the church and to himself as do we as we pray.

V As We Have Learned from God’s Word Today, Let Us Pray:

        Our Most Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father;
       
We pray for all our brothers and sisters worldwide that labor in Your Vineyard that Your Word, O Lord, may speed ahead and be honored!  We pray that they may be delivered from evil and wicked men for not all have faith.
But we know that You are Faithful!  Lord, establish us and guard us against the evil one.  Bless us with confidence in You, O Lord, that we may do the things that You command.  Direct our hearts to Your love, O God.  Direct our hearts to the steadfastness of Christ in Whose Name we pray.

        Let All the Church Say; AMEN

CONCLUSION:  

The Meaning of the Text:

Our Bible’s teach us how to pray so that we will approach God with fear and reverence, so that we will give our own wills over to God, and so that we will know His Word more fully.

The Challenge of the Text: 

Is for us to prayerfully set aside our casual approach to our Holy God, to forge our wills into His, and to know His Word more fully. 

“Just how did your reality check come out as you prayed here today?”


“The Gospel Call”
Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

NOTES:

(1) As quoted by: Mohler, Jr., R. Albert (The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down), Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 2018, pg. 10.
(2) Point is from IBID, pg. 12 - 17 - Content is mine - RHM
(3) Point is from IBID, pg. 12 -17 - Content is mine - RHM
(4) Point is from IBID, pg. 12 - 17 - Content is mine - RHM

·         My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston
Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.


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...