More and more people are streaming their at-home entertainment these days. I decided I needed to update the “buy or rent movie” page on my Find Christian Links website to “streaming TV and movies.”
I recently signed up for frndlytv and am enjoying it thoroughly. So I decided to search for other Christian and family-friendly apps for streaming. I was amazed at how many I found! I hope you will check them out here. And please let me know of any I have missed!
Next, I set out to update my TV and Movie Review page. As Christians, we may ask ourselves, “Should I see that movie? How about this new game my teenager is wanting? Is that TV program OK for my 6-year-old?” We try to assess if it has too much bad language, too many offensive sex scenes, too much violence, or too many bad life examples for our kids.
Where do we draw the line? How much is too much?
If we compare movies or television programming or even music today with that of a decade or two decades ago, most of us are horrified to realize how far we’ve come. With gradually increased exposure to explicit sex, mockery of Christianity, sexuality issues, occultic phenomena, and violence beyond imagination, our threshold of tolerance has increased. Things that at one time we would never have considered watching or listening to have somehow become acceptable. Our scorecard of “how much is too much” has changed dramatically. We have allowed ourselves to be conditioned.
Perhaps instead of “how much is too much,” we should ask ourselves, “Is this a positive thing for our lives or our children’s lives? Does it teach us something? Does it leave us with worthwhile thoughts or ideas? Is it healthy, harmless entertainment? Would we invite Jesus to watch it or listen to it with us?”
In Philippians 4:8 we are admonished to “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Let this, instead of “how much bad is too much,” be our guide.
One way we can know which movies or TV programs or music are positive and worthwhile is through reviews from a Christian perspective. In checking the Internet, I found many excellent sites offering such services, but some stood out to me as being especially worthy. I am listing a few of the sites here that seem to approach their reviews and comments from a heartfelt biblical perspective. I hope you find them helpful.
How do you find your place within the people of God? Are you the eyes? ears? hands? feet? Or, maybe you are the heart, the liver, or the pancreas?
What does this anatomy quiz have to do with God’s people? Everything!
First Corinthians 12 says that the church is the body of Christ, and we, individual believers, are members (or parts) of that body. Each part is essential–just as our eyes and our pancreas are essential to our lives–to the healthy functioning of God’s interdependent people.
We have each been given unique spiritual gifts to equip us to do the things that God calls us to do. What gifts have you been given? Do you even know what your gifts are? Every believer in Jesus has at least one spiritual gift, usually more than one.
Have your gifts shifted since the last time you paid attention? Or, does it feel like yours are less important? Scripture tells us that each of us plays a crucial role—no one is more or less important than another. How can your gifts be used to glorify God and accomplish His work in the world?
So, are you the eyes—the person who notices everything, who sees people? The ears—someone who listens intently, who hears…or the inner ear—do you bring balance to the Body? Are you the hands—the one who helps, builds, crafts, touches? The feet—the person who feels compelled to go, to do, to act? Maybe you are the heart—the pulsing energy, the compassionate empathizer, or the liver—the one who helps the church filter truth from lies or good from bad…
God made you and gave you a unique combination of gifts and talents and personality and passion to fulfill a unique role in the universe. He has a variety of places and purposes—custom-built for you. To find those places of “fit” takes effort, exploration, discernment, and the help of others.
The God. Gifts. You.: Your Unique Calling and Design six-week study guide is intended to help you, your small group, and/or your church live more fully into the adventure of being a community of Christ-followers. As you explore your calling, purpose, and discover and understand your unique, God-given spiritual gifts, you will see your whole life as ministry, not just what is done in the context of Sunday or church or even community volunteering.
Find something you love to do…and go do it! Find someone to do it with. Follow your passion, your gifts and your interests. God has blessed you to be a blessing. For more thoughts on gifts and involvement, explore the GodGiftsYou.com website. Take the spiritual gifts assessment. Look for where God is active around you and join Him.
Remember—you are a grace-giver to others: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Shirley Giles Davis is a consultant/facilitator/coach/author with more than 30 years of experience in each arena. She has expertise in non-profit, government, and business management, leadership, marketing, strategic planning, evaluation, and implementation. Shirley has worked with a diverse clientele, including large and small businesses, city and county governments, state and national organizations, and religious and secular institutions. Her communications and public relations proficiency was developed working for both radio and television stations for more than 20 years. She also works in curriculum development, navigating change, community-building, conflict coaching, volunteer management, and resilience-building. Through her equipping work, she has helped guide nearly 4,000 individuals toward a better understanding of their unique gifts, passions, and callings.
Shirley has been Director of Equip-Connect-Serve Ministries at a church of 1,200 in Boulder, Colorado since 1999, connecting people with opportunities to serve and places of learning and fellowship. Shirley and her husband, a university professor, have been married since 1982. They are the parents of two adult daughters who are both pursuing their passions on the global stage. At any given time, one or more of their family is traveling somewhere outside the U.S. Contact Shirley.
When I was 13 years old, I was involved in an accident that left me with some structural issues and chronic pain.
Several years later a doctor told me if I could work on strengthening the muscles around my back, core, and joints, it would provide some relief from the pain I was experiencing. In an attempt to do so, I actually ended up making things worse. I didn’t understand my limitations and in fear of making things even worse, I just stopped trying altogether.
God recently opened a door for me to try again, but this time I’m working with experienced and knowledgeable coaches who are giving advice specific to me, my body, and my goals.
This reminded me of how often I hear of my friends and colleagues who are coaches talk about the importance of having their own coach. Not only does it help you stay focused and intentional in your own life, but if you are a coach, then it’s helping you experience coaching skills that you can incorporate into your own coaching! One friend said, “When I started my first business I didn’t have anyone mentoring me. Now that I’m starting my 12th business, I have two coaches!”
She went on to share that when you look at people who are professionals and masters in their field, you will often learn of a mentor, coach, or trainer who has been supporting or guiding them along the way. They understand that to be successful, they need to receive the wisdom of others—not just general wisdom, but wisdom that uncovers where they are now and where they want to go and and guides them on how to bridge the gap for their specific situation.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”
Who is speaking into your specific situation? What areas are you trying to go it alone? If you don’t have an answer, it might be time to get a coach!
Note: Original article was written for CCNI’s President Message at ChristianCoaches.com . Visit their website to learn how to find a coach . . . or how to become a coach.
About Guest Blogger, Jenny Karr
Jenny Karr has been at Tailored Fundraising since 2013 and is now the Coaching Manager and Executive Coach. With a passion to train, equip, and support people in ministry, she has worked with hundreds of Christian missionaries and leaders on healthy and effective ways of building a partnership team.
Outside of Tailored, she is the 2019 President of Christian Coaches Network International, providing education, resources, and community to Christians seeking to grow or strengthen their coaching skills.
In Jenny’s personal life you’ll find her spending quality time with her husband and teenage daughter in and around their home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Have you ever been having a casual conversation with someone, when suddenly the topic shifts over to a personal circumstance they are struggling with that you have already walked through, but never told anyone about?
In that moment you have to make a split second decision: Do you share your story….or do you keep silent, providing a sympathetic nod, while hoping that person will simply move onto another subject?
There are 3 Dangers to consider when sharing your story:
You become invincible.
You may save a life.
You will fall more in love with Jesus
Now, if you are wrinkling your forehead in confusion wondering how those 3 items can be considered “dangerous,” I’ll let you in on a little secret….your story, when shared with others, is one of the most dangerous weapons you have against the lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
An article on ChristianityToday.com in 2007 asked 1000 Americans three questions to discover their feelings about fear, shame, guilt, and other issues. The result of the survey was this: 38% said they avoid shame the most, while 31% said guilt and 30% said fear.”
Thinking about publicly sharing the story of your journey through any sort of brokenness can elicit all three of those emotions. Fear about what others might think of you; shame at some of the things you did; and guilt around the people you hurt or the consequences that happened because of your choices.
Keeping your story locked up deep inside you as a bad memory and former life you want nothing to do with is certainly one way to move on from that painful experience. But it’s also the perfect recipe for the Adversary to hold you hostage to your past anytime he feels like it.
Let’s go back to that split-second decision….
….Did you ever consider that one of the ways the Lord had always planned to bring
beauty out of the ashes of your past (Isaiah 61:1-3) was to use your story as a redemptive opportunity to help others in their present situation?
Your story is DANGEROUS TO THE ENEMY for all 3 reasons I mentioned:
1) You become invincible
You know that saying, “Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose” ? It is more than true…it’s powerful. There’s a deep peace that settles inside you – which becomes stronger than anything that can happen around you – when you experience the freedom of letting go of your past through sharing your story.
In a sense, you really do become invincible because no one (especially the devil) can twist the information to use it against you once you’ve shared it publicly the way you experienced it!
The same thing happens in the political arena all the time whenever a negative story is about to break wide open. The person at the center of the story can either remain silent and wait for the public backlash, or they can rush to the media to tell their version of the story first in an attempt to control how it’s perceived.
Being Invincible certainly does not prohibit some consequences of sharing your story. What it does, though, is provide a solid foundation of self-worth and inner confidence as you “face the music” of those who might not understand and choose to treat you differently because of your choice to share your story.
As sons and daughters of Christ, we have to remember that the Lord did not put us on this earth to simply live a quiet 70+ years and then off to heaven we go. He has a purpose for each of us, and sharing our stories is part of that purpose (1 Peter 3:15).
2) You save lives
“I’m fine.” How many times have you heard that response from others only to find out later that those very same people have been experiencing life altering challenges; keeping everything quiet because they are barely holding it together and afraid of what will happen if they let someone into their extremely difficult situation.
What those people need are assurances that they are not alone, and that the God of the Impossible has the power to step in and turn everything around for our good (Romans 8:28). I know…because the Lord sent me on a “Crazy” 12K+ mile Adventure across the U.S. to share my story in order to bring hope and provide encouragement to hundreds of people currently walking out a variety of incredibly difficult situations in their own lives.
As I traveled from state to state, I recognized the Lord had not coordinated that “Crazy” Adventure just for me, but rather as an incredible testimony of HIS faithfulness and desire to take care of all His kids because of how much He loves us.
A recent article on CNN.com shows a very concerning statistic: “The suicide rate in the United States continues to climb, with a rate in 2017 that was 33% higher than in 1999.”
It’s the second leading cause of death for those 15 – 24 years-old. Often that is because they get stuck in a mindset of hopelessness, feeling trapped in a cycle of emotional pain, causing them to withdraw which increases loneliness and exacerbates the hopelessness/trapped feelings. After a while, stopping the pain any way they can causes suicide to become a viable option.
YOUR STORY might just be the light the Lord has chosen to help them find their way back out of that very dark placeto potentially save their life.
3) You fall more in love with Jesus
This is the most interesting by product of sharing your story. With each re-telling to the next person the Lord brings your way who needs to hear it, you step into a sacred place of thankfulness which becomes a tangible awareness of His love for you, which leads to a deeper place of intimacy with Him. Just like human relationships (marriage or friendship), intimacy builds trust which then activates more faith in the other person, which breeds more love resulting in more intimacy thus naturally experiencing more love….repeat!
Deeper love and intimacy with the Lord means your identity is no longer focused on “you.” It is now focused on Jesus flowing through you. That shift means that every need you have is met in Him, freeing you to join the Lord anywhere He leads, helping anyone He brings to you, in any way He asks of you….without concern for the outcome or the consequences.
HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE OUTCOME because of your willingness to step out in faith to partner with Him (Isaiah 46:4).
Will you prayerfully consider sharing your story?
Here’s an easy and no-obligation way to begin that leap of faith to (consider) sharing your story:
Kris Castro is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around her by giving them hope, encouraging them in their challenging circumstances, and helping them transform their relationship with the Lord in a deeper way. She describes herself as a Faithful Warrior, an Inspiring Visionary, and a Bold Change-Agent after 50 years of walking with the Lord through both joyful and extremely difficult seasons of her life. Kris’s company, Shift Inc.™, creates possibility-rich environments filled with laughter, encouragement, and affirmation, leading to endless personal and professional growth opportunities. Kris helps others truly realize their identity in Messiah, achieve the destiny the Lord desired for their lives, enhance their potential, increase their confidence levels, and overcome obstacles more easily to achieve their heart’s desire in every area. She absolutely loves coaching, training and mentoring others in a deeply transformative way using the Holy Spirit her guide.
Most churches report that their highest attendance takes place at their Christmas and Easter services. While many of the kids who joined you for VBS and fall festival may have gone missing-in-action in-between, there’s a good chance they will turn up at Christmas if you give them a little nudge. So why not put together a fun outreach event this Christmas?
Start Planning Early
It’s never too early to start your planning for Christmas outreach, or any outreach event, for that matter. In fact, the best time to start planning for next Christmas is right after this Christmas! The earlier you decide on your theme, the better. You will then have more time to gather resources, ask around for well-loved items that you can re-use and take advantage store coupons and discounts. As you are preparing, executing, and evaluating this year’s event, take note of ideas that: you would have shelved, of what went well and what didn’t, and of what you wish you had done differently. Write them all down before you forget! They are all helpful tips for next Christmas!
Don’t Do It All Alone
Rather than doing everything yourself, invite others to join in your preparation and in running the event. Chances are you will end up doing a much better job at planning, promoting and executing your event as a team. Perhaps more importantly, you will have more people praying alongside you for the event.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, but that doesn’t mean the theme for your outreach must be limited to the nativity scene or Bethlehem. Just google “birthday party themes,” and you will find lots of fun ideas, ranging from “under the sea” to “up, up and away!” Why should Jesus’ birthday celebration be any different? With some out-of-the-box thinking and creativity, there is no reason why we can’t think up a fun theme for our Christmas event – one that honors Christ and that kids would love to join in!
Ride on What’s Trending
One good way to get people excited about your event is to ride on the buzz of what’s currently trending. Find out what child-friendly movies will be released around Christmas and plan an event related to that movie. For example, Spies in Disguise is to be released in December 2019. The world is facing a disaster and counting on the nerdy Walter Beckett along with his partner Lance Sterling, (whom he accidentally turned into a pigeon), to come to its rescue. While not knowing much else about the movie, you can still plan an event with fun games involving heroes saving the world. Think spies, gadgets, and birds, and wrap it up with a Gospel presentation about Jesus Christ, the true Savior of the world! Alternatively, if you are uncomfortable basing your event on too many unknowns, plan an event based on a more well-known movie. Perhaps a film like Star Wars, which incidentally has another planned release in December 2019: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
Or Stick to Something Traditional
If you prefer something more traditional, below are three themes you may like.
1. The Greatest Christmas Gift
Play a variety of games involving gifts. For example:
Pile Up the Presents – Players stack presents to form the tallest tower.
Elf Challenge – Whoever carries the most gifts across the room wins.
Oven Mitt Unwrap –Try your hand at unwrapping a Christmas present while wearing a pair of oven mitts.
Christmas Left Right Game – A story is read aloud, and the parcel gets passed to the left or right as directed by the story.
Detailed instructions for these and other delightfully fun Christmas games can be found here.
To wrap up the event, bring out a huge, eye-catching gift-wrapped box for an object lesson on why Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift.
2. Twas the Night Before Christmas
Written almost 200 years ago, “Twas The Night Before Christmas” remains the most popular Christmas poem ever. Many of our ideas about Santa Claus, for example, how he enters homes on Christmas eve through the chimney with a sack of gifts, originate from that poem.
Sadly, Santa Claus and Christmas trees have overtaken the nativity scene as symbols of Christmas, and “happy holidays” is becoming more commonly heard than “merry Christmas.” Recent surveys show that, although most people in the United States still celebrate Christmas, it has become more of a cultural holiday rather than a religious one.
Rather than sweeping Santa and the Christmas tree under the carpet, why not throw a party involving these popular festive icons before bringing up the true story of Christmas?
You can play a variety of games involving these Christmas symbols. For example:
Christmas Bingo – Featuring colorful festive illustrations of the nativity scene, baby Jesus, the wise men, Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and more!
Who Has The Ornament? – Don’t get caught with the ornament in your hands! Players sit in a circle and pass a Christmas ornament around behind their backs while someone standing in the center of the circle tries to guess where the ornament is.
Christmas Tree Dress Up – Use paper and other materials to transform a teammate into a Christmas tree.
You can find detailed instructions and download beautifully designed free printables here to play these and other Christmas games.
Christmas Party Scavenger Hunt – If you are playing indoors or with a large group of young children, you may like this version of a Scavenger Hunt. Instead of hunting for physical objects, players look for 40 Hidden Cards.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt Bingo – Combine the fun of Scavenger Hunt with Bingo! Each player gets a unique Christmas Scavenger Hunt Bingo Card and hunts for items found on their own card. The first player to Bingo wins!
Christmas Treasure Hunt – Just like the Magi followed clues that eventually led them to baby Jesus, players will look for various clues that ultimately lead them to the Christmas treasure.
Detailed instructions along with beautifully designed free printables for these scavenger hunts can be found here.
Keep Christ at the Center of Christmas
It is important that every child goes home with a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. You can do this by giving each child The True Story of Christmas Animated Tract at the closing of your event. It’s an affordable stocking stuffer and unique Gospel tract. It has captivating, moving animations, and kids will be intrigued by how the images can move without any batteries. Or buy any small gift and pack them in this YOU Are The Reason For Christmas! Box-Tract that opens up to reveal the gospel message.
Christmas is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar for outreach. Remember to keep Christ at the center of your event, and also at the center of your preparations. Pray, pray, pray! Christ loves all the little children of the world, and he wants to see your event draw the little ones to Him!
Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of two websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.
LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively. BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.
Sometimes we as God’s children have moments and seasons of inspiration in our journey through life. But God never allows any of us to stay in the cloud of motivation because we have a world filled with valleys we need to face and be channels of Christ-like love to others who are very needy even when we are suffering and facing challenges. Keep in mind always that it is the low times of life (during your suffering, pain, trials, and mundane experiences) when you must learn to live best for the glory of Jesus Christ.
As a disciple of Christ, you are His light, regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Chapters 38–41 were a learning season for Job in interacting with God—and also a tremendous refreshing season after so much pain and havoc. Why had God been silent for so long as Job remained swamped with so much inaccuracy?
Do you realize that God’s silence is often a special privilege for some of you since it means that our Savior has trusted you with His silence, which will bring Him glory? Remember the story of Lazarus and his sisters—all were friends of Jesus, as recorded in John 11. In John 11:4–7 it is registered regarding hearing that Lazarus was very sick, “When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”
Why was God silent for so long with this family in their time of need? Jesus was allowing them to be a part of one of the most significant miracles in the New Testament. Jesus had so much confidence with this family’s faith that He did nothing for a few days and said nothing. The Lord revealed heavenly blessing in His silence when God was keeping quiet and merely observing. It takes a shameless audacity in our love for God for Him to trust us enough with His silence.
Likewise, God had listened enough to the conversations between Job and the men who had gathered with him. The servant Job was swamped with gross innuendos and speculations that were far from the truth. But guess what—even Job did not always see clearly as evidenced by some of his statements that fell short of the mark. God helped to open the eyes of Job by asking him over sixty direct questions that Job could not answer, causing him to be genuinely amazed and stunned. Through this questioning encounter, Job received a dose of “revelation sense.” In Job 12:7–10 Job had indicated that animals could be a source of unraveling the “suffering mysteries” he had faced. The questions by God now focused on His creation and handiwork, and these were holy moments for Job. Indeed, the servant of the Lord was standing on “holy ground” in these chapters.
Rudy Morgan, Ph.D., DPC
Author & Church Planter
Cambria Heights Church of the Nazarene
Why did God invent the church? Scholars have advanced various ideas. My own thinking goes back to the very beginning, and it builds on the way Jesus most often referred to God: as Father.
I have sometimes considered developing what I call a “theology of fun,” based on the idea that God created the universe just for the fun of it. Certainly nobody could force God to create! But I think there must be more to it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Not Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created. . . .I want to get behind that, to why God created. To do that we have to look at God himself.
How many ways can you think of that God is described in the Bible? God is great, God is just, God is holy, God is good, God is merciful. God is our refuge and strength and salvation. God is a spirit and a consuming fire. All these are descriptions of God. But one verse is not a description, it’s an equation. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love.Love is God’s essence. It’s who God is.
What is the greatest characteristic of love? Love wants to share. It’s a relationship. Love must be shared, or it isn’t love.
Since eternity, God has shared love in the Trinity. One of the most basic understandings of Christianity is that there is only one God, but this one God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (who came to earth as Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Without this community of divine persons to share love, God could not be love.
God, who is love, has been sharing love since eternity. But God’s love is not only eternal, it’s infinite. It’s overflowing. God’s love wanted to overflow the Trinity.
What provides the greatest opportunity for an ongoing expression of love? A family – different personalities living together, adapting to each other, adjusting to each other, caring for each other, putting each other first. A family creates infinite possibilities for love. So God decided to create a family to share his love, with God and with each other.
God could have created us so that we had no choice but to love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. God could force us to act like we love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. Love is only real if it is freely given. God wanted to share real love. So God gave us free will.
Unfortunately, our free will doesn’t just give us the opportunity to freely love God. It gives us the opportunity to cause a lot of trouble as well. We see this in the very first human beings God created.
Adam and Eve shared love with God for a time. Genesis 3 implies that God used to enjoy walking with them in the Garden of Eden. But one day they exercised their free will to disobey God, and that time of innocent family fellowship was broken.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9
God experienced the heartbreak of a father whose children turn against him and get lost in the world. Adam and Eve’s disobedience broke up God’s family. The whole rest of the Bible records God’s plan throughout history to bring his children back.
For a while God tried to relate to the whole growing human race, but they turned from God and became so wicked that God had to destroy them all in Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8). He tried again with Noah’s descendants, but instead of trusting God, they built a tower and put their trust in it. They were unified, but not in God. To keep it from happening again, God confused their language, and the human race scattered across the earth (Genesis 11).
So God changed strategies. He decided to relate in a special way to one group of people, who would get to know and love him. Then they could invite the rest of the world into God’s family. God chose the children of Abraham, the nation-family known as the Hebrews, Israel, or the Jews.
King Solomon understood. He prayed at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem that all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do (2 Chronicles 6:33).
God’s desire has always been to live among his people. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God told Moses, Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).
When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and started living in houses, God approved David’s plan to build a house where God could live. It was called the Temple, and God filled it with his presence (2 Chronicles 6:1). For the next thousand years, a series of temples in Jerusalem were the focus of God living among his people.
Unfortunately, somewhere between Solomon and Jesus the Hebrews lost their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. They forgot God chose them as messengers to invite the whole world into his family. Instead, they began to believe God chose them to be the only members of his family. Instead of welcoming other nations, they scorned them.
So God started again, with Jesus. But this time membership in the family wasn’t by genes but by choice. The Bible says, Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children (Romans 9:8). “The children of the promise” are the church.
The church – all people, of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, who put their faith in Jesus – is now the family of God. And our loving Father has commanded us to bring as many people into the family as will accept the invitation. When we do that, we become the fulfillment of God’s desire to live among his people. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
God so longs to live among his people that when we die, God takes us to live with him until the end of time. And at the end of time, when everything is put the way God wants it, where will God live? With his people.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” – Revelation 21:3
God is not looking for a place to live in. He has that in heaven. God is longing for a group of people to live with. God’s plan in creating human beings was that we would be his family. Fulfilling that plan is what the church is all about.
Like any father, God desires a home where he can rest and be himself. Like any father, God desires to raise up children who will be like him. And because God is the ultimate and infinite Father, God desires for his children to bring other people to become part of God’s family – ideally, every other person in the world!
These three desires of God show us the three purposes of the church.
First, the church exists to create a loving family home where God can rest and be himself. Arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place (2 Chronicles 6:41). The way we do this is traditionally called worship.
Second, the church exists to raise God’s children to be like their heavenly father. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1). The way we do this is traditionally called discipleship.
Third, the church exists to equip God’s children to bring other people into God’s family. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The way we do this is traditionally called evangelism.
Everything we do as a local church – in fact, everything we do as Christians – should contribute to fulfilling one or more of these three purposes. How does your church stack up? Top of Form
The above is taken from the first chapter of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts, by David Wentz. A comprehensive, theologically and culturally neutral compendium of practical options and best practices for being a pastor and leading a church, Pastoring is being used in pastor training courses in Africa and Asia as well as the US. It is available in print or e-book at www.books2read.com/pastoring. Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.
About guest blogger David Wentz:
Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.
Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.
Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.
David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.
In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.
His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)