Why Did God Invent the Church?

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

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

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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.

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In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

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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.)


Please visit our websites: Christian Editing ServicesCreating Christian Books for KidsPray for Ministries around the World, and Find Christian Links 

Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com

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The Witness

by guest blogger Eryeza Kalalu

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”[1]

Is Christ On Trial?

Now and again, it looks like Christ is on trial.  There are a lot more publications concerning the earthly life of Jesus than on any other figure in history. Yet people still doubt His coming to the earth.

The death of Jesus Christ is the most detailed, yet millions of people consider His death a myth.

The Bible records Christ’s resurrection and ascension, but many people trash such accounts. As a result, individuals treat lightly the return of Christ.

  • Christ Before another Court!

Much as Jesus’ death was God’s plan, the practical execution of His death was a court decision. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the authorities made deliberate efforts to conceal the facts around His resurrection.

The chief priests and elders bribed guards of the tomb to report falsely that the disciples stole Jesus’ body.

  • Will You Be Recruited?

Because of the legal attempts to defeat the testimony and Life of Jesus, it makes sense that Jesus promised to empower His disciples, so they become His witnesses. By all means, Christ’s witness should be stronger than the deceit against Him.

You are that witness. You should covet the power of the Spirit, so your life can persuade men and women against the deceit of the devil regarding faith in Christ.

  • A Serious Matter!

Christ needs a witness where you live and thank God you are right there! How you present the gospel determines the eternal destiny of men and women. That is the extent of your influence. It is an eternal influence.

Nothing is as devastating as a silent witness. You’ve got to speak out. Put out a cause for Christ.

  • What Is Your Identity?

People know you by your political affiliation. You have identified with the tribe you come from or the football club you support. And people know these things concerning you because you are vocal about them. Yet you are almost silent about your faith in Christ.

  • Conclusion

Today, I set a challenge before you. Ask God for the power to witness to both known and unknown places. The time is now to employ a portion of your resources to sponsor the preaching of the gospel to places distant and near.

Above all, let your lifestyle witness for Christ. Jesus calls you to witness and be a witness. Many souls are depending on your witness.

[1] Acts 1:8


About today’s guest blogger:

Eryeza Kalalu is a pastor at Rivers of Life Healing Centre and author of Becoming an Influence, which is book 1 of a devotional series. He is married to Geraldine and they are the proud parents of a son.

His goal is to inspire men and women to dominate their spheres of influence. Above all, he wants to show the world how one can impact the earth whilst certain of his or her eternal destiny, which is anchored in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and how to impact communities without compromising godly principles.

Eryeza came to Christ when he was little. He has since never looked back. He has now grown, learnt many lessons, raised through the ranks Church ministry. He has made observations, studied and researched the Scriptures, and made conclusions on several concerns of life. His passion is to pass on those insights and principles to as many as he can. This is now the driving force behind his preaching, teaching, training and writing.

He lives with his family in Uganda – a beautiful country, home to the source of the River Nile, which Winston Churchill named the Pearl of Africa. Find Eryeza at his website www.eryezakalalu.com, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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When FAITH Becomes Simply FIRE Insurance

by guest blogger Doris Homan

As believers, we make a choice to follow God whole-heartedly . . . or a little. This is not a judgment but a sad reality. Some choose to believe and then live according to God’s way, while others also choose to believe but then live their own way. This breaks the heart of God.

“I, the LORD, am your God who brought you up from the land of Egypt, Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice; And Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart. To walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries. . . . But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat; and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Ps 81:10-14, 16 NKJV

Like Israel, some will not listen or obey God but choose their own way. Yes, they believe and have accepted Christ as Savior,  but they have not made Him LORD of their life; instead, they choose to live as they wish. How much He wants to lead them, bless and deliver them, fight their battles and give them victory. He desires to give them His finest and satisfy their souls with amazing ways. YET to those who rebel by choosing their own way, He gives them over to their own devices. He says in essence, “You want your way? Fine, that’s what you will have” and stays the hand of God on their behalf.

God will not force anyone; we have a free will and can choose to rebel and disobey, to  live as we please. But how we miss God’s BEST, God’s BLESSINGS, His DELIVERANCE and His VICTORIES (see Psalm 81:12).

WHAT IS OUR END WHEN WE GO OUR OWN WAY AND REJECT GOD’S?  (See 1 Cor 3:10-15) Our faith gets us into heaven (fire insurance), yet where is the life lived in victory? Where is the reward of pleasing God and one day hearing “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21)? Where are the rewards given for right living? “Our works will be judged by fire” if they were “wood, hay and stubble” (worthless) . . . nothing will be left (1 Cor 3:12). “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved” (1 Cor 3:15).

Hear the tender heart of God and “let there be no strange god among you”; don’t choose anything else, like pleasures and distractions of this world, as your god. Return to Him. Stop living as the world does and begin to live God’s way. Distinguish yourself as different, as His.


doris-homan_1About guest blogger Doris Homan

Doris has a passion for discipleship. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, blogger and author of The Christian Journey, Parts I & II. Doris’ mission is to help Christians know the Word and apply it so they are better able to navigate both the calm waters and the storms of life. She is on the leadership team of Reasons for Hope*Jesus and Greater Impact Ministries, in the capacity of ecourse mentoring, content development, editing, and distribution. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, she and her husband John now reside in Florida.
Myjoyandcrown.com and  facebook.com/theChristianJourney2017

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Weighing the Cost Pt. 2: The Four S’s

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authenticMatt-G heart…[T]he authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus.

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “ For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (New International Version). Considering his long-term ministry, which included tortures, stonings, illness, starvation and imprisonment, among others (see 1 Thessalonians 1:21-17 for a list of sufferings he endured), this is a remarkable conviction to hold.

I think Paul was able to write this way because he understood 1) the impact of the Gospel in his life and 2) the measure of commitment it takes to follow Jesus with full devotion.

Unfortunately, the understanding that Paul displays, I think, escapes most who promote the Christian faith. For the most part, our devotion stops at our carnal natures. For some “would-be” Christians, pride in what they know (or think they know) about Christ, rather than esteem for Christ Himself blinds them from the Truth of the Gospel. Others ascribe to the notion of being a “good person,” considering this a mark of salvation.  Still others justify sinful living, excusing themselves because they hold to a Christian (or “Christian-esque”) worldview. Instead of coming to the Throne Room of Christ in humility, too often we take snippets of the Truth and cut and paste them however we see fit, reducing Jesus to a caricature and discipleship to a formula.

Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart in Philippians 1. This cost is rarely communicated and more rarely accepted. Regardless, the authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus and commit to the following:

Surrender

This is not something that our western world wants to believe. Quite the opposite actually. We are bombarded with messages about how we are due what is owed us or how we should hold to our individual rights. The problem arises when we hold to these values, and then confronted by Christ–who commands His disciples to deny our very lives to follow Him (see Luke 9:23-24)–we are required to surrender, to succumb.

Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-4 (NIV),

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We must remember that Christianity is not about making Jesus our Lord and Saviour. It is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ over us and surrendering to His Will, and giving up rights to our own. Surrender is God’s call to the sinner, a call that Michael Beck states is “to those who are still fighting His rule.” Yet, the believer’s life is one that reflects surrender by “put[ting] up no residual battle once we have fully accepted the reality of the Holy Spirit’s control,” (P. C. Walker).

Submission

Where surrender is to succumb to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, submission is our allegiant response to it.

For many in our society, submission is a negative term, denoting some kind of tyrannical force is at play. Rather, to submit under Christ is to concede willfully to Him, while remaining free to rebel just the same. Submission is the call to the saint to obey even when logic, emotion or the empirical counteract.

In short, understanding submission as obedience when it doesn’t make sense can be summed up in one word thematic in Hebrews 11–“faith”. Faith to obey in the goodness of God is a choice that bears much fruit. For beginning believers, submitting in obedience will be harder than for those who have walked with the Lord for longer. This is because, as we become more familiar with the goodness and loving character of God, the experience we gain is something on which we can rely. Therefore, submitting under God’s rule becomes more natural.

Submission is a requisite of the surrendered life. For by submission, we are moving toward holiness and away from rebellion. It is functional faith–the doing of our belief in Christ as Lord.

Sacrifice

Once more, the words of Paul chime, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV).

The sacrifice is the most humble method of worship as it is the giving up of something valuable in order to give worth to something else. To worship anything is to proclaim its worth (worship worthship). This is certainly a call of the believer and it is certainly not without cost.

The authentic disciple will learn to live sacrificially, esteeming Jesus Christ above all, whether materials, relationships, beliefs, even principles. Living sacrificially does not necessitate that we forfeit such things.  However, we are called to value Christ to the point where we would forfeit materials, relationships, etc. in light of the worth Christ has in our lives (see Matthew 10:37-39). A simple way to know how much worth we ascribe to Christ is by evaluating our willingness to forfeit all other things we hold dear in exchange for Him.

Suffering

One thing, in my experience, that makes western Christians squirm is the biblical calling to suffer, as Paul continues in Philippians 1. He states, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).

Suffering is to lay down our own well-being or self-interest in order to bring God glory.

A. W. Tozer once regarded sanctification (the process of becoming godly) as suffering:

In human experience [the self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus, and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.

Yes, the call to suffer for Christ involves the continuing pain of exposed sin and repentance. As the Holy Spirit convicts us, we must learn to relinquish those things that we have worshiped, loved and on which we have become dependent that take God’s place as Lord. These could be the things as mentioned above, but also the carnal patterns in our lives that God regards rebellion.

We are called to remove these things that have become normal in our lives. When they are removed abruptly, it is as unsettling as a sliver removed from under the skin. But this is the suffering that occurs when we are committed to godly living.

It is when we are responsive to suffer in this way that we can take on the suffering as stated in 1 Peter 4:1-2 NIV:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Weighing the Cost

We as Christians must weigh the cost of our life under Christ’s rule by consider the 4 S’s: Surrender, Submission, Sacrifice, and Suffering. For when we weigh these things, others can truly know where our allegiance lies and will not wait for us to confirm nor deny our position with God. It will be clear by our lives that the Gospel has impacted us and that our response is to follow Jesus with full devotion.


About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger

Matthew-Giesbrecht_FCL-8-22-19Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.

Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.

Finding Real Satisfaction

by guest blogger Hugh Houston

I meant my marriage vows I made the day my wife and I were married. But somewhere along the way I fell into lust and porn.

I think most of us know what God said in the beginning:  “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh”  (Genesis 2:22-24).

 Marriage means one man and one woman together for as long as they both shall live.  The marriage vows we commonly hear say, “I take thee, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance.”

 I knew when I got married that I was pledging to be faithful to my wife.  To love only her. To never betray her. To be her one and only and have her as my one and only. 

But then lust and porn began to consume me. But unlike my relationship with my wife, those habits never met my needs.  Desires were never satisfied.  Lust always wanted more.  The person who is addicted to pornography can spend hours looking at image after image, because none of those images will ever be enough.  There is always a longing to see just one more. 

My wife could not understand how I could proclaim that my looking at porn was really not about her.  She was correct in that by looking at porn I was betraying her and going against our wedding vows.  But none of the women I saw were good enough.  It’s not that my wife is not attractive or desirable. It’s that lust is an animal that is always hungry and always wants just a little bit more.

I have written a book about my experience. In it I use the example of the person who is thirsty and in an effort to quench their thirst, they drink seawater. They can drink gallon after gallon and their thirst will only increase.  That’s how it is with porn and lust. Looking at porn does not satisfy our desires; rather it heightens and increases them.

Only true, genuine love in a committed marriage relationship can satisfy and bring real joy. I’ve discovered that now.  My wife and I have been married for over 40 years.  Her skin may not be as smooth as it was on our wedding day, but she is more beautiful than ever in my eyes.  I have traded the many for one. 

No pornographic image can ever be enough for the person who is seeking a high.  But one partner is plenty for the spouse who has learned what our Creator intended from the beginning. When Adam looked at Eve, he saw his dream come true.  She was a gift from the Father.  She was, as the Lord stated,  “A helper suitable for him.”

 I deeply regret the time I wasted seeking fulfillment and excitement in all the wrong places.  How mistaken I was!  Pornography could never fill the hole in my soul. Not in a million years! Only the Lord can meet my deepest longings. And He is the one who placed a human being in my life to be my very best friend and companion.  The one I love and cherish.  The one who, with His help, will remain by my side until death do us part.

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My book, JESUS IS BETTER THAN PORN: How I Confessed my Addiction to My Wife and Found a New Life, is available at Amazon

You Should Write a Book

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

You should write a book.

If you’re a Christian, you should write a book. In today’s world many people know so little about Christ that they truly wonder why a reasonable and intelligent person would be or become a Christian. They wonder what difference it makes in your life. They wonder a lot of things about being a Christian that have nothing to do with theology and apologetics and all the stuff you may feel unqualified to discuss. You are qualified to discuss what being a Christian means to you. People want to read that.

If you’re a pastor, you’re already writing. Every sermon is a potential chapter. Every series is a potential book.

Modern publishing is amazingly easy. The entire process can be done from your home computer at no cost. And people need to hear what Christians have to say. The question is not, “Should I write a book?” Your only question should be, “Which book do I write first?”

For me the answer came when I was leading workshops for pastors in Turkey. Many are converts from Islam who never experienced an established church. They knew how to evangelize, but then they were stuck. They needed practical pointers on the life and job of a pastor. That was the start of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts.

They’re not alone. A Facebook group called Things They Didn’t Teach Us in Seminary has over 16,000 members. Knowing the Bible, theology ,and church history is vital, but pastors also need to know how to run a church.

Thirty-eight years pastoring experience plus a varied denominational and academic background added up to more than just teaching notes. I realized I had a book.

Experts say it’s important to expand your author platform. I started Facebook friending every name that popped up and offered to email my manuscript to anyone who would give feedback. I was blown away when a leader in Kenya asked to use it to teach his pastors. He turned it into a sixty-hour course of study. On August 25, sixty-three men and women received certificates of completion.

In Uganda, Pastoring was taught in a jail ministry. A superintendent in Kenya and a professor in Nigeria have used it. It’s been taught in India and Pakistan. All this just from the emailed PDF! Since it came out online in August, a publisher in India has asked for rights and I’ve had offers to translate into several languages. You never know what God might do with what you write.

You might think, “But I don’t have any great special knowledge. Why should I write a book?”

I thought I just knew what every pastor knows, but apparently not. One reviewer said, “I’ve been a pastor for fifteen years and I’m learning a great deal.” You have unique experiences, perspective and voice. Somebody out there needs that.

Here are some examples of my voice as I wrote to train and encourage pastors:

  1. A pastor’s job is to equip God’s people to do God’s work until they resemble God’s Son (Ephesians 4:12-13). Focus on that and God will take care of the rest.
  2. If you please your members, you will be popular and your church will be small. If you please outsiders you’re getting warmer. But if you please God, watch out – you might catch fire!
  3. God doesn’t condone human sacrifice. Don’t lay your family on the altar of your church.
  4. Your people don’t care about theology, so you have to. Nobody ever set out to invent a heresy. Your knowledge of theology and church history is your people’s spiritual safety harness.
  5. Never overestimate people’s vocabulary, never underestimate their intelligence. Some really smart people don’t know what “infralapsarianism” means. If you can’t put it in simple words, you don’t either.
  6. Learn from everybody. Worship as many ways and with as many kinds of people as you can.
  7. Sometimes God wants Lazarus dead. Jesus didn’t automatically answer Martha’s summons, he asked God what to do. Don’t let expectations drive your ministry.
  8. If someone can possibly find a way to misunderstand you they will. Vet your words for ways that might happen, before you put them out there.
  9. Your church sign is important, your name on it isn’t. Unless your name is Billy Graham, nobody cares who the pastor is. They just want to know what time to be there, in letters they can read at the speed limit.
  10. Have each other’s backs. Pastoring is a tough job. We may disagree on some major issues, but we are all in this together. We need each other.

These are things I’ve learned that might help other pastors. Of course there’s more to my book – 330 pages worth.

You’ve learned different things that might help different people. I bet if you started writing them down they’d come to many pages. Somebody needs to know them.

You should write a book!

Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts available here!


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-Wentz
In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

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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.)



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Weighing the Cost

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond.

Jesus challenges His disciples in Luke 14:25-34 to weigh the cost of following Him, Matt-Gmaking sure to warn them with an illustration in verses 28-33 (New International Version):

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

I have a sinking feeling that many so-called Christians in our culture take little consideration of the calling that is the Christian faith. In many ways, it seems, Western Christendom (is that still a thing?) is treated more like a worldview, perspective, or philosophy, than it is a devoted, long-suffering commission. (Reducing anything to a mere worldview nullifies any real significance it has, making it one of many “options” among the plethora of competitive frameworks. This is a grave mistreatment of the promise of salvation through Christ Jesus.)

Christ calls us to discipleship, a calling to lose anything and everything that stands in the way of our devotion to Him. Twentieth century German theologian and martyr Diedrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “[t]he first Christ-suffering which [everyone] must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old [self] which is the result of [an] encounter with Christ,” (Diedrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, italics added). [Click here to read where else I use this quote.]

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. This isn’t to say that we choose our salvation. Christ won salvation for all that are called by God. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond. Those who respond in humility and lay down all else for the eternal gift of salvation commit to abandon earthly things (sin and anything that competes with God). These are chosen by the Heavenly Father and united in eternal fellowship with Him.

Christ is recorded in an earlier passage in Luke, speaking to this.

Luke 9:22-26 (NIV):

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

So what does it mean to forfeit one’s self? A common English definition of the passive verb “forfeit” is “to lose or to be deprived of something, (have something confiscated) out of consequence of wrongdoing.” So, Christ’s warning is to those who refuse to come under His Lordship and give up the things that claim allegiance in their own lives, in place of Him–the rightful claimant of their allegiance. These are the ones who shame themselves in the end and are rejected by Christ, as a consequence of rejecting Him.

However, the wellspring comes to those who, unlike the former, see the gain of surrendering to Jesus. I doubt this could be possible without them first truly understanding (and appreciating) salvation. This is, of course, our undeserved redemption from sin and bondage, but also our inheritance into the Kingdom of God and position as His holy stewards on earth–set apart for His mission.

Those who realise the gravity of their sins and understand the impact of Christ’s grace over them are those who are not only capable to weigh the cost to follow Jesus but also acknowledge the worth in doing so. They, not unlike their counterparts, forfeit their lives as well, consequently. However, theirs is an active forfeiting–out of allegiance to Christ. A necessary consequence of honouring Him. They have concluded that the world is worth losing in light of gaining much more: the abundance of knowing Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that more in this world would come to grips with this and surrender what can only serve as a loss in the end. I know that I would rather suffer earthly death than to give up eternal life with the God who loves me and calls me His own. The weight of losing this marvelous gift is far more than I can bear.


About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger

Matthew-Giesbrecht_FCL-8-22-19Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.

Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.