John MacArthur, the expositor and preacher, has said this about strife in the local church, ‘Strife brings fractured fellowship into the church of Jesus Christ, which robs Christians of joy and effectiveness. It robs God of glory, and it robs the world of the true testimony of the gospel – a high price for an ego trip’.
Jesus spoke of a divided kingdom in Mark 3:24-25 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rebels against himself and is divide, he cannot stand but is finished.”
Division can destroy anything. Whether discussing a business, church, or a family, having division undercuts its effectiveness and will cause destruction. Jesus here makes that point to explain how He couldn’t be casting out demons through Satan’s power, otherwise, Satan’s kingdom would be divided. Jesus desires us to be unified with each other around Him. He is the great uniter. He tore down the walls of separation which mankind and built. He brings together all types of people in His church.
We must work to keep His church united. We must work in our families to cling to each other in unity. We must all walk in God’s ways as reveled in His word. This keeps us on the same path working for the same goals. That eliminates the opportunity to be selfish and to ignore each other’s needs.
Wow! One year has now passed since I was called me to be pastor at Craft Baptist Church. Thank you for making us feel so at home here at Craft Baptist Church. Craft has had a special place in my heart since I started attending here in 1986 as a Freshman in JBC. You were welcoming and were willing to help educate us young preachers then and that hasn’t changed. I would never have dreamed God would bring me back here, this time with a family to be your pastor.
We are so blessed to serve the Lord here with you. Thank you for celebrating our1 year anniversary last week and for the generous love offering. We are overwhelmed by your love and support. You set an example for all churches in showing appreciation and support for us.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the future at Craft Baptist Church. I pray that He continues to bless us and gives us many years together to bring glory to Him as we share His love with our community.
Recently, I came across a new blog site, newsmallchurch.com. There, Karl Vaters offers encouragement to churches which are considered small. The standard definition of a small church is a church running 200, or less in attendance. I guess we are overqualified to be in that category! One of the key things of which I have been reminded is that size isn’t important. Our focus should never be that of the gunslinger looking get that next notch. In this case, it would be on our Bible rather than a pistol, but you see where I’m going. We aren’t in the head hunting business only worried about that next new member to add to our collection. The purpose of the church goes so much beyond getting people here. Newsmallchurch recently revisited the great commission and great commandments with a focus on the goal we should have. Here is what they said:
- Worship– to tell Jesus how much we love Him
- Discipleship– to help us become more like Jesus
- Fellowship– to love each other more
- Ministry– to meet people’s needs
- Evangelism– to bring people to jesus
The focus isn’t to do these things so we can grow, but rather do them so we can be healthy. Health should be our focus. If God chooses to make us larger, praise Him. If He chooses to let us stay the same size yet be healthier, great. These aren’t just random ideas. They come from the things to which the first church devoted themselves.
Acts 241-47 says, “41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.[p] 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them[q] those who were being saved.”
Yes, they had phenomenal numerical growth, but more importantly, they were healthy! That growth arose out of the health. In the early days of the church, they hadn’t yet divided into sects over ideas and prejudices yet. They hadn’t grown so sophisticated that they had traditions which ruled them. In those days of first steps, the believers loved God and each so much they were devoted to carrying out the great commission in the spirit of the great commandments.
I want to be like them! I’m not against growth. But I am concerned mostly with church health. If we are healthy, then God will show us our niche in the Kingdom and we will be successful in accomplishing it.
What do these phrases have in common?
Follow me…..like my page…..friend me……add me to your circle.
I see two connections. First, they are all from social media. We follow people on Twitter. We like pages and add friends on Facebook. We get placed in each other’s circles on a Google+.
The second thing which stands out to me is the desire to connect with others they imply. It stuck me this week as I sent another friend request, that it sounds a little pathetic. “Please, Oh please, let me be your friend. I can’t wait to see all the games, pages, and memes with which you plan to bombard me!”
Why use these phrases? Why is social media so popular? It think it has to do with that very desire to connect. We want real friends don’t we? We want to think of ourselves as belonging in someone’s circle. We may even dream of leading others who would trust us enough to follow us. The social networks which have become a part of so many lives, soothe those desires to connect. But are they real connections? Perhaps the text-speech of “irl” and “ftf” reveal that they may not be.
People need to really touch each other’s lives. We were created as social beings. We live in a fast paced world and many have tried to replace real world connections with these digital ghosts. We need to really connect with our friends families, and neighbors face to face.
I have been blessed to always found deep and meaningful connections through the church. Looking back on life, some of my closest friends were met at church including my wife. God has blessed me by putting me in churches that love each other. The world is looking for meaningful relationships. We need to reach out and draw them into our “circle” at church We need to open our arms and love them as Jesus’ did. Even when we have to have the difficult conversations where we call each other to live more like Christ, we speak the truth in love. It has often been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Do our neighbors know we care? Do our communities know that we are loving? Is that our calling card? I close with the words of Jesus, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” NKJV John 13:34 & 35