Church & Ministry

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Posted 6/23/17 at 5:41 PM | Audra Jennings

Church membership is more important than you may think

Part 1 of an interview with Jeremy Kimble,

Author of 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline

Dr. Jeremy Kimble

Does church membership mean more than simply joining a social group? Does the church have a responsibility to discipline its members — and if so, what does that look like? In 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church (Kregel Academic/May 27, 2017), Dr. Jeremy Kimble recognizes and addresses the many puzzling questions about the critical role of the church in the life of believers.

Q: What is the most important thing for readers to understand about church membership?

Church membership is not solely about what you can get out of a church. Instead, membership points us toward commitment and mutual accountability. When we join the membership of a local church, we are agreeing to be overseen in our discipleship and oversee others in their discipleship. As such, the idea of membership goes beyond mere attendance and even ministry involvement. At its heart, church membership is about a group of people committed to one another, who will continually oversee and exhort one another toward ever-increasing godliness.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges the church as an institution faces today, both from the inside and the outside?

Internally, there could be any number of challenges, but I think one major issue the church must face is the inherent individualism that exists in our churches. We do not often have a culture of authenticity and openness in our local churches. Instead, we look the part, fulfill our church duties and attend what we need to, but we never get beyond the surface. A real need exists to get past all of that, and as members, commit to loving, teaching, rebuking and encouraging one another. This involves people who are open and transparent enough to share their lives with others. In this way, we can show love and pursue holiness as a community.

Externally, we see increasing pressure to conform to the standards of the world, especially in certain areas (e.g., sexuality, gender, materialism, etc.). It seems in the West that if we continue to pursue faithfulness to God’s Word, the disparity between the church and the world will become more evident. Churches will likely have some difficult choices to make in the years ahead, as ostracization seems inevitable. However, this challenge is also a great opportunity for the church to display the love and holiness of God in very manifest ways.

Kregel
40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline

Q: Why is it important to be a member of a local church? Isn’t being a Christian enough?

Being a Christian is certainly the key starting point, but joining a church in membership is also crucial for a few reasons. First, church leaders are told to keep watch over their flock (1 Peter 5:1-4) and that they will have to give an account for the people they oversee (Hebrews 13:17). If this is the case, pastors must know who they are overseeing, and church membership makes clear whom they are to oversee. Second, we are told to exhort one another day after day so we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13). Of course, I can do this for any Christian, but it makes the most sense to do this for a particular group of people to whom I am committed. Finally, modern-day church membership adheres to the overall pattern seen in Scripture. Israel, though not the church, was a distinct nation with its own “membership” that was distinct from other peoples. The New Testament church speaks typically of local churches made up of certain people who are committed to one another, exercising a certain kind of authority, fulfilling “one another” commands.

Q: What qualifications of church membership are universal across denominational or doctrinal lines?

While there will be differences of opinion regarding baptism and the timing of granting someone membership status in a church, denominations would generally agree full members of their church be people who are regenerate. If a church is its membership (i.e. the church is not a building, but a people), then this is especially important. There would also be widespread agreement that particular responsibilities are inherent to church membership. Pastors do want to see passive consumers in their churches. There is founded expectation members will be involved in the work of the church and the lives of other members.

Q: What responsibilities does each member have to one another and their local church?

There is great responsibility inherent in church membership. We are responsible to submit to elected leadership, all the while knowing God has granted the keys of the kingdom to the entire membership (Matthew 16:19), thus striking a balance in authority. We must be proactive as members in working for others in their progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25). The entire body of believers must exercise their spiritual gifts for the good of others (Romans 12:3-8) and regu­larly attend the gatherings of the church (Hebrews 10:24-25) so as to edify others and be edified themselves. One could name off other responsibilities as well, noting members should be good listeners to sermons, biblical theologians and devoted to pray for one another. Finally, one must confront unrepentant sin in the lives of their fellow members, in the hopes they heed that rebuke and repent.

Watch for part 2 of this interview where Dr. Kimble will discuss church discipline.

Learn more about 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline and the other books in the 40 Questionsseries at www.kregel.com.

 

Posted 6/22/17 at 4:00 PM | Mark Ellis

Amid drought and starvation, Muslim holy men warn villagers away from Christian medical clinics

Boy in Niger, victim of drought and famine

By Mark Ellis

In drought-stricken Niger, Samira watched two of her children die from starvation. Now her two-year-old son Adamou*, born in a mud hut, was severely malnourished, his skin hanging limply from his bones.

But because of warnings from Muslim holy men in her village known as marabouts, and fearing angry spirits, she didn’t think she should visit the Christian medical clinic in Dantchandou, 22 miles away.

In fact, Adamou had never received any modern medical treatment, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission (CAM).

Samira had taken him to the marabouts, who made ritual incantations, recited verses from the Quran, and made attempts to contact spirits via plants and perfumes.

More than 80 percent of Niger’s people are Muslim, but they often combine Islam with other animistic rituals from their ancestors, according to CAM.

Samira received jolting news from one of the marabouts. “The native healer told me that the spirits are not happy about me, and that I have to pay with my children,” she told CAM. FULL POST

Posted 6/14/17 at 9:15 AM | Greg Gordon

K.P. Yohannan: Overcoming Criticism in the Body of Christ

K.P. Yohannan
K.P. Yohannan Founder of Gospel for Asia

Criticism is a great danger in the Church in our day where many are even thinking they are doing God a favour by being critical against others. K.P. Yohannan shares ways we can overcome criticism that is directed towards us and understand why people do these things so we can have empathy and compassion for them. Currently we are featuring on SermonIndex.net a sermon on Bitterness by K.P. Yohannan which goes into detail of why believers end up acting in these ways. Only with God’s help through forgiveness can we be freed of this sin and start to live in a way where we bless and not condemn others.

Read below what K.P. Yohannan says about Criticism:

In our world, it seems impossible to escape criticism. If we do poorly at school or at work, people will criticize us. Should we do well and excel in business, we still face criticism from people who are jealous of our success. It seems to be a favorite pastime of the human race to take one person after another, good or bad, and “skin them alive” with criticism. FULL POST

Posted 6/9/17 at 4:08 PM | Mark Ellis

Francis Chan: Korean missionaries wish they were still imprisoned by Taliban

South Korean hostages taken by Taliban in 2007

By Mark Ellis

A decade ago, 23 South Korean missionaries were captured and held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some now say they miss their captivity, because of the unusual intimacy they experienced with God during that time.

The hostages attended Saemmul Presbyterian Church in Bundang, a commuter town south of Seoul.

They “felt the presence of Jesus” in such an unbelievable way in prison, they wish they could return, Francis Chan told The Bridge 2017 conference, according to a report by the Gospel Herald.

The missionaries were taken hostage when the Taliban captured their bus traveling between Kabul and Kandahar. Church leaders said the Koreans were in Afghanistan as volunteers to help doctors in the hospitals and teachers in schools.

One of the missionaries told Chan: “’These women that were in these camps with us, they come to me and they say, ‘Pastor, don’t you wish we were still imprisoned by the Taliban?'” FULL POST

Posted 6/1/17 at 6:17 PM | Audra Jennings

Change is a learning process

New book outlines how congregations can change into missional, fruitful learning communities

Kregel
Learning Change by Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

Change is seldom easy for an individual, much less an entire group of people such as a church congregation. In Learning Change: Congregational Transformation Fueled by Personal Renewal (Kregel Ministry/May 27, 2017/ISBN: 978-0-8254-4455-5/ $18.99), authors Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor share the stories of church leaders who were able to transform their congregations by first making changes in their own lives.

Based on their previous research and work with church organizations, Herrington and Taylor were invited to develop a collaborative process focused on personal and congregational transformation. They created a 30-month pilot project with 16 congregations. Many of the leaders involved in the project felt trapped in unhealthy, even toxic, church situations and were desperate for hope. Learning Change chronicles these transformations lived out in practice, in community, and throughout time in a wide variety of congregational contexts.

“One thing all the participating churches had in common is they needed deep change in the mental models guiding their decisions about how to impact their communities effectively with the Gospel,” Herrington explains. “This included confronting and changing mental models about things dear to us as Christians: discipleship, mission and the role of the church. They all also needed support and encouragement as they worked to change those mental models.”

Each chapter includes stories of real-world applications, questions and suggestions to practice in congregational contexts and resources for further exploration. Breaks are built in throughout the text to invite readers to engage with God. The book is divided into four parts:

  • The keys to real change
  • Four core values necessary to effect change
  • Mental models showing how the ways we think affect the church
  • Additional tools for more effective leadership.

“The world is changing at the pace of a jet in flight, and the church is changing at the pace of a horse and buggy,” Taylor offers. “What doesn’t need to happen is for congregations to double down and work harder at 20th-century strategies and ways of thinking. We hold that congregational transformation is not possible apart from being accompanied by a journey of personal transformation. Personal transformation is found in the lost art of spiritual formation, and we want to help church leaders find it.”

Learning Change is more than a story of how one church changed. This is a resource for church leaders who are faced with the challenge of congregational revitalization and ready to accept an invitation to join in a process of powerful transformation. The method is proven as the pilot project is now a thriving process in two nations, two denominations, six regions and more than 100 congregations.

Learn more about Learning Change at https://ridder.westernsem.edu/learning-change/.


About the Authors

Jim Herrington is an author, former pastor and conference leader. He holds a Masters of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is in the process of completing his D.Min. in Spiritual Formation from the Houston Graduate School of Theology.

Herington is the founder and team leader at Faithwalking, an organization that teaches, coaches and empowers leaders to equip their communities to live the fully human, fully alive life that Jesus lived. He is also the founding executive director of Mission Houston.

In his spare time, Herrington enjoys running, gardening, travel and a whole lot of reading. Jim and his wife, Betty, live in Houston, TX, and are the parents of five adult children.

Visit Jim Herrington’s online home at www.jimtherrington.com.

Trisha Taylor is a counselor, minister, author and consultant. She is a fellow with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and has worked with pastors and congregations in Houston and across the country for more than two decades.

In addition to Learning Change, Taylor is also the co-author of The Leader's Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation. She is a co-founder of Faithwalking, a spiritual formation process that equips people to live missionally.

Taylor enjoys good stories wherever she can find them and life-giving friendships. She and her husband, Craig have more than 30 years of experience as a clergy couple and have two adult children. They live in Houston, TX.

Learn more about Trisha Taylor at http://trisha-taylor.com/.

Posted 6/1/17 at 5:53 PM | Audra Jennings

Why are church membership and discipline important?

New release addresses 40 of the most common and thorny questions about church life

Kregel
40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline

Does church membership mean more than simply joining a social group? Does the church have a responsibility to discipline its members — and if so, what does that look like? In 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline (Kregel Academic), Dr. Jeremy Kimble recognizes and addresses the many puzzling questions about the critical role of the church in the life of believers.

The latest release in Kregel’s 40 questions series edited by Benjamin L. Merkle, each section considers questions of theology, ministry and practicality. This book raises — and clearly answers — the most common and difficult questions church leaders and members have. With succinct chapters, 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline is a practical resource for any church leader, elder board, seminary student or new member seeking a foundational understanding of how the church should function.

“Church membership is not solely about what you can get out of a church. Instead, membership points us toward commitment and mutual accountability,” explains Kimble. “When we join the membership of a local church, we are agreeing to be overseen in our discipleship and oversee others in their discipleship. As such, the idea of membership goes beyond mere attendance and even ministry involvement. At its heart, church membership is about a group of people committed to one another, who will continually oversee and exhort one another toward ever-increasing godliness.”

Among the 40 questions Kimble examines are:

  • Is there a New Testament precedent for membership?
  • How does membership relate to baptism and communion?
  • Who should become a member?
  • How is discipline related to discipleship?
  • Should a believer associate with someone under church discipline?

Church discipline is an often thorny topic, but Kimble describes discipline as a proper demonstration of the biblical concept of love. He writes that God disciplines those whom he loves (Hebrews 12:6–11), and thus a church who claims to love its members without disciplining them contradicts Scripture and offers a different kind of love than God does. Church discipline can potentially be a painful process, but as a spiritual family we are called to work through such matters faithfully and gently.

“The main message of the book is that church membership and discipline are essential components to the health of a local church, since they are a distinct means of pursuing discipleship, holiness, love and perseverance in the faith,” Kimble offers.

Learn more about 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline and the other books in the 40 Questionsseries at www.kregel.com.

Dr. Jeremy Kimble

About the Author

Dr. Jeremy Kimble (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. He is passionate about teaching college students, as well as the local church, the truth of God’s Word.

Dr. Kimble’s hope is that through his courses, students will seek to love God and others, rightly understand the grand narrative of Scripture and apply theological truths to everyday life. He is committed to teaching in the classroom as well as mentoring students in smaller settings. His research interests include ecclesiology, eschatology, biblical theology, worldview and the theology of Jonathan Edwards.

He served in pastoral ministry for eight years and currently serves as an elder at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville.

Follow Dr. Jeremy Kimble on Twitter (@JeremyKimble).

Posted 5/31/17 at 7:26 PM | Mark Ellis

Miraculous health reversal short-lived, ministry leader passes

Carol Waisanen speaking at her church May 7th, 2017

By Mark Ellis

Carol Waisanen, the founder of Angels for Christ, had a remarkable improvement in her battle with cancer that some were calling miraculous, immediately following a worldwide prayer vigil. But sadly, the reversal was short-lived and she passed into the arms of her Savior June 7th. She was 67.

The sequence of events that led to her passing unfolded with stunning rapidity.

Carol preached a message on “Facing Your Giants” May 7th at Solid Rock Restoration Church in Riverside, California. That same evening she began to feel sick. “She threw up and we thought she had food poisoning,” Don says. Her condition continued to deteriorate through the week.

On May 12th Don rushed her to the emergency room at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana. After running a variety of tests, doctors discovered a fast-growing, aggressive form of endometrial cancer. FULL POST

Posted 5/22/17 at 3:15 PM | Mark Ellis

How a sacrificial duck and a Hindu scripture became witnessing tools for Christ

By Mark Ellis

The leader of a Hindu temple in Indonesia needed a duck to sacrifice for one of their ceremonies. He recently met a Christian ministry leader, and asked the Christian if he could help him find a “special duck.”

The 36-year-old temple leader was considered the head of the village, had large land holdings and two wives, according to Christian Aid Mission (CAM).

It seemed like an odd request. Why does he think I could find him this special duck? the Christian wondered. “What will this duck be used for?” he asked.

The Hindu leader explained the duck would be sacrificed so his god will be appeased. “If it was not offered, the ‘big fish’ will be disturbed by a god and get sick,” he said.

With Spirit-filled inspiration, the Christian explained the role of animal sacrifices in ancient Israel and how they were no longer necessary because the blood of Jesus Christ is the perfect, final, and sufficient offering for the forgiveness of sins. FULL POST

Posted 4/26/17 at 7:27 PM | Mark Ellis

India: A demon caused her sister’s death, then came to live inside Hindu woman

By Mark Ellis

Pushpa and her husband Vijay* both came from a Hindu background. They worshipped numerous gods and entertained many spirits, which compounded a series of traumatic events that began in 2000, when they invited Pushpa’s sister to come and live with them.

“My sister was possessed with an evil spirit,” Pushpa recounted to Biglife.

Shortly after her sister arrived Pushpa was startled when an evil spirit spoke through her sister’s mouth saying, “I am going to kill your sister and come live inside of you.”

Within a short time, that is exactly what happened, according to Pushpa’s account.

“The evil spirit tormented me for 11 years. It was like hell on earth. My body would become very cold and I would get a shooting pain in my stomach. Even worse, I would lose total control of my body and begin to beat my children,” she recounted.

Pushpa’s husband was so frightened that he beat his wife, thinking that was the only way to conquer the evil spirit. FULL POST

Posted 4/26/17 at 7:11 PM | Mark Ellis

Sri Lanka: Radical Buddhist monks attack pastors, destroy churches, police fail to respond

Church destroyed in Sri Lanka

By Mark Ellis

Police are failing to respond to Buddhist aggression in western Sri Lanka directed against churches and in some cases are encouraging persecution of Christians.

When a mob led by Buddhist monks in Ingiriya assaulted the pastor of Kings Revival Church and three other church members on March 26th after a Sunday worship service, police failed to register the case, according to Morning Star News.

The attack occurred after the pastor left church and was hurrying home. It seems he had received an urgent phone call from a church member warning him that a van full of armed Buddhist monks were waiting for him at the top of a road.

The previous day at about 10 a.m., an unidentified person and two Buddhist monks had visited the pastor and questioned him about the legality of religious worship at his location.

During the confrontation, one Buddhist monk called two local officials who questioned the pastor. The officials demanded the pastor supply all church legal documents, threatening to take him to the police if he failed to produce them. FULL POST

Read more