What Makes a Church a Church?-Part 2

church definitions

Church definitions can be confusing. As a result, this question “What makes a church a church?” is an important question to ask!  Last week, in Part 1, we looked at the two primary metaphors in the New Testament used to describe the church; the Body of Christ and the Family of God.  Today we want to think about the Church’s function.

Church Definitions – House Church or Preaching Point?

In my organization, we make the end of the year reports about our church planting and discipleship progress.  We want to know how many new churches have been planted each year so we can celebrate what God has done and accurately report what has been happening.  As we do these reports, we face the question of the difference between a church and a “preaching point” or a “fellowship group.” read more

What Makes a Church a Church?-Part 1

church what is it

When people typically think of church, they think about a building, pastor, pulpit, church members, and a weekly meeting.  Sadly, this is what the definition of a church has become. Even Merriam-Webster defines the word church as “a building for public and especially Christian worship.”  This definition, though a commonly used one, is sadly not biblical.

Church – What Is It?

In the New Testament, the original Greek word for church is ekklésia.  It means those who are “called out of the world to God.”  To the Greeks it meant an assembly of people.* read more

5 Things That Destroy Discipleship Movements

Death Factors

Some months ago I wrote about 6 Factors That Get Your Movement Moving.  It’s always good to look at positive things we can do to see greater fruit and growth!

It is also important to be aware of what kinds of things kill a Disciple Making Movement(DMM).  Sometimes we call these “Death Factors.” These are things to be extremely careful about.  While seemingly normal or innocent, if your goal is a multiplying movement, they will definitely “sink your ship.” When these things start to happen, you can be sure that the movement will stop growing.  If you are just getting started, the movement can die before it every really starts.  There are other “death factors” to consider, but here are five of the most common. read more

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

bold evangelism

“I have tried and tried to get the believers in our fellowship to share the gospel, but they are fearful, shy and just don’t seem able to witness.  Bold evangelism just isn’t happening!”

This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching.  What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we work with to overcome their fears?

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

1. Receiving the Holy Spirit

The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts Chapter 2.  When Jesus was being tried, three times he denied even knowing Him.  He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point!  But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction.  If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  It will make a world of difference. read more

When God Restores- Women Get Included in the Inheritance

women in missions

God created women in His own image.  They hold a special place in His heart. God is using women in missions today like never before!  It has always been His intention to uplift and release women into their full potential. It is part of His salvation and His restoration process that women receive their inheritance in the Kingdom.

At the end of the book of Job, we see a picture of restoration.  He has been through testing and trials and now God blesses and restores.  When He restores, He doubles all Job had.  Job 42:10 says, “When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.  In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!”  read more

Baptism Questions- Are They Ready?

baptism are they ready

There is a question many disciple makers face with new believers. It centers around baptism- are they ready?

In the last few blogs, we have been looking at questions and issues around baptism.  baptism-are they ready?People often delay baptism thinking the new believer is not ready to take this step. They need to grow more in their faith first, they say.  Maybe we are waiting for new believers to stop certain bad habits like smoking or drinking. Sometimes we wait to baptize because we want a large group to be baptized together.  Others delay for a long time because they are hoping a spouse will also believe and they can be baptized together. Some delay because the person isn’t yet a legal adult. Perhaps we don’t want to have to fill the baptism tank too often, or take time out of our church service to include this ceremony more than once or twice a year. read more

Baptism Questions- If They Don’t Take It, Are They A “Believer” Or Not?

baptism questions

baptism questionLast week we looked at the questions related to being ready for baptism. Today I want to look at another important baptism question.

Are They A Believer?

*Can someone be considered a “believer” or “disciple” if they don’t desire (or are not willing to take) this the step of obedience?

To find answers to this baptism question, we need to look at what scripture teaches.  Many cultural and social issues exist that make this a difficult step to take.  Persecution can increase after and around the question of taking baptism.  In South Asian settings, many view baptism as the point at which you are “changing your religion.” read more

Baptism Questions- Who Can Baptize?

who can baptize

Here is some water!  Can you baptize me?

Ever been asked this question before?  There are some big questions around the issue of baptism.

  • Who can baptize others?
  • How do you know if someone is ready to be baptized?
  • Can someone be considered a “believer” or “disciple” if they don’t desire (or are not willing to take) this the step of obedience?

These are very important questions for someone trying to start a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). In the next few blogs I’d like to address these one by one.

Who Can Baptize?

We’ll start with the “Who can baptize?” question. Let’s consider some scripture as we begin.

35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [[i]And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the [j]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”(Acts 8:35-38 NASB)

In this passage, Philip baptized the eunuch immediately after he shared the gospel with him.  Was Philip an apostle? No. He was an ordinary believer who shared good news and then took the next natural step.  He didn’t wait for Peter, John, or James.  The eunuch was ready and he knew his authority as a priest of God.  He didn’t hesitate to baptize this government official. read more

Discipleship Accountability: Avoid or Embrace?

One of the things I appreciate about the T4T (Training for Trainers) approach is how every meeting begins in the first section with reporting in on what you have done the past week to apply what you learned before.  Likewise, every meeting ends with the setting of new goals. How are you going to obey and put into practice what you learned in the lesson or story?  This accountability loop is a very important part of making obedient disciples.

Friendly accountability

It goes much further than this though.  We must develop an appreciation, even an embracing of friendly accountability in our lives as leaders personally.  As we model this, our disciples see it.  They begin to value it as well. read more

Do We Need To Live Among Them? Incarnational Ministry Questions

incarnational ministry

My kid’s school is far away from my ministry field.  How important is it that I live among the people I’m trying to reach?  If I can’t live “on site” how much will that affect my fruitfulness? It is important to consider the significance of what is called incarnational ministry.

Jesus was incarnational.  What that means is though He was God, he took on human flesh and became a man. He left heaven, came to earth, lived among us and through that, that helped us to see what God the Father was like.  He is our model. How important is it that we do this?  This article addresses, not the issue of adapting to culture, but the question of living among the people we serve. read more