What is it, how is it cultivated and what is the impact? Perimeter Church Pastor Randy Pope shares his church’s journey toward developing mature believers.
If you were asked to name three or four of your church’s best offerings for the spiritual formation of your people, what would they be? If you’re like most leaders, you’d list sermons, seminars, Sunday school classes, small groups. But are those programs really helping people become mature and equipped in Christ? They weren’t at my church. So we went on a discovery process that led us to a startling, yet simple solution. Notice I said simple—not easy!
For most of my 35 years of ministry, I’ve taken an annual study leave to evaluate my life, family and ministry. While I was away one year assessing the ministry of Perimeter Church, I began to realize that while we had been applauded and recognized for doing good things and being successful, in reality we were drawing a target around an arrow once it had been shot. We had been lauded for how far we had been shooting our arrow. But how foolish we had been to celebrate an aimless shot where the target is determined by the shot.
Seven strength-builders can equip believers to withstand life’s stressors and storms
When I was a boy I lived in a community where a tract of affordable houses had been built. From the outside they looked simple, yet attractive. By all appearances it seemed that these families were living the American Dream of home ownership. But this dream eventually became a nightmare.
You see, there was a problem. The foundations these homes were built on were compromised. They simply weren’t strong enough to deal with the stress placed on them. Over time the effects of shifting soil and changing temperatures took their toll and these foundations began to crack. As they cracked, these houses began to come apart. Ceilings separated, cabinets began to pull away from the walls, floors buckled.
Even though most of these homes were nicely appointed, inside and out, none of that could mask the fact that these homes were built on faulty foundations. Any structure is only as strong as what it is built on.
If you want to learn about engaging the culture, go to New York City, stand in Times Square and simply look around. In fact, try not to look around. The multitude of flashing iconic images representing the latest music, art, movies, fashion and personalities virtually scream in your ear, every day influencing an increasingly homogenized global culture. Just like earthquakes can produce massive waves that travel thousands of miles from their origin, Manhattan produces a cultural tsunami that reaches all the way to Manila.
A recent meeting in New York with an executive from a major TV network confirmed my sense that as Christians, we are still lagging behind in the culture wars. In essence, this producer told me, “Christians aren’t shaping the culture in America; the culture is shaping them.”
You may not have heard of Filipino pastor Joey Bonifacio, but his LEGO Principle—a simple yet profound discipleship model—could change the American church.
When Jesus spoke of the church, He never said to have stirring Sunday morning services, an amazing praise and worship team, or even a good nursery. Yet those are the elements countless congregations focus on the most.
No, when Jesus commissioned those who would follow after Him, He chose two words amid all the other instructions He could’ve offered: Make disciples.
That’s the subject of this month’s issue of Ministry Today. More specifically, we’re addressing how churches can create a culture of discipleship that produces true disciples of Christ rather than mere “churchgoers.” I can think of few people more qualified to make the case for establishing this than Joey Bonafacio from Manila, Philippines. Joey is one of the senior pastors at Victory Church, a community of more than 65,000 believers who eat, breathe and live out the core principle of discipleship every day. Joey’s also the author of a recently released book, The LEGO Principle, which reveals the key elements of connecting with God and connecting with people.
What are the Great Commission building blocks and transferrable principles for seeing your church lead a movement of Christ followers?
In March of this year, two pastors from Michigan and Florida made the trek to Manila to check out our church. Soon into their visit, they expressed their amazement at the way we did church, particularly intrigued by this idea of being one church with multiple services in multiple sites and with multiple preachers.
“We haven’t seen a church model like this one,” they told me. “In the United States, the typical multisite model broadcasts one preacher to multiple sites.” They were also quick to point out that they didn’t believe one model was better than the other. I can only agree.
But they specifically wanted to know and understand how one church does 94 weekend services in 15 locations with 51 lead pastors preaching and with approximately 65,000 in attendance. In their own words: “It’s worth the trip and a two-week stay to observe.”
Preaching. Countless people have done it and are doing it. And as we all know, there isn't just one way of doing it. When it comes to the work of proclamation, we have various strategies and styles—some healthier than others.
Three Common Approaches to Preaching
What I find most often among preachers is something close to one of the three following approaches. While each approach has value, they are not enough in and of themselves.
The inspired approach. We probably know this better as the "I had a word from the Lord" approach. In its best form, this approach reflects a preacher who has been impressed by the Holy Spirit concerning a particular truth in Scripture. It is, in a sense, first-person: "The Lord led me, and I want to tell you how He is leading." In some ways, it reminds us of 1 Peter 4:11: "If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God's words."
The danger here is that if we aren't binding ourselves to the Word of God, it isn't difficult to get off the path of truth and allow our hearts—which the Bible calls deceitful—to guide our preaching more than we allow Scripture to guide us.