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Having 20-20 Vision (Paul's method for growing a church) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:56

For all who wonder how to plant and build a church, here is the answer in one verse- Acts 20:20.  Paul gave his "method"- I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publically and from house to house. I have declared (to all) that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ".

I adopted that verse and began following it more than 50 years ago.  It is still the best "method" to plant and build a church anywhere!  Paul went on to say, "I declare I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God."

If I were to start all over, I'd follow this same plan!  All the conferences and workshops are no subsitute for what must be done.  Get out of your office and go seeking the lost.  Bring them the Gospel in their homes or at their workplace.  Be bold. Go get them.  Visit, visit, visit! and teach, teach, teach the Word of God to them.

 

 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 18 April 2010 13:33
 
Moving the furniture around on a sinking ship PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:24

Most people seem to agree that churches are in trouble and need to be re-invented to become relevant today.  It seems "Simple Church" is the newest big thing in trying to revive or build healthy churches.  Significantly, it seems to use a business model.  It seems to have replaced "Purpose Driven Church".  Before that there were books and workshops about becoming "Seeker Friendly" churches. Remember Willowcreek?  Then there were books and workshops about "Growing Healthy churches" and about building Leadership (also the business model).  Bill Hull and Son Life was very popular on that subject.  That was preceded by the focus on "Church Growth" and Donald McGavran led the way.  Developing "Small Groups" was all the rage for awhile.  Remember "Serendipity" materials?  I should mention that the Charismatic Movement in the 70's and 80's was seen as the answer to a mundane, if not moribund, church.  And there have alwasy been those who simply drop out and tune in to some form of hippie-type "Community".  Remember the "Jesus Movement" of the 60's and 70's?

The emphasis once was on Disciplemaking (now we might hear about "Spiritual Formation" but that is different).  Robert Coleman's books were very helpful.  Before that the concern was personal evangelism.  "Evangelism Explosion" out of Coral Ridge was the course for training to do that.  "The 4 Spiritual Laws" were popular.  We used to call it "soul winning".  Don't hear much about that these days The emphasis has changed over the years, but all still agree that churches are in trouble and need to be re-invented to become relevant today.  Actually, the need for what we used to call "Revival", has always been around.  Rearranging the furnitue on deck when the ship is sinking doesn't help other than making the furniture movers feel like they are "doing something".  Over my 50 years, there has been no end to the "next big thing" or to all the workshops, conferences, "gurus" and their books.  For what?

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Last Updated on Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:33
 
Should Churches observe Passover ( "Seder")? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Saturday, 27 March 2010 12:48

 

We live on the edge of the Jewish Community in this area.  There are a number of "Temples" (formerly known as synogogues).  This is a big week for our Jewish neighbors.  Many of them are in the supermarkets buying what they need for their Seders, celebrating the annual Passover.

This week I watched a PBS documentary about the celebration of the Passover.  The Passover itself was barely mentioned in passing and I heard nothing about the blood of the lamb being put on the doorposts.   It seems the main point of the celebaration is deliverance from bondage.  That Theme is picked up by many and used for their own stories.  Thus we have celebration by African Americans from slavery.  There are feminist groups and gay groups who use the occasion to celebrate what they see as vistories in their experience.  There are others for whom the main point of Passover is the exodus and the wondering of the tribes of Israel to the Promised Land.  Immigrant groups celebrate similar journeys in their histories.  A Rabbi that was interviewd for the film said it made no difference whether there really was a parting of waters or a literal exodus from Egypt.  The story is about moving forward in our lives, leaving our past and entering into the promises of our future.   Nothing about the poor lambs which were slain.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:16
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Reasons young Christans become "Dechurched" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Saturday, 27 March 2010 05:38

 

We received a letter last week from our Pastor inviting everyone on the mailing list to Services for Holy Week and Easter Day.  His list of reasons why folks should attend are exactly the reasons why many Christians do not attend.The Pastor uses Jesus promise: "where two or three are gathered together, there I am in the midst".  He mentions the reasons for attending include Christian fellowship and support- worshiping together in the presence of Christ who will be with us.  There is no substitute, he says, for the blessings and encouragement that comes when Christians gather together. "Yes, we agree", say the dechurched, Believers who have dropped out of church.  "And we find", they say, "exactly all of that in our small groups or house fellowship- but without all the nonsense and stress that goes with having a building and maintaining a Church organization" and therefore do not need the church".  There is an interesting article about the Dechurched HERE

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 12:54
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Crafting my own Funeral PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Friday, 26 February 2010 16:55

I was asked by a long time friend to preach the Gospel at the Funeral Service for his wife.  The Service was in an Episcopal Church, where I have preached many times.  The Priest agreed.  Needless to say, my old time Baptist preaching style is a wee bit more dynamic than what the folks present were used to.  Most of them were Roman Catholic or Episcopalian.  I was glad to do it and believe God annointed the message and its delivery.  As usual, many people responded very favorably and said so to me afterward.

But also as usual, I was really troubled by what follwed the Message.  The Liturgy was so flat, yes, "dead."  The Gospel promises victory over death and the grave.  It promises forgiveness and Salvation.  A Funeral is a marvelous time to minister to hurting people with the offer of grace and mercy and hope that comes from the Gospel.  I shared my confidence that our friend was now with the Lord, saved by grace.  She had the blessed assurance that she was redeemed, not by her Baptism, but by the Blood of Jesus through faith alone.

None of this hope and faith came through the Prayer Book Liturgy  or the rest of the Service.  It all just kind of droned on, lifeless.  This should be a time of Celebration!  Nothing.  My Message was followed by a very rote recital of the Apostles Creed and then the very perfunctory "Prayers of the people.  LIkewise, the Burial (Internment) was lifeless and  routine.  I have officiated at innumerable Funerals over 50 years.  They were all personal.  If anything should be personal, it is a funeral. I crafted each one with the deceased person in mind and in conjunction with the family.  None were just read out of a Prayer Book (one size fits all).

I came home, rather disgusted, and set to work writing an outline for my own Funeral, complete with Testimonies and Hymns.  I do not want the usual Prayer Book Service.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 20 March 2010 17:49
 
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