Lets resurrect the churc.., p.1
Let's Resurrect the Church, p.1Mark Barnes
Let's Resurrect the Church
By Mark Barnes
Copyright 2017 Mark Barnes
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by Permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are from The Amplified Bible copyright 1965, 1987 by Zondervan Corporation.
Scripture quotations marked (WEB) are from The World English Bible WEB copyright 2012, by Edimedia di Fabio Filippi e C. Sas via Orcagna 66, 50121 Firenze.
This EBook is free because I use many quotes from the books of Theodore (“TAS”) Austin-Sparks’. TAS' books are FREE on the Internet and at the front of each of his books, it says:
“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.”
TAS’ books have had a huge impact on me by bringing me to a much deeper and clearer understanding of important kingdom principles. Therefore, I have included quite a few important excerpts from TAS’s books with the hope that his insight is used for generations to come.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE – What’s wrong with the Church?
CHAPTER TWO – 20th Century Church Governance
CHAPTER THREE – How to prepare for your own Church
CHAPTER FOUR –How to start your own Church
CHAPTER FIVE – Volunteers
CHAPTER SIX – 21st Century Church governance
CHAPTER SEVEN – Educating the congregation
CHAPTER EIGHT – Music and other ministries
CHAPTER NINE – Overall aim
About Mark Barnes
Other titles by Mark Barnes
The church is very unwell. (Truth Decay, by Gary Bates) It is like a beached whale: still alive, but always seemingly close to death (e.g. McNichols, 66). If the church is not dead yet, it should be retired forthwith, so it can be started again from scratch. No use rebooting it because its hard drive is frozen in time along with the woolly mammoth it killed with boredom!! Unfortunately, the ineffective and moribund 1 20th Century church has crawled over the line into the 21st Century with little change. Despite the efforts of realists such as Rick Warren, Paul Washer and Theodore Austin-Sparks ('TAS'), the Church continues onwards and upwards to nowhere.
In 1968 TAS wrote that “… there never was a time when there were more divisions amongst the Lord’s people than there are today. This great work of schism is spreading over everything …”2 and way back in 1931 TAS said: “… we are living in Judges' conditions today spiritually. There is a state of weakness and failure where the enemy is not cast out …"3 Leanna Fuller says "… conflict in faith communities is a ubiquitous feature of contemporary religious life …" (Fuller, 5). "… Hope and Wenger report that the stress of dealing with conflict is one of the two main reasons that clergy leave pastoral ministry …" (McNichols, 55; Forney, A Calm in the Tempest …, 1-3; Miller-McLemore)
In 2013 Rick Warren said “… when I wrote The Purpose Driven Church (in 1995), I predicted that church health: not church growth would be the primary concern of the 21st Century Church. I believe that prediction is proving itself true …”4 Try to start a conversation about Christ with Christians, and most of them look at you dumbfounded.5 TAS says “… That ought to characterize our coming together, that we are not only able to say that He is our Lord with one voice, but we ought to be able to speak of what He is to us personally in a particular way …” (TAS, Knowing God in Christ, 106).
And this problem has been around a long time because in 1953 TAS wrote "… There is everywhere today an immense amount of definite or tacit admission of the failure of Christianity; the asking of the question: 'What is wrong with Christianity or the "churches" …'" (TAS, Keeping Christ in View). In 1969 TAS wrote that: “… I am more and more convinced as I travel about the world that there is a very great need of recovering the true meaning of Christianity. Even Christians everywhere do not understand what they have come into. I believe that 90 percent of all our troubles are due to that. If we went to the Lord with many of our troubles and asked Him to tell us why it is we’re in this trouble, He would just say, 'Well, this is just exactly what I told you; you have not understood what I told you' …" (TAS, Right Standing With God, 15).
Although many Christians struggle to understand the Christian faith, you mention flowers in the church garden, priority parking, a bigger church building, or the annual church fete, and they are all over it like a rash.6 Guess what? I can teach a Boy Scout to do all that. With the assistance of the timeless insight of TAS, and the wisdom of dozens of other modern Christian authors (all fully referenced), I am going to do my best to bring the Church into the 21st Century, because at the moment the Church is like a light on a hill (Matt 5:14), but instead of producing the spectacular light of Christ’s glory, no one can see it because it uses energy-saving light bulbs!!7 It is supposed to be the salt of the earth (Matt 5:14), producing a purified Christ-like culture.8 But, instead, it is using sugar coated methods that are rotting the teeth of the Gospel, and covering it with layers of impenetrable fat!9 This includes ALL the churches I have ever attended, and I am sick of it.
People have provided wonderful formulas and books to help the Church, but no one is taking any notice. That’s why I am not going to pull any punches. I call a spade a spade. This book may upset many in the Church community, but so be it, otherwise nothing will change.10 In any case, I will ‘hide’ behind the Bible as my first line of defense against anyone who wants to lynch mob me!! The Bible urges Christians to “… consider how to spur (NIV) / provoke (ASV) one another on toward love and good deeds …” (Heb 10:24) Microsoft word synonyms for provoke include: irritate; aggravate; inflame; push; press; spur; goad. Now don’t try and tell me that they are not tough words.
Robert Martin says "… In word, action, and personal presence, ecclesial leaders (both individuals and groups) not only bear forth the image of Christ, they invoke/evoke/provoke the Spirit of Christ within persons and communities, such that they are more fully transformed by the Spirit into Christ's likeness as the body and blood of Christ given to and for the world …"(Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 133).
The Bible does not say: 'backslap'; 'smile as if nothing happened'; 'give each other high fives'; 'do nothing and the Holy Spirit will magically make it all better'; (TAS, Spiritual Maturity 12-14; Tilstra, 50-51) or bottle it all up and create a big scene at the church Annual General Meeting (AGM). Provoke is a verb; an action word; a doing word. Elliot Grudem says "… The author of Hebrews reminds us that our perseverance requires encouragement from others (Heb 3:12-14). We need the continual provocation from others to do the work God called us to do (Heb 10:24-25) …" (Grudem, Pour it Out). So, if you are a pastor or experienced Christian, have you ‘provoked’ or ‘spurred’ on another Christian lately? If not, why not? So stay with me as I ‘biblically’ provoke and irritate a lot of Christians for their own good.
I left no stone unturned in my first book titled “How to be a Christian: A Beginners Guide” (HTBAC), and that book is tame compared to this one. Why? Because Jesus Christ considered His Eternal Church11 so important that He DIED for it.12 Jesus died for it not us. The mainstream churches have become stodgy institutions13 paddled upstream by play-it-safe bureaucratic administrative superintendents wi
Please help me prevent the 20th Century Church falling into the 22nd Century!! (Zscheile, 163-166, 173) Barna predicts that church attendance in the USA will decline but says "… there is an opportunity for 'faith to become more real and personal' and the Bible can become 'a true book of life-giving wisdom' …" (Russell, 78; 1 Thess 1:9-10). Michael McNichols is not "… promoting the wholesale deconstruction of denominational systems of government and strategic planning …" (McNichols, 73), but I am. I say it is time to completely bury this system of Church and build new churches on foundations made of raw passion for the things of Christ (Long, 35-36, 48-49; Matt 7:24-27; Alexander, Let Him Who Boasts …). Martin says "… So much of leaders' responsibilities have to do with communicating and living out an impassioned and vibrant vision, exhorting the community to faithfulness in its mission, and disciple-ing others …" (Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life, 130; Zscheile, The Trinity …, 59-62; Long, 35-36; 1 Thess 3:2-5 AMP; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Thess 4:1-2, 6 & 5:11-14).
TAS says "… The good foundation is Christ … as long as we have not grown together with the Crucified in the likeness of His dying, we can know nothing of a life of resurrection. Where there has been no resurrection, there may be some knowledge, but no life …" (TAS, The Rights of God, 67). The apostle Paul said "…For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection …" (Rom 6:5). "… Here is One [Christ] who, by reason of His self-manifestation and of the great work that He has done for our redemption and salvation, is worthy to have everything that we count worthwhile in life. That is very fundamental …" (TAS, The Foundations of an Exemplary Christian Life).
TAS says "… many good Christian people are absolutely in bondage to a traditional system … which is simply barring the way to spiritual revelation, and the Cross of the Lord Jesus represents the liberty in the spirit for God to lead into the fullness of His life and light. That is the whole purpose of the letter to the Hebrews … that the Lord Jesus had taken the place of the temple and the priesthood and the sacrifices and the ordinances … and the Sabbath was no longer merely a point of time but related to a Person; God had reached His rest in Christ … to know the Lord in life we must be free from the grave clothes of outward systems …" (TAS, Christ the Power of God, 69-72).
TAS says “… The Body, the Church, was never meant to be something in itself, but from eternity was always intended to be ‘the fullness of him that filleth all in all ’ (see also Zscheile, 170) … But how is it possible for us to fulfil it … to have its fulfilment and its expression in us? Only on the basis of the one life by the Holy Spirit in all. That is what gives force to the exhortation in this very letter to '… be filled with the Spirit …', that gives the real meaning and value to the whole teaching concerning the Holy Spirit: the receiving of the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit; because only so can that which has been produced by the mind of God, concerning His Son, and which is to have its full realization in the Body of Christ, be reached. How necessary, then, for us all to live in the Spirit …"15
Way back in 1929, TAS wrote that “… The experience of the great majority of Christians is not that of constant victorious progress16 … there is a very widespread ineffectiveness on the part of the Christian body …” (TAS, The Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ, 17) In my experience, nothing much has changed. But it has to change. More recently, in 1995, John Piper said “… the church is shot through with imperfections, lost sheep are still not in the fold, needs of every sort in the world are unmet, sin infects the saints. It is unthinkable that we should be content with things the way they are in a fallen world and an imperfect church …” (Piper, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader)
Yet, Donald Miller says that in North America there is "… a yearning for a transcendent experience of the sacred which conveys the self-transcending and life-changing core of all true religions … [and] people want to participate in congregations that place the expectancy of a transforming experience of God at the heart of the community's life, worship and mission …" (Jinkins, 1, 20). I believe Australian Christians want the same: that is, to go to churches where the main focus is to help people become more Christ-like, and to keep Jesus Christ at the center of everything. The apostle Peter said "… in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy: acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord" (1 Pet 3:15). In paraphrasing David Kelsey, Robert Martin asks "… are the practices of leadership helping us to understand God and everything in relation to God more truly?" (Martin, Dwelling in the Divine Life …, 101).
Michael Jinkins says that since Seward Hiltner's watershed book in 1958, there has been so much focus on dissecting and describing pastoral ministry and church leadership that "… What has sometimes been neglected … and, at times lost … is the … radical … theological perspective of awe and majesty and transcendence of God and the overwhelming and ultimate significance of Jesus Christ … "(Jinkins 3-6). Martin says that "… two interdependent themes have emerged as central to Christian leadership: a) an ecclesial leader is first and foremost a Christ-conformed disciple b) in whose life others encounter Christ and sense the meaning of the divine life in their own. That is to say, ecclesial leadership should not be understood as a category one puts alongside the category of discipleship; rather, ecclesial leadership is a special form of Christ-like discipleship …" (Martin, The Imperative of Convictional Knowing for Leadership, 124). So let's do something about this spiritual malaise.
I am not a recognized academic and my highest Christian academic achievement so far (year 2016) is a Certificate in Theology through Morling College, Sydney. But in my first book HTBAC, I list sixty academic books, and about three hundred academic articles that I have read and researched in the first eight years of my Christian journey. I also reference dozens of Christian TV Shows. And in the Appendices in this book, I have included a copy of a 822 word assignment I submitted to Morling College in 2012, and the assessment e-mail reply from Rev Dr Graham Hill (DipMinHHons, BTheol, PGCertTESOL, Cert1VTAA, MTheol, Phd), which was almost as long as my assignment!
This does not make me a genius, but I think Rev Dr Hill’s comments show, at the very least, that reinventing Christian leadership has been a passionate focus of mine for several years. I am a retired thirty-four veteran of the Tasmania (TPS) and Queensland Police Service (QPS). I worked at twelve police stations. I received a distinction for a Human Resource Management assignment in the QPS in the year 1999, which qualified me for the rank of senior sergeant, and I spent the last thirteen years in the QPS as a police sergeant. So I hope you think I have been some places, and learnt some things. So, fasten your seat belts and follow me as we try to resurrect and reinvent the Church!!!
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