People of Like Faith

Christianity can be extremely difficult to understand for those in the church and outside the church. There are so many streams of doctrine, liturgy, denominations, personal experience and the crazy thing about all it is, everyone thinks their truth reigns supreme. Instead of accepting men and women in the faith as brothers and sisters, we spend time arguing with each other.

I have to believe the Holy Spirit helps us all. Jesus said no one could reach the father except through him. Have you ever considered if there are many ways to Jesus? Could a loving God grade so harshly? Could he leave no margin for grace? Will everyone who doesn’t believe like us be separate from God? The Bible says the voice of God is like many waters. Does that mean God speaks to people in different ways, times and places?

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
1 Peter 1:1

Christianity needs to take a long look at our history. Mistakes made, human rights violations and a host of atrocities carried out in the name Christ. We have been divided so long we don’t know how to respect and love one another.

The first thing we do when meeting someone of faith, is to find out what stream they’re in. Things such as how we baptize, gifts of the spirit, sacraments, observances, rituals and whatever else. In the eyes of the unchurched, it must appear as though no one knows whats up.

Catholics observe lent, Protestants ask why? Pentecostals speak in tongues, baptist don’t believe that’s of God. Well I guess that depends on what type baptist. Lets see, 1st, 2nd, freewill, hardshell, united, southern, independent and whole host of others. These are just a few of the baptist organizations. Not picking on the baptist. Many church movements look the same.

The bottom line, God is sovereign and just. Not according to our traditions, Ideology or personal beliefs.

REMEMBER PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ARE PRIVATE PROPERTY!

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:1

– KV

Church Culture pt. 2

Sometimes people spend so much time focusing on the details, that we completely lose sight of the big picture. I find this is especially true in the church world—ministers and parishioners run around so consumed by programs, classes and servicing the saints that we forget about the big things—the great commandment to love God, to love neighbor and, most importantly, the great commission. The biggest concern of any group of believers should be how to take the Gospel message to those who are far away from Christ.

If you polled a typical group of believers, I suspect the consensus would overwhelmingly support this idea, yet we continue to sit in our churches, so hyper-focused on ourselves—our preferences, tastes and comfort—that we do nothing to reach the lost and demonstrate the love of Christ to the world in a meaningful way. Moving a group toward a specific goal is naturally difficult—with so many people and parts involved in a typical church, without a strong, united vision, it is very natural for individuals to lose sight of the mission and focus on positions and departments. Church culture proliferates this tendency through exalting individuals and minimizing the collective mission.

My father became a pastor when I was very young, so I’ve seen the gamut of church styles, doctrines and administrations over my lifetime. More often than not, I’ve observed good intentions for reaching the lost in these churches, but their policies, attitudes and behaviors work in direct opposition to these intentions. In order for the church to thrive and meet the Gospel mandate in an ever-secular world, we must move away from the personality driven model that is so pervasive in the contemporary church, towards a system that builds strong, Spirit-led cultures that organize individuals and departments around a collective mission. The Gospel message cannot remain in the confines of the hallow buildings we call churches—it must be actively carried by people who are passionate to see lives changed in every day life.

I’m talking about empowering people to be effective ministers—energizing and motivating them to work towards a common, Godly vision. These ministers will know the Gospel message and have the confidence to communicate it in a relevant and vibrant manner. The personality-driven model has made Christianity a spectator sport, but Jesus and the Disciples played full contact Christianity!

One of the profound characteristics of the early church was that they held the teachings of the Apostles in common. This common, empowering culture that produced the incredible results observed by early church disciples like Stephen. In churches today, disciples are too often relegated to church service rather than Christ service—they open doors, usher folks to their seats and help with the mundane needs of the church. While these things are necessary for a successful corporate gathering, do they do anything to empower and equip the saints for the real ministry of Christ? Just about nothing the modern church concerns herself with helps to reach those far away from Christ. Our systems train the saints to serve the church and promote the idea that the work of ministry should be carried out by a select minority of believers.

The view that God has gifted and chosen a few and the rest of us are there to watch the show, go home and leave ministry at the church door must be eradicated from our thinking! I fully acknowledge the leadership gifts that God gives to the church—throughout the early church God sent men to groups of people. These men preached the Gospel with power and God confirmed His word with many signs and wonders. I am in no way suggesting that leadership should stop leading—rather, I am proposing we reconsider how Godly leadership trains, equips and empowers the saints. I am suggesting we strive to build a church culture that moves us toward our mission and puts the big picture front and center. Instead of the iconic-personality approach of modern day Christianity, we need to trust the Holy Spirit to inspire everyone to participate in ministry. We have glamorized senior ministry to such a degree that we have buildings full of people waiting for their big chance, meanwhile missing all the simple, everyday opportunities for ministry that made Jesus and the early church so effective at reaching the lost.

The big picture is not filling seats—it’s evangelizing the lost and making strong disciples. I want to encourage everyone to realize you can make a difference in the world, and it starts one life at at time.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

A letter for 2012 from Pastor Ken

An open letter from Ps. Ken for 2012:

Dear Spirit Life Community,

The New Year never ceases to bring with it a sense of hope and the feeling that what lies before us is filled with God-provisioned opportunities and possibility. My prayer and earnest belief is that this will prove to be especially true of the coming year—the winds of change are blowing and I’m more excited about our future together than ever!

The shift in the dynamic of our church’s culture that began taking root last year will flourish in 2012, ushering in a renaissance of ideas and strategies, building servant leaders, renewing our sense of corporate purpose and fueling the drive towards our mission.

I believe our community is at a critical mass of believers who, like myself, insist the season of saint-oriented church is over. The time for church politics is over. Our new mantra is culture and building the sort of New Testament community we’re striving to become will require a great collective of effort and cooperation.

1 Corinthians 12:12
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

Over the coming months our departments and ministries will continue to be evaluated and purposeful, poignant reforms will follow. Too often we continue the status quo in perpetuity for no good reason—this is mental laziness at best and narrow-mindedness at worst.

Change is never easy but I believe we are up to the challenge! Focus on the big picture in 2012 and let the wisdom of God order your actions accordingly. Each person that supports this community financially or through serving in a department is vitally important to our success. Know that your sacrifice is not overlooked or under-appreciated.

Together we achieve greatness.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

That Which We Are, We Shall Teach pt. 2

This is part two of a guest blog series from Julie VanHoose. Read part 1 here.

1 Corinthians 12:12:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

What you celebrate becomes your culture.

In our families, our work place and everywhere else, we have the power to set the pace of culture with our thoughts and actions whether we care to acknowledge it or not. What do we celebrate corporately?

We should be striving to celebrate what God is emphasizing right now. Can we move passed the star-studded, “what’s my gift” 1990s, or are we so short sighted that we fail to see the power of coordinated, corporate effort? It seems like most of us consider our service to the local church community a chore—we come in once a week and do our penance, all while exerting as little effort as possible.

Rather than working to build a new testament community, we focus on socializing with our clique and where we’ll go to lunch afterwards. Has the great commission been overlooked and under taught?

I believe we are coming into a season where each hand, even each finger, are vitally important to the mission. The season that is coming will require the formation of functional teams, exalting ideas rather than amazing stars and great voices, and celebrating the wonderful uniqueness God has instilled in all of His creation!

I envision a local community that sacrifices and succeeds together. An elaborate tapestry of talented individuals possessing a culture that is teeming with innovative ideas and synergistic potential, allowing us to take the message of the gospel to unbelievers in a fresh, new and relevant way!

Get on board, challenge your old ways of thinking and embrace change! Together we can accomplish much!

– Julie

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Julie is the wife of Ken VanHoose, senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Spirit Life Church.