PP Book Review: The Jesus Manifesto
The single greatest lesson I’ve learned among the hundreds of lessons I’ve learned from J.I.Packer is that “theology must always lead to doxology”.
In other words, if what you learn about God doesn’t cause you to praise God then your learning was mostly in vain.
The focus of our faith is a Person, not a doctrine or any combination of doctrines.
Jesus Christ is that divine Person and He is all in all.
That’s is the simple message of the Jesus Manifesto and in my opinion it is the finest volume ever penned about that one pure focus.
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola never swerve from that focus for the entirety of the volume and every page is an examination of the Savior and His glory and perfection.
This is a singularly important book for that reason…it is the only volume in my library that is about nothing but Christ and that reminds me on every page that I am to be about nothing else as well.
Today the Body of Christ is being continually torn by disagreements over doctrine and practice and diverted by the good from the Best.
We are drowning in a sea of riches… constantly offered excellent volumes on doctrine and theology, incredible software to parse it all and the greatest teachings of the church available with the click of a mouse.
We have been at sea so long we’ve lost sight of the Lighthouse.
Sweet and Viola have done the church the service of pointing us radically back to Jesus and they have done so with great clarity, grace and style.
The theology is sound and the effect is what Packer would approve…doxology on every page.
From now on every new believer in my path will receive three books..The Bible, “Knowing God”, and “The Jesus Manifesto”.
I re read “Knowing God” every year, this will now be read along side it on the same schedule.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Working on my copy now… this book gives the lie to Sweet’s accusers…. Thanks Michael
I think the book sounds wonderful but with one failing, it denotes that we have a need. In my Christian experience that has not been, is not, and never no matter what ever be an option. It sort of lets the steam out of the rest of the idea. True Christians should never need anything including, no especially God. I always found that rather strange, but true, usually with a vengeance.
apparently a book I’ll be best served by reading sooner than later.
Wow!!! What a review.
Another book to buy. This blog is costing me too much money!! 🙂
Brian, you said, “True Christians should never need anything ”
From a purely journalistic perspective…that is a well-done book review.
From a Spiritual perspective…I can’t wait to read this book! I’ve read the appe-teasers and gotten the gist of it…however, looking forward to the Main Course…especially after reading Michael’s review.
Hmmm, in the interest of ‘Full Disclosure”
In the interest of really full disclosure, Frank sent me a galley copy before the TN bloggers ever got theirs.
Some of the negative reviews on Amazon said that the book was irrelevant, “just read your bible,” downplays the importance of doctrine or theology, is “disconnected from the historic, orthodox doctrine of the church,” or just doesn’t make its case.
How would you answer those?
The book in my opinion fills a vacuum that has existed for quite some time.
It’s only purpose is to bring Jesus to the front and center of our thinking…it isn’t a theology book or a doctrinal excursus.
It is like a jolt of cold water in the shower…it radically brings you back to the person of Christ.
I have a library of books on theology and doctrine and while they are invaluable to me they also can desensitize me to Who I’m actually studying.
This book is a necessary corrective for me and people like me…who get so caught up in ideas and doctrine that we lose Jesus in the process.
Yes, we should read the Bible, yes, we should study theology…but we should keep Jesus in the forefront of everything.
I think this little book does a marvelous job of helping us do that.
…and “excursus”…love it! You wield a mighty pen…(err…keyboard?) 🙂
Thanks, Michael. I’ve already added it to my list for ordering.
Let us know if any Online Dummy Mobsters weigh in on it…
Ken Silva just attacked both me and the book.
Just read Silva… that man is in serious need of a mind
Just for the record…I invited Silva to do an article with me that we could post on both sites discussing our conflict in a manner befitting brethren.
I assume this is his response.
Michael…that is a good example…keep trying with him…don’t get weary in doing good (easier said than done…)
It’s “kind of” a dialogue…maybe barely?
You wrote, and continue writing, “True Christians should never need anything including, no especially God.”
After being around this blog for almost 2 years and praying for you about this ongoing theme in your life, one that robs you of joy and drives you into continued disconnection from your feelings, I want to tell you, without reservation, that “True Christians” are full of needs, we feel them deeply and were made that way and if anyone is telling you otherwise they are full of beans.
My single prayer for you is that you will allow yourself the freedom given by Jesus to feel needs, have wants, face the illusion of worry, conquer concern, and become balanced about all the things that are the normal course of the human experience here on Earth, and in feeling them you will relax into a new chapter of your experience with Jesus, one of joyous peace in His unconditional love for you.
I also pray you will immediately seek out and find a new community of “Christians” who are balanced, healthy and don’t continually reinforce the unhealthy notion that “True Christians should never need anything including, no especially God.”
May this day, this very moment be the beginning of light breaking through your despair and darkenss over this matter.
You’re greatly loved by each here in this little online community.
I don’t think a dialogue is possible.
If I say things that offend people, then I get corrected by the community or the community moves on and stops reading my work.
If he changes course then he loses both his community and his income…these folks will allow no nuance in theology or thought.
You can only honestly dialogue with someone if you can bear the risk of being wrong…and these folks can’t.
That was beautiful.
I haven’t seen a brush that broad since Constance Cumby painted the church. Does this guy (Silva) think he’s relevant? Trying to connect Viola to Hegel and Marx — what a joke. It’s a stream-of-consciousness guilt-by-association.
GET SOME TREATMENT!!!
The good part about the article is that he’s quoting me saying exactly what I want to say to that group as a whole…and he’s driving a lot of traffic here to read reasonable folks reasoning together.
Oh, it’s “Cumbey.”
And I forgot to mention Silva’s”Pastor-Teacher” title. HA!
As long as Silva keeps linking back to your original articles dialogue is happening. He is reading what you are saying, but more importantly linking others to your words. Now we pray that grace and truth will speak clearly to those who Silva points to this blog.
Brian…I think I understand you a little…and always appreciate your perspective.
I think Brian is making a commentary regarding those who propound the notion that Christians “need nothing”…and that God is not a God of Love and Grace…but only a God of Wrath and Justice…
I don’t believe Brian really believes the position he states…he is stating it to point out the error in that line of thinking…and draw attention to that mantra in certain circles within “Christianity”…
It’s a tool Brian uses to get us all to think…(that’s my interpretation anyway, FWIW)
We’re on the same page. 😉
That is an excellent reminder to me and to all of us to season our responses with both grace and truth…
It’s late in the game, but I’m trying to get some promo copies from Frank that we can pass around.
Michael said, “The good part about the article is that he’s quoting me saying exactly what I want to say to that group as a whole…and he’s driving a lot of traffic here to read reasonable folks reasoning together.”
Yes…see…a form of a dialogue…and I commend Silva for at least going this far…it is a start. He’s still a brother in Christ…and we may disagree…and so on and so forth…and their camp is sure to feel the same way about many of us…and we’re all tempted to get angry at times (I am the chief in the falling to the anger temptation in my battles)…
The important thing is that the issues ARE being discussed…and we all have the opportunity to repent on a daily basis. I am reading what he has to say with an open mind…that is not being disloyal…I love the PP family…it is good to be challenged…and to hear what he has to say…and then filter it through what the Holy Spirit is telling us in community…and challenging any assertion that is contradictory to our belief of God, Jesus our Christ and Scripture.
The book is #8 on Amazon and they’re selling it for $8.24…
“…dialogue is happening.”
Respectively, dialog is talking to each other..
Silva seems to be aiming at another target, somewhere beyond Michael.
The mature thing for Silva to do, is agree to an open, friendly dialog with Michael, as he’s offered. The more Silva avoids these attempts by Michael (and others) to talk, he demonstrates what integrity/credibility he has (if any), and will ultimately stand accountable to his Lord, regardless of how many easily manipulated people follow his dramatized dribble.
“theology must always lead to doxology”.
I think I’ll make that into a sign to put on the wall in front of my desk.
That said, I do agree with you though…we must pray that what happens in this forum, IS being widely read, and could have a good or negative impact.
If he changes course then he loses both his community and his income
Michael, I learned some years ago to weigh with caution and yes, suspicion, the teachings of anyone who is not connected clearly as a pastor of a church, or as a professor at a seminary. So that I am not misunderstood, let me explain.
Yes, there are flaky guys who are pastors or professors. Likewise, there are many, MANY fine teachers in the Body that do not fit one of those two groups (although often they will have in their past).
If a guy’s livelihood is based almost solely on his own TV shows, newsletters, speaking engagements, videos, books and the like – then one should just have the antenna go up a little. America is a large enough place as to the professing Body of Christ that a following of even a few thousands likeminded people can generate a tidy sum and nice income. Tell them what they want to hear.
End-times obsession – we got someone for you.
Emergent obsession – we got someone for you.
Charismatic obsession – we got someone for you.
Prosperity obsession – we got someone for you.
Healing obsession – we got someone for you.
Silva is no more dialoging with Michael than Bryson was. At least Bryson DID show a little repentance in taking down some of his accusations, when showed the light by a few of the longtime CC men here.
Believe it or not…that’s exactly what I’ve done.
I need reminded continually…
“If a guy’s livelihood is based almost solely on his own TV shows, newsletters, speaking engagements, videos, books and the like – then one should just have the antenna go up a little.”
That was one excellent post, my friend.
We need to keep that one somewhere as part of PP dogma.
I should also add that Pastor Chuck taught us a long time ago to be on guard for guys who like to call themselves ‘Reverend’ as I notice Silva is oft to do.
I know I cringe a little when someone addresses me by that title.
Of course, it rarely happens, and never by anyone who knows me personally. 😉
Thanks Michael. The one who was the object lesson for me in that regard is mentioned in another thread recently. A dear brother in Christ, no question. Someone I want to listen to and act upon what he says…not so much.
When I transitioned the PP from being an “anti CC website” to a site where we dealt with the issues but also dialogued with our brethren in Calvary Chapel I lost a lot of readers and a lot of respect.
The alternative was to not dialogue at all, focus on the negative, and keep the community inflamed on a regular basis.
It was a clear choice and the biblical mandate was clearer.
We survived and actually prospered in the things that really matter…
Respect lost from one often leads to respect gained from another.
Would you rather have the respect of those readers you lost, or the respect of those like Oden, Rolph, Hopkins, Duncan and others (myself included if I may)?
Michael…you did what was right…when you started and when you transitioned (or better stated when God transitioned you)…and you are sure to continue to…dare I say…evolve further in your journey as God directs you further…
I really cared about some of the folks we lost…but at the end of the day the only one I answer to is God and that left me no choice.
My hope and prayer is that if we keep on keeping on everyone will come sit at the table and share in mutual respect.
It won’t happen, but thats the goal. 🙂
The Christian walk is constantly in transition and if we’re going to follow Jesus we have to be flexible.
I’m going through a doctrinal re examination right now that may put me at odds with the people I respect the most doctrinally…but we have to go where and as the Spirit leads.
I’m sure you cared about some of your lost readers – and I would guess that some of them are the ones most harmed in the past by a CC pastor – which would add to your care all the more. If they abandon the website though because you are no longer anti-CC per se, then that is a problem between them and the Lord. They have an obligation in Scripture, as we all do, no matter how badly hurt by another. Staying here and listening to the CC pastors like I mentioned by name above, would help in that healing and forgiveness.
However, I was thinking more about those who have to be fed a constant narrative, and stick around and are loyal as long as you keep feeding them what they want. Whether it be the emergent boogeymen, the black helicopters, or the ‘CC is a cult’ crowd – it is a spiritual sickness. Religion (and politics) are lightning rods of attraction for these people.
While they need help, I wouldn’t trade a good reputation among good men just to be praised by such people.
That is the idea behind my prior comment Michael.
I hear you…the problem with those folks is that to keep them content you have to destroy them (and yourself) spiritually.
That’s what I see happening on so many of these discernment sites.
I kind of gave up on the good reputation thing…some will always speak ill of you if you stand for anything.
I’m glad you and the brothers are here…
Michael said, “but we have to go where and as the Spirit leads.”
Amen to that. I am excited to hear the details over time…
Found a fascinating monograph by Viola: “Why I Left the Institutional Church”
Holly, praying for you. You might need to go back to the dr if you are still throwing up blood….that is nothing to mess with. Praying for wisdom and healing.
You should not call the infamous Phoenix Preacher “sweetie” on his infamous blog .
Blows my whole schitck… 😉
Buster, that was an interesting article, not so different that what my husband and I have experienced.
I disagree, Michael. Holly should not stop calling you “sweetie” on the blog. As a matter of fact, I think we should *all* start calling you “sweetie.” 🙂
I think not! 🙂
Viola’s reasons for leaving the institutional church are better than mine. 😉 Actually, they’re simply different. Perhaps I’ll sit down and enumerate them in a similar fashion for my own benefit. Besides, if I post them, I’ll have to defend them. 😉
i’m not going to opinionate here, i’m not going to… to quote old John Wayne: “the h*ll, i’m not!” Holly needs to get medical help more than she needs to finish her to-do list. IMO 🙁
Em…..you get away with saying it more bluntly 😉
Viola has his testimony, but it should be called why I left MY institutionalized church. For it seems much of his beef was with that Pentecostal church. In reverse order:
1) Neglecting the poor for a rich building – This is far-too common and always abominable, but it is not the case at every church. Speaking for myself only, his description would not fit our fellowship. That was a problem with HIS church.
2) Dismissing the reality of the demonic realm – Funny because it ties in to me the whole membership discussion yesterday, where membership has its privileges. Sad that HIS church would ignore such a man – and sad that the other churches in town would only help “members.” Again, such a thing wouldn’t happen everywhere. We help strangers all the time – and I hardly imagine someone like Oden not being willing to help such a one.
3) Not “remembering” anything from the sermons. Frankly, I think this is to confuse the purpose of edification. Yes, we teach the Bible, but we are not a college. We teach in order to edify, seeking also to apply to the daily walk of the believer. The believer is beat up by the world and comes to service each week spiritually hungry and thirsty for Christ and His Word. I have countless examples where someone will share about how the message one or two weeks prior had a direct impact in their lives in some way. Many, MANY times someone will immediately comment that the message had a point that was right where they were that Sunday in some issue of life. I almost never hear someone give the same testimony about a message heard last year – nor do I expect that. Meanwhile, if one wants to “remember” then the recordings are always available and they should seek repeat listenings in order to retain – as is true with any form of study and learning.
4) The church in practice is not like the NT – Yes, there are lots of traditions. I’m not big on a lot of traditions. In this brief article, nothing was said as to what should be changed (I know he has written elsewhere on this). We sing to music and then have a Bible study that is a lecture/sermon by me. Interaction afterwards is always available and encouraged, as are the many small groups where the Bible is studied by the laymembers apart from pastoral sermon/lecture (or attendance) but with a desire for involvement among those attending. It is not practical on Sundays to do anything but sermon-form, because for every Viola that would like to interrupt, there are 500 saints who would want him to be quiet and ask after service.
Now..does this mean we don’t have an ‘institutionalized church”? 😉
Sarah, i sat down here a few minutes ago and skimmed this thread and saw Holly’s prayer request here… remembering that this has been going on for a while… mom’s usually need someone to make them take care of themselves, but i did and will pray some more
right now i’m digesting Viola’s “LeavingInstitutuionalChurch” and shutting down here to do both for a bit … as i’m “amening” every word … too many of us “Christians” don’t have ourselves in the pews because we needed life, not entertainment or rituals without (for us) reality…
I think Holly should start referring to Michael as “Reverend”.
your gravitar reminds me of a birthday card I recently gave…Big picture on the front of a little boy going ‘deep’ and it said on the cover “birthdays are like boogers.” Inside it read, “The more you have, the harder it is to breathe!”
I think you have to go and read the stuff Viola has read and written to get where he is headed. The real reference you half to catch on his web site is the “Organic Church.”
In a nut shell when you start a CC the model is pastor led, taught and directed church with eventually the goal being a full time paid position and a church with all the services. Which is not a bad goal and direction.
The “Organic Church” is non-traditional, bible centered, may be located in a bar or a coffee house, quite often in apartments and community meeting rooms. The emphasis is not on pastoral leadership but on getting people to read, talk about and know Jesus Christ. Additionally there are no or relatively no goals to get a building, expand the staff or possibly even to file as a non-profit 501c3 corp.
The Organic Church is entirely oriented towards getting the message out to “good soil.” And the term “Organic” means it just grows on it’s own as people get the message and want to take it out to others (watering and harvesting).
I think the main point Viola makes in all of it is, too often an institutional church exists and operates to maintain its own existence. I also think this is nothing new and each generation of believers faces the same issues, it’s just good to see it brought to the front again.
I’m 100% in agreement with him.
Michael & Sarah please tell me you two made Holly go at least to urgent care… it is not a good sign that she is bleeding and vomiting blood…even if it appears to have decreased in quantity.. this is not a usual symptom of pneumonia.
Some of the thrust contributing to the dynamics of CC organizational principles are tied to the reactions and phobias of Chuck Smith arising from his background.
Bob, I know it probably came out wrong, but I wasn’t really criticizing Viola. I think his testimony speaks to how we are all different. I don’t think there is a “right” way to do church, but much of what Viola wrote in that one post (which is all I was interacting with) is that there is a wrong way. Maybe I am misreading the post, but as I said earlier, it should be titled why I left MY institutionalized church.
What is wrong with a hybrid. The church gatering corporately and also in the coffehouse or small group setting? That is what I am trying to do. Yes, Sundays are certainly “pastoral-led” but I try to model and encourage what you describe for the Body. Get together in small groups and witness, worship and serve your neighbor – without me, the pastor, even around or frankly knowing what is going on.
Yes, she is at urgent care now.
Also Bob, do you know what Viola teaches as regards to the sending out of missionaries into foreign lands? The “institutional” church should (and often does) make this one of its priorities, but it can be a financial challenge to support a family of four or more who give their lives to the field.
Can the small group coffeeshop fellowship make and more importantly KEEP this commitment to such a brother and sister?
I am asking with all sincerity and out of ignorance. What does Viola teach on that subject?
AV. Your # 67. Yes, I think hybrids are a great way to go for both leaders and the body as a whole.
I understand your engagement with that one statement of Viola. I am not interested in the books of Viola that seem to arise from such reaction.
That is why I am ordering the Jesus Manifesto and From Eternity to Here which have to do more with a theology of Jesus and the Church of Jesus respectively from what I can read from the summaries and views of others.
“Yes, she is at urgent care now.”
Good job, Reverend Sweetie! 🙂
No need for a rebuke, Michael. That is most likely the last time I will refer to you by either of those titles. 😉
something is wrong 🙄 we need the institutional church (for want of a better word), we can’t just draw a line and say “if you’re a Christian or want to be, just step over onto this side,” can we?…
while there seem to be, in every group, self-appointed custodians of the clan, their criteria never has much to do with love of the Lord; we need accountability (the churches today haven’t a clue about that one, it seems); we need a venue out of which we can evangelize, ie “go into all the world and preach…,” do acts of mercy in the community that are God directed and God accountable…
perhaps no one should be invited to services until they’ve made a profession of faith (Church of the Closed Door) and then the pastor’s job becomes edification of the flock… sounds cultish 😕
the only thing i’m sure of is the need to find a way to dump the head-count bogey-man and the questionable reasons for church attendance without pastors starving to death…
i’m not sure what we need beyond more Christ – which would probably make all my ponders above fall into place or by the wayside
so i guess i’m not sure of anything 😀 just sayin…
thank You, Lord that Holly is being medicated 🙂 mean, scary new bugs around
would to God that we all were inspired and energized by the little Chinaman, Nee
Holly, I just read an article on adult whooping cough, so I am seeing the boogey man around every corner, but your symptoms sound a little bit like it.
Praying for your speedy recovery.
AV, what does not work for some, works for most.
I just happen to be one of the some and not the most. 🙂
P.s. like your idea of a hybrid.
Yes the organic church can send global missionaries. In fact I first heard about the organic church through a missionary.
As far as Viola personally I recommend you ask him on his blog.
Now do I think the organic church is the way to go? No large churches fill the needs of God as well as the small ones. I’m for all who proclaim the Gospel of Jesus!
I also like CCs style of line by line over topical for the most part.
I like what I read here about your church, corporate worship with teaching and small group teaching. I am a huge fan of small groups and personally feel the real world Gospel teaching happens there.
Good on you and may He continue to bless you in your efforts.
Are you guys currently doing a home/organic church thing? Tell me more…
….Holly that was so descriptive…I’m washing my hands now…and I live in Idaho 🙂
Holly….really glad you got some relief and some direction. Praying the magic pill works and you are quickly hydrated.
Believe….it is also known to creep through the keyboards, but only when you are participating in emergent-loving blogs like this one 😉
[pulls out the surgical gloves…and continues typing….laughing uncomfortably]… 🙂
Fil…your #63….that is a pic of my oldest boy, and probably his favorite pic!!! 😉
“(Witness Lee was a heretic, btw.)”
Please back up your statement with references to any of Nee’s teachings or his walk with his risen Savior were heretical and why.
since Watchman Nee spent most of his life incarcerated, his ministry was limited – he did have a strong and valid reaction to the infighting among the denominations that sent their missionaries into China (yes, there were heroes, too)
i am by choice, not a theologian, nor a follower of Nee, but his rich writings have challenged and blessed me – his heretical teachings escaped me… no matter whose doctrinal interpretations are being put forth, to reject another’s honest walk with the Lord is something i won’t do…
Witness Lee and the Local Church movement is another phenomena (he died in ’96 or ’97 i believe)- separate from Nee, but attempting to identify with him, they have some very wonderful, spiritually honest folk in their groups in some areas – their assertion is that the Church should come out of the denominations and gather together without denominational boundaries (they do not teach that only they are the saved) – a bit blind to the obvious – Lee was IMV incredibly strong-willed and devoted to the Oriental outlook – his methods carried just a hint of Lee’s life’s frame of reference being shaped under Communism IMO – like all who are intense and exclusive the dangers just get magnified…
i think discernment is wise, but so is respect for some deeply spiritual, Christ-loving people
worked in the yard today and feeling it’s way past my bedtime
glad i stopped by and got an update on Holly and praying for the meds to kick in now and clear the bugs out – brave people usually get ignored in hospitals unless there’s blood coming out somewhere 😆
God keep all close
Here is a whole article on the errors of Lee.
I have no dog in this hunt….
But I found this from a Reformed guy, Calvin Beisner
To say I am not a big fan of Hank Hanegraaff is the understatement of the year.
That article Michael lists is from CRI – but not Hank – from several years ago..
Why am I not surprised that Hank a couple years ago filed a friend of the court brief for The Local Church when they sued Ankenberg & Weldon & Harvest House Publishers.
should add a post script before i turn in…
i do know that the Local Church has some goofy teaching on things that Lee ‘thinks’ he discovered (IMO his sincere love of the Lord was hindered by arrogance that kept him from respecting the Western Church)… ie, “outer darkness” is the place where most Christians will spend time after death getting rehab’d is one example that comes to mind…, so even tho i love many of his followers/adherents… they are a good example of being over-awed by a personality, i guess
i sincerely anticipate them, in time, evolving into ‘normal’ Christians 😉
Watchman Nee was not a heretic, but Witness Lee was. His Christology is distorted for one.
Have read good and bad things about Lee, glad to see both sides being presented.
Buster, we have had great success and great failure as the organic church, sigh. Our greatest success, so to speak, was with the fringe element, they have no preconceived notions of what to expect. Our greatest failure was with those coming out of the organized church; they expect something new and different. When we just want to teach the Bible, simply the word of God, they expect the Word plus the bells and whistles. We have no bells, only what the Lord gives us.
AV – per your 5:34. Yes, an “organic church” can send/and or support missionaries. We do it and we’re a little house church.
The thing is, missionaries don’t have to be a “family of 4” and they don’t have to be solely supported by one church.
We provide 1/2 the wages of a guy we think of as “our” national missionary in an Eastern European country. He, like everyone else in the group (except me at the moment I think) is bi-vocational, so it works out.
We’ve also sent pretty big hunk of money to one of the missionaries that was doing that round the world mission trip (can’t remember what it’s called) last summer. We’re sending someone over this summer to help out our eastern european guy and next year we’ll send a team of folks from the US and England over (I think).
The trick is to network up and to build relationships with other churches.
Also, every single person in the group is encouraged, trained and expected to be “missional” in their own communities and to tithe into the stuff going on. No one is salaried and there’s no building to have to pay for, so money goes towards meeting needs in the group and outside the group.
MANY times the message given is a reminder of the Great Commision of “as you go….”
The size of the church does not dictate how involved in missions they are, nor how effective they can be with what they have.
London, you and your group are my hero’s.
Thank You so much Mr. Silva because of your wonderful article I will be purchasing Mr. Sweets new book and staying here at PP. I do appreciate your research and deep thought.
The first part is tongue in cheek the second I mean with all my heart.
May God continue to bless you and your family.
Yes I do use that hyperbole, if that is what it is called to try to make a point, but it is also how I feel so very often, but my feelings are my response and responsibility. God be with you.
It appears Mr. Haggard will have an announcement tomorrow or the next day, just blog google ted haggard. I dont know what it is, hopefully it will be helpful to people and to him and his family.
You know, Silva’s article gives me hope. He bought The Jesus Manifesto, and so this means that he is perhaps actually going to read a book…
“The announcement from the evangelical pastor who fell from grace amid a sex scandal is planned Wednesday at Haggard’s Colorado Springs home. It comes three weeks after Haggard said he had filed incorporation papers for a new church.”
“A news release, sent out by a major Hollywood public relations firm, says Haggard plans to ‘make key declaration regarding next step in his career.'”
“Haggard told 9NEWS Tuesday afternoon he cannot talk about what the announcement will be. ‘The people who make the big bucks make it for a reason,’ Haggard said.”
So this is how you start churches nowadays?
One of the many things I appreciate about you is your down to earth practicality in making things happen.
London said, “No one is salaried and there’s no building to have to pay for, so money goes towards meeting needs in the group and outside the group.
MANY times the message given is a reminder of the Great Commision of “as you go….”
The size of the church does not dictate how involved in missions they are, nor how effective they can be with what they have.”
This is a very good example, IMO. Big buildings, $150,000 light/sound systems, 13 acre campuses, “ministry” Cruises to the Mediterranean…sure are nice…but when you’ve got people barely making it at your own church…people barely making it in your own family…and people in your community hanging on by a thread…and people around the world in dire need…is this really the “best” use of the Lord’s money?
I always had a hard time giving money to my step-dad’s “ministry machine”…because I knew something was wrong with the situation. I chose, instead, to help family, friends and others who had need…when they needed it…with my money. I wish I had done more…I need to do more.
My step-dad uses my honesty about not giving much to his “ministry” as a tool to attack me with…that’s OK…God is the one who keeps the score…and knows my heart and my true giving…and will help me to have a more giving heart and the discernment to know where best to give.
Seems to me that the Haggard announcement will be something bigger than a new church….
London, thanks for answering. I have some questions and please understand these are real questions and I am not looking for a fight. I am very curious how this works in reality and I am a man of ignorance.
In a church like ours, with a general weekly offering, over time you get a feel for the general level of income and know that you can afford to support a missionary (and his family if he/she has one) for the longterm. Before that person roots up life in the states and makes that commotment on his/her end.
I didn’t know how that would work for the organic church, because frankly I did not imagine the taking of a weekly offering – given no real expenses. I imagined “special” offerings to meet needs as they arose.
But you wrote “Also, every single person in the group is encouraged, trained and expected to be “missional” in their own communities and to tithe into the stuff going on.”
Am I reading you correctly here. Tithing is expected as a requirement of membership? How does that work in practice? Does the group know who gives and who doesn’t (and how much). What if someone simply doesn’t want to give?
This is why I am confused. Please do not misunderstand. I know that those attracted to the organic church model are just as generous Christians as any other. In other words, I am not surprised by the giving.
What surprises me is that one of the biggest knocks on the institutional church is that they are always asking you for money. This is why so many Calvarys like ours have a simple offering, or even no offering at all (with a box in the back).
My second main question is connected to your comment about the importance of teaming up with other likeminded churches when it comes to such financial commitments like missionaries. How does that work if there is a problem? It would seem SOMEONE would have to be the ‘greater among equals’ when it comes to money distribution. What if your group is faithful to your missionary and the other church flakes out and stops giving – or decides the money is better spent elsewhere?
These questions come from my experiences over the years and are NOT meant to denigrate the organic church model. Please educate me. Thanks.
I should also add that most missionaries that are sent out have a “sending church” and thus it would seem would have a closer connection to one organic church than to the partnering churches. Thus, the partnering churches might be more inclined to decrease giving, especially if one of their own was called to the mission field and they wanted to support him/her.
By bad! Lee, Nee. Witness, Watchman. All looked the same to my tired eyes and brain last night.
I just picked up “Jesus Manifesto” today. I’ll be reading it over the next couple of days.
I’ve read a bunch of the reviews, and most seem rather positive about the book. There was one that must have been written by a schizophrenic (no offense meant). He kept writing about how he agreed with it and it sounded like his preaching, and then he went off about it’s defects regarding the cross.
I picked up my copy today.
I didn’t think you were looking for a fight so no worries there. I’ll work through your questions as best I can. We do have a bit of an “odd” model and I’m in no way speaking for all of the “organic movement”. I don’t think that can be done really because every church has it’s own way of doing things.
AV says –“In a church like ours, with a general weekly offering, over time you get a feel for the general level of income and know that you can afford to support a missionary (and his family if he/she has one) for the longterm. Before that person roots up life in the states and makes that commotment on his/her end.
I didn’t know how that would work for the organic church, because frankly I did not imagine the taking of a weekly offering – given no real expenses. I imagined “special” offerings to meet needs as they arose.”
ME – I think part of what is making it hard for you is getting caught up in the term “organic”. They aren’t all the same way. Some have rents to pay for hospitality rooms, some run coffeehouses, some meet in homes, some in parks etc. There’s not a broadbrush to be able to apply and say they don’t have “real expenses” because it really depends on the church and what they think is important.
Our main group is a house church in CA. That group has a basket out every week for offerings if people want to contribute. Let’s say I were to start a church (the horror) in NM. I could collect my own tithes that could go to the people in my community. I’m sure it would be supplemented by the “mother ship” if I had some sort of need come up. But, I wouldn’t have to send any money to CA if I didn’t want to.
The denomination that the group is part of has a standard of 10% of the tithe (or something like that) to help fund missionaries. That is taken care of out of the larger group’s funds.
AV- But you wrote “Also, every single person in the group is encouraged, trained and expected to be “missional” in their own communities and to tithe into the stuff going on.”
Am I reading you correctly here. Tithing is expected as a requirement of membership?
ME – we don’t have “membership” but tithing is something that’s taught as being expected of everyone who is a christian. Now, having said that, if I choose to tithe fully into some other ministry and not that group, no big deal.
For me, and this is totally my own thinking, I will choose to tithe at least some of my $ to the common pot of this group because of the relationships I have there and I totally trust the guy that makes the decisions about where money goes and I believe in the stuff they do with it.
The only folks that are “required” to tithe are folks in a leadership role. So, anyone that starts their own church/bible study or if you’re a “leader” of some sort. (honestly, I’m not sure exactly what that means. It’s a bit of a moot point to me right now because a) I’m unemployed and b) I have no intention of getting labeled as a “leader” at any church)
AV- How does that work in practice?
ME- by “that” I assume you mean how does one be required to give as part of membership. We don’t have memberships.
AV- Does the group know who gives and who doesn’t (and how much).
ME – No.
AV- What if someone simply doesn’t want to give?
ME – Then they don’t. Again, no membership and no tithing REQUIREMENT. It’s taught (not very often) that it’s part of what it means to be a NT christian and it’s part of what it means to be in relationship with people in a church. More of a hey, you’re part of the group so pitch in would ya?…kind of thing that a “you must tithe or else!” thing.
It’s honestly not stressed that much…just kinda happens I think. I mean, I know that it’s what’s expected of the group, but, if I choose not to give any money to them…nothing happens.
AV- This is why I am confused. Please do not misunderstand. I know that those attracted to the organic church model are just as generous Christians as any other. In other words, I am not surprised by the giving.
What surprises me is that one of the biggest knocks on the institutional church is that they are always asking you for money. This is why so many Calvarys like ours have a simple offering, or even no offering at all (with a box in the back).
ME- I’m not sure, cause honestly, the money thing is really NOT one of the issues I’ve had with “institutional church” so I’m not sure how to answer that. I’ve always been taught, and have accepted, that tithing was an act of worship and thanksgiving.
Also, when I was young and my pastor was teaching me about budgeting (he was like a dad to me when my dad was very sick), he taught me that if I would be disciplined with tithing, it would help me with the discipline of handling my other bills and money too.
When I was even younger, my parents always sent us to church with some sort of offering, even if it was just a little bit. I’ve always just grown up thinking it’s what you do as a way of belonging or participating.
AV- My second main question is connected to your comment about the importance of teaming up with other likeminded churches when it comes to such financial commitments like missionaries. How does that work if there is a problem? It would seem SOMEONE would have to be the ‘greater among equals’ when it comes to money distribution. What if your group is faithful to your missionary and the other church flakes out and stops giving – or decides the money is better spent elsewhere?
ME- then the missionary is up the creek huh??!
I can tell you that is happening right now. We have committed to X amount of money a month with the hopes that another church was going to pick up 1/3 X amount of money. That fund is being run by a gal that is a bit of a flake and the $ hasn’t come through for them. So…basically for right now, the guy is living off his wages and our donation. When I get a job, I’ll pitch in to that fund and I’ll keep talking to folks or doing fund raisers to help the guy get some additional money.
I think it’s like any thing else in the world. You have to trust the people that say they are going to align with you, and then not be too terribly shocked when they flake out on you. It happens ALL THE TIME, why should church be any different. Frankly, I’m alot more surprised when churches actually do what they say they are going to do than when they don’t, so in answer to your question about what do you do when something happens? You just stay faithful to what you said you were going to do, and you move forward. Nothing else you can do.
Also though, I think the most important thing is you just don’t commit to more than you know you can succeed in doing – under promise and over deliver.
AV- These questions come from my experiences over the years and are NOT meant to denigrate the organic church model. Please educate me. Thanks.
ME- not sure if that was helpful or not. Partially cause I don’t believe there is one “organic model”. I think there’s alot more flexiblilty for groups/communities/churches whatever you call them to be able to make up the “rules” as they go along. I think that’s what draws me to this particular group. There’s alot of willingness to try new, sometimes absolutely ridiculous, things. It’s fun and it’s invigorating to me.
Holy COW! 😯
sorry that was so long…
London, blessings on you for taking the time to answer in such detail. Yeah, it was long, and I read every word. I probably have other questions now, but I will give you a break 😉
LONDON bloviating… Nice
following the above discussion about church structure/membership and financial commitments
when i was a new Christian i recall i was surprised when the pastor ‘forewarned’ the congregation that his sermon next week was going to be about money. He prequalified his upcoming words the next Sunday w some might be uncomfortable that morning due to the content, so he called for the offering prior to the sermon…still heard grumbles from people afterwards. I remembering asking my more seasoned church attendees what the problem was? Do they think the electricity, maintanence, property costs etc. just fall from the sky? And when i discovered the pastor, at least, let alone the assoc. pastors, music leaders etc. did not have set salaries or monthly stipend, i was appalled! Must of been my business background i later became involved in church administration of any congregation i affiliated with
it is known in all systems, business/church/volunteer groups the bulk of all work/responsibility is carried by 20% of the group or membership including financial. i frequently remind others of this when we’re considering adding a new program to our provided services to/for the congregation because i see us asking more of the same 20%
do you experience this in your ‘organic’ communities?
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.