Archive for August, 2008

Are you growing grass or stealing sheep? CONTINUED

August 24, 2008

“Wow! the worship was so great today”.

 

In recent years I have been privileged to preach and teach worldwide in traditional, conservative denominational, non-denominational, pentecostal, non-pentecostal, evangelical, and various other gatherings that are a mix of all of the above.

 

What has surprises me most of all about the mix is that there is a similar determination by each of them. Each is endeavouring to either hold to the 1700 year old clergy/laity” pattern or are searching for: the “new it”, the “latest anointing”, the “wow” worship factor , the funds to buy the latest technology to create the “in” atmosphere similar to the one last seen on a television programme starring so and so and much, much more.

 

Is anybody asking if today’s “worship” results from what initiated worship among the disciples in the early days of God’s kingdom on earth? Yes, some have been asking that question for the last 200 years but have only come up with yet another pattern, which is also celebrated as the “right one”. And yet, when I am in any of the above places or among those just mentioned, the following is true: people always comment on results of the “worship performance” as if it matters to God how good or bad it was!

 

During a recent reading of the book of Acts I never read any comments about the “state” or the “appeal” of the worship performance. As a matter of fact I read nothing, even in the epistles of Paul and others, about how to have an anointed, good, great or acceptable worship performance or service that pleased God. Yes, there are some activities that are encouraged and may happen during gatherings, which are mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians but, as many of the above modern day gatherings no longer believe that the Holy Spirit has an active role in the lives of disciples, then some of the first century activities during gatherings are irrelevant anyhow.

 

In addition to this, I found in Acts that “worship” was not something that was programmed, planned, or scheduled as today’s worship events are. What I did discover though was so radical it surely couldn’t be possible? Yet, sure enough it was and there it is recorded throughout the book of Acts for all to read.

 

First century worship was not a programmed and orchestrated event – it was a consequence! That’s right a consequence! It also happened mostly at night because the days were occupied with saving souls, healing the sick, preaching the word, teaching the word and going to prison for engaging in all that. But most exciting of all was – they didn’t want to know anything else anymore for they considered everything, except the quest to know Christ and His resurrection, as dung, Matthew 13, Philippians 3:8-11. The world had lost its appeal and they gathered as often as possible and ministered to the Father as the Holy Spirit led them to.

 

Why? Well, sitting in their presence, at day’s end, were newly saved souls, former blind folks who couldn’t see in the morning, former dead folks who were due to be buried that day, former cripples now dancing and leaping about, former demon possessed people now in their right minds, former sinners who were convicted by the Holy Spirit, people whose secret lives had been revealed by words of knowledge, etc. Their adoration for God and the praise offered to Him in worship erupted from amidst such a gathering. Really, what else could they do in such an environment but give all their heartfelt adoration and praise with reverence to God?

 

There was no conjuring up “atmosphere” in those days! The first disciples simply believed, trusted God, sought to be filled, led, empowered and anointed with the Holy Spirit and did whatever was required to be done as the Father called upon them. Such things as saving souls, healing the sick, preaching, teaching, delivering the possessed, caring for the widows and fatherless and keeping themselves unspotted from the world, James 1:27. Worship was the result of a life lived on a daily basis in the fullness of the Godhead which they experienced continually after they entered into Christ at immersion, Colossians2:8-12, Galatians 3:27 and Romans 6:1-4.

 

The first century disciples were disciples only and never church members seeking “it” from the worship service. Nor did they ever try to conjure up the “it” with all forms of modern attractants, gimmicks, music, technology, dress style or virtually anything else that I have seen around the world. Discipleship is the sole criteria that initiates true worship; discipleship that believes in the living, active presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the streets and in the gatherings. Worship is certainly not about, “Wow”, the worship was great today!”

 

Worship is the consequence of persistent, faithful disciple making and of disciples going on to live in the fullness of the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit 24/7. First century Kingdom discipleship gave rise to spontaneous worship, but what has been called “worship” since the 4th century AD is not in any way similar to the worship of the first disciples as recorded in the New Testament! I personally believe that God has little or no interest in what man has substituted for first century discipleship and the spontaneous, Holy Spirit led worship that originated from it.

 

How can it be worship when the Holy Spirit is either “invited in” to participate by scripturally, ill-informed, charismatic worship leaders who have not understood that the Holy Spirit dwells in all immersed believers and needs no invitation to come in or, He is quenched and unable to participate in disciple’s lives, including during their ministering to God in worship, because non-charismatics believe the Holy Spirit is merely a retired author today?

 

Worship is not about Friday, Saturday or Sunday! It is about ministering “to” God (Acts 13:1-4) 168 hours a week! Let’s stop believing God is pleased with this “form of worship” or only “anoints” that form of worship! Right now I believe God is only interested in disciples fulfilling the mandate He gave Jesus (the first disciple) and the ministry of reconciliation He desires to participate in through faithful disciples who let Him live His life in them to accomplish it. The mandate He gave Jesus was – “seek and save the lost” and as for all disciples of Jesus; “we must do the works of Him who sent Jesus while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work”, 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2, Luke 19:10, John 9:4. True, spontaneous, worship will erupt when we understand from the Book of Acts how to live as God ordained, God empowered disciples of Jesus; not merely as church-goers seeking the “wow factor” from man empowered worship.

 

Blessings

Bob Chapman MA

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Are you growing grass – or stealing sheep?

August 20, 2008

 

I was having lunch with a Christian friend of mine yesterday and we were expressing our deep concerns about the state of the kingdom of God in the world, and particularly Australia.

 

In Australia, “church mentality” is healthy and progressing nicely in many places but, sadly, God’s Kingdom is not. It is unbelievably difficult to get congregations of different denominations together to reach out in a unified effort for the lost in their communities. Some do it individually, some don’t do it at all, and some lure sheep from other congregations with rocking worship teams, attractive programmes or better facilities, but few get out there and save lost sheep for the glory of God and the growth of His kingdom.

 

During our conversation I mentioned to my friend that I have been trying to get congregations to participate together in revival meetings in neutral locations throughout Australia and Asia for the last 14 years only to consistently discover that the greatest opposition to such meetings comes from the Pastors. When my friend heard this he told me of an evangelist in the sixties and seventies who was accused of stealing sheep as attendance at his outreach meetings increased. His response to such foolish accusations was, “I do not steal sheep; I grow grass!”

 

Despite the opposition from Pastors and their downright refusal to even announce inter-denominational revival meetings in their towns, I find that “their sheep” come anyhow and in many cases are simply hungry for exegesis teaching from the Word of God. They are just not getting fed in their paddocks! Their Pastors are either no longer preaching Bible based lessons, don’t know how to, and in many gatherings don’t even publicly read from the Word of God.

 

Pastors – are your sheep starving for the Word of God? Are they discovering they cannot survive any longer on loud, rocky music, flashy worship teams that do all the “worshipping”, shallow, repetitious, scriptureless preaching and all kinds of questionable “spiritual impartations”?

 

Preachers and Evangelists – it is time to return to preaching from the Word of God. It is time to follow the true leading of the Holy Spirit. It is time to take control over “worship teams” striving to conjure up “anointed atmospheres” and to begin thinking about growing God’s kingdom together with other servants in your town and those servants He sends among you.

 

There is not one single denomination out there that has found the exclusive “it”, whatever “it” is! The lost remain lost because Pastors spend all their time protecting their flocks rather than feeding them and increasing their number from among the unsaved! The lost remain lost because Preachers and Evangelists don’t preach the Word of God and feed those who come to them seeking to know “of” Jesus, rather than “about” Jesus, Matthew 11:29. The lost remain lost because Pastors compete to lure each other’s sheep rather than lay down their lives to save the lost sheep all around them and in their pews.

 

Pastors – revival meetings aren’t about stealing sheep; they’re about growing grass!

 

To be continued…