Pastor’s Blog

 

 
Another day… Another opportunity…
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How to Reach Young Families? A Heart for the Home

With the discovery that 70% of the community surrounding the church is under the age of 45, it is clear these homes include young singles, couples, and children. The congregation must consider God’s design for the home and the needed discipleship within. While each household category will be considered, the first point of focus will be young families with children.
 
As communicators of the gospel, the church is called to disciple parents to lead their children in the ways of God. The passionate plea of Psalm 78:5-7 states, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…”
 
A robust, relational approach will be considered and developed to connect with young families, provide relational environments, and assist parents to understand and fulfill their privilege of raising and discipling the children God has gifted them with, just as Deuteronomy 6:4-7 commands.
 
Beyond the Scriptural command of the parent’s role, Sociologist Christian Smith has clearly documented the incredible influence parents have over their children’s faith commitment and practices. Smith writes, “Teenagers tend to share beliefs similar to their parents, subscribe to the same religious tradition, and attend religious services with a similar frequency.”[1] If parent’s faith is committed and growing, there is a greater likelihood their children will follow in that path. Yet, the opposite of this is also true. If parents live a life of limited or decreasing faith practice, the children will follow in this pattern into their adulthood.
 
An encouraging discovery from an article from Curtis Miller highlights four key findings most relevant to families and congregations in reaching and keeping children in the faith journey.[2] 
 
The four key findings are: 1) Parents’ Influence is Crucial, 2) Bland Faith Doesn’t Transfer, 3) The Power of a Close Relationship, and lastly 4) Love the Prodigal.
 
Curtis also challenges, “Churches who want to see faith shared between generations need to encourage and equip parents to build warm, affirming, close relationships with their kids.”[3]

In addition to discipling parents in their role, the church will partner with parents to provide solid biblical teaching, mature multi-generational relationships, and opportunities to participate within the larger congregational context.

[1] Christian Smith and Denton, Melinda Lundquist, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 68.

[2] Curtis Miller, “Helping Kids Keep the Faith: Four Research Insights Every Parent Needs to Know”, Updated: December 15, 2013 1st, 2021, accessed July 17, 2021, https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/helping-kids-keep-the-faith.

[3] Ibid.


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What is Our Method? A Discipleship Pathway

Several years ago, my family took a trip from Atlanta, GA to Charleston, SC to vacation at the beach. As we got in the vehicle, I set my GPS to the address of where we would be lodging. Fortunately, while in route, the GPS redirected us to avoid a major delay due to a vehicle accident. Rather than sitting for hours, it warned us and suggested a better route.

I easily remember the days before GPS when we would use the old Rand McNalley maps. Though the maps were great tools with accurate information, it simply couldn’t help avoiding traffic delays or road closures.

Without a clear direction and a right perspective, we would have wandered for hours, perhaps even days, without getting anywhere desired and being left frustrated. This leads me to consider the church. If magnifying God and multiplying disciples is what the church is about, there must be a clear discipleship pathway that clarifies how the church will accomplish the mission. Without clarity, time will be wasted, and the church will be unable to know if or when disciples have been made.

In the New Testament, there are four stages that have been identified as the pathway to spiritual growth.

The first stage is to engage the spiritually lost. This method of Jesus is called, “Come & See” as found in John 1:39. When Jesus approach various people, He called them to come and see who He is and what He is about. Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus also commanded the followers of Christ in Matthew 28:19, “Go… make disciples.”

People are spiritually dead from birth. As followers of Christ engage the spiritually lost, they show and share the gospel. Their greatest need is the gospel, so it is wise to be prepared to give answers to questions and serve them as a friend. Here is where a prayer, care, and share approach works well. Just as Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. has famously said, “Nothing of eternal significance ever happens apart from prayer.” The goal in prayer, care, and share is to see the Hoy Spirit open their minds and hearts to salvation. 

As a church, we can commit to hosting “Come and See” events. These can include a VBS, Fall Festival, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter service, Christmas Eve Service, Community Day to honor all local teachers, police, firefighters, medical professionals, and public servants. As individual households, consider hosting block parties, game nights, and other special events to invite lost neighbors to your home giving opportunities to share and share the gospel of Jesus.

In addition to “Come and See,” Jesus had a “Go and Tell” strategy to engage the spiritually lost. This is where we can to door-to-door visit, partner with the local public schools, and have Servant Evangelism Days in the community giving away water bottles, Mother’s Day Carnations, Free car wash, etc.

The second stage is to establish the new believer. Jesus’ method was to command people to “Follow Me” as found in John 1:43. After seeing and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, the new believers follow in His footsteps to learn from Him as their model. According to Colossians 2:7, Christians are to “walk in Him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” New believers are like infants and children in the faith. The goal is to help them grow up healthy in the faith. In simple terms, a new believer needs grow just like a physical infant and child. He will need to learn to identify, breathe, feed, talk, and walk.  First, a new believer learns to identify as a child of the King being adopted into the family of God. Just like a newborn infant, a new believer must learn to breathe, exhaling by confessing sin and inhaling by receiving God’s forgiveness. They must also learn to feed on the milk of God’s Word and hearing biblical teaching. As a spiritual child grows up, they learn to talk by sharing God’s Words and their testimony of what God has done for and in them. Also, a new child of God will learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit by prayer, worship, obedience, and in godly relationships.

The third stage is to equip the growing worker. Jesus challenges His followers to “Fish for People” as recorded in Matthew 4:19. This reveals the necessity of sharing the gospel and representing Jesus in this world. In Ephesians 4:12, Paul instructs the church leaders “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” This third stage is like a young adult having learned the elementary teachings and now ready to step out and be a servant leader. The goal is to equip this growing believer to serve based on God’s giftedness in them. This teaching will be more of the meat of the Word of God both in content and opportunity to serve. A growing believer will excel as they learn their spiritual gifts, begin serving in areas of gifting, and being challenged to share the Gospel with those in need.

Lastly, the fourth stage is to empower the multiplying disciple-makers. Jesus clearly indicated in John 15:16 that His followers are to “Bear Much Fruit.” The heartbeat of disciple making is found in 2 Timothy 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” This stage of growth is like a parent, one who has reproduced. As a follower of Christ leads a spiritually lost person to faith, he has the privilege of helping them grow into Christ-likeness and leading them to go reach others. The goal is to release growing disciples to multiply in others what they have learned.
 

While many churches are declining in number, a few are seeing the Lord’s blessing by adding a few people every year. While this is good, I believe the power of the Lord allows for multiplication that is “bearing much fruit.”  Adding 10 people a year to a church is good, producing 100 people in a decade. But what if even a quarter of the church members began to make disciples, then the results would be far greater in a decade. For example, suppose a church of 100 people was able to get 25 of the members reaching and discipling 1 person a piece. Then, after 2 years of discipleship, the original 25 people along with the newly discipled 25 reached and discipled 1 person a piece, continuing the same cycle. Within the same decade as the church that merely added 100 people, there would be over 800 people multiplying disciples.

The method a church uses to make disciples matter. Having a clear disciple-making pathway leads people to live out their full redemptive potential.
 
Another day… Another opportunity…
 
Pastor Chris Jordan

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What is Our Model? How we live, love, & lead

Bookstores, conferences, and websites boast of the next church model to follow to be effective for the next generation. It can be confusing at times which model to trust and which method to follow.

For two thousand years, the Lord has guided His church and it is imperative that the church look to the Lord Jesus Christ and His all-sufficient word for the model He desires for His church. Whereas present day testimonies and expressions of successful churches may be helpful, without the foundation of God’s truth and the power of His Holy Spirit, the efforts will be short-lived.

The model for the church is the One and only Jesus Christ. He clearly shares and shows the mission and the methods the church must seek to emulate. Carefully observing Jesus throughout the Scriptures, the church must learn to live, love, and lead like Jesus as the perfect model. The Apostle Paul expands these insights in Romans 12 revealing to the church how to live as a worshipper, love as a community, and lead as a servant. Our model clarifies Who we follow to accomplish the mission. Our model is Jesus and we are to Live, Love, and Lead like Jesus.

Let’s first consider living like Jesus. Have you ever been at a concert or ball game when there is a standing ovation? Sometimes these last for a minute or two and sometimes much longer. Ovations can sometimes seem a little awkward, but ovations are a way that we acknowledge greatness and give honor.

Some of the greatest ovations over the years have included Michael Jordan in 2002 at his last game in the United Center. People stood on their feet cheering for several minutes until Jordan took a microphone to thank everyone.

On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken, Jr. passed Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played at 2,131 which had stood for 56 years. The response from the crowd was a twenty-minute standing ovation. There was no commercial break given. It was an amazing response showing honor to this baseball great.

In July 1991, the world-famous opera singer, Placido Domingo performed a lead role in Guiseppe Verdi’s Otello in Vienna. After 101 curtain calls, he was given an eighty-minute standing ovation.

            When considering the greatness of God, even an eighty-minute standing ovation to honor Him seems inadequate. As a follower of Jesus Christ, our entire life is an ovation to Him. Jesus taught in John 15:1-5,“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me & I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

From this passage, we learn that we live as a worshipper by abiding in Him & bearing fruit. Our life fully committed to Him is in honor of how great He is. Jesus is the Vine and I am a branch. The Father is the Gardener and I will be pruned.

There are three realities about pruning. First, pruning hurts because it is a cutting off and removal. Second, pruning is necessary for more fruit. Lastly, God has one purpose for pruning and it is to bear more fruit. A life surrendered will grow under the loving care of the Father. If fruit is the goal, I must abide or live as a worshipper. I cannot bear fruit unless I live in Jesus, but thankfully I will bear much fruit if I live in Jesus.  How can you tell if you are “abiding (or living) in Christ”?  Is there a special feeling? No.  When I am living as a worshipper of Jesus, I produce much fruit.

We must live like Jesus as a worshipper, following the model and teaching of Jesus, but we must also love like Jesus. Jesus taught in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This bold teaching has Jesus as the model but also gives evidence whether we are truly His disciple.

He continues this teaching in John 15:12-17, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

To say we love Jesus, but to neglect the love of the church is evidence that we may not really love Jesus. With Jesus as our model, we are to love like Jesus which is to love as a community.

Living and loving like Jesus is essential but leading like Jesus makes the biggest difference in this world. Jesus set the guidelines in John 15:18-27, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

The Apostle Paul understood the servant leadership model of Jesus when he wrote in Romans 12:14-21, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. …if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”

As we consider living, loving, and leading like Jesus, we understand it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us and that also works through us to connect with the community and lead them to a relationship with our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Another day… Another opportunity…
Pastor Chris Jordan
 

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What is Our Mission? God’s Purpose for Us

“If your church permanently closed this week, would anyone in the community notice? Would anyone in the community care?” These words spoken by Ed Stetzer at a conference I attended cut to the core of my pastor’s soul. If a church closes the doors and no one cares, it leads me to believe that church has no purpose and should shut down. What is the purpose of the church? What mission are we on?

By God’s grace, West Lynchburg has been in the community for 116 years. In order for any church to remain vital and effective, it must be a church that is not only in the community but for the community. The church must clarify and embrace its mission to have longevity. The mission clarifies what God has called this local congregation to do. The mission of West Lynchburg is: Magnifying the greatness of God for the joy of multiplying disciples. In brief, Magnifying God and Multiplying Disciples is our mandate and motto.

The mission is based on several scripture passages:

Magnifying is based on Psalm 34:1-3, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

There are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying. The microscope makes something small look bigger and greater than it is. The telescope takes what is already great and brings it into perspective. We are not called to be microscopes. We are called to be telescopes, bringing the greatness of God into perspective.

The greatness of God is based on 2 Samuel 7:22, “Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, & there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”

God is the greatest of all Beings. He is the first and the last. There is none like Him. He is infinite, eternal, and unchanging in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. Yet there is great ignorance and neglect of God in our world. Therefore, followers of Christ must live out the mission to magnify the greatness of God to a world who knows not His greatness. Just as 1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

For the joy is based on Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

The assumption is that when you see the greatness of God, your heart and life is filled with joy. When we worship and connect with God, there is great joy that overflows!

The joy of multiplying is based on Psalm 67:3-4, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.”

Notice peoples is plural. Why? People are born again and saved individually, but we must recognize the many nations they represent, and the great unfinished task of world evangelization as indicated in Revelation 5:9, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”

Jesus declared to His disciples in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Multiplying disciples is based on Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

While no local church is promised to be preserved forever, there is no doubt that a church on mission to magnify God and multiply disciples will be blessed by God and have a significant impact in the local community.

 

Another day… Another opportunity…
 

Pastor Chris Jordan


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