I had someone very dear to me ask the question "How can someone other than a Catholic Priest be the leader of a church?" I thought I would post my answer.
In the old testament a priest was needed to mediate between man and God. It was thought that man was sinful and therefore separated from God so people would take their best lamb and give it to the priest to be sacrificed. After traditional rituals the priest would sacrifice the animal as a representation of the appropriate consequence of sin against a Holy God was is death (eternal separation from God not immediate death). Therefore through the sacrifice of a perfect animal, sin was erased, and man was considered righteous before God. However, that was before God came down to earth as Jesus. John 1:14 says this "The Word (God) became flesh (Jesus) and made his dwelling among us."
In the New Testament, Jesus came and was called the "Lamb of God." This title represents Jesus being the final sacrifice for sin and our high priest. Jesus lived a perfect life. He lived the life that we could not live, died the death that we should have died, and established a relationship with God that without him we would not have or deserve (aka Grace)
Hebrews 7 puts it like this "Such a high priest (Jesus) meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests (in the Old Testament), he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (on the cross)."
A christian is someone who believes that their faith in Christ is what allows them to have eternal life and live life to the fullest on earth in relationship with God. John 3:16 says "God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus, and if you believe in him you will have eternal life" and John 10:10 says "Jesus has come that you may experience life to the fullest".
Now when someone accepts Jesus for who the bible declares he is, the Holy Spirit (3rd person of the trinity) comes to live in the believer; which means that God comes to live in us.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says that "Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in us because we are bought with a price. Everyone who has been purchased (redeemed) by the blood of Christ also has the Spirit of God dwelling in him."
So what does this have to do with a priest? This is what this means.....There is no longer a need for a priest. Jesus came to be our final sacrifice so that we do not need to go through another person (Priest) to connect with God. Instead through a relationship w/ Jesus who is always interceding for us (Hebrews 7) we can now go directly to God. So now, since you do not need a priest, the bible calls elders (aka pastors) to lead the church.
The qualifications of a pastor is found in 1 Timothy 3 in which I believe I am qualified. Here is what it says "Now the overseer (pastor, elder, church leader) must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."
So that is the case for not having a need for a priest anymore. With that being says, most catholics don't look to the bible as the reasoning of their beliefs instead they look to traditions. So eventually what you end up with is a faith or works argument.
Here's what I mean. Is someone justified by their good works or faith in Jesus? In other words; to know God (or have a relationship with him) do you need to go to church, have a priest talk to God for you, be nice to people, take the sacraments (wine and bread at church), be baptized, feed the poor, be nice to your momma, etc? The answer is that you dont need to do anything to know God except accept Jesus and have faith in him. However, if one knows Jesus and lives in relationship with him, the works will happen. A Christian who is intimate with Jesus will naturally Go to church (because they desire to worship God and learn about him), be nice to people (because the fruit of knowing Jesus is Love, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, and self control...Galatians 5); be baptized (because baptism is a public declaration of your allegiance to Jesus), read their bible (because it is the Word of God); be nice to their momma (no need to explain that one; I love your bones)the list can go on forever.
Anyway, I thought I would write this to you so you know why I believe what I believe pertaining to the priest thing. It is a pretty straight forward biblical argument and typically if a catholic believes the bible (which most do, but they just dont read it or know what it says) than they feel the same way. For example, my Grandma Alice believes everything that I wrote, however she is accustomed to catholic church because that is what she grew up in and the catholic traditions is how she connects with God on Sunday's. However if you talk to her, you can tell that she is a women who often connects with God throughout the week and she does not need a priest to connect with God or to go to confession, instead she can always go directly to God for anything.
I had someone very dear to me ask the question "How can someone other than a Catholic Priest be the leader of a church?" I thought I would post my answer.
Psalm 32 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
My senior year of college I felt a calling to ministry, it was very strong. After going a while I finally submitted to the fact that God wanted me to do his work full time. Steve (Beth's Dad) had recommended me to be a youth pastor at his church and the board interviewed us along with another couple. Being the pastors son-in-law, I thought for sure that we had the job, plus the other guy was a total tool from Colorado. Can you believe that I did not get the job. (Protection)
After that experience, I really began to doubt the thought that I was to be in ministry. We actually then made a decision to move to Greensboro to pursue a better quality of life. Boston was just to expensive, and I had an opportunity to get a great job, buy a new house, and live a quality of life that most 22 year old's just don't get to live. At this time, I thought that God's call on me was to make as much money as possible, go to church, and live very comfortably.
Then we began to go to Daystar and God started to put some amazing men in my life. I will never forget my conversation w/ Allen at Laddies and Dukes when he told me that "God will often give you a vision and then take it away from you because your time is not up yet." In that moment, God spoke to me and I knew that was what he did. My time wasn't up yet and the vision was gone, but all of the sudden after that conversation, the vision was back.
Now here we are 3 years after that conversation. I am in a place that I would have never imagined. I am beginning to understand church like I never knew it, I have been close to men who have mentored me and spoke truth into my life, I understand the value of my bible, I am able to hear God like most will never know, my marriage is stringer than ever before, the list goes on and on.
I am fully convinced that God brought us to Greensboro in order to equip us to go back and do all that we have learned. Had we not gone to Greensboro i would never have been exposed to all that has so drastically changed me.
I would probably be emergent and considered my bible unclear, I would have been fundamental in my style and thought that Church was about me and my needs; I would have been following all the right christian rules, but have no idea how to know God; I would have never known of the amazing worship music that is out there; I would have no idea about how to reach people for Jesus; or a passion to see lived truly changed; I would never have know how the Word of God is the source of all things and the primary way that Jesus chooses to speak to us. I would never have had the experience of preaching in front of hundreds of people; I would never known the importance of accountability; I would have never had the desire to study doctrine and theology in order to understand why I believe what I believe; I would have never had built relationships with the men that will walk with me for the rest of my life. I just know that things would be so different for me.
Praise to God for being my strong tower, for protecting me from evil. How awesome it is that when we have no idea what God is doing in our lives, we can later look back and see he was just protecting us from ourselves.
Yesterday was one of those days. Allen really encouraged me to continue to seek God's specific will within the details. A lot of what I am doing is blind faith. I believe that I have heard the voice of God for the major decisions but a lot of the small details are in the dark. For example, I have heard move to Boston, but where? I have heard plant a church, but when? I have heard build a team, but who? I have heard, go to school but when and where? Raise money, but how much? I do think there there is some value in Hebrews 11 "without faith, you cannot please God" however, I also believe that God loves to speak to his children. With that being said, Allen really encouraged me to seek God with some big questions and see if he will give me answers. On top of that, he asked me to make a list of questions that need answers and he will seek God for them with me.
I am reminded of Psalm 133:1 "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity." I thank God that he has given me great men of God who have been responsible for my life and my direction and on top of that, men who will work with me to seek the will of God for my family.
Here are my questions thus far:
1. When are we to move?
2. Where in Boston are we to move?
3. Am I moving with the 1st priority to plant or go to school?
4. Who should we ask to join us?
5. Who will mentor me through this process?
6. Is this God's calling for me?
7. Should I raise full support? Partial Support? No Support?
8. How long do we wait to launch once we move out there?
9. Am I qualified according to Paul's letters in 1 Timothy and Titus?
10. What part should Daystar play in sending me if I am to go?
I just got finished our first draft of the information that we need to put together for Fundraising. It is now in the hands of some very respectable pastors who I trust to critique and offer advise about it. I am beginning to get very excited about how far God seems to be bring us. So far I have 2 guys working on a logo for me. They already have done 2 templates for us to begin to work on. (You will get to see that shortly) Also, I have a guy who is committed to helping us get free professional copy right and editing work for us when we are ready for the official brochure. I have thus far but together our budget, beliefs, mission statement, time frame, etc. I have also passed all of the Acts 29 testing that they have put me though. Wow. It is exciting.
Also, let me share 1 quick story.
For about 2 years I have had my eye on someone who I believed that God specifically said was going to be our worship leader. There was only 1 problem, he was running from God for the past 2 years. (FYI, running away from God and leading worship, don't work well together) Well about 3 weeks ago, I was talking with this guy and he starts telling em how God supernaturally has worked in his life and how he has fully dedicated his life to Christ and feels this calling on his life to use music as a means to reach people. I almost fell out of my chair!!! Seriously. After some more conversation I tell him about how I am planning to move to Boston to plant a church. About the next day, I get a text from him and it says this. "Guess what college is in Boston?" in my stupidity I type something brilliant back, "Gordon" he replies back, "no, your an idiot, Berklee!!" Interesting enough, he wants to go to Berklee and major in song writing. Now I already have a call in b/c we have a connection wit that school through our network of people out there. In our last conversation, he has committed to talking the idea over with his spiritual fathers and get their input and guidance. CRAZY!!"
Now, I am not naive enough to jump to the conclusion that "this guy" (No names mentioned yet) is totally on board with this idea. However, the mere fact that it is even a possibility and I thought that God told me something about him 2 years ago, is a freakin miracle in itself.
Just join me to "TYPE" 1 quick prayer as a comment to this blog. I say type, so that I can join in with what you aer asking. Please, Ask God to confirm to this person whether or not it is his will for him to join us. I want nothing more than to do the will of God. If it is not his will, I do not want him, however, if it is his will, I want nothing more than to do ministry with this young man for as long as God would allow. Maybe even for the rest of our lives.
(John 14:14 "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." Jesus.)
Thanks for reading and keeping up with me.
Immediately, I swerved over to the emergency lane, jumped out of my car and began to sprint to him. By the time I got to him, there was 2 other guys standing over him. I got there and he began to sit up. We began to ask him what happened. He seemed very confused. He (who I later found out, was named Ed) said that he was a diabetic and was walking on the highway and guesses he just passed out. (now there are about 5 guys out there helping this guy.) One of the guys says to Ed, "where are you trying to go and why are you walking on the highway?" For some reason this pissed Ed off. He began to get real confrontational. Then another guys starts raising his voice to Ed and saying, "I'm a Bishop, I'm a Bishop; so you can talk to me". Now I am totally confused thinking to myself how did we get from what seemed to be a dead guy on the highway to now and argument of who is a Bishop"
Being the only white guy out of all of us, I kinda just stood back as this thing began to escalate more. It was a very weird situation. Finally, I just yelled, "STOP." I said, "Bro, you were just passed out on the highway, let me pray for you." Ed looked at me and was like "but, but, na man, na, I can't", I just cut him off and said as sternly as I ever talked to a stranger, "We'll talk after, lets just invite God to move on our behalf and fix whatever is going on." (Keep in mind that by now probably 400 cars have driven by us and there are 5 guys standing in the emergency lane of the largest highway in Greensboro.) I laid a hand on this guy, and 2 others did the same, We began to pray for him, that God would just intervene in this guys life." It was beautiful to see how the Lord sent this guy 3 believers who were just driving past on the highway. Finally, I stopped and looked at him. Ed picked his head up and there were literally tears running down his face. "I knew that God had just touched this guy" He just broke down and was crying, then he stood straight and (Random) gave me a huge hug". He then told us that he lost his job and couldn't afford his rent, so he got kicked out of his apartment. He said that he refused to beg for money; and he just needed a job and a ride downtown. The guy to the right of me said I''ll take you downtown and I am hiring, I'll get you a job at my office, can you do labor work?"
What? Are you freakin serious? God just got this guy prayer, a ride, and a job in about 10 minutes; and I got to be a part of it. At that point I just told the guy who was going to give Ed a ride home, to give me a call if he needed any more help and I gave him my cell.
By the time I got back into my car, I couldn't hold in the tears. I was just a part of something crazy. Whats even crazier is that when I finally got back into the car and gained composure I put my Ipod back on and got back to listening to a podcast from my boy Matt Chandler (he doesnt know he's my boy) Anyway, read the text that he was speaking from. It is weird.
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." 28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Wow, I have gotten some great comments on the mission statement. I appreciate all of your thoughts. I have received a number of personal e-mails as well as comments on the blog. I especially want to thank TJ and Ang for making me think through some of this. "Thank you!"
One thing that I noticed is that the statement is way to long. A good friend of mine in the ministry made a great point. This statement is something that you will want your church to regurgitate easily. The mission statement will have to definitely be condensed in order to capture what you are looking to do but also be simple enough to remember.
There seemed to be a few comments about the lack of emphasis on OUTSIDE the church. Let me reply to them.
The bible is clear that the emphasis is always to be on the outside of the church. Without that, I would say that we fail to be the church. The ministry that the church does outside the walls will be the heartbeat of what I envision doing and what I feel that God is calling me to do. It is crazy to me that people are satisfied for spending 1 hour at a service 1 day a week and feel like they did something. Church isn't in a building, Church is who we are. I wrote a blog a few months back titles "Worship is a Lifestyle" which speaks to this. http://chewningjourney.blogspot.com/2008/06/worship-is-lifestyle.html
However I think that scripture teaches that Jesus' church exists for 3 reasons. 1. To see people experience regeneration and receive the indwelling of the holy spirit. (AKA. Be saved by Jesus, receive forgiveness of sin and spend eternity with him in Heaven and not apart from him in Hell) 2. To edify the body of believers (This is through the corporate worshiping of Jesus, accountability, prayer, encouragement of one another, etc) 3. To serve the outside community BOTH individually and collectively. (This can be done in a variety of ways.)
This brings up another good question: Do we want people to come to church to hear the Gospel? Or, do we want to equip our people in smaller groups to share the Gospel in their personal lives?
I think that given the right structure of your church, you can do both and do both well. In Acts 2 you see people gathering in smaller groups at homes where the believers would gather and eat, share belongings, pray with each other and for each other. But then again, you see in the same chapter Peter delivering his 1st sermon in which 3000 people come to faith and get baptized. They came to faith because they heard someone explain the gospel. At the end of the day a believer and non-believer need the same thing. We need to repent of sin, be encouraged to run after Jesus, and empowered to live missionally. Concerning the small groups, we need the small groups as well. Small groups in the NT were for doing life together, accountability, and encouraging each other to go out into our world and live missionally. Same is true today, that is what we need in our small groups today.
This now brings up another great question: When you think about the gathering of the church, should the purpose be to focus on evangelizing outsiders or on the edification of the Body?
The purpose the church comes together in scripture is for worship and edification, you are definitely correct. However, in scripture those gatherings were all believers. Statistics tell us that there will be very few church services where it is a gathering of "All Believers". Therefore, we need to take advantage of the opportunity and evangelize. I believe a good preacher should be able to both edify and evangelize in 1 sermon. In no way, am I saying I do this all of the time, however, I am saying this is my goal.
Here's my point: The healthiest churches (not the largest) are the ones that can do both of what we are talking about with excellence b/c they are seeing people come to Christ in large groups and then they have the ability and leadership to empower them to live missionally in smaller groups. How cool is that!
Here's a video that touches on this a little. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58fgkfS6E-0
- 1. Release our mission statement.
- 2. Break it down
- 3. Get some feedback.
"We exist to do whatever it takes to see people who don't know God transformed by a relationship with Christ and empower those people to empty themselves into their community."
whatever it takes: We want to be a church that will do anything outside of sin and within the freedom of scripture to reach people. We feel that to many churches are stuck in their traditional ways, trying to please a congregation of people who already know God, at the neglect of reaching people who don't. (1 Corinthians 9:21-23)
to see people who don't know God, transformed by a relationship w/ Christ: Statistics tell us that there is an unbelievable percentage of people who believe in God; we are a highly spiritual generation. However, it also shows us that we are also a generation who is least likely to be at church on Sundays, read their bible, or live radical lives in following Christ. Here is why we believe this is. I believe that for to long the church has taught the wrong things and mis-represented Christianity. Christianity is not following all of the rules. We preach to many moral rules and moral messages that we have basically made church a rule following organization. "News Flash" nobody likes to follow rules. Instead, we will exist to teach people what it means to walk with God; what it means to know him, pray to him, live for him, hear him, worship him. By doing this, we will see people truly transformed by a relationship with Christ, not people who are trying to follow rules. The rules will eventually come, but only through the relationship. (1 Corinthians 5:17-18)
empower those people: (Acts 1:8)
We want to empower our people to do 3 things:
- Serve their community. Help those in need and love our neighbors. For to long the church has been to self-centered and has not done this well.
- Live missional lives. We are all preachers of the gospel. Church is not a Sunday event, it is a lifestyle. 80% of people who come to Christ do it outside of the walls of a church building.
- Invite friends to service. The more people who get in the doors, the more lives will be changed. We will create an environment that is culturally relevant. For to long the church has been stuck 20 years behind mainstream culture. Everything from our worship music, dress, building design, aesthetics, etc will be geared towards reaching people who don't typically do church. We want to make inviting people an easy and natural thing to do; not a burden or pressure that we feel.
empty themselves in their community: We want to be an outwardly focused group. To empty yourself means to fully give yourself. This can happen in 2 ways. First we will want to be so focused on giving our lives to people in need, that can look different every time its done. We as a church body will do this by giving of our time, money, and talents in order to serve our community. Secondly, we will empty ourselves by sharing God's truths with those around us. Too often has the church only done one of these two things and therefore failed to be the church. Example, if you only serve but don't share the truth, you are failing to share Jesus or allowing God the opportunity to use you to draw people to him. (2 Corinthians 5:20) On the flip side if you only share God's truth, but lose the desire to serve your community, you become inwardly focused and fundamental. (James 2:20) The goal is to do both with true humility.
Feedback is appreciated!!
That's about it. That's pretty much our standard. If you know of something, please let us know.