Under Stress for the Cause of Christ

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment at the end after reading this article! - Kent

Kent R. HunterMinistry is riddled with stress. Whether you’re a full-time church worker, volunteer leader, or involved in any ministry of the church, sooner, rather than later, it is likely you’ll experience significant stress. It is in these stressful times that God builds character and that character is a key to our spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul was either a nutcase or writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (there’s really no other option) when he said, in Romans 5:3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” (New Living Translation)

In the first congregation I pastored, I found myself in a very challenging ministry. My first church as a young pastor was in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan. It was an old Anglo congregation in a young African-American community. My church consisted of mostly white-haired Anglo lifelong Christians and the neighborhood consisted almost entirely of African-American young families, many of whom were unchurched.

One day, I made the naïve suggestion to the members of our church that we reach our neighbors for Christ. You have to understand, these neighbors were neighbors to the church building, but not to my members. The members of our church had already, years before, moved to the suburbs. They called the area around the church the “old neighborhood.” I lived there, in a parsonage, but my members did not. For my neighbors, the African-Americans, it was not an old neighborhood, but a new neighborhood.

My suggestion that we reach our neighbors caused, to some degree, a firestorm. The president of my congregation was so upset about the possibility of inviting “those people” to our church, he showed his bigoted hand by interrupting a worship service. Imagine this: I’m a young pastor, preaching to about six hundred people in the late service, I’m about ready to close the service with the benediction. Standing before the congregation I take a deep breath, and just as I start the benediction, the president of our church stands up from the front row turns toward the congregation and says, “Think about what our pastor is proposing. Do you really want ‘those people’ in our church? We’re going to have a meeting after this church service and you better come to express your feelings about this!” I thought that this behavior in a worship service only happened in movies!

It not only happens in churches, but it happened to Jesus.

In a very graphic story that is not at all just a blow-by-blow description of an event, Jesus says, “…I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this?’ No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put Your Glory on display.’” (John 12:27-28, The Message).

Do you get it? When we face challenges in the church, according to Jesus, it is an opportunity for the Father to put His Glory on display! Guess what? That’s exactly what God did in my congregation in Detroit. The president of our congregation, showing his bigoted hand, drove many more people to that meeting after church more than I could have rallied. The large room was packed at standing room only. I had never seen a meeting at this church with so many people. In his naiveté, my president started the meeting, thinking the masses would to rally to his prejudicial cause. It was just the opposite! The people rallied and said, in effect, “We cannot be Christians and continue to fail our immediate community. It is our privilege and responsibility to reach our neighbors for Christ.” This result was completely out of my control. It was also out of the control of the president of our church. He was so humiliated he left our congregation. I pleaded with him that God is a God of forgiveness and that, if he gives God a chance, the Lord can heal him of whatever attitudes need improvement. But he couldn’t get over his self-humiliation. He moved to a church in his own neighborhood in the suburbs.

God does this kind of stuff all the time. It seems like God does some of his best work in us, with us and through us in the middle of a storm. Think about your own life. Think about your own church. Hasn’t that been your experience?

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! - Kent

 

Spiritual Globalization, Denominationalism, Centered Set, and Missionary Worldview

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment at the end after reading this article! - Kent

Kent R. HunterNot since the Civil War have soldiers fighting for the same cause been segregated—for any reasons. Yet the divisions among denominations continues, diluting the Christian cause to win our world… for Jesus Christ. What is the origin of this circus of needless duplication, and, to the unchurched, a confusion of diversity?

The Protestant Reformation is well known for its biblical quest toward clarity. Thank God for the reformers! Perhaps no one at the time could see it coming, but the movement spiraled into theological nitpicking. Would Jesus call it “straining at gnats”? It amazes me that people equally sold out on Jesus as the only way of salvation and, committed unilaterally to the mission of The Great Commission, would build churches across the road from each other in a small rural town, because they look at The Lord’s Supper differently.

Equally profound and respected theologians disagree about how to explain certain issues about The Lord’s Supper. Truthfully, there are dimensions of The Lord’s Supper no one totally understands, or could ever understand. Much of Christianity is accepted by faith, not reason. After all, Christianity is…a faith.

In the denomination of my upbringing, for example, there are pastors who will not allow practicing Christians from another church- in town visiting their Christian relatives- to attend The Lord’s Supper with the rest of their family, who are members of the church. This is greatly offensive to these Christians. It is judgmental, and a bit arrogant. It sends the message: “we know it all, you don’t, and we’d like to stick it in your face in a public display of non-acceptance.”

Biblical integrity, at the highest level, is an important and non-negotiable objective. However, irresponsible and judgmental aberrations of Christian hospitality, in an air of superiority, represent the arrogance of Pharisees rather than the spirit of Christ.

Somehow the mission of The Great Commission has been hijacked by a mission of division on the basis of theological sticking points, even though all sides agree that these sticking points are not “deal breakers” for salvation. For example, when I was in seminary, I trained to be a counselor for a Billy Graham Crusade in St. Louis, Missouri. In the days and weeks before the Crusade, Billy Graham received a lot of attention in the media. One day I attended a class on theological systematics. Instead of following the syllabus, my professor took liberty to spend the entire class talking about what is wrong with Billy Graham’s theology. This was offensive to me, because Billy Graham was one of my spiritual heroes, who, among other things, had something to do with my desire to study for the ministry. Billy Graham’s passion for the lost was catching, and ignited my lifelong desire for Christian outreach. Further, since I paid good money to support this professor, I felt it was a breach of contract. ( I was wise enough to protect my future ordination to avoid speaking with my professor on that issue). However, after class, I did approach him and asked this question: “Bottom line: will Billy Graham be in heaven?” He responded, “Absolutely! The Bible says,” He continued, “whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.” I thought about pursuing my point, but simply said “thank you,” and politely walked away, wondering why he had the license to waste an hour of twenty students who were studying to reach people for Jesus Christ, just like Billy Graham. I wondered why Christians who are sold out on the basics of faith couldn’t agree to disagree on less than bottom line issues and work together for the sake of lost people for whom Christ died.

In my perception, the Christian church—as a global effort birthed by the King of the universe—has been derailed by the Age of Rationalism. It seems like no one wants to admit it, but we are often hyper-focused on content minutia while the Leader of the movement is dying to see the world receive the love and relationship of abundant life.

Denominationalism is dying. This decline is a major contribution to effective world evangelization. In this information age, isolationism and imperialism, bullying and arrogance among nations—including America—will simply not fly. Neither America nor any other country can parade as a savior of the world and impose their will on other nations. This has also become true of denominations. At the end of the day, Christianity is a team-oriented movement.

During my mission school training, which came in graduate school, I had a breakthrough moment about this issue. It was also substantiated years later. Among missionaries there is a saying: “you hang together or you hang all by yourself.” I have seen this in many places on the foreign mission fields around the world, and nowhere more clearly than Almaty, Kazakhstan. I was there, with a team leading a teaching conference for about one thousand pastors and church leaders who served every day in the challenging environment of that mostly Muslim area of the globe. Many of them were missionaries. They don’t pretend their mission is The Great Commission. They don’t give lip service. They live and breathe the mission—something Jesus intended for all his disciples throughout history.

My breakthrough moment in mission school was a teaching about the missionary worldview. Many denominational nitpickers have a worldview that would render them missionally impotent. Since worldviews are subconscious, they don’t realize what they believe. What they believe, in fact, is that there are only two worldview positions one can take as a Christian: (1) the closed set, and (2) the open set. This can be visualized as follows:

Set-ClosedOpen

The closed set worldview describes anyone outside of these boundaries as part of an open set—based on the false assumption that there are only two worldview choices. This worldview continues with the concept that if you cross the line on any specific understanding of, for example, The Lord’s Supper, it puts you outside of my worldview. In this understanding, the only other option is that you must be part of the open set. This approach says, “If you are outside of my box on any issue of theology, you are part of a system with no boundaries whatsoever.” That is a slippery slope—a biblical domino disaster waiting to happen. “You don’t agree 100% with me about The Lord’s Supper. Watch out! It won’t be long and you will deny the divinity of Christ or say that Jesus’ resurrection is a myth.”

This approach is both right…and wrong. It is right, because there are those who choose an open set and their theological journey leads to Christianity without Christ. Missionally speaking, this is truly a non-option because it moves to a faith without substance. Churches that move to that position become the “body of Christ without a backbone.” No one is attracted to a faith that believes nothing, or so little it is not identifiable. So, that part of the closed set observation is correct.

However, it is also incorrect because there is another set—a third set, an additional worldview option. It is my perception, that this third worldview is the biblical option. It is a fundamental worldview for effective mission. It is the worldview of the centered set. This can be described in the following diagram:

Set-Centered

The centered set understands that we as fellow Christians are on the same journey, and that journey is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) Already, this is a dramatically different worldview. Christianity is not a destination or a position, but a lifelong journey. This has profound impact on the way we understand the Christian world and the way it works. The church is not a destination, but a community of believers, called out from the world to be not of the world but in the world. We are called “disciples” not because we have arrived at every conclusion about everything, but because we are dedicated to a quest that ends at death and not before.

It was the Pharisees, not the Christians, who made judgments about where people were positioned. The Christian, centered set, worldview is one that makes mission possible. When you are focused on position, you construct walls that inhibit effective mission activity. The closed set is closer to a sect than a movement, the movement of Christianity. Sects tend to subdivide into oblivion and die out. They begin with an attitude “we are right and everyone else is wrong.” Then, during the natural course for human beings, insecurities arise: “well I thought we were right, but after learning more about you, I think I’m more right than you are.” This leads to division and ultimate disintegration. It is not the way of Christianity.

The centered set recognizes that even people who don’t know Christ, have imprinted in their being, a notion that there is a God of creation, who they do not yet know. The mission-minded Apostle Paul said it this way in Romans 1:19-20: “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.” (The Message) Such a person who is at that point, in the missionary perspective, is far from Christ, representing one of the dots in the centered set diagram that may be quite a distance from the cross. But there is great hope, and with that hope, there is an attitude of acceptance because a person is on the divine journey even though they may not know it. This worldview is the only way that churches can reach people that most churches don’t reach. The key element is a worldview issue. The more we focus on denominational distinctives and ignore spiritual globalization, the more ineffective we are in reaching people for Jesus Christ.

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! - Kent

Ten Ways to Clean up Communication

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Across the landscape of Christianity, particularly the U.S., Canada and Europe, we, may not be healthy enough, spiritually, to handle technology. For every ounce of energy exerted to win lost neighbors to Jesus, there is a ton of resistance birthed through electronic media…from Christians!

Below are ten ways to clean up communication. Read a more in-depth discussion about spiritual maturity and technology in the July/August 2014 Church Doctor Report.

Ten Ways to Clean up Communication

  1. Pray before you speak, write, tweet, blog—especially if you’re upset.
  2. Never listen to another person speak negatively about someone who is not present. (The term for this is gossip, which is a sin).
  3. No matter how communication comes to you, STOP-THINK-DECIDE. What is the spiritually healthy way to respond? Choose the form of your response proactively. Never just react by mimicking the way it came to you. Two wrongs don’t make it right. They make it worse.
  4. If someone offends you, follow Jesus’ direction in Matthew 18: (1) Go to the person and meet face to face. (This does not mean asking them to meet you on your turf. It could mean a neutral site for both). (2) If you don’t make progress, return a second time and take an objective, spiritually mature person with you. (3) If you still do not make progress, involve wise leaders from your church who have “the mind of Christ” and who  are impartial.
  5. When interacting with other Christians, practice low control/high accountability. We are not called to “exercise lordship” over people, like the kings of the Gentiles, (Luke 22:25, ESV), but to “speak the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV).
  6. Do not avoid sensitive issues with the excuse that you “don’t like conflict.” No normal person likes conflict. Christian behavior is not always about doing what you “like”.
  7. Never copy others about an issue you have with someone else. This is slander. Check out the Eighth Commandment.
  8. Focus on Christian charity when you have an issue with pastors and leaders. You are called to act with respect toward those who are in authority. This is a theme of the Fourth Commandment.
  9. Do not publicly criticize other ministries or visible Christian leaders. Contact them privately. Focus on loving corrections, repentance, forgiveness, rather than public criticism, judgmentalism, and a spirit of self-righteousness. Pray for others who mess up.
  10. As you speak the truth in love, start and end with appreciation for the positive. Don’t avoid hard subjects, but surround them with identified positives.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

Can Your Spiritual Maturity Handle Technology? – July/August 2014 Church Doctor Report

Can Your Spiritual Maturity Handle Technology?

CDR-JulyAugust2014Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Pastor Allen opened his email account only to find another scathing list of complaints from Dave. Every paragraph had a gripe, a criticism—a negative comment about his ministry or the church. Three pages of anger, disrespect, attack. The email was copied to twenty church members and the conference superintendent.

Allen began to experience a physical change, from his stomach to his head. His blood pressure went up, heart began pounding, emotions were soaring. He looked out his office window at a squirrel, sitting on a branch, chewing an acorn. A thought pierced his brain: “I hate ministry…at least for the moment.”

What would you do?

That’s not a rhetorical question. What would you do? What would you do? Don’t read on until you answer. As a Christian, what have you done before? What would you do again?

This is not an intellectual exercise. Feel Allen’s emotions, sense the instant sweat, the churning of his stomach, the pounding in his head. See the squirrel and contemplate: fight or flight?

I suspect this has happened to you before, whether you’re a pastor or not. Electronic conflict impacts everyone sooner or later. What would you do?

Spiritual Health

This is not a conflict management exercise. This is a measure of your spiritual temperature. It is a barometer of the spiritual health of Christianity in this electronic age. Are you Christian enough to get this? Is your Christian community, your church, spiritually healthy enough to get this?

Across the landscape of Christianity, particularly the U.S., Canada and Europe, we, may not be healthy enough, spiritually, to handle technology. For every ounce of energy exerted to win lost neighbors to Jesus, there is a ton of resistance birthed through electronic media…from Christians! The internet is poisoned with bad Christian behavior: by notable and visible Christian leaders, denominational executives, everyday Christians from all walks of life, believers from all brands of Christianity.

Spiritual abuse of media is not an electronic discipline, communication art, exercise in conflict management, defense of Holy Truth, or an accurate biblical representation of Christian behavior, biblical theology, or spiritual practice. And it is killing our Christian witness. Are you, consciously or unconsciously killing Christianity?

Meet Mike

“Hi Mike, how are ya?” I said, as I walked by my neighbor’s house. Mike is a 28-year-old nonpracticing, lapsed Christian who drifted from the faith during law school. He and his wife Cindy have not always done well as a young couple. She was pregnant when they married, and that greatly upset her parents, who live across town. Mike works hard—a real achiever—and has a meth habit. “But I can handle it,” he says.

Mike’s law practice has taken off, and he’s doing well, but not well enough for their lifestyle. They overbought their house, daycare is expensive, Cindy is a teacher, but expecting their second child. Mike has educational debt. The financial pressures are mounting.

I’ve tried to share my faith with Mike. I learned early on that this is not a “would you like to come with us to church” approach. So, I’ve shared a few of my struggles—real stories about how, I believe, God has helped me and my wife get through hard times. Our talks go better over coffee at Starbucks.

“I’ll have a tall vanilla cappuccino,” I told the barista. “How about you Mike? My treat,” I said.

“Yeah, I’ll have a latte…venti,” Mike ordered.

I finally got around to square up with Mike:

“Hey, you know, we’ve talked about spiritual stuff before, Mike. Have you ever thought Christianity might be helpful to you and Cindy?” I wasn’t ready for Mike’s response.

“No offense,” he said. “I know you mean well, but why the hell would anyone want to be a Christian?”

I wanted to think he was searching for a theological answer, but I knew by his tone, that wasn’t going to happen.

Mike continued, “Do you use the internet? Facebook, Twitter —anything like that? Ever read blogs, podcasts?”

“Well, yeah, I’m online all the time,” I responded.

“Why would anyone want to be a Christian? All you people do is criticize each other. Why would anybody want to be a part of that? What a bunch of cruel people you are.”

I about choked on my cappuccino.

The Bible says to multiply, but critics prefer to divide. Don’t allow yourself to be a public critic. Jesus warns, “Don’t judge, or you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). When you throw dirt at others, you will always make a mountain out of a mole hill. Through the grace of Jesus, no mud can soil you except for the mud that you throw at others. The mud thrower never has clean hands.
Source: John Mason, Conquering an Enemy Called Average


The Pastor Allen Options

What would you do? Dave sends him a scathing email, and copies a bunch of people in the church. What did Allen do? Sadly, he did what many pastors do. Without thinking or applying his Christian sensibility to the internet, he got caught in the electronic trap: “I got it by email, I’ll respond by email. And, I’ll have to copy these people, because they’re all in on it,” Allen thought.

Dave was dead wrong in his spiritual behavior. He should have never sent the email to the pastor. Jesus taught this in Matthew 18:15-17, “If someone offends you, (if you’re upset with someone), go to that person, privately.” Without question, that means face to face—not an email, not even a phone call. Why? When you are face to face, you can see body language, hear tone of voice. You can have a conversation. An email of three pages with a response of three pages is not a conversation. It is a one-sided dump followed by another one-sided dump. This produces heat, not light.

“What about Skype?” you ask. At the risk of sounding out of touch with the 21st Century, the answer is “no!” Why? Because you can’t shake hands, hug, or put a warm hand on an arm or shoulder. You just can’t.

And what about copying all your friends? Are you kidding? Dave totally missed the Eighth Commandment! Does anybody know what the Bible says about gossip? Slander? Consider this: if no one would listen to gossip, no one could gossip. And what about blogs that attack other Christians in front of the whole world? Really? Really?

All these issues predate Silicon Valley. Paul says to young Timothy, “Avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their talk will spread like gangrene.” 2 Timothy 16-17a (NIV).

You can’t beat God’s plan, on any subject.

The Pharisees ended up talking to themselves and judging the world. As Christians, we are supposed to judge ourselves, and talk to the world.
Source: Walt Kallestad.


Quit Killing Christianity

What is the profile of a follower of Jesus Christ? How do others distinguish a disciple of Jesus—in contrast to a disciple of someone/something else?

It’s not by your website, email address, Twitter account, or Facebook page, per se. It’s not about how you use your tools of communication, including your tongue. Jesus got this right, like everything else. He told the disciples how people would recognize His followers. What did He say?

It’s not complicated, it’s not spiritual rocket science: “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for one another.” (John 13:34-35, The Message).

The Apostle Paul got this. As a mark of spiritual maturity, he said, “…speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15, RSV). Christians love one another by holding each other accountable. But we do it in a loving way, directly, face to face, one on one.

Please, on behalf of all of us imperfect but “willing to bust our butts” to reach people for Jesus: if you aren’t spiritually mature enough to stop beating up other Christians on social media, then for the sake of the Great Commission, at least stop killing the Christian movement: UN-PLUG.

Would you electronically behave, for God’s sake?

By the way, this one you can copy to all your friends!

Ten Ways to Clean up Communication

  1. Pray before you speak, write, tweet, blog—especially if you’re upset.
  2. Never listen to another person speak negatively about someone who is not present. (The term for this is gossip, which is a sin).
  3. No matter how communication comes to you, STOP-THINK-DECIDE. What is the spiritually healthy way to respond? Choose the form of your response proactively. Never just react by mimicking the way it came to you. Two wrongs don’t make it right. They make it worse.
  4. If someone offends you, follow Jesus’ direction in Matthew 18: (1) Go to the person and meet face to face. (This does not mean asking them to meet you on your turf. It could mean a neutral site for both). (2) If you don’t make progress, return a second time and take an objective, spiritually mature person with you. (3) If you still do not make progress, involve wise leaders from your church who have “the mind of Christ” and who  are impartial.
  5. When interacting with other Christians, practice low control/high accountability. We are not called to “exercise lordship” over people, like the kings of the Gentiles, (Luke 22:25, ESV), but to “speak the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV).
  6. Do not avoid sensitive issues with the excuse that you “don’t like conflict.” No normal person likes conflict. Christian behavior is not always about doing what you “like”.
  7. Never copy others about an issue you have with someone else. This is slander. Check out the Eighth Commandment.
  8. Focus on Christian charity when you have an issue with pastors and leaders. You are called to act with respect toward those who are in authority. This is a theme of the Fourth Commandment.
  9. Do not publicly criticize other ministries or visible Christian leaders. Contact them privately. Focus on loving corrections, repentance, forgiveness, rather than public criticism, judgmentalism, and a spirit of self-righteousness. Pray for others who mess up.
  10. As you speak the truth in love, start and end with appreciation for the positive. Don’t avoid hard subjects, but surround them with identified positives.


Key Resources

  • Christian Leadership Coaching (service). Corunna: Church Doctor Ministries. www.ChurchDoctor.org.
  • Freeman, Eric. Mixed Messages: When Praise and Slander Collide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Plat-form, 2013.
  • Gangel, Kenneth O. Communication and Conflict Management in Churches and Christian Organizations. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2002.
  • Hunt, June. Confrontation [June Hunt Hope for the Heart]: Challenging Others to Change. Torrance: Aspire Press, 2013.
  • Leod, F. Wayne Mac. If Your Brother Sins: Resolving Church Conflicts: A Study of Matthew 18:15-17. Nova Scotia: Light to My Path Book Distribution, 2012.
  • Munzenmaier, Cecilia. Write Better Emails: How to Stand Out by Being Short, Civil, and Savvy. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
  • Williams, Timothy. Gossip and the Gospel. Enumclaw: Wine-Press Publishing, 2004.

KRH Photo 2010 (edge faded)Kent Hunter, Founder of Church Doctor Ministries, describes himself as “an incurable missionary.” His focus over the last several decades has been to help Christians and churches through transformational change to become more effective in reaching those who are not yet Christians—to the end of making disciples. Kent is a certified Church Doctor who consults congregations of all sizes, from a wide variety of traditions and backgrounds. Kent says he is a theologian and a missiologist, with a pastor’s heart. He has served as a pastor in several congregations and trained Christian leaders on six continents. His latest projects have been the eighteen DVD teaching series, The Damascus Road: When Christians Become Missionaries and the twenty-four DVD series, Healthy Leaders Thrive! Connect with Kent via email, TwitterFacebook

To schedule a phone appointment to discuss this topic further with Kent, call Terry Atz at 1-800-626-8515.

PURPOSE: To connect with those who have an active relationship with Church Doctor Ministries as peers in ministry, clients, and partners in prayer and support.

The Church Doctor® Report provides a quick read of strategic and influential information. This information is free to share as long as the source is respected: The Church Doctor® Report, www.churchdoctor.org. Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

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Church Doctor Ministries in Belize, Central America

GroupCChurch leaders from 10 congregations in the Belize City (Central America) area attended a July 11-12 discipleship conference sponsored by Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS) and partner congregations working with CALMS to make disciples and build houses for the poor in the community of Ladyville, a suburb of Belize City.

DiscussCThe conference included eight presenters who shared on topics such as relational discipleship, spiritual formation, equipping new disciples and new disciple-makers, and discipleship strategies. Bible study, worship, and prayer were a key part of the conference designed to help the Belize congregations make and grow disciples of Jesus who live for and represent Jesus every day!

TraceeKentCChurch Doctor Ministries attended this conference. Kent Hunter, founder, presented on discipling new Christians and new leaders. Tracee Swank, leader, presented to spiritual formation. David Bruce, intern, assisted during the conference.

 

booksChurch Doctor Ministries distributed 300 books to pastors who attended. Thanks to everyone who supported this effort by donating, praying, and organizing!

Here are additional plans for the Church Doctor Ministries team while they are in Belize.

  • DavidBruceJuly 13 – Traveling to Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite community.
  • July 14 – Visit the Good Shepherd Clinic (medical clinic) and Octavia Waight Home for the Aged.
  • July 15 – Visit La Gracia Village for bible teachings with children and adults.
  • July 16 – Visit several families who received homes through CALMS’ Housing/Discipling Ministry.

Church Doctor Ministries thanks everyone who served as prayer and support partners for this trip. You may see more updates and pictures via Facebook and Twitter.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

 

Complaints or Spiritual Restlessness? Tips to Focus Holy Restlessness

HolyDiscontentNobody likes a complainer. Every church has a few – those whose “glass is half empty.” They are never satisfied. They gripe about the weeds in the landscaping, complain that the pastor preaches too long, and they can’t stand the new music. They’re irritated by the children who make noise in church and say the youth group disrespects God because they wear blue jeans.

Sometimes complainers work their way into the church board. They pour discouragement on the leaders like water on a fire. They are a pastor’s worst nightmare. Yeah, everyone knows – or has known – a person like this.

Complainers are often consumers. They want everything their way. They have an inflated opinion of their own opinion. It is an issue of spiritual insecurity and weak faith development.

Since complainers exist in every church, it is hard to identify a move of God we’ve seen in churches over the last few years. Most pastors aren’t even aware of this major spiritual movement…yet!

Focus on these issues:

  • When we work with churches, we conduct one-on-one, confidential interviews. It’s amazing what you learn, as an outsider, when you promise not to share who said what! Several years ago, we began noticing a trend. We began to see an increasing number of church leaders who shared frustration about their churches. These, however, are not “complainers.” They are mature Christians, heavily involved in their churches. They love their pastors and generously support God’s work. They have not shared their frustrations, because they don’t want to hurt the church. They remain strong in Bible study and are committed to outreach.
  • This is what they say: “I wish our church could do more.” “I’d like our church to be more effective.” “It seems like there should be more people in worship.” “Our church should have a greater role in our community.” “It seems like Christianity should have greater impact on our culture.” “If this nation continues the way it’s going, spiritually, I fear it’s not going to be a very good place for my grandchildren.” Question: have you ever, privately, had these thoughts? If so, brace yourself for a new insight.
  • These are not the thoughts of chronic complainers. Through an act of God, they have “holy discontent” or “spiritual restlessness.” Studying the history of revivals (and having worked with several overseas), I have noticed that when God raises people with “spiritual restlessness,” it represents an early stage of “awakening.” This is a spiritual “wake-up call” for the church. It is a spiritual renewal, a reinvigoration of spiritual health. It includes back-to-basics-biblical Christianity. Those with “holy discontent” are “early adopters,” the pioneers. They are those who God has chosen to encourage and influence others in the church. They are selected by the Holy Spirit.
  • The key for every church is to organize those who have been touched with this “holy restlessness.” Some may be among the leadership of the church. Many are not. I recommend you organize them into a Vision Team. Begin to focus their “holy restlessness” toward spiritual strategies to prepare your church for a revival in the land. For most churches, that will take a minimum of two years. So start now! Get ready!

The evidence is clear: God is on the move in North America.

How does your church organize people with holy restlessness? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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