What Is Wrong with the Church

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

As we enter into 2016 I have had some thoughts recently. I have been a Christian since 1979. I have been in many churches. In my early years I was a member of the old Baptist Union. I was saved in a free evangelical church. I then went into the Assemblies of God. From the Assemblies of God owing to a series of unfortunate events in my Christian life and being baptised in the Holy Spirit while in the pentecostal church I then went into Elim. From there I became an independent pentecostal Christian.

I have seen many things in my life and as many of you know I have travelled to many countries. I have just come back from one of the largest countries in the world with a population of 1.4 billion and I have met many Christians from many denominations here in the UK and also abroad. I have been a pastor in large churches and small churches. I have seen the many miracles that Jesus spoke about, healings from cancers and tinnitus, blind eyes opening, the deaf hearing, hearts being restored spiritually and physically, and I am amazed at the power and the majesty of our Almighty Father.

But like many of you I have longed for true revival. I have seen manifestations of what man believes to be revival but Toronto and other sparks of God’s power I believe have been snuffed out by man. There is a problem in the body of Christ. Many commentators such as Leonard Ravenhill and other great saints of God who have gone on before us have highlighted that the problem with the church in the United Kingdom and across the world is a lack of prayer. The Bible tells us clearly, ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7: 14). I long for a day hopefully in my lifetime when the church of Jesus Christ will get serious about prayer. If we put on a chicken supper or a banquet or a praise and worship night, many churches across London and across this country will be full, but sadly when it comes to prayer the prayer meetings in many churches are empty. I would even suggest in many individuals’ lives their prayer life is barren and they wonder why they do not seem to succeed. Many great women and men of the past such as Müller, Tozer, Whitfield and Wesley understood the power of prayer. So I pray quietly that there will be an enthusiastic return to prayers across our nation: not just once a week for an hour giving God a shopping list but solid intercessory prayer. We have seen it in such places as Seoul Korea where they have prayer mountains.

I am 100% convinced if we in the United Kingdom want to see true revival, the church needs to repent and turn back to the things of God and not clever schemes, not clever programmes, but getting down on our knees and praying for the lost, the widow, the lonely and the downcast, and not just them, but the rich, the powerful, our MPs, our Queen, all strata of society, as I know this will bring revival and restoration for our nation. I hope when you read this you will ponder and seek God for yourself, as you do not need to go to buildings; we just need people across the nation to burst into spontaneous prayer in their communities.

God bless you. My prayer for 2016 is we start to take back that which the devil has stolen: our cities, our towns, our families, our children, our nation. Amen

No Reputation

I wonder why…

I wonder why some missionaries are still trying to replicate their home culture in the countries they are working in. I thought we had learned that cultural imperialism was not the way to extend the kingdom of God. Why do some denominations still land in a new country with the aim of building a copy of their home organisation instead of planting culturally appropriate churches? I have always preferred to listen to and work with indigenous churches in Cambodia and Myanmar rather than set up my own empire. How would Jesus do mission?

I wonder why Christians are so keen on criticising and judging others while seeking to justify or ignore their own failings. How would Jesus relate to the ‘tax gatherers and sinners’ of today? How would He deal with Christians who have made mistakes or fallen into sin?

I wonder why church politics are such a hindrance to the work of the kingdom. Why is there so much jostling for power and position in the church? Why is the ‘I did it my way’ attitude so prevalent? How would Jesus run your church?

I wonder why church meetings can so easily degenerate into a performance. Where are the servant worship leaders and musicians whose only desire is to lead us into the presence of God? How would Jesus help us to worship His Father?

Philippians 2: 7 (NKJV) tells us that Jesus ‘made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant’. He left the glory of heaven; as a newborn baby He was placed in an animal’s feeding trough; as an adult on the road He had ‘nowhere to lay His head’; He had to accept the hospitality and generosity of others; He ‘did not come to be served, but to serve’; He submitted to a mistrial, a brutal flogging and the curse of death on a cross.

Because Jesus lived and died in this way, all our sins, past, present and future, and all the sins of others whom we so easily condemn, have been forgiven.

Philippians 2: 5 (NKJV) instructs us, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’, or (NLT) ‘Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.

How would Jesus do mission? Humbly, with grace towards the people he came to serve and save.

How would Jesus relate to the ‘tax gatherers and sinners’ of today? The same way as He did to the tax gatherers and sinners whose company He enjoyed in first-century Galilee and Judaea: with love, forgiveness and acceptance.

How would Jesus run your church? As a servant-leader, a gracious, patient pastor and teacher, whose chief desire is for the spiritual health and maturity of His brothers and sisters.

How would Jesus help us to worship His Father? He would turn our eyes away from ourselves, the band, the singers, and help us to give our all in focused adoration.

Which is more important to you and to me: our reputation? Or the glory of God?

Why Do We Do Church the World’s Way?

I always thought the church was supposed to go into the world, but I am wondering whether too many Christians have let the world get into the church.

Let me give you three examples.

Giving

Do you give to God’s work? I’m sure you do. But what about your motive for giving?

  • Do you give only to your pet project or cause?
  • Do you give only when a man in a shiny suit on TV tells you to give to his ministry?
  • Do you give only because you think God will give back to you if you do?

I call upon the church (and that includes you if you are a Christian) to give as God directs, to give out of a pure heart, to give with no thought of any return, to give in secret and to give to the little guy — the low-profile, small-scale, grass-roots ministries.

The world’s way is to broadcast its generosity for all to see (just watch Children in Need for an example). Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6: 3-4, NIV).

Gifts and Fruit

I am happy to be known as a Pentecostal Christian. I believe in spiritual gifts. I use the gifts. But the gifts are given for a purpose: for the common good (1 Corinthians 12: 7, NIV) ; for the building up of the church (1 Corinthians 14: 12, NIV); for the strengthening of the church (1 Corinthians 14: 26, NIV). They are not given to be paraded as badges of authority or status symbols.

What was Jesus more concerned with, gifts or fruit? Did He say, “by their gifts you will know them”? No, “By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them” (Matthew 7: 16-20, NIV).

I call upon the church to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the purpose for which they were intended by the giver, and to bear fruit that endures by abiding in the true vine, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15: 1-17).

The world’s way is self aggrandisement, blowing one’s own trumpet (just listen to a politician being interviewed). Jesus’ way is humility, service and contentment. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6: 10-11, NIV).

Power

I run my own business. My company’s chief objective is to generate funds for the work of God’s kingdom. The business is managed according to kingdom principles. It is a joy and a privilege to have Jesus as the managing director. What I am less happy about is when churches or Christian ministries take on the characteristics of business:

  • Rich and powerful organisations offering to help a struggling ministry ‘but only if you do things our way’.
  • Leaders of high-profile ministries insisting on using an executive jet when a scheduled flight would do.
  • Pastors functioning more like company directors than shepherds of the flock.
  • Churches treating their members like employees who have to toe the company line — or else.

I call upon the church to ponder the warning of Jesus to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1 (NIV): “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead”.

The world’s way is to fight your way to the top and by all possible means stay there. Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 42-45, NIV).

I Did It My Way

When we stand before God and give an account for the way we have discharged our responsibilities, particularly those of us who are church leaders, I hope that we shall be able to say, not “I did it my way”, nor “I did it the world’s way”, but “I have done the will of Him who sent me.”