Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Origins - Part 1

What follows is based on the original vision document I wrote in 2006 when starting Sun Ministries. As I look back over the last ten years I have realized that I have gotten sidetracked a bit with the physical realities of ministry. These realities are a necessary part of our ministry but they are not the essence of what we do. Sun Ministries was being defined by these physical expressions of our work. To some we were the Cafe run by a ministry and not the ministry that was planting faith communities by multiplying disciples. Sun Ministries is now  correcting course to be true to the calling that God placed on my life, the calling that started the ministry. God is calling His people to live by His design. Sun Ministries is here to facilitate that work.

Dr. Terry M. Goodwin

Build up the family of God by supporting the local church. Building community among the church with truth at the core.

Twenty years after graduating from high school I returned to my old hometown. It was a town like thousands of other small American towns. In the time since I left, the town had grown a little. Including the surrounding area the population had almost doubled. I had visited several times since I left but this time was different. I was returning there to live. Since my graduation, God had become a central part of my life. As I looked at the local churches in this town I noticed something. None of them looked any different than they did 20 years earlier. One had even closed its doors and the building was now a day care. I had been living in large metropolitan areas and attending large growing churches so I wondered why were these so “dead”?

Over the next few years God began to open my eyes to some problems with the church. These problems have now become to me what Bill Hybel’s refers to as “holy discontent”. That is best described as the thing that bothers you that also bothers God. When you meet with God at your Holy discontent your emotions are stirred. You become choked up and overwhelmed. Your passion is stirred to the point that you cannot sit by and watch it go unnoticed. You want to run headlong into the problem yelling to everyone “Can’t you see it? This thing is breaking God’s heart.” That is where I am today with the condition of the American church. I am going to now ask you to open your hearts and minds to the plight of the American church and what is being done about it.

The consensus among large churches and large church movement leaders is that a lack of leadership is what’s wrong with the local church today. George Barna has identified this as the number one problem facing the church. I agree in part. The leaders of large churches have turned their focus internal and overseas neglecting the local church. Since Christ is the head of the church we have the best leadership possible if we do things His way and we have not. The buzz for today is to have an Acts 2 church. This is used to talk about the community that a church should have among believers. No where does the Bible indicate that this community is only within each individual church. Let’s look at a portion of Acts 2.

Act 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; Act 2:45 and they {began} selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Act 2:46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, Act 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The word all is used in this passage. As you look through the book of Acts you can see that the churches were very inter-dependent with each other. Inter-dependency is the battle cry of many small group ministries today. The idea of community and inter-dependency has been reformulated and turned to an internal focus in the church. The early church had built inter-dependency between the churches in other locations. The church today has lost that quality. We see churches supporting inner city churches and we see churches supporting churches with other racial make up but nowhere have I found where the church is inter-dependent like the church of Acts.

Take this simple test.
  1. How many churches are there in your own denomination within 100 miles of your church?
  2. How many does your church work with and support in ministry?
  3. How many are struggling under what the church today has deemed poor leadership?
If the only question above that you can answer accurately is number 2 and the answer is none then you can start to see where I am coming from. The modern church in America has answered the plight of the church in two ways. They look to building leadership and reform the church through church planting. Denominations will concede that it is easier to plant new churches than it is to strengthen the ones that remain. The reason they prefer this model is that they believe no one knows how to revive a dead church. I am going to test both of these solutions according to Scripture and see if the Bible tells us how God would have us minister to the church. 


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate what you all are doing. I'd love to learn more of the missional aspect of what you do. I'm glad it's happening in Hyde Park.

Dr. Terry M. Goodwin said...

I would love to sit down and discuss it with you. Email me to arrange a time and place. terry@sunministries.org