Saturday, November 11, 2017

Origins - Part 3

Larger suburban churches are seeing their growth as blessing from God when in actuality they are losing ground. According to Barna Research only 1% of American churches are actually growing from anything other than transfer growth from existing churches. In his book titled “Planting Growing Churches”, author Aubrey Malphurs points out some startling facts about the American church. He says 80 – 85% of American churches have stopped growing or in a state of decline. There are approximately 350,000 congregations in America. 30, 000 ceased to exist in the 80’s and it is estimated that another 100,000 have ceased to exist between then and now. Why is the church in America dying at such a pace? The eye has told the hand it has no need of it. What will be the result of this? See what the rest of the 1 Corinthians passage has to say.

1Cr 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1Cr 12:27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
1Cr 12:28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, {various} kinds of tongues.
1Cr 12:29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not {workers of} miracles, are they?
1Cr 12:30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Two things are outlined in this section. All the members will suffer when any part of the body suffers and we will miss a more excellent way of fulfilling God’s ministry. It is with all of this in mind that God has brought me to this place today. I see the warning in Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” I look at the church in America today and I do not see the leaders heeding this warning. God did not say be on guard for a portion of the flock or shepherd some of the church.

So I asked myself “what am I to do”? I cannot sit and watch the bride of Christ suffer. This is where Sun Ministries comes in. I must ask you to stop at this point and consider what I have said. If you disagree with me at this point on the condition of, future of, and God’s intention for the church, you may want to stop reading. If God has not convicted you by now that the church needs help and inter-dependency then you will be following the idea for wrong motives. If you have examined the Scripture and your eyes have been opened or your existing convictions have been confirmed, then you should continue.

What is Sun Ministries?

The word Sun here is the Greek word sun {soon}. It means “with”. It denotes union, a companion or to come alongside. The purpose of the ministry is to come along side the local church and help to strengthen it. This will be a challenging and complex undertaking. Remember what I quoted earlier, no one knows how to do this. We are entering uncharted territory. I believe that God will build His church and that He can direct our steps. I have many ideas on how to accomplish this objective but I must remember what 1 Corinthians says.

1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Our basis for ministry will be the unity of the body of Christ around a core of truth. We will outline what we consider to be God's design for the church. Any church that can be dedicated to functioning by God's design can be included in our network of inter-dependent churches. Our goal is to provide all support free of charge. Faith communities we plant can request assistance of the ministry in many forms. We will utilize many different methods to meet the needs of these churches. Some of the support ideas already planned are financial assistance, short term work teams, ministry teams to assist the church in discipleship development, training materials designed with disciple multiplying and biblical church function in mind, and service opportunities with other small churches. 

We will be the organizer and overseer of many short-term mission opportunities. Imagine being able to go to Sun Ministries web page and sign your small group up for a short term mission trip that is within 3 or 4 hour drive from home. You load up the team on Friday night, work all day Saturday, feast with the church on Saturday night and join them in worship on Sunday. Your whole team can be back home by Sunday night. No time off work and the chance to be a blessing to another part of the body of Christ and with very little monetary expense. Now imagine a network of churches using the gifts of the body of Christ in such a manner to organize service events and reach their local area for Christ. When you start to see the picture I am painting here you can only imagine the impact we can have on America for Christ as we utilize the gifts and resources God has given us to reach all parts of America and not just the booming suburbs.

Our ministry will operate through spiritual gifts. At the core of this ministry is prayer. Without prayer we cannot be successful in ministry. It is the power of God. Team building will be an important part of our ministry. The Leadership Center trains and equips our teams and other volunteers for service. They will be responsible for equipping the leaders of our ministry with proper training, materials and opportunity. It will also make and distribute materials made especially for the needs of the small church and our ministry. They will also work with volunteer members to give them opportunity to use their God given gifts to care for the bride of Christ. They will organize short-term mission trips and put into action the priorities of the ministry. It will oversee the daily operations of the ministry

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