Tuesday, January 06, 2009



· Shortly before or after January 1 each year, letters from friends scattered around the world… What is God doing in your church?
· This year, my answer has been simple:

Pray more; Preach well; Pastor the people as shepherd to the sheep; Proclaim to as many as will listen

· I say that because that just about summarizes what Jesus and the Apostles did that spread our faith across the Roman Empire in one generation. Only addition—death…
· Today, I want to share in more depth than the 4P’s every church should be doing, why I think God is doing something awesome in our midst.
· The most important thing about Christian leadership is knowing what God is doing, and then making sure you are doing that too.
· In John 5, it says this: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
· This is the key to leadership. Ask God what he is doing in prayer, and do that until he shows you the next thing to do.
· That has been the first few years of this church. He said worship on Sunday and gather people. God’s way> As many churches as kinds of people > Each one a tribe
· So what makes the CEC and our local church different from others?

1. What differentiates our church from others the most is we bring together dynamics of worship and Christian life from the ancient Church, the Reformed Church, and modern evangelical Spirit-filled Church. In the CEC we call this convergence.

· What sets us apart from most other mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Pentecostal/charismatic churches is convergence.
· Think of the Protestant church like a broken windshield on a car. There are thousands of Protestant denominations, communions, movements, and independent churches all divided over minor differences and emphases.
· Convergence is the reunion of the divided church back into a church that is one.

2. We are a mission church. This means we are in our first decade of life so please do not expect us to be what a 25, 50, or 100 year-old church is.

· All churches had a beginning and were young once. Churches often grow most when they are young, and it is exciting to be part of God's work in this stage of life.
· With over 300,000 people in the Buffalo area not affiliated with a church, and many more marginally affiliated (inactive), there is still need for missions work here.
· We believe starting new churches is the most effective means of fulfilling the Great Commission. I know some churches that don’t get 30 new people every five years!!!

3. Let's talk about size.

· A young church is not as large as a mature church.
· To use an analogy, as a young church this means we are not a big box supercenter style church offering a little of everything in an impersonal environment.
· Instead, we are a specialty-style church offering higher value and specialized personal services. Our specialties are:

A Our church is a spiritual family.

· Building strong Christian families is a core pillar of St. Patrick's Church.
· However, families that do not pray together because they cannot stay together suffer.
· New York State has the largest net loss of population of all states. I think this has deep spiritual, familial, emotional, sociological, and economic consequences.
· Biggest loss: Families not staying together is breaking the core bonds of family, church, and community life.
· Loneliness, emptiness, feeling vulnerable, fear, loss of helping each other all gone.
· As a pastor and non-profit leader I am concerned about the negative effects that New York State Government policy is having on families, individuals, and businesses in western New York.
· A shrinking population combined with a high number of colleges and universities per capita from bygone days of prosperity compound the problems here.
· There are simply too many educated people with no job possibilities! So people are leaving. Let me share a verse that is important to us as a community:
Jeremiah 31:17 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land.
· Having had numerous church families move out of state for jobs over the past 13 years in two different churches here, including my own oldest son, I believe God is saying part of our role as a church is Jeremiah 31:17.
· I am going to pray this verse all year as intercessors before God’s throne and extend hope to families. Reach out to the lonely separated from family. Students. New to area.

B. I think God has given us a specialty in family ministry… Another specialty is really a subset of that-- our children's ministry. Our two children's leaders each have over 15 years of experience in ministry to children. Pray for God to help us find more…

C. We provide personal pastoral care to all members. You have quick access to the pastor and leaders. Just call me. Email me. I am here…
D. Another specialty is we provide is teaching that is biblical, spiritual, and life-changing.

· A central aim in our church is for discipleship that focused on Bible immersion and formation of a total Christian worldview.
· Our clergy knows what it is like to have a family and work every day. We preach Christ-centered messages after spending time in study and prayer that we will have God’s word for you each week. Pray for us.

E. We also offer participatory worship focused on God.

· To tell you what makes our church different than others we need to compare and contrast with the way other churches operate. I will do one contrast…
· Some churches today have replaced worship focused on God with marketing innovations and entertainment-driven programs to gather large crowds of passive spectators. These are known as "seeker-focused" churches.
· The market-driven church strategy of the seeker churches is to find out what people want, and give it to them designing Sunday gatherings that entice new people to come and gradually get used to church.
· Later, you will be told what God really requires--repentance, conversion, and a commitment to Jesus Christ.
· While we support efforts to make Jesus known to those outside the Church, we do not think these activities constitute worship.
· We believe God is the Seeker--He is seeking people who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4). The focus of worship is God, not man. This is what will bless us most.
· At our church, we clearly teach what Jesus requires to have your sins forgiven and go to heaven every week during communion. We even have a real altar… not steps, rail.
· If you were to die today, we don't want your soul caught in a marketing nexus--we want you in heaven!
· Also, big buildings and salaries require big crowds every weekend. That effects the way a church does things. In contrast, we share a building with another church to keep overhead low so we can invest more into ministry to people. Budget… $ Saved…
· Instead of services designed using marketing principles, our worship uses the blueprint God provides in the Bible and Church history. Synogogue + Temple in Christ.
· Worship is an entrance into the inner courts of God's real presence to give Him praise. Liturgy is the pattern of worship in heaven done on earth. It is spiritual!
· Living in the Abbey 40+ hours… Praying past few months for direction as leader of this church. God gave me a few concrete words… Please let me share them as we close.

Mark 14:37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
· God is asking us this year to pray for our church, our community, our State and for souls to be saved and our children’s ministry and outreaches to bring growth.
· He also gave me two scriptures in Revelation--which always concerns me. I don’t want to go negative or critical. So these passages I see as God’s grace extended to us.
Rev. 2 Church in Ephesus 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

· I believe God is extending grace and seeking the lost sheep—A YEAR OF OUTREACH.
· I asked God how does that apply to us? It is first love. Remember when you first met Jesus how real he was, how committed you were to fellowship, worship, prayer. Some of us need to be like that again.
· Also be aware of prompting God gives.. Never know the people in your life who were once close to God and in church but have fallen away. These are lost sheep; strays.

Rev. 3: 14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

· This is what the old time revival preachers call backsliding. The slippery slope of losing your first love drags you down into the prodigal son pigpen.
· What God is saying is we need to be careful to not let the things of this world cause us to become blind to seeing how our love of Jesus has gotten stale. The answer--change.
· This prophecy ends with—if the shoe fits wear it. Do some altar time.


To summarize, what God is doing in us this year in 2009:
Calling us to celebrate the stage of life we are at as a church. It’s ok to be 6 years old and in first grade. If we are 15 or 30 years and in first grade… that will be another story.
He is calling us to realize New York is in bad shape and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethesemane asking us if we can pray with him for one hour each week to bring hope salvation and hope to our region so our kids can come home.
Evangelism and worship are two different things. John 4—God is seeking those who will worship him in Spirit and truth. I think we need seeker and revival services too, but Sundays are when Christians worship. All are welcome to worship always!
He is calling for repentance from all who have lost their first love and slipped into being lukewarm in our faith because you have let things of the world get in the way of Jesus being first in your life. Like the Laodiceans, when this happens we are blind to it so Jesus has to come and offer us true riches in exchange for the cubic zirconium the devil tricks us into buying.


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