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Archive for January, 2010

Recently I came across a web page for a ministry called Vision360 co-founded by Steve Johnson, together with Al Weiss, President, Worldwide Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. (this has to do with the little church big church postings….the little church was to be a part of Vision 360 if they decided to hand themselves over to big church).   The mission of Vision 360  is to “serve and empower a collaborative church planting community in 500 global cities by 2025.” The plan is as follows, “Each city will have a City Catalyst who will work closely with the pastors to recruit church planters and business leaders, assess church planters at the national assessment center, raise the funds necessary for the church planters and then supervise the church plants. After money has been raised, each city movement becomes self-sustaining as each church plant will then give back 5% of their general fund offerings to fund future church plants.” This means there will be an outside person involved in each of the church plants, answering back to this organization. It’s almost as if they are setting up a denomination that people in each individual church may not realize they are a part of. These churches are “non-denominational” from what I can see. Each city has a “visionary” and I know one of them myself…from my former church. He’s the lead pastor.

More information on this Vision360 organization is that they are naming the training center after Bill and Vonette Bright. Erwin McMannus is on the board. A Google search cache shows Dan Southerland (I believe he’s from Saddleback originally) was one of the “visionaries.”   They are using the Lausanne Covenant, this is something I know little to nothing about.  Anyone out there know about it?
http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:a8lOoYioBD0J:www.vision360.org/contentpages.aspx%3Fparentnavigationid%3D1341%26viewcontentpageguid%3D7fe6c057-79bc-4c27-903d-c00b93ef49f4+vision+360+dan+southerland&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

So what is this all about? http://www.vision360.org/

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A local church was in the process of merging with my former church (this former church has used seeker friendly methods as well as seems to be going the way of spiritual formation).  The leadership of the little church “asked for help” according to the recorded meeting I heard online.  The little church actually is an older church, paid off property with a private school.  It’s an older church than my former church and has been declining sharply in attenders. 

The plan, as lined out in a meeting opened up to both the little church and my former church, was that the little church would combine with my former church (I’ll call it big church for simplicity).  Big church came in and said they offered to help financially and also would bring a group of people over to little church to attend.  They also were going to have their elder board take over decisions for little church.  Big church was bringing a pastor, and then little church was keeping a pastor.  Another pastor was also coming in.  Little church owned their property outright, and the deed of that property might go to big church…no one seemed to answer for sure. 

Little church would likely have new leadership, new people attending, but also would have a new name.  Things were going to change.  Eventually, big church was going to step back and let little church stand on it’s own (but not until it was successful on it’s corner…after it had been lead by big church elders with two pastors they had not hired themselves). 

The  question of what would happen to the school came up, and I’m not sure what the plan was.  The big church leadership mentioned the school becoming a non-profit seperate from the actual church.  This was complicating things for sure as the decisions about the school came from the little church.  Many in little church worked in the school. 

Well, I began praying for little church.  Other prayed as well.  Little church took a vote,  and it’s been announced on big church’s website that little church has “decided not to accept” help from big church.  Hopefully, little church can now find a way to sustain itself without giving themselves over to a big church with transformation on the brain, or even the latest seeker friendly trend.  I cannot assume that little church doesn’t believe in the same kind of things big church does.  It may have all been based on power and finances.  I can only hope though that little church saw through big church and discernment won out.

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1 Peter 4:16-19 (New International Version from Bible Gateway)

16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
   “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
      what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

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 (Acts 11 from Bible Gateway NIV version)  19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Why would I want to disassociate myself with the term “Christian?”  These disciples did everything I would hope to do as a believer in Christ, a disciple.  They preached and shared the gospel, they took care of those in need within the body, they spent time hearing good teaching, they supported each other. Moreover, they had the Holy Spirit, they had faith. They are the ones called Christian, what gives people the idea that those persecuting them were the ones who labeled them as such?  Maybe it was the name given by Romans…but it has stuck for a reason. 

It seems to me the seeker friendly style churches miss something when they refuse to use the name Christian.  They say they want to have numbers added to them, they want to meet the needs of others and serve in love, and yet don’t call themselves Christian?  Those who were called Christian in Antioch had it right, so I’d rather associate with them and not rename myself just to make those around me who don’t believe in Christ more comfortable. 

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I am a Christian, that is who I am.  This means I believe in Jesus Christ, He is my savior because I need Him.  I sin, have sinned, need His sacrifice for my sins.  He is the only way to heaven, and He drew me to Him.  On my own, I would not have come to Him. 

In the “Who Am I?” section of this blog a few recent comments have tried to point out that they do not want to be associated with the term Christian because of history and the ways people have acted while calling themselves Christian.  To me, it’s a denial of the body.  Anyone can say “I’m a Christian” but not anyone IS a Christian.  To disassociate myself with those in history who died as Christians is to deny who I am.  I am one of those.  I would die for Christ as a follower, as one who is also known as Christian.  I know people believe lies about the body of Christ.  I know people have done things in the name of Christ and have not behaved as they should.  I believe denying my Christian brothers and sisters throughout history, and those now around the world truly being persecuted is cowardly.  Making others more comfortable with a new name won’t work.  If you are truly regenerated and have a new label, they’ll lie about you too.  If you walk around following Jesus with this new label, you’ll eventually have people join you who will taint the name.  It’s what happens, no way can any group be true believers and not offend the world around them.  So, renaming yourself will backfire.  People are not persecuting Christians because of the name Christian.  They are persecuting Christians because they don’t like Christ.  People are not refusing to join the body of  Christ because of the misdeeds of past or current people labeling themselves Christian, they are refusing to join the body of Christ because they refuse to be saved, to give up their sin, to truly follow.  We are all sinners, and only through the grace and mercy of Christ are any of us saved.  A new name won’t change this fact.

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