Thoughts From The Staff

Filter By:

Church Evaluation

main image

As another year winds down it is natural for a pastor to evaluate the state of the church at year’s end.  But Christ’s evaluation of a church exceeds all others.  In the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation Christ sent a message to seven local churches in Asia Minor.  These churches were specially selected and arranged to illustrate characteristics New Testament churches through the centuries would reflect.  They also likely illustrate churches themselves throughout history.  With that in mind how would Faith Baptist (you/me/us) compare?

The church in Ephesus was commended for its hard work, for not growing weary in serving God, and for condemning false teachers.  However, though their doctrine and works were good they had abandoned Christ as their first love.  Jesus wanted their hearts, not just their heads and hands.

The church in Smyrna is commended by Jesus for enduring their afflictions well, and for being rich spiritually though they were very poor financially.  They were apparently being persecuted by religionists under the direction of Satan.  Religionists have offered some of the greatest persecution of Christ’s obedient churches throughout history.  This church received no rebuke from Jesus.

The church in Pergamum was recognized by Christ for their difficult situation.  They lived “where Satan has his throne” and “where Satan lives.”  They had been true to God under very ominous circumstances and conditions.  However, they were rebuked by Christ for embracing some morals that were cultural rather than biblical as well as for accepting some pagan doctrines.  

The church in Thyatira was commended by Christ as growing in the areas of love, faith, service and perseverance.  However, they were rebuked by the Lord for embracing a self-proclaimed “prophetess.” She was teaching sexual immorality which Jesus called adultery, and they were eating food sacrificed to idols.  Jesus said all who followed such would suffer intensely.

The church in Sardis received only one word of approval from Jesus, which was actually a word of rebuke.  Jesus stated they had a reputation for “being alive.”  Other churches viewed them as an effective church.  Jesus rebuked them by stating they were dead.  He stated He had not found their deeds complete in the sight of God, and they were to wake up from their spiritual slumber, exhorting them to remember…obey…and repent.

The church in Philadelphia was commended by Jesus, who knew of their deeds.  Jesus said He had placed an open door before them that no one could shut.  He also commended them for not denying His name.  There was no rebuke for this church, but Jesus said that though they had kept His word He knew they had little strength.

The last church was in Laodicea.  No word of commendation was given to them because both they and their pastor were lukewarm.  Though materially wealthy, successful and self-sufficient Jesus told them they were actually pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  Many theologians believe the Laodicean church represents the church in the last age.  It is frightening how closely it resembles many churches in America with our wealth, pride, carnal doctrine and desire for worldly approval.

That leaves us wondering where Faith Baptist Church is at the end of 2019!  A few thoughts I have as pastor:

- I am hopeful that Christ would commend Faith Baptist in a few of these areas.  Our adherence to God’s word/doctrine, spiritual richness and generosity, and ongoing growth in the areas of love and faith are areas in which I would commend our church.  Some areas we might be rebuked for is our abandonment of Christ as our first love, a slumbering and avoiding sacrificial service/deeds to Christ, and feeling we are “hot” when in reality we are “lukewarm” in many areas related to Christ and His kingdom work and purpose.

- I grow increasingly concerned at how easily we miss or drop out of church and our worship together.  Many Christians believe they can sufficiently love, serve and please Christ apart from the  involvement in church Christ taught throughout the New Testament.  Churches have pastors, elders/overseers and deacons.  We have clear instructions on accountability and discipline of members.  Individuals are commanded to use their gifts for “the edification of others.”  The younger are to submit to and learn from the older and wiser.  Christianity is lived out individually.  However, it was created on earth and will be experienced in eternity in the context of community (living stones, a kingdom of priests, parts of the body, branches on a vine and family).   It is interesting that our early service with predominantly older, mature believers does not remotely experience the weekly worship attendance swings we experience in the late service.  A very small percentage of our early service may miss worship together on a Sunday, but our late service can experience a 35% attendance difference from one week to the next.  

- Faith Baptist is only as pleasing to Christ as the sum of its individuals.  When overseers protect, plan and lead the flock, and deacons show leadership through serving as Christ served, and children/youth workers catch a vision of the impact they leave one Sunday at a time on our young people, and directors “shepherd” their departments, and teachers impart God’s word/doctrines/commands, and people lead with gifts of service, mercy, evangelism, giving, administration and such, our church garners the praise and commendation of Christ.  When we don’t individually contribute, our church is rebuked by the Lord.

I am very proud to pastor Faith Baptist Church.  We are a vibrant, spiritual and Christ-seeking church!  But we are also flawed and sinful humans who can fall into the comforts and approval of our world than into being the set-apart, holy and sacrificial lives Christ called His disciples to embrace.    

Posted by Craig Lile with

Making God's Word Prominent in Our Homes

main image

Recently, our youngest (adopted internationally 18 months ago), answered a question in a class at church. The teacher said, “How do we hear God?” He raised his hand and proudly and loudly answered “we hear God by reading the Bible!” His teacher shared this with me later as an encouragement that our son is listening and learning and taking in all of the overwhelming amounts of information that have been thrown at him in the last year and a half in his second language. He is learning at home and at church (thanks to lots of leaders who are patiently investing in him every week) about this Great Big God and His Great Big Story. Our kids are like sponges. Even when we think they aren’t paying attention, they are soaking in all of the things that are around them every day. In 2016, LifeWay conducted a survey with parents of grown children who had raised those children in the church. The survey set out to answer the question “What can I as a parent do to most highly influence my children to become spiritually healthy adults?” With staggering results, the number 1 most positive influence (for kids who had grown up in the church and were still believing the truth of the Gospel and living out their faith) was regularly reading the Bible.

 So, what does this mean for our homes and how should it affect the culture of our families?

This summer in our children’s ministry, our kids were given a Bible Reading Plan that went through Psalm 119, a study on God’s Word and why it is so important. I think this chapter in Psalms gives us a good place to start.

-God’s Word needs to be in our hearts and minds- Psalm 119:11 says “I have treasured your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.” We believe firmly that hiding His Word in our hearts is one of our best tools for fighting the enemy and our best way to always have the Bible with us to guide our paths. So, we memorize Scripture, and we help our children memorize Scripture. We recognize how easily they can learn things at a young age, and so we listen to songs of Scripture and we use repetition, so His Word is filling up their days and minds. We memorize with them, so they see that learning His Word and loving His Word is a lifelong journey. We talk about the Gospel in our homes, along the way, when we rise, and when we wake (Deuteronomy 6). Sally Clarkson says that “in the absence of Biblical conviction, people go the way of culture.” So we start early and intentionally sharing big truths of the Bible because we want theology to be set firmly within them so as they face the world they will not sway.

-God’s Word needs to be in our hands and in our vision. Psalm 119:18 says “Open my eyes that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction.” We help our children see the importance of the Bible by constantly having it in our laps, in our hands, on our walls, on our table, in our sight. From the earliest of ages, they are learning what’s important by what they see us doing, what they see us holding, what they see us displaying, what they see us coming back to day after day. So, we have the Word in front of us alone each morning, letting it be our guiding force. We start the day begging God to let them see us modeling what they see us reading. We have the Word in front us each day together, spending time as a family holding this gift and reading aloud its treasures. We end our day begging God to give us excitement for His Word and to let His love story change our family from the inside out. We teach our children how to read and study and apply God’s Word for themselves. We teach them to ask questions and we help search for answers so that eventually they are standing on their own faith and not ours. We show them that through our knowledge of Him and because of His divine power we have been given everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

 -God’s Word needs to be on our mouths and in our ears. Psalm 119:171 says “My lips pour out praise, for you teach me your statues.” We spend our days proclaiming praises for our powerful God. The more we learn about Him through His Word, the easier it is to spend our days sharing with our kids His mighty works. We also use His Word (as 2 Timothy 3 tells us) “for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” When our children mess up, we show them what the Scriptures say and how our desire is for our family to live the way His Word says to. And when our children mess up again (as they will), we also use His Word to show them that His grace is boundless and His mercies are new every morning. When their parents mess up again (and again as we will), we show them how His Word tells us of our need to repent and ask for forgiveness, and we model this for them. We read the Word to them and we teach them the stories of the Bible. We tell them how all the small stories make up One Big Story of God’s great plan for redemption for His people and the glory of His name. When our children hear us speak His Word aloud in our day-to-day tasks, they realize that knowing His Word is important and that His truth can be applied to all aspects of our lives.

We intentionally make His Word prominent in our homes because we know the entirety of His Word is true (Psalm 119:160) and that, therefore, it needs to guide them and it needs to guide us. We intentionally make His Word prominent in our homes because we want it to change the lives of our kids, but we know we need it to first change us as parents. We intentionally make His Word prominent in our homes because we know that while the Bible can give us answers on how to live, above all it shows us the Sovereignty of the One we need to live for. So, we pray that we won’t just know God’s Word but that we will know the God Who wrote it and that by drawing near to the One Who penned the book, it will change our hearts and our minds, our hands and our vision, our mouths and our ears for the sake of His kingdom and His glory.

Posted by Beth Edfeldt with

Previous12345678910 ... 1617