Archive for May, 2011

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 5:1-14
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful
even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible…”
(Eph. 5:11-13)

As a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, I can think of very few topics that are more unpopular than church discipline. Without going into the various reasons as to why church discipline has been all but abandoned in the majority of Southern Baptist churches today, I would rather spend this time examining its Biblical precedent and ramifications.

First of all, Paul addresses the imperative need for church discipline on multiple occasions, and his desired result for believers is always the same – repentance. In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he instructs the local body to “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:5 ESV). We find similar instructions in 2 Thessalonians 3 and 1 Timothy 1:18-20, where Paul’s desired end for putting church members (apparent believers) out of the fellowship was repentance and restoration.

Secondly, Paul speaks in chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians about exposing the deeds of darkness within the body and to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.” This command speaks to identifying wolves in the church, exposing their wickedness and separating them from the body. Paul’s desire for church discipline in this case is to protect the body of Christ and preserve the holiness of His name.

Jesus gives us a clear, practical model of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-20, emphasizing the necessity of repentance before there can be individual and corporate restoration (see verse 17). Christ clearly gives authority to the local church to carry out church discipline. So why is it important? Here are few reasons.

1. Church discipline brings glory to God – Christ is most glorified by His people when they pursue holiness and reflect His image to a lost and dying world.
2. Church discipline creates accountability within the body – a local church that is serious about honoring Christ and growing in holiness will ask its members to submit themselves to Biblical accountability and expectations.
3. Church discipline helps to eliminate hypocrisy – though no church is immune from hypocrisy, a healthy dose of church discipline will weed out the goats and bring the stray sheep back to repentance.
4. Church discipline is truly an act of love – when most people see church discipline as harsh and judgmental, the Bible teaches the value and love in discipline (Hebrews 12), especially in the context of God’s love for His children. Christ gave all authority in heaven to His body here on earth. In other words, for a local church to fail to confront sin and allow its members to malign the name of Christ in public rebellion would be the most unloving thing it could possibly do. Our desire should be above all for lost people to be saved and for God’s people to live lives of repentance in light of God’s word. Nothing can be worse for the believer than to have broken fellowship with the Lord.
5. Church discipline protects the body of Christ – for any church to remain healthy, sin must be dealt with swiftly and consistently. Nothing will weaken and kill a body more quickly than unconfessed sin and rebellion. Sin quenches the Spirit of God. Repentance and restoration sets Him ablaze, bringing freedom, fellowship and worship.
By Marcus Van Every of one8 network

Part of a team

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Being part of a church is a wonderful experience. Being part of a team to accomplish a greater good has been part of the highlight of my life. The tremendous potential and power for good from a group of people united around a common purpose and vision is earth shattering. This last week the Riverwoods team pulled off two amazing events back to back. Saturday at Benton and Sunday afternoon in Eddyville RC presented “Splash into Summer” and the “Beach Blast Show”. Everyone did an amazing job pulling together. If anyone else is like me I am just now recovering from the crazy schedule leading up to the events and the hard work during and after. Have I said I am tired yet? Yes, oh yes, many times but it is a good tired. We had over 220 guests at Benton and 200 at Eddyville. This was our first event in Eddyville and an introduction of Riverwoods to that community. I was amazed at the attendance. This just shows the wonderful opportunity of a new riverwoods campus in Eddyville. With God’s help and working as a team nothing is impossible.

Busy but blessed

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lately I have had a very busy period. Getting the website completed, planning a new campus, starting the streaming of our worship service, planning for a children’s event “Splash Into Summer & the beach Blast Show” and throw in interviewing a potential outreach staff member. I have been on the road, to Memphis, Owensboro a couple of times and headed back to Mephis tomorrow. Don’t think I’m complaing, because I am not. I am planting seed and waiting for a harvest. Thank you Lord for an active church. Great splash meeting this afternoon, thanks for everyones help.

I get to pastor the most awesome people ever. God thank you for the people you have put around me, I am blessed. The creative potential and servanthood is amazing.

God has given me a passion to see people come to Christ. My 26 years of ministry life have emphasized seeing people become Christ followers. This idea of reaching the unchurched is the driving force behind my church planting passion. New churches can be a very effective tool in reaching the lost. Many unchurched people simply will not step foot into an established traditional church, but will come to something new and different. Our purpose at riverwoods is to reach and make passionate followers of Jesus who are fulfilling their life’s purpose. The short version, our purpose is to make disciples.
For us discipleship begins with the going and making part, not just the teaching and growing part. Jesus said go and make, so we first emphasize the going and making. If you forget the first step you are not having biblical discipleship. It is just like in evangelism if all you do is focus on getting people to pray and receive Christ you don’t have biblical evangelism. Evangelism that leaves out growing and maturing people to reproduce is an incomplete evangelism. Discipleship that leaves out making (leading people to Christ) is an incomplete discipleship.

We make no bones about the fact that at riverwoods we are focused and strategic in reaching the unchurched. Recently a young man who has an emphasis on this current trend of disciple making, which I discussed in the previous post, and he was part of a church with the same emphasis, (I think that’s where he got it) said; “well maybe riverwoods can be the church that brings people to Jesus and his church could disciple them”. Several things about that statement I want to discuss. First, he was making an assumption that riverwoods didn’t disciple. Second, his church could do a better job of discipleship. Third his view of disciple making is skewed. Fourth, why would we want more disciples like the ones his church’s discipleship making process produced.

First, riverwoods is very focused on discipleship by making and growing Christ followers. We have a process we take people through, of seminars, classes, life groups and growth groups, and most importantly we teach them how to be active about reaching, connecting and making people Christ followers. We teach them to reproduce themselves. That means making and growing disciples to the point they can make and grow other Christ followers. Second, if his church can do a better job I rejoice. Third, because he and his church are focused only on the teaching and digging deeper into God’s word philosophy of discipleship, his view is skewed. Biblical discipleship as mentioned earlier is making and growing. If you are not making disciples and just growing people who are already believers, you don’t have biblical discipleship and your view is skewed. Fourth, most importantly why would I want more people who just want to sit inside the four walls of a church and dig deeper into God’s word. God, please give us some disciple makers who win people to Jesus and teach them to win people to Jesus. If someone wants to grow, I mean really grow in the things of God and His word, then start being a witness everywhere you go. Start sharing the good news with others. You will face circumstances and questions that cause you to dig into God’s word and dive deep into a relationship with God because you realize you must have Him and His word daily. I believe if you get people on fire about talking to people daily as a witness, they will outgrow those who huddle in a room and dig gems from the word. This will lead to a practical disciples, those who know how to practice what they learn. I don’t want a discipleship process that just produces a bunch of people getting mature (so to speak) and leaves out the witnessing part. We don’t need anymore holy huddles what we need is for laborer’s to work in the harvest. God help us to break free from this current trend of discipleship, because, they have taken the guts out of Christ command to make disciples by skipping the 1st step of reaching people with the gospel.

I have noticed a current trend among some when it comes to making disciples. Emphasis is placed upon maturing people, or taking them deeper into the word. These disciple makers want to sit around and discuss deep or questionable things that won’t make a difference in everyday life. It seems maturity is based upon how much knowledge is obtained rather than observed. They get all excited about some new truth or latest argument. Many of their discussions, new truths and observations are not based in relevance, don’t impact everyday life and certainly are not part of essential beliefs. I know you’re thinking why does this bother me? Isn’t learning truth and going deeper into the word a good thing? Yes! What disturbs me is that they have a complete misunderstanding of what it means to make disciples and they hide behind this biblical concept to feel spiritual and overlook their complete disobedience in sharing the gospel. All they want to discuss is their emphasis on “Making Disciples”. If you ask what they are passionate about it is making disciples. The thing that gets me is the missing of an entire step in the disciple making process. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20(NLT) “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The first step in making disciples is getting the gospel to the people. You can’t make a disciple until you first win them to Christ. Many who are passionate about making disciples (maturing people) are not passionate about the first step of seeing people come to Jesus. Why does this current trend of disciple making miss the first part about making disciples? It seems they want to skip the part about, making disciples and go straight to the teaching part. If people don’t first come to Christ you can’t make disciples. Often, this current disciple maker has almost no passion about seeing come to Jesus. They’re passion is in taking people who have already become a believer and teaching or exposing them to the knowledge they have obtained. This is head religion and not heart religion. Disciple making that leaves out the guts of the gospel is not true discipleship. This trend of disciple makers and churches that emphasize this go deeper mentality are not making an impact on the lost. They rarely lead someone to Christ and have very few baptisms. Shouldn’t a natural outgrowth of discipleship be, maturing people make an impact on their world? Any discipleship venture that causes people to sit inside the four walls and dive deeper into the word discovering irrelevant truths and doesn’t cause them to go into a lost world making every effort to tell people about Jesus is not a biblical discipleship. Don’t call it “Making Disciples” it is a holy huddle.