Jesus and His Church
The book of Revelation opens with John having a vision of Jesus moving amongst his churches and then giving him a message for each local community of believers (see Rev.1-3).There are some commendations – things they are doing well – and some challenges – areas they need to give attention to. A warning is given to those who do not respond and a blessing is promised to those who do.
Last year, around the time of our Prophetic Gathering, I shared some things that I believed God wanted to commend us for at that time – our friendliness, our servant spirit and our generosity. I also felt to challenge the church in the areas of outreach, spiritual fitness, and moving to the ’next level’.A Prophetic Message for CityLife Church
I wonder what Jesus would say to us at this time - right now? Where are we in our journey together? I believe he would continue to commend us for a number of things, including friendliness, loving relationships, serving, and spiritual growth. What would he challenge us with? I believe there are three specific things on God’s heart at this time …
- Evangelise … more intentionally.
I’ll never forget first hearing Bill Hybels back in 1994 speak from Luke 15 about how ‘lost people matter to God and therefore they should matter to us’. In fact, heaven’s priority is seeing lost people found, as evidenced by the ‘more joy’ that takes place in heaven when this occurs (Lk.15:7, 10).
This led me to seek to make a Priority Shift (from inreach to outreach) in our church beginning in 1995. God challenged me to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ (2 Tim.4:5) by ensuring that our passion for evangelism, our priority of outreach, and our training for soul-winning increased significantly. Up until that time, we had grown primarily by transfers rather than conversions.
Over the last decade or so, we have made efforts to become more evangelistic as a church community. We still have a long way to go but we’ve made some real progress.
Outreach is now one of our Core Values - we are an evangelistic church. Our goal is to reach lost people both near and far and influence our community for righteousness through evangelism, community outreach, missions and church planting.
Evangelism is everyone’s ministry, not just the pastor or those with the gift of evangelism. Evangelism is also a process – like a chain with many links. Pre-evangelism is important (Luke 10:1-9). We should be a blessing to our community, build relationships with people far from God, meet people’s needs, and then be prepared to share the good news about Jesus Christ.
We can help each other in the work of evangelism and the church can help too. The Great Commission is BOTH “Go and tell” AND “Come and see”.
Being more intentional in our evangelism will take more love and compassion for those far from God, more courage and boldness to share (Rom.1:14-16), as well as more wisdom to discern where people are at in their spiritual journey and then help them take that next step.
Evangelism is God’s will and God’s heart for our church. He is with us and He will help us. Will we respond and take up the challenge? If we do, we will see amazing things happen and great joy as a result.
- Give … more generously.
A good model for financial freedom is the 10/10/80 plan – give 10% of all your income to God, save 10%, and live on the rest (80%). If every person would do this, regardless of income, level, they will be free financially.
Honouring God with our finances is the first step (Prov.3:9-10). Giving a ‘tithe’, or 10% of our income, to God’s work was established before the Law through Abraham (Gen.14:20), under the Law through Moses (Lev.27:30), and after the Law through Jesus (Mt.23:23). Some peopltoday say that ‘tithing is Old Testament and no longer relevant for today’. What they fail to realise is that the New Testament church had no New Testament. Their only Bible was the Old Testament as the New Testament was still being written. No where in the New Testament is tithing abolished, unlike other things from the old covenant that are clearly no longer relevant (circumcision, keeping of certain days, various cleansings, etc). In fact, grace brings us to a higher place where we give not because we have to but because we love to. Giving to God’s work should be regular (1 Cor.16:1-2), in proportion with our income (1 Cor.16:1-2), generous (2 Cor.9:6), and done joyfully (2 Cor.9:7).
The vision God has given us as a church is huge and will take a larger amount of resources than we now have. If everyone simply tithed, there would be ‘more than enough’ resources to fulfil the vision God has given us (Mal.3:10). In the process, God promises to bless us as we honour him with our finances, and meet all of our needs (Mal.3:11-12. Phil.4:15-20).
- Pray … more strategically.
Our relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else. Knowing Him should be the pursuit of our life. As we know His heart, mind and will, we will be able to partner with him in bringing about his plans and purposes on the earth.
God is sovereign but he has determined to partner with us through prayer in bringing about his will on earth (see 2 Chron.7:14. Mt.7:7-8. Jas.4:2). John Wesley once said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” Jack Hayford says, “You and I can help decide which of these two things – blessing or cursing – happens on earth. We determine whether God’s goodness is released toward specific situations or whether the power of sin and Satan is permitted to prevail.”
Pray for …
Sample Discussion Questions
- Unsaved friends and family members. Imagine if everyone in our church engaged in Triplet Prayer. That would be 15,000 people (5000 x 3) being prayed for on a regular basis by three other people.
- An increase of financial resources for the church. As each of us take the next step in more generous giving, honour God first every pay day, and pray for an increase of church resources, we will see God’s provision for the vision released.
- A specific need you have. Bring your request boldly to the throne of God’s amazing grace (Heb.4:16).
- What do you believe Jesus would commend us as a church family for right now? What are we doing well? [You may want to apply this specifically to your Life Group]
- What are some of the obstacles to being effective in reaching people for Christ?
- Why do you think the average Christian tends to drift in their compassion for lost people the longer they follow Christ?
- Reintroduce and then focus on the concept of Triplet Prayer to your Life Group over the next 3 months.
- The church’s current income from ‘tithes’ is around 5 million dollars per year. If everyone tithed, the church’s annual income would be 11 million dollars (6 million dollars more). Discuss this.
- Have people share some testimonies about the blessing of giving financially to God’s work.
- Discuss the concept that God does nothing but in answer to prayer. Do you think this is true? If we really believed this, how would it affect our prayer life?
- In November, the church will be having 14 days of focused prayer. Encourage everyone to participate in this important season (see details in the November church magazine).