February 21, 2019
Dear Church Family & Friends,
Joe Consylman’s Memorial Service will be held at the Church next Saturday, March 2nd from 2:00-4:00pm. Adrienne Consylman is extending an invitation to all members at RCC. Pastor John Manzano and I will be facilitating the memorial.
Next Sunday we will be having a fellowship meal following the Sunday Celebration. Please invite a neighbor to come to church and bring a dish or two to share with others.
This Sunday our focus on the Word time will be based on the sixth chapter of Chan’s book called “Good Shepherds.” This chapter is by far the most convicting for me! Jesus is the great shepherd and He lived a life full of service, love and sacrificial ministry to others. As the Great shepherd Jesus is an example for all those who would serve as pastors to follow. Shepherds are not just pastors of churches: Shepherds are all those within the Body of Christ who are called to fearlessly, carefully and compassionately lead, feed and protect the sheep. In the context of the traditional church, however, it is difficult to find a pastors in this day and age that properly strike the balance of love, leadershp and character that Jesus did.
In the context of the current situation of the church it is easy to find examples of shepherds who fall short of the example of Jesus. Many believers have experienced wounding under the leadership of a pastor who was insecure, immature or abusive. It is understandable, for this reason, that many believers find it difficult to trust leaders or submit to their care. In spite of the current unpopular view of pastors as leaders the call of God remains. God has called all shepherds to lead, feed and protect with transparency, gentleness and humility. All who would minister under the direction of the Great Shepherd are called to love unconditionally, contend for the truth and stand with those in need just as Jesus did. Chan encourages people in positions of leadership who are not called or equipped as pastors to consider a change of career.
There are pastors who have caused great damage to the cause of Christ by refusing to properly feed, lead and protect the sheep. They do not follow the admonition of Paul who instructed Timothy: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim 4:2-4) Many leaders in the church are unwilling to boldly stand upon the truth in the Word of God. Instead they have chosen to agree with the world on important moral and ethical issues. Some have given up the servant leadership example of Jesus and have chosen to become babysitters. Instead of operating in the power and gentleness of the spirit of God they entertain the sheep or institute programs to keep them busy. Instead of following the leading of the Spirit of God they preach a gospel that doesn’t require dying to self or sacrificial service. This the reason for the current state of the church! The church needs shepherds who will fearlessly, humbly and gently lead the flock with confidence and spirit led vision.
Chan also states that there are many believers who are not yet serving but are called to be shepherds. Far from babysitting, a shepherd’s calling is to actively pursue the call to of Jesus to make disciples! Perhaps God is calling you to be a shepherd? Perhaps you feel the call of God to feed, lead and equip believers for ministry in the world. This is not an easy task. Shepherding is not just getting people together for fellowship and Bible Study. God is looking for leaders who will take seriously the call to equip other believers for the time of tribulation that is coming. Very few senior pastors are actually doing this! In the time of difficulty that is coming, many believers will fall away. They will be upset with God because their comforts and freedoms are gone. They will be angry with false shepherds who did not equip them to endure persecution. It was the Great Shepherd who declared: “If anyone desires to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) If the Great Shepherd declared that dying to self is the PRIMARY prerequisite for being a follower, shouldn’t shepherds also insist on this?
Our Family Meeting this past Sunday was very important. We made some decisions about how to proceed as a congregation.
In a nutshell the final results of our three family meetings are as follows:
- God is calling us to be a church that serves those in need – specifically the poor and needy in our community
- God is calling us to be a church that regularly seeks His face – God is calling us to individually and corporately attend to worship, prayer and encounter with God. This is the first commandment.
- God is calling us to be a church that exists as a network of Home Fellowships – God is calling us to meet in homes, to live in true community & mutual ministry and to reach out to others as home group fellowships.
- God is also calling us to continue to meet weekly as Large Group – This weekly large group meeting is to consist of periods of worship and waiting on the Lord. The Word of God will be proclaimed and a time of response and ministry will follow.
- God is calling the leadership to equip the saints – Equipping classes or a means for equipping the saints for the work of ministry is an important aspect of our lives together. Suggestions: Inner healing, financial peace etc..
- God is calling us to exist as a “cell church” – A cell church is primarily a small group based ministry. (See paragraph below)
A Cell Church is different from a traditional local church. A cell church has two important event functions: the home cell group and the Sunday celebration. Like the two wings of a bird, both functions must be strong or the church will fail. The first wing consists of Basic Christian Communities otherwise known as cell groups. These groups are not just informal fellowship and bible study gatherings. A home cell group is THE CHURCH in action. A cell group leader is equipped to lead, feed and protect the other members of the cell group. Each member of the group is called to engage in worship, prayer and loving one another as well as reaching out to those in need. A cell group is powerful evangelistic tool. Seekers are invited to the home group meeting and receive supernatural ministry and encouragement to be equipped as disciples of Jesus. Most gatherings of the cell group consists of four essential parts: Welcome (deepening friendships) Worship (Encountering God in word or song) Word (meditation and application of the Word of God) and Works (Serving the community and caring for one another.)
Now that we have discerned the direction of the Lord, the challenge before us is obedience. Will we be faithful press on to see God move as we obey His call or will we step back in disobedience and experience the failure that always comes with disobedience to the call of God. The future of RCC depends on your commitment to press in and engage in obedience to the Lord.
God truly is refining and giving vision to us. He is calling us to become a balanced a full expression of the body (presence) of Jesus Christ on the earth! He continues to call us to exchange a lifestyle of “going to a meeting” for a radical lifestyle of surrender, love and sacrificial ministry! God is continuing to lead us on a path that is preparing us for the difficult times. He is forming us to exist as powerful and unified expression of the body of Christ. A true community of love and power who reach out in supernatural love and ministry to a world that needs to see Jesus! I believe that we have not even scratched the surface of what God plans to do among us if we are able to walk in obedience to the discernments before us!
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:3-8)
See you on Sunday,
Pastor Jon Quesenberry