Saturday, April 21, 2012

Frankenstein and The Church Plant versus Birth From Above

Frankenstein and The Church Plant versus Birth From Above

Currently I am serving as a Bible study teacher and I am serving as a bi-vocational evangelist with the Conference of Georgia Baptist Evangelist after our church plant stopped worship last spring.
I have been reflecting on the attempted church plant, my ministry and my call to ministry.

Why did it not come together?
I have to ask the Lord that and reflect on my actions.

This year I am working a job to support my family.
Few calls have come to fill in a pulpit or preach in this past year.

The Lord is Sovereign.
Do I accept this?
Is it still hard to accept when you are not doing what you want or feel called to do in ministry?

The Lord has plowed up my heart, humbled me and set me to a deeper time of prayer (much needed) and Scripture study of His movement in the New Testament church.

It hit me last week - Frankenstein.

Like the created monster of literature and the movies I tried to place together hacked up body parts, fit them together, and expected the parts to come to life.
My plan did not work.

I was careful to not make theological mistakes.
It seemed very reasonable to me.
Many people from many ministries gave me books and I went to some training sessions.
I knew what was needed.
I knew what had worked at other church plants.
I knew what I liked and what I did not like in other church plants.
I would not make those mistakes as a church planter.
But the church never really came together.
I looked at the parts and examined them.
They still seemed like the right parts to piece together.
Unlike the movie and book this Frankenstein did not come together.

The church plant had no life.
Life was not birthed by the Holy Spirit.
I thought of the character Christian in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
For his salvation the man Christian went forward knowing life came from the Celestial City.
Christian would not settle for anything else "but the Man put his fingers
in his ears, and ran on, crying Life! Life! Eternal Life!"
He found life.

As a preacher I place the preached Word as our Protestant center of worship.
The Word is the center of the service.
But I learned this.
Brooklyn Tabernacle preacher Jim Cymbala said Jesus did not describe the church as as a house of preaching or singing.
Jesus said "My house shall be called a house of prayer."
This is where brother Cymbala's church received power to grow and touch lives with the gospel.
Prayer only is where we all receive power for life in our churches.
Power was needed to touch lives by the gospel of Jesus Christ through His life, death burial and resurrection.
After Jesus declared His house was a house of prayer the physically afflicted came to Him as well as the children.
And yes some religious people objected.

Matthew 21:12-17 (NASB)
"12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians wrote how Christ put the New Testament church together joining Jew and Gentile believers into one church by the blood of Christ and the power of the life giving Spirit of God.
Ephesians 2:13-17 (NASB)
"13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;"

Lives were touched in Christ's House of Prayer.
Prayer and power for life through the Word of God was there.
The Lord put together hostile to each other Jew and Gentile to form the New Testament church.

A real Biblical church cannot be fabricated though a group of people's efforts.
Some man endorsed success can be counted, but not birth and power from above.

In one of the late Lewis Grizzard's Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns he once asked what's so hard about preaching, he said they got that big ole book to use.
We have the Word for accountability.
We have the Holy Spirit for power to give life through His Word.
A "House of Prayer" is alive, when like when Jesus was in the temple,
the living local church touches the estranged people from His power.
Lesson learned.
I'm not through yet until the Lord calls me home.

In Christ Alone!

Fletcher Law


  1. Thanks for this, Fletcher. It is a very interesting post and one I basically agree with. My one disagreement -- more of a caution than an actual disagreement -- has to do with putting too much of a gap between prayer and preaching. I agree that prayer is often a neglected element in church life, but surely the faithful teaching of God's word is equally essential. I suspect we actually agree on this, but I want to spell it out because I have lost count of evangelicals who burn out on word ministry -- which Paul says is very, very hard -- and decide instead that the answer is to "move on" from Bible teaching to prayer ministry, or charismatic ministry, or sacramental ministry, or whatever. The real problem isn't that we focus too much on preaching, but that we focus too little on prayer. We should be doing both, full throttle.

    Paul seems to be making this point in describing his own ministry and Timothy's:

    "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."

    Prayer...teaching. They go together in Paul's understanding, and we neglect either to the peril of our ministry.

  2. Agree totally. I was trying to remember where I heard "Preaching is the Protestant sacrament." My extensive theological search (Google) said it was Karl Barth. R.C. Sproul is no fan of Barth. At Ligonier preaching conference I got to ask Sproul about Barth. Grumbling and the word Neo-Orthodox came out.
    But I believe Sproul agrees about the centrality of preaching in worship.
    I know Ligon Duncan has said with out the preached Word you have not had worship.
    In Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbla (Pastor of the independent Pentecostal Brooklyn Tabernacle church) wrote a chapter about correct doctrine in failing old downtown churches, held together by endowments, that had no life or power, but only a theological heritage.
    Prayer drives me to the Word.
    Yes I strongly agree with you. As I have pointed out in an earlier blog Mark Gali in Christianity Today (Speak the Gospel
    Use deeds when necessary) exploded the old quote falsely attributed to strong preacher St. Francis of Assisi "Always preach the gospel, use words when necessary."
    Preaching is the center of the worship service and it's power has to come through prayer and the power of The Holy Spirit.
    Yes I think preaching is the heart of worship because it is built (or should be) on the Word.
    I am just the opposite of burned out on preaching.
    I am about to explode due to the lack of it.
    Jeremiah 20:9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him
    Or speak anymore in His name,”
    Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
    Shut up in my bones;
    And I am weary of holding it in,
    And I cannot endure it.

    I am ready to preach, plant a church or pastor one or serve as an evangelist.
    I just need the Lord to reveal His plan.