Church Hater?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

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Are you a church hater? It might not seem obvious at first, but there are a lot of preconceived notions that many of us hold about the church, which causes us to be in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches. Over the years, I had to address a lot of people regarding some of their faulty views about the church. I also had to talk with leaders and teach them how to answer people’s hate speech towards the Bride of Christ.

When I came across Joe McKeever’s article on “10 More Essential Things to Tell People about the Church,” I thought it would be helpful to just reiterate some of his points. You can get the full article here.
 
 
Joe McKeever writes,

“According to the Spring edition of OnMission magazine, published by the SBC’s North American Mission Board, 90 percent of unchurched 20-29 year olds believe, ‘I can have a good relationship with God without being involved in a church.’ That sounds new. But it’s as old as Methuselah. Some of us can remember the so-called ‘Jesus Movement’ of the 1960-1970s when the beaded, bearded, flower children carried signs announcing ‘Jesus Yes; Church No.’

No one will be surprised that we who have given our lives to serving God through His church believe in the church. We believe in it passionately even though quite a high percentage of us bear scars from our years of service. Believers in the church’s essential role in God’s plan are not the ‘establishment.’ We were not brain-washed and are not duped or deluded. We are not mouthpieces of some denominational hierarchy somewhere. Neither are we defenders of the status quo.

Most of us have had a love-hate affair with the Lord’s church. We have loved it when it did well, been blessed by it when it was faithful, grieved for it when it got off-track, and sometimes suffered from our proximity to cancerous members. Our convictions are not shallow or lightly held. They have been through the fires and come through stronger than ever.

Each of us has our burden for the church. Here are mine. [Ten] things I wish we could say to every church, and repeat them at regular intervals until they take hold.

1) The church has always been under attack. So, when people criticize it, Christian, don’t panic.

2) That the church has survived the attacks from its enemies and the failings of its own members for two thousand years and is still going strong stands as a remarkable testimony of God’s plan for her. God’s people were told to expect attacks from the outside and divisive sneak attacks from the inside in Acts 20:29-30. The one constant of ecclesiastical history has been those two disruptive forces. Expect it, Christian. And remember this elementary lesson from your high school physics class: A fire under pressure will burn brighter. Since the devil never took physics, he doesn’t understand this, so he keeps persecuting the Lord’s people and attacking the Church and slandering Jesus. What he cannot figure, though, is why all such efforts only spreads the Gospel.

3) The apparent weakness of a particular church is generally deceptive. God delights in using weak things, ordinary people, and unlikely prospects. He can take a young child’s simple lunch and feed thousands. So, the next time you look at your church service and decide that you are tragically out-of-date in the hymns and technology and that you need a younger pastor because the one you have is too boring, bite your tongue. You are in the kind of church where God delights in showing up and doing something remarkable. Drop to your knees and start asking Him to do one of His patented God-things among your group.

4) The Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Matthew 16:18, it’s Jesus’ church. According to Acts 20:28, it’s God’s. Same difference. It’s His Church. And the only question on our lips every time we meet to do His business should be ‘What would you have us do?’

5) Whatever we do to the church, Jesus takes personally. Scary thought, isn’t it? Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that when he touched one of ‘the least of these my brethren’ to harm them, he was ‘persecuting me’ (Acts 9, 22, 26). The New Testament calls the church the ‘Bride of Christ,’ the ‘Body of Christ.’

6) God sends pastors, not to make the church members happy, but to make them healthy and holy and Himself happy. At least one pastor out of ten – I don’t care what denomination – has been ousted from a church because the members were unhappy with him. Show me one place in all the Scripture where the pastor (or any other leader) is sent to please the people, and I’ll show you ten where the people rose up in arms against a faithful leader who was serving God well.

7) The best thing your church has to offer Christians is fellowship. Now, the best thing the church has to offer the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be sure. However, once they are in the kingdom, fellowship with other believers is the greatest need of believers. By that, we mean they need regular, close contact with people like themselves who are also serving Jesus. They need time to visit, to talk, to argue, to pray together, and laugh and work and serve. Your television set brings in some good preachers every Sunday morning. You can sit in front of the set and worship God, study the Word, pray, sing, and even make an offering. I suppose you can even find a way to minister without leaving home. But the one thing you cannot do on the screen is to fellowship. For that, you will require other believers. You will need to ‘forsake not the assembling of yourselves together’ (Hebrews 10:25).

8) The toughest part of belonging to a church is the requirement for submission – that’s why we rarely hear about it. To submit means to give in to the other. Two men disagree; one gives in. Two women disagree; one gives in to the other. Only in matters involving life-or-death issues (the inspiration of Scripture, the efficacy of the cross, the Virgin Birth, etc) do we dig in our heels and say with Luther, ‘God help me; I can do nothing else.’ To give in to another is to practice the command of Philippians 2:3. In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves. Practicing submission could stop 90 percent of church divisions in their tracks.

9) God created the deacons because He needed servants willing to do the dirty work. Jesus gave us the ultimate picture of servanthood when He stooped and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13). The Jerusalem incident of Acts 6 – commonly believed to be the origin of the diaconate, even though they’re never called deacons there – confirms that these godly men are to serve the Lord’s people in the lowliest tasks in order to free up the leaders for the ministry of the Word and prayer.

10) If you do not like change in your church or your personal life, you will want to avoid Jesus – He’s all about change and growth. The Lord Jesus said believers were to be like ‘new wineskins,’ a reference to their flexibility, their adaptability to change, their skill at making adjustments to fluid situations. The image of Christians as defenders of the status quo, of resisting every new idea, of reacting against anything foreign – that is anathema to the spirit of Jesus Christ. The seven last words of the church, it has been said, are ‘We never did it that way before.’ So, we have to work against our innate resistance to change and growth.”

 
McKeever has a Part 2 of this same topic that you can check out here.

A Dream Come True

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

 
 
There are times when we long for something so badly that it hurts. If you talk to any die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, they will tell you about their longing to see the Cubs win a world championship. The last time they won a championship was back in 1908 – a 103 year drought, which by the way is the longest for any MLB team.

It would be a dream come true if they won a championship in the near future. Every die-hard Cubs fan is a hopeless romantic, who thinks that every new season will be “the” year. I am hoping that if not this year, then the Cubs would at least win it all within my lifetime.

The waiting and the hoping reminds me of Simon and Anna in the Bible (Lk 2:25-38) and how they waited for the Messiah. After all the years of waiting, they were able to have their longings met as they saw the Savior.

I realized that the same longing is evident when a person longs to see their family member or friend come to know Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord. With every passing day, the longing grows deeper; but when they do come to receive Christ, the joy is unspeakable. This is what we are praying for this coming Easter.

There is no guarantee that the Cubs will win the championship this year, but thankfully God’s Word will never fail. Therefore, we can trust that God’s purposes will always come true. We are praying for many salvations this Easter. It is going to be a joyous day!

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pe 3:9)

2012 Global Access Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Vision

 

Photo by Zhi-Jun Loh
 
 
 
It is hard to believe that little over 10 years ago a handful of people gathered together to talk about the possibility of starting an international ministry at our church. Back in 2001, we started to notice that God was bringing many international students to our ministry. Honestly, even to this day, I really don’t know why they started coming out.

I definitely spoke to fast during my sermons and most of our members were Americans. We really didn’t have any specific ministries to meet the international students’ needs; therefore we were a bit confused as to why God was entrusting us with international students.

But now, in retrospect, after seeing many international students’ lives being transformed by the Gospel message and also seeing the international churches that we have planted, it makes more sense.

We have come to the conclusion that God wanted to use our church to reach out to the international students, while they were here at the University of Michigan for four years. Many of them left the comforts of their homes in order to receive a top-notched university education, but God had other plans.

God was sovereignly and strategically bringing them to the University of Michigan so that they can experience the power of the Gospel. Then after graduation, God was sending them back to their countries, in order to be a powerful witness of the Gospel. It has been encouraging to see how God enabled us to plant churches in different international cities. As the alumni were trained and commissioned back to their nations, God was preparing them to be a part of the greater vision of seeing churches started all over the world.

This is why ever since we started to have a separate Global Access retreat for all the international students in our church, we have been asking God to do some incredible things. I am excited to see what God will do this year with all the international students. In particular, we will be uniting together with the international students from HMCC of Chicago. It will be a great time of linking students from the same countries together to pray for their nation.

It is my hope and prayer that we will catch a greater vision for world evangelization through the international students in all our HMCC churches. This is definitely a kairos moment!

Invite Me In

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo on thexroads.org
 
 
 
We are about 4 weeks away from Easter. Usually for churches, Christmas and Easter are big moments in a church’s calendar. In particular, for us here at HMCC, Easter is our biggest Sunday Celebration gathering every year. Due to the fact that we are on a college campus, we don’t have as many people come out to our Christmas Sunday Celebration compared to our Easter Sunday Celebration. Therefore, we spend a lot of time praying, planning and preparing for our Easter Sunday Celebration. It is just one of the many avenues that we provide for our church members to get involved in God’s heart for the lost.

It is encouraging to see people in our church spend time with pre-Christians to build relationships throughout the year. With the relational investment, we try to exhort our members to invite their friends to join us for our Easter Celebration. Even though our members are inviting and sharing the Gospel throughout the year, there is something special about Easter. It is a time when many pre-Christians are open to checking out church.

Here are some statistics from Thom Rainer’s book, The Unchurched Next Door:

• Most people come to church because of a personal invitation.
• Only 2% of church-going people invite someone to church in a given year. That means 98% of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year.
• 7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church in their whole lives.
• 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.

If we just rely on these statistics, we have to conclude that there is definitely a problem in the Church. Why are there only 2% of church members who are inviting people to church? Is it because they are embarrassed of their church? Are they afraid of rejection? Or is it because they do not know any pre-Christians in their sphere of influence?

It is sad to find out that 82% of the unchurched would be open to attending church if they were invited. Therefore, we know that the problem is not with the pre-Christian and the problem is not with God because He is always moving in the hearts of people. Ultimately, the problem is that we, as Christ-followers fail to take up our responsibility to invest and invite.

As we will have the privilege of having our Easter Celebration this year at the Michigan Theater, let’s do our part in inviting people that we have been praying for since the One Desire Fast. The seating capacity at Michigan Theater is 1,700, therefore we have more than enough room to welcome people to encounter God. I pray that we will do our part because we know that God will always do His part in bringing lost people to Himself.

Here is a video that reminds us of the importance of the invitation.
 
 

Drifting Away

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
As a pastor, it is always hard to see one of your members “drifting” away. There is this tension of wanting to help them and just letting them go. But how can you help someone when they do not want help or see the need for help? How can you just let them go and watch them fall deeper into sin and experience the unnecessary heartache and pain of sin?

Regardless of whether you are a pastor or not, we have all felt the anguish of trying to help a loved one who is slowly drifting away. It is not easy.

One thing I have learned over the years is that we have to guard our hearts from the two extremes – either we play the role of God and try too hard on our own efforts to bring them back or we become cynical and detached from the situation.

Those of us who have drifted away before know that both of the extremes do not work very well. The more we try to control people, the further they run away; while on the other hand, the more aloof we become, the more shame and guilt they feel when they want to return.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to patiently and passionately fighting for our driftee through prayer. When we pray, it reminds us that we are not God and we do not have everything in our control. Prayer causes us to trust in God because God loves the person more than we can ever love them. Also, when we pray, God changes us. God begins to develop our heart of love and compassionate towards the person as we pray.

This is what happened with a father when his younger son drifted away from home and then came home repentant:

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here – given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.” (Luke 15:20-24 MSG)

 
The joy that is always experienced when a person returns to God, the Father is indescribable. This is what we long for, this is what we patiently and passionately pray for – we are fighting for them on our knees!
 
 
 

Lessons from Peyton Manning’s Release

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo on inquisitr.com
 
 
 
The Indianapolis Colts ended up releasing Peyton Manning as their quarterback today. To those of you who are not familiar with the story, Manning was the Colts’ franchise quarterback. He was selected as the overall number one pick in the 1998 NFL draft. He had a brilliant career with the Colts. Manning will definitely be ranked as one of the all-time best quarterbacks in the NFL. But in the 2011 season he did not play a single game due to neck surgery and the Colts finished their 2011 season 2 wins and 14 losses.

Jim Irsay, the owner of the Colts had to make a decision. As Irsay looked into the future, he knew that he had to rebuild; therefore after firing the General Manager and the coaching staff, Irsay felt he needed to release Manning, who will turn 36 years old, in order to make the rebuilding process complete. With the number one pick in the 2012 NFL draft and with two of the top quarterback draftees available, Andrew Luck from Stanford and Robert Griffin III from Baylor, it was no surprise when the news broke about Manning’s release.

Some say that it was a financial decision, while others say that in order to rebuild, the Colts had to bring in new players. But regardless of the reasons, I couldn’t help but to think about some important lessons for us, in the church.

Here are five lessons:

1) Learn to leave with class and dignity – As I was watching the press conference, I was deeply moved. I developed a greater respect and appreciation for Manning, as a person more than a quarterback. I realized that Manning had a lot of class and character in saying the things that he did. It is hard to have people who are humble and gracious, especially when they are at the superstar level. It is my hope and prayer that people learn to leave a place with this kind of attitude and heart. Due to our ministry on a college campus, every year we have to let go of people as they move on after graduation, while other people move on to follow God’s call in another city. It is always important that you leave on a good note because the way you leave a place is the way you will enter into the new place. We have lots to learn from Manning. You can watch press conference here.

2) There should be no such thing as tenure in the church – One thing that I have been trying to teach in our church is that there is no such thing as “tenure” in our church. As we get older and serve in the ministry for many years, it is easy to have an entitlement attitude. We begin to feel as if we deserve things. This is when things get very precarious when it comes to being a servant in the church. We should never hold on to a position or a title. In order to be the servant that God wants us to be, we have to be open to the fact that God might be calling us to do other things. The more we hold on to things, the harder it will be for us to be surrendered to do God’s will. Manning said, “We all know that nothing lasts forever. Times change, circumstances change, and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.” We have to be open to change – it is the only constant in the world.

3) Rebuilding requires making hard choices – When an organization or a church for that matter has to rebuild, it is a painful process. Often times, in order to move in a new direction, there needs to be some dramatic decisions so that change can occur. There are no guarantees that everyone will be happy and will be all on board. A person leading a rebuilding campaign needs to have wisdom and courage. As I look back into the history of our church, there were several moments where we had to rebuild. During those rebuilding years, we had to let go of a lot of people. We also had to restructure a lot of things so that we can be ready for the change. We would have never reached the level that God has called us to without making those hard choices. No matter how painful, the decisions must be made.

4) We need to learn how to honor people – It was pretty inspiring to see the mutual respect that Manning and Irsay had for one another. Manning wanted to end his NFL career as a Indianapolis Colt but it didn’t turn out that way. After a 14-year tenure in Indianapolis, he has to move on. But I felt Irsay did a good job or honoring Manning by saying, “This is difficult because of the things Peyton has done for our city, our state and our franchise. There will be no other Peyton Manning.” Isray continued to mention that Manning’s No. 18 will never be worn again by a Colt on the field and that he is rooting for Manning to succeed wherever he ends up playing. Manning honored the fans and the organization by saying, “I’ll always be a Colt. That’ll never change.” I pray that when we have to depart with people, we will be able to depart in an amicable and respectful way.

5) God always has a purpose for everything – When things do not turn out the way that we want, it is easy for us to complain and get bitter at God. But God is constantly working out all things for our good and His glory (Ro 8:28). This is where we need to do our part. As God is working sovereignly in our lives, we have to learn how to trust and have a good attitude in the process. Manning impressed me with his attitude. He said, “I haven’t thought about yet where I’ll play but I have thought about where I’ve been. I’ve been blessed.” When we are in the process of a transition we need to have this kind of attitude in order to be ready to respond to God’s leading. We may never fully know the path that God is taking us through, but one thing we can be sure of is that He will always be faithful.

Asia Medical Missions 2012 Update 3

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visits

 
The trip out to Jogja and Gungan Village was a great experience, especially because we had 3 of the HMCC churches working together. The importance of meeting the physical needs of people was reinforced as I saw our medical team open up the hearts of the people through their medical care. This is definitely something we want to do again in other missions projects.

I am thankful for every person on the team. They did an incredible job of serving and lifting up the name of Jesus.
In the video below, the team members share one thing that God has been showing them and things that they are thankful for on this trip.

Thank you for pray for us!
 
 
 

Asia Medical Missions 2012 Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visits

 

On site near Mt. Merapi
 
 
 

Medical Clinic setup