Why Churches Stop Growing

As we walked up to the front of the church there hung a big sign above the front door. It read,
“Incubation Center, Releasing Gods Potential in You!”
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Wow, that is certainly different. I commented to Debra, have you ever seen anything like that before? She had seen it too, nodded yes, but became distracted by the two people standing inside the door greeting people as they walked in. They seemed friendly enough. As we approached, one of them stretched out his hand to me and greeted me with a big smile and said, hi I am Charles, thank you for coming today! I shook Charles hand, smiled back and answered, glad to be here. Charles looked to be about 38, wore a pair of Dockers and a short sleeve dress shirt that hung outside his pants. He and the other greeter were both wearing a button that read, “You Are God’s Gift to the World!” We must have had that deer in the headlight look because the next thing Charles asked was, is this your first time here? We affirmed that we were and he handed us a special visitor card and told us to fill it out to receive a free gift. Just drop it in the offering plate when it comes by during the service Charles said with a smile.
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Both Debra and I both grew up in a traditional Christian home. Debra went to Pentecostal holiness church and I grew up in an Assembly of God church led by Marilyn and Wally Hickey. As we grew up we both witnessed traditional mindsets of the church become challenged with the younger generation. The early 70’s were marked by an influx of new music from groups like the Maranatha, 2nd chapter of Acts, Larry Norman and Barry Mcguire. The younger generation wanted contemporary music while the older claimed anything with a beat was of the devil. Marilyn Hickey was breaking old traditions too as the Catholic Church began to embrace the Charismatic movement. She found many open doors and went from teaching in small home groups filled with eager Catholics to large conferences.

Some Church’s accepted the new and compromised by singing a mixture of traditional music and contemporary while others resisted. In the end, those who embraced the new grew while church’s like the one Debra grew up in struggled with shrinking numbers. What we were about to experience that morning was anything but traditional. Our old worn out concepts about what church was suppose to look like was about to be stretched and challenged in new ways we never thought possible.

As we entered the auditorium that morning to find a seat

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We knew that we were in for a surprise. We had been told that this church was different in that they were breaking new ground where it concerned being a relevant voice to this generation. This excited both of us because for years we had seen firsthand many churches lose their ability to release members into relevant expression to the world.

Instead they became self-focused in attracting congregations to a pulpit centered service rather than people focused where it concerned helping them find and express their faith and voice to others outside the church. That morning the minister shared the words of Jesus when he talked about being salt and light to the world. He read out of the book of Matthew from the Amplified version of the Bible.

The minister that morning opened up by stating; Let me tell you why you are here. He then looked down at his Bible and read, “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors to the earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
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After reading the passage he continued.   .

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

The point that morning was that salt has purpose the same as light has purpose. We were individually set on this earth to display our unique “God flavor” and “God Color” to others. He said that humanity has lost the true strength and quality of their saltiness because they are disconnected from God, out of harmony as it were.

This was the purpose of Jesus, to realign and bring humanity back to what was lost, our true blueprint and identity. He went on to say that we now have the opportunity to be the forerunners in this glorious new life-style! I looked over at Debra with excitement in my eyes, I could hardly believe what I what my ears were hearing. This was a message that had been in our hearts for years. We have always had a desire to make a difference with our lives and that is one reason we came to check out this new church.
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I first meant Debra in a church we both attended as teens I was attending a two year Bible School that they had started and the both of us were in choir together where I caught her looking my way flirting from the other side of the room. I discovered later, she couldn’t see that far because of her eyesight and was only squinting in my direction.
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We dreamed and talked about becoming missionaries and traveling Asia and the world together. Debra had a vision at a camp meeting as a young girl. There under the tent a missionary spoke about the call of God to make a difference in foreign cultures. An altar call was given that evening to those who felt God was calling them and Debra went up to the front. There she saw a vision of the faces of thousands of Chinese standing before here calling out to her to come to them and bring Jesus. Her life was changed from that day forward as she pursued God’s call upon her life.
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We married a few years later and headed off to attend a three year Bible college in Sacramento, California. Those will always be special days for the both of us as we sat together in class and served in a local church. We worked with children using puppets telling stories about God. We would travel as a class to do outreach ministry of all types, we traveled to other cities in California where we could go door to door to promote nightly revival meetings. We even helped run a 24 hour prayer line were we would talk with people with every imaginable need. We interned as youth pastors and led the Christian Education department at a local Assembly of God church. We jumped at any opportunity we could find to serve. We took our first two missionary trips in our third year, one to the Indians in Nevada and another to minister at a Bible School in Ensenada, Old Mexico.
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In those three years of school our love grew as we looked forward to future of ministry together. As the years progressed, we learned what it met to trust God for provision, watched as we experienced many miracles in our lives. We also changed many of our old definitions about what ministry was all about and how our generation is to impact our world.
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As I sat there that morning listening to the message about what it meant to be salt and light I wondered if the church would ever discover its true meaning beyond the traditions we had become familiar with. After years of ministry our perceptions and understanding had taken on a whole new meaning from many of the disappointments we ourselves had experienced and seen. Not only did we experience our own disappointments in our expectations in church, we had seen the disenfranchisement of many of our Christian friends through the years where they had lost faith not in God but the church. To them the church had lost its meaning and relevance in their lives because it did not speak to real life issues.
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What we were hearing that morning was an explosion of truth that would
surely have significant impact in the lives of many people.

 

 written by: Scott Johnson
www.GraceEmpoweredLiving.com
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How To Thrive In Chaos

How to Thrive in Chaos! What do you do when everything goes chaotic? One moment everything is fine and wonderful and then everything falls apart. For instance, the time our 22 year old daughter with her to infant baby a went on a trip. We had just weeks prior put them both on a bus to Albuquerque where she was going to stay with some friends. Suddenly she was gone no phone calls no nothing. We later founder in the Albuquerque jail as a result of having a mental breakdown sad to say Chaos comes in many shapes and sizes from a small inconveniences like losing your keys to significant moments in life, such as we experienced. Feelings of chaos happens when our reality is not meet our expectations. Chaos is always unplanned and shows up in the most inopportune moments and can cause us emotional and mental havoc. Here's how you can thrive in chaos.

#1 PREPARE

How can you be chaos prepared? Well, be emotionally chaos ready has a lot to do with where you draw your personal value and worth from. You see our identity could be built upon the shifting sands of our world or on the solid rock of value and worth it comes from God Himself. Society has always believe that our identity and worth come from outside ourselves and others acceptance of others, our possessions and how we interpret our world. Think about it. If our value and worth is based upon an external world, we become emotionally bound to the ups and downs every time, something doesn't go right and believe me, things always to go up and down if your value and worth is based upon the solid and firm love that comes from God. You will always experience more emotional stability so the next time shows up on your stair step you'll be ready.

#2 DO

The second thing you can do is to thrive in chaos is do what do you do when chaos hits. Do you find someone or something to blame? Do you become self focused and are you worried about. looking good or being right You see, most people will avoid and control and blame when they're in chaos. Instead remind yourself this is not who I am! This is not who I am! This does not define who I am step outside of the situation and focus on the mission remember the mission and where you're going

#3 BE

What is this mean. It means who are you being in that moment of chaos? are you focused on the solution or on the problem, remember there is no value when avoiding controlling or blaming. What am I talking about Well avoiding, controlling, blaming your team, your family, your spouse, your environment, even yourself, remember, focus on the mission and the solution. The Bible puts it. This way be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. As you rely and trust in the movable, steadfast of rock of God's view and opinion of you we're reminded of God's promise to you and I that it is He who is it work in you both to will and do his good pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proof Positive That There is Greatness In You!

In your own past when you were a child, there was literally always an innate desire to do something great?

I mean think about it how many times when you were a kid did you climb off your chair and tried to fly you know jump off and be a superhero or from a garage? How many times that as a child we grew up and we didn't know any limits?

I mean our imagination was our playground mean our imagination was our playground. We went and did and we saw, we had these incredible dreams! We pretended. That's part of the innate desire that's built on the inside of every one of us to be something great to do something wonderful in this world!

That's part of your DNA, that's who you are as a person and to deny that fact to move away to shift to move out of that only moves you into a life of stress and discouragement and frustration so to embrace the greatness of the capacity of God in your life is who you are that's what you're about but do something awesome in this world to shift things that need to be shifted to move things that need to be moved to be who God's called you to be there's no limitations, no limitations!

The only limitations that really are the ones in our head.

Owning Your Life, Owning Your Dreams, Owning Your Results!

Let's talk about ownership - Owning your life, owning your dreams, owning your results!

Ownership is everything! Why? Because there is freedom in ownership. Most people run from it because of the responsibility it brings to them. As long as I can blame others for the results I am getting, I can absolve and make excuses for the results.Blame my wife, blame my car, my parents, the weather, blame the dog next door.

Here's another point I want to make whatever you need in life will own you and control you! I want to say that again, Whatever you need in life will own you or control you!

If you need money you will be controlled by the people you believe will give it to you. If you need love, you will be controlled and manipulated by the people you believe will hold the keys of love for your life.

Owning your life is taking your power back! It is the ability to detach from outside influences to the things you think you need.

Thirst is a powerful thing! When you are thirsty, you will do whatever it takes to quench that thirst. Take a look at a drug addict, they will steal and destroy the lives of those around them because they have a false belief that what they are doing will satisfy the thirst or need in their life.

What are you believing about in your life that you need?

As long as you continue to walk down that path you will never have true ownership and control. You will never experience the personal power to live out your dreams as intended by God.

Take for instance that words Jesus spoke to a woman. He told her that he had water to give her and that this water was unlike anything she had ever tasted before. In fact, once she drank it, she would never thirst again!

What was Jesus telling her? He was telling her that once she tasted of this living water he was describing that she would no longer be controlled by outside influences, her source things like love and identity would find it's security from God's view and opinion of her. She would instead be free to flow from an inexhaustible supply that would well up from within to the point that she would become unstoppable!

That is the power of God's selfless act of love for each of us. The good news is that it is something you can tap into starting today!

 

The Miracle Project

The Miracle Project Pt. 2

How to experience God in your area of need

We had just returned from the mission field and moved into a small apartment in Sacramento, California. It was but a three months later that we came under financial distress and became concerned about their ability to keep up with the rent. Soon we fell a week behind and knew that sooner than later the manager of the complex would be knocking on our door serving us an eviction notice.

 Knowing that our only source was God, we began to pray that Monday morning in earnest about our need. As the morning turned into the afternoon, there indeed was a knock at the door and when we opened the door there stood the apartment manager.

The inevitable was about the happen!

The manager took a breath and began to speak. I have been manager here at these apartments for two years now and have made the decision to leave my job. Out of all the other residence that live here I would like to ask you both if you would consider taking my position. You would receive free rent, free utilities, and a phone.

 That next day Debra, our three year old child and I moved from that upstairs apartment unit to our fully paid for apartment.
 
Oh... And that's not all that happened that day when the manager knocked on our door.
We received two other miracles that day. The phone rang and on the other end was the voice of someone we had never met. He had a large youth ministry that had a radio program. He had somehow heard of us and our own weekly program called "The Harvesters Call." He told us that he had just upgraded his radio studio and wanted to give us his old equipment worth several thousand dollars.
 

Later that same evening another miracle took place by way of the phone. On the other end, another stranger we had never met told us a strange story. He lived in the Denver, CO area and was at his church that past Wednesday night. As he walked up toward the front of the auditorium to place a prayer request in the basket our names on another piece of paper caught his attention. He picked it up and began to ask who this couple was that was listed. He was a developer of a resort in Aspen, Colorado and felt compelled to reach out to us and help. He asked only one question on the phone, "What do you need?" I want to help!

Know Who Your Source is

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There is a valuable lesson here. When faced with life's most difficult moments it is important to know where to turn. Desperation can sometimes cause us to panic not knowing where to turn. Our relationship with Jesus is a personal one and we turn to Him in our times of need.
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- You may receive a paycheck each week from a company but ultimately it is God who is your source. He knows how to get stuff to you.
 
- Doctors do what they do based on the knowledge they currently have, but ultimately, it is God who is your source.
 
- Your child may not be in a good place at the moment but ultimately, it is God who is your source.
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Making God your source means casting your cares and worry to God and letting go. This is not easy if you are not spending time in His presence.
 

"And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:7

Stay in the safety of Gods peace until your miracle shows up.


I have a gift for you this week, download "Overcoming Obstacles". Listen to the story that starts from a daughter who chose to live on the streets, begging for food who eventually after giving birth takes her precious infant daughter and "loses her" after having a psychotic break and losing her own identity. This is a message that will build your faith for the miraculous in your life.

 
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Standing together with you,
 
Scott, Debra Johnson