What It Takes To Grow The Church In Our Culture

What It Takes To Grow The Church In Our Culture

Neal Pollard

It was such a treat to be among the hearty, faithful Christian men of central Wyoming and the Bighorn Basin. By Bible-belt comparison, they come from small congregations. But their passion and desire to grow the church is humongous. Near the end of their men’s retreat, they divided into groups to discuss the obstacles to growth and suggestions for growth. What they came up with was incredibly insightful, helpful to especially anyone living in the current, western culture.

Among the obstacles they listed were:

  • Lack of commitment
  • Fear
  • Political correctness
  • Biblical ignorance
  • Sin
  • Apathy/indifference
  • Misplaced priorities
  • Lack of adequate leadership

For those in Alabama, Oklahoma, and California who would say, “Those are our obstacles!”, isn’t it interesting how common our struggle is.  The same factors are holding back our growth all over the nation.

Yet, I love the suggestions they came up with. I think they are key to tapping into our growth potential throughout the country and, to a great extent, throughout the world. They suggested the following:

  • Increase fellowship—The key to growth is being in each others’ lives more
  • Emphasize and empower Bible study—There can be no spiritual or numerical growth without growing our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word
  • Think outside the box—Staying faithful to truth, get out of method ruts and overcome fear of rejecting a different, scriptural method just because it is new
  • Challenge greater application of biblical truth—Every class and sermon must have a viable “so what”
  • Be intentional in our relationships—Realize that our jobs, community involvements, friendships, etc., are means to an end rather than an end of themselves. They all exist as opportunities to evangelize.

Our brethren in the deep south, the north, the Atlantic region, the upper midwest, the southwest, the far west, the northwest, and, in short, any recognizable region of the country share a desire to be relevant and meaningful in our communities. We want to honor Christ and grow His body. But it will take measurable steps. It won’t happen incidentally! We must act on our hopes and desires. We must personally engage ourselves in enacting these suggestions daily! In so doing, we’ll not only avoid being part of the problem but we’ll be part of the solution.

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Ready For A Trivia Quiz?

Ready For A Trivia Quiz?

Neal Pollard

Here are the rules: Don’t use any resources to look up these answers.  This is a quiz to test your knowledge.

  1. What is Mark Zuckerberg best known for co-founding?
  2. How many regular season games are there in an NFL, MLB, and NBA season?
  3. What is the name of Apple’s media library, media player, and mobile device management application?
  4. What is Ree Drummond’s famous nickname?
  5. Captain America, The Hulk, and Iron Man are all part of a group of superheroes better known by what name?
  6. Which online social networking service restricts users to 140 characters or less?
  7. What is the name of the author of 50 Shades Of Grey?
  8. Name three different, major cell phone service providers.
  9. What is the name of the ABC television series that pairs professional dancers with celebrities who compete against each other?
  10. What is the name of the video-sharing website whose logo is a redbox with a play button symbol in the middle of it?
  11. What is the brand name of Wal-Mart’s generic line of food products called?
  12. What is the name of the website where users can upload, save, sort, and manage images (“pins”) and other media content in collections called “pinboards”?
  13. What upbeat 2013 song by Pharrell Williams lost its Oscar bid to the song “Let It Go”?
  14. What movie did the song “Let It Go” famously appear in?
  15. Name two major cable news networks.

Hopefully that was fun.  How did you do?

If you got 12-15 right, you are fluent in current culture.
If you got 8-11 right, you are passable in current culture.
If you got 4-7 right, you are possibly living on an Amish farm or serving a stint in solitary confinement.
If you got less than 4 right, you may not have a pulse.

(Note: measurements are strictly facetious and unscientific).

Now for a second quiz:

  1. In what Bible book is it said, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”?
  2. What was King David’s father’s name?
  3. Name two sons of Jochebed.
  4. Joel, Haggai, and Hosea are all books of the Bible from what literary genre?
  5. What was the name of the hometown of the apostle Paul? What was the name of his famous teacher?
  6. What two men were considered to replace the apostle Judas and which one did God select?
  7. What was the name of the town where Jesus was born?
  8. On what island was the apostle John exiled?
  9. Name two righteous kings of Judah.
  10. What were the names of the rivers Naaman preferred over the muddy Jordan River?
  11. Name the books of the Bible commonly referred to as “the gospels.”
  12. What is another name for the deliverers of Israel whose ranks included Othniel, Tola, and Ibzan?
  13. Who penned the words, “Pride goes before destruction”?
  14. What Jewish sect who opposed Jesus also did not believe in the resurrection?
  15. Who penned the book of Acts?

How did you do on that test?  We absorb so much of the culture because it surrounds us and demands our attention. We see it, hear it, and are in so many ways surrounded by it. The Bible is something we must be intentional about. We must go to it and spend time in it.  When we do, we’ll grow in more than mere knowledge (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18).  We’ll be nourished (1 Tim. 4:6), delighted (Ps. 1:2), enlivened (Ph. 2:16), protected (Ps. 119:11), revived (Ps. 119:25), and sanctified (Jn. 17:17).  We’re not trying to win a trivia contest.  We’re trying to overcome the world and go to heaven.  Bible reading, studying, and meditation is key to that!  Spend some time in The Word today and every day!

Answers To The First Quiz:

  1. Facebook
  2. 16, 162, and 82
  3. iTunes
  4. “The Pioneer Woman”
  5. “The Avengers”
  6. Twitter
  7. E.L. James
  8. Sprint, AT&T, TMobile, Verizon, etc.
  9. “Dancing With The Stars”
  10. YouTube
  11. Great Value
  12. Pinterest
  13. “Happy” or “Happiness Is The Truth”
  14. Frozen
  15. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC

Answers To The Second Quiz:

  1. 1 Timothy (6:7)
  2. Jesse
  3. Moses and Aaron
  4. Prophecy (particularly, “Minor Prophets”)
  5. Tarsus; Gamaliel
  6. Matthias and Barsabbas; Matthias
  7. Bethlehem
  8. Patmos
  9. Hezekiah, Josiah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, etc.
  10. Abanah and Pharpar
  11. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  12. Judges
  13. Solomon
  14. Sadducees
  15. Luke

question marks

Jehoshaphat’s People

Jehoshaphat’s People

Neal Pollard

One of the last great periods of spiritual revival in Judah’s history before Babylonian Captivity occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat.  This king is praised for seeking God, following His commandments, and not acting like Israel (2 Ch. 17:3-4). Jehoshaphat was greatly blessed by these decisions, he took pride in the Lord’s ways and sought to eradicate idolatry (5-6).  In the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat sent his officials, the priests, and the Levites throughout Judah.  What we read in 2 Chronicles 17:9 is exemplary for us today.

  • They “taught.”  Men of varying backgrounds, abilities, personalities, and occupations united in the valuable enterprise of teaching. In all, 16 men are named as those who were tasked with this important job. Whatever we don’t know about them, we do know they were teachers.  Their work was so important that God saw fit to include them by name in His Book!  Certainly He still holds knowledgeable, diligent teachers in high regard today.  What a thrill it must be for Him to see His children willing and able to teach (cf. 1 Pe. 3:14-15). 
  • They taught “in Judah…among the people.” What was Judah? It was the place where God’s people resided. Strong churches have good teachers teaching them.  There is a resounding benefit when people get together and are subjected to healthy, beneficial teaching.  As it was then, so it is now.
  • They taught in Judah “having the book of the law of the Lord with them.” Jehoshaphat wanted to ensure the spiritual literacy of his subjects, knowing God wanted that, too. God still longs for His people to know, show, and grow (2 Pe. 3:18). Too often, our teaching can lack a biblical focus.  We do not need more “what I thinks” and “what happened to me’s.” We need more rich teaching from “the book of the law of the Lord.”

Despite some later foolish and even sinful choices, Jehoshaphat was on target to send teachers for Judah’s benefit.  In the end, he instituted needed, helpful reforms, and relied on God in prayer.  He fell short, but perhaps it was his anchor in the law of God that kept him from drifting away from Him.  Our hope and future is tied to how faithfully we follow God, but we must know what God wants to do that.  And we can only know what God wants by knowing His Word. God bless the teachers that help us to do just that!

SOME GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT GOD

SOME GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT GOD

 

Neal Pollard

• He Is Omniscient, Yet Optimistic (Jer. 26:3).

• He Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves And Still Is Not Willing That Any Should Perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

• He Sees Our Stingy Tendencies, But He Still Gives Freely(Rom. 8:32; Eph 1:6).

• He Knows We Can Be Faithless, But He Is Still Faithful (2 Cor. 1:18; 2 Tim 2:13).

• We Keep Track Of Others’ Wrongs, But God Can Forget (Heb. 10:17).

• We Procrastinate And Delay, But God’s Patience Still Waits (So Far) (1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15).

• In A World With Too Much Impersonal Care, He Personally Cares (1 Pet 5:7).

• When We Feel Ignored By Others, He Sees Even Minute Details (Matt 10:29-31).

• In A World Of Fickle, Fading Love, His Lovingkindnesses Never Cease (Lam. 3:22).

• People Forget The Help, Favors, And Gifts We Give Them, But God Is Not Unjust To Forget Your Work And The Love You Have Shown In His Name (Heb. 6:10).

• Though Others May Abandon You, He’s Coming Back To Claim His Own (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:16-18).

CORN DOGS, SAUERKRAUT, AND COTTAGE CHEESE

CORN DOGS, SAUERKRAUT, AND COTTAGE CHEESE

Neal Pollard

The food items above have one sure thing in common–they are all items I cannot even choke down.  Each of them are undesirable to me for different reasons, but they are all checked off in my gross column.  You may love them all, and if so, in the words of the great philosopher Briscoe Darling, “more power to you.”  I just do not.

Culinary tastes differ.  I enjoy mixing peanut butter and table syrup, using homemade biscuits to sop up this fine, tasty blend, but I realize I may not have a lot of company in that proclivity of mine.  Some things are healthier and more suitable to eat than others, but much of that is simply a matter of taste.

Sadly, there are people who have tried to lean on their human reasoning and experience, determining what they will and will not do and believe based on personal preference and taste.  They do not see Scripture as authoritative.  In our postmodern age, people have tried to make our culture–with its peculiar tastes, desires, and leanings–preeminent over God’s revealed truth.  When this is the case, a society can put sins like abortion, homosexuality, adultery, living together, modern dancing, immodesty, and greed into the palatable and even desirable category.  The same group may put godly traits of character like honesty, courtesy, commitment, conviction, faithfulness, and the like into the distasteful category.

I remember my dad preaching a sermon about “Cafeteria-Style Religion.”  Back in those days, cafeteria-style restaurants were more common and popular.  You walk in the restaurant, walk past meats, vegetables, breads, and desserts, putting only what you wanted on your tray while rejecting the rest.  The spiritual application of that, that people pick and choose what commands of God to obey and what to ignore, is even truer today than it was then.  Today, it is not just doctrinal matters but also moral matters.

We need to remember this.  Scripture itself speaks of a way that seems right to a man that leads to death (Prov. 16:25).  It is not in man to direct his own steops (Jer. 10:23). Paul had been responsible for Christians’ deaths, yet could say in Acts 23:1 that he had lived with a clean conscience before God to that very day.  God has left a complete revelation that has been preserved, despite what agenda-driven skeptics say.  Our task is to swallow that, but to spit out any alternative authority.