The American Church Magazine - February 2014

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Dedicated to helping the church in America find their purpose, define their mission and reach their community. Vol. 3

February 2014

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Editorial Pastor Vacation and Retreat Opportunities

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No Longer Church As Usual Under Construction

No. 2

By Steve Hewitt

By Tim Kurtz

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Cover Story

Church Hoppers Are Ready To Help Your Church! By Steve Hewitt

Editor-in-Chief

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Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

Contributing Editors

Article

Max Strother Mike Turner Lavern Brown Thom Schultz

The Church’s Male Exodus By Thom Schultz

Copy Editor Gina Hewitt

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Church For Men

I Attend The Perfect Church By David Murrow

© Copyright 2012 by The American Church Magazine. All Rights Reserved Written materials submitted to The American Church Magazine become the property of The American Church Magazine upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. The American Church Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of The American Church Magazine. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Catholic Technology Magazine.

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Editorial

Pastor Vacation and Retreat Opportunities

I have a vision for a new ministry that I believe is something God has been leading me to do since October of 2012. I want to move out into the country, and build several cabins isolated in the woods. When I say cabins, I mean nice lodging, with king size beds, Jacuzzi bathtubs, a small kitchen and a comfortable living room. And I want to make them available to pastors and their wives year round for free! The goal is to provide everything a pastor would need to get away and have a retreat and a chance to recharge. I want to provide them with gift cards to the local grocery store and to local restaurants. But, we also want a chance to get to know them, so they will all be invited to come to the big house for breakfast with farm fresh eggs. In addition, we want to invite them to join us for two other meals. We want to hold their hands, listen to their stories, cry with them if needed, and just encourage them in their ministry. You will hear more about this venture as it develops, but, I wanted to let you know that I am not the only one that God has given this vision. Do a search for “free pastor retreat” and you will find that others across the nation are providing free vacation and retreat opportunities! Some are available for limited times The American Church Magazine®

throughout the year, while others, like the one we are seeking to build, are available year round. Pastors need to be ministered to, too. Having been a pastor, I know there are times when they need a break. Yet, many don’t have the funds to go out on the road for a vacation. Hopefully, what we plan to build will be a blessing to hundreds of pastors in the years to come, but, you don’t have to wait for us. Check out Google and find out if there is an opportunity for you right now to have a chance to get away to restore your vision and calling. If you do, or if you have ever taken advantage of these free services for pastors in the past, drop me a note and let me know what impressed you the most. We want our retreat center to really be of help to many pastors and are open to all suggestions! Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt steve@cdpublishers.com

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Cover Story

Church Hoppers Are Ready To Help Your Church! By Steve Hewitt

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couple of months ago I saw a commercial on National Geographic for a new show called “Church Rescue”. I immediately set the digital recorder to capture the programs and quickly realized how great the stars of the show, the “Church Hoppers” were in helping small churches that were really struggling. What I found most interesting was that the Church Hoppers were able to help each church even though they were different in theology and worship styles. In the six episodes, they helped an African-American church, a biker church, and cowboy church and a church that describes itself as “Bapticostal” where their service lasts over four hours and people get “slain in the spirit”.

It was obvious from the six shows that the Church Hoppers have the ability to work with churches regardless of size, regardless of doctrine and regardless of a variety of problems. I certainly had the impression that these guys have seen it all! I have interviewed Rev Kev, one of the three that make up the Church Hoppers’ team in order to give our readers a better idea about what they do. I encourage you to check out their services, and I encourage you to watch the six episodes of their The American Church Magazine®

show. I know if you do a search for Church Rescue on Google, you can find several places where you will be able to access the shows past episodes on Hulu Plus or iTunes. What are the Church Hoppers? The Church Hoppers is a Coaching Company that assist religious organizations of any denomination in the areas of their Systems (Human Resources), Business, and Sales & Marketing (Promotion). Our

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They’re “spiritual but not religious.” They’re eager to talk about God, but done sitting through sermons. Want to reach young adults? Start a conversation. They’re looking to participate, not to be an audience. So let them ask hard questions. Grapple with tough stuff. Discover how God is reaching out to them. And Lifetree Café is all about conversation. Relaxing around tables, Lifetree participants hear inspiring stories, tell their own stories…and draw closer to God and each other. On college campuses, at coffee shops, and even in churches, life-changing conversations are underway. When you’re ready to connect, connect with us. We’ll help you provide tested, ready-to-go, hour-long guided conversations that let young adults experience God in a fresh, new way. Call 877-476-8703 or visit Discover.LifetreeCafe.com to learn more. “ D o i n g l i f e . D o i n g g o o d .”

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Discover.LifetreeCafe.com Copyright © 2013 Group Publishing, Inc.

*Projected 2025 church attendance from George Barna’s Revolution

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Purpose is to Build Balance in Churches. Who are the Church Hoppers? The Church Hoppers consists of Dr. Jerry Bentley (aka Doc), Rev. Kevin Annas (aka Rev Kev), and Rev. Anthony Lockhart (aka Gladamere).

How did the Church Hoppers come to exist? The Church Hoppers came to exist from a ministry called Etc… Church which Doc, Rev Kev, and Glad founded. The three ministers and other committed believers spent over three years developing Etc… with a vision of taking the church to the community in more relevance. After spending over three years developing a ministry to “fix” the things these guys felt were out of balance in traditional churches God

lead them to take their plan for balance straight back into local churches and use it to balance them one at a time. The guys like to say they “fell back in love with the local church”! Which area (Systems, Business, and Marketing) does each guy focus on? Doc is the Systems guy. He has spent over 14 years dealing with family and individual counseling and believes that the same systems found inside of marriages and families exists within local churches. He is passionate about helping pastors and church leaders understand that. Rev Kev is the Business guy. He has over 17 years of entrepreneur experience and he believes that many churches fail to see themselves as a business therefore becoming victim to many of the pitfalls that result from lack of planning, organization, and strategic planning. Glad is the Marketing guy. He has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience and has an eye for detail. Glad believes that what we hear from the churches leader should be exemplified throughout every avenue of the unspoken message of the church. He often says his job is easy once the System and Business plan are on track. His main area of focus is from the parking lot to the pulpit striving to educate church leaders on the importance of sending a clear message to the community. How does Church Hoppers deal with differing theology when working with various denominations? It’s simple, when the Church Hoppers are hired to work with a ministry they are not focusing on theology within the ministry. They feel their calling is to help churches of any denomination build balance thru their Systems, Business, and Marketing. God has others who have a passion for coaching ministers in their theology. Why are Church Hoppers considered a coaching company as opposed to a consulting company? Church Hoppers believes that

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the DNA of the church leader (i.e. the Pastor) is fully equipped to build balance and produce a healthy and successful ministry in regards to their Systems, Business, and Marketing therefore much like a sports coach does with an athlete the Church Hoppers help ministers achieve their full potential. The Church Hoppers believe God has equipped the ministry but sometimes the ministry needs help finding the right formula for success. Consultants often bring in new ideas and philosophy whereas coaches work with the skills and talents that already exist. How is the National Geographic show Church Rescue affiliated with Church Hoppers? The show Church Rescue is a six episode docu-reality series developed for Natgeo by TGroup Productions that follows the Church Hoppers as they assist six different ministries to build balance within their ministries. The show originally aired in November and December of 2013 in the US. If a ministry is interested in working with the Church Hoppers how do they contact them? The best way to get in touch with the Church Hoppers is to visit their website at www.churchhoppers.org from their website you can complete the online contact form and someone from their office will be in touch. The Church Hoppers are on Twitter (@ churchhoppers) as a company and individually (@churchhopperdoc; @ churchhopperkev; and @churchhoppergla) and on Facebook (Church Hoppers) as well. www.churchhoppers.org 11 N. Main St Granite Falls, NC 28630

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No Longer Church As Usual

Under Construction By Tim Kurtz

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was recently in a mall in Indianapolis, Indiana where one of the major anchor stores was remodeling a section of their main floor. The area was cordoned off and covered to the ceiling with a tarp to protect shoppers from the construction taking place. We may have all probably seen signs that read, ‘PLEASE EXCUSE OUR DUST WHILE WE ARE REMODELING’, or ‘CAUTION: THIS AREA IS UNDER CONTSTRUCTION’. The store was still open, but clearly there were improvements being made out of view of the shopping public. The improvements this store was making were physical. Yet, often these same stores spend millions of dollars implementing new policies and procedures they believe will enhance their business. Such changes address how the employees think about the business. They are unseen because the implementation begins in what is understood over what is done. While new policies and procedures are being formulated, the store remains open using the old policies and procedures. My ministry work at this time is spent transitioning the church my wife and I founded twenty years ago into a network of interdependent house The American Church Magazine®

church gatherings. The finished product will, undoubtedly, be different from what most of us have ever seen. We have been ‘under construction’ for nearly eight years, because like most, we are ingrained with the traditional church system and change is not easy. At times it has been challenging, but it has never ceased to be exciting. Like the store in the mall, we remain open in a traditional manner while the construction is going on behind the scenes. For those who don’t understand what we are doing, I wish I could post a sign that says, PLEASE EXCUSE OUR DUST, OUR CHALLENGES, OUR ISSUES

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AND OUR MISTAKES – WHILE WE ARE BECOMING THE CHURCH JESUS WANTS US TO BE. For those who are trying to figure out the difference between house church gatherings and cell church, I want to post a sign that reads, CAUTION: THIS AREA IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I would like to enclose this area of our work off so that passersby and curious onlookers won’t wander into the ‘construction area’ until it is ready for view. But the reality is we remain open to the public until the work is complete. My brother once stated our situation this way, “While we are building the unusual, we must keep the usual in order.” There are two types of renovations – the physical and the policy and procedural. We are doing both. The physical renovations are the house gatherings we are developing. It is easy to gather a few people in a living room to sing, pray, and share with each other. But the policy and procedural changes are more challenging. It is more of a challenge to teach why we are doing this, and to equip people with the purpose over the practice. I find that people tend to measure any new idea against old practices. In each article I write, I state that Jesus is still building His Church – His Way – in the 21st Century (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus declared to His disciples that He would build His Church. He is still building His Church today with lively stones that have a revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God. His building plan requires that Christ be formed in every member in His Church. When this happens, the glory of the latter house will be much greater than the former. He is building her after the values from which she was birthed on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is leading believers to resurrect the simple methodologies that were so effective in the first century. These methods must include the ‘policy and procedural’ changes necessary to sustain our outward activities. These are expressed in the core values we embrace. That is the purpose of this article, to outline the five core values that I believe is the heart of the New Testament Church. I believe values are the foundation of sound doctrine. In our ministry, these are the ‘policies and procedures’ we are learning in our renovation project. In my book, No Longer Church As Usual (Second Edition), I give greater detail to each of these values; but, I pray, this brief summary will give you a glimpse of the heart of our Lord’s glorious church. The American Church Magazine®

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1. The Lordship of Jesus Christ: This is first and most primary of all the values we must embrace. If you overlook or neglect this value, there is no reason to consider the other four. In the first century, everything the believers did, rose and fell on this one value – the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If they gathered, they gathered around Jesus Christ (Matthew 18:20; Colossians 3:17). If they preached, it was all about Jesus Christ (Acts 17:3; 1Corinthians 15:3-4; 2Corinthians 4:5). If they taught, they taught about Jesus Christ (Acts 5:42). Like Paul, they knew their very existence was centered upon the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20). All of Christianity finds its purpose for existing in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Without His death, burial, resurrection, and post-resurrection manifested presence, Christianity would be just another religion competing for the hearts of mankind (1Corinthians 15:3-8). 2. The Priesthood of all Believers: And ye shall

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be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel (Exodus 19:6). God’s intent was that the earth be filled with a kingdom of fully functioning priests who had redemptive authority. Man would have the authority to reconcile ‘that which was lost’ back to the Creator. He was given the authority to subdue anything that opposed the design of God. The command to be fruitful, to multiply, to replenish or fill the earth, and subdue it was given to all mankind from the very beginning. Man’s obedience to God, the Creator, would culminate in a realm called ‘dominion’ – which is earthly rule supported by the Lord God Himself. The priesthood of the believer must be understood in functional terms rather than in titles. God sees us as kings and priests. It is not important that we are called priests. We don’t need to have such a title added to us. God’s desire is that we do what priests are called to do – that is to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). It is the command of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, that we go into all the world and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19). 3. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit: A fully functioning priesthood values the acts and gifts of the Holy Spirit. They submit themselves to be directed and led by Him. The Holy Spirit serves as the sole managing agent of the church in the earth. Like the believers in the first century church we too must value the acts and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We should be ready to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all things, and value the gifts He gives to spread the Gospel in the earth. (Acts 1:8; Romans 12:6-8; 1Corinthians 12:4-11). 4. Covenant Relationships: We were never created to walk alone. From the beginning, God declared, “it is not good that man be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We are interconnected through Jesus Christ (Romans 12:5). For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself (Romans 14:7). It is important that we be intentional about gathering and fellowshipping with one another. I personally believe that a key catalyst to the growth The American Church Magazine®

of the early church was the intentional relationships cultivated among the believers. 5. No One Will Lack Among Us Strong covenant relationships benefit the Body of Christ. Covenant is demonstrated when we ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and cry with those who cry’ while simultaneously ‘having all things in common’ (Acts 2:44; 4:32; 1Corinthians 12:26). This value is not an exercise in humanistic social responsibility. It is not expecting the ‘haves’ to give to the ‘havenots’. The underlying purpose of this value is that we want the Gospel to be preached everywhere and we want to insure that every believer has the necessary resources they need to do their part. We don’t want any believer to lack whatever they need to reach the lost. Jesus is Lord. Every believer is a priest unto the Lord. The Holy Spirit is directing the Lord’s Church. The believers, locally and globally, are growing through covenant relationships and no one among us lacks anything needed for life and ministry. I believe these five core values will serve to strengthen the New Testament church. They demonstrate the church Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). I am personally committed to planting New Testament Churches that reflect these values. I believe His Church – built His way – will release millions of believers in the earth to fulfill the Kingdom Mandate given by the Lord to be fruitful, multiply, replenish, and subdue the earth as we make disciples of all nations (Genesis 1:28; Matthew 28:1920). It’s time to go to work… Tim Kurtz is the founder of The Center for New Testament Church Development whose mission is to plant churches that reflect the values and structure of the first century church. Follow Tim Kurtz on Twitter: @timkurtz712 Website: www.ntcdonline.org Like us on Facebook: The Center for New Testament Church Development

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Article

The Church’s Male Exodus The men have decided Church is not for them. By Thom Schultz

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ncreasingly, men and boys are abandoning their congregations. As we conducted the research for our recent book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore we noticed men were leading the exodus. Statistics show that America’s pews are disproportionately populated with 61 percent females and 39 percent males. We wondered why. After digging deeper, we heard several recurring themes: Feminization Many men say the current church is designed for feminine tastes. Everything from the decor to worship behavior seems just a bit too “girly” for many guys. “It’s intimidating for a man to hold hands in a circle,” says David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. “A male visitor detects the feminine spirit the moment he walks in the sanctuary door. He may feel like Tom Sawyer in Aunt Polly’s parlor.” One-way communication Many men no longer desire to sit at the feet The American Church Magazine®

of a preacher and passively take in a lecture. This week popular Christian author Donald Miller admitted in his blog that he rarely attends church anymore. “I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon,” he wrote. He said, like most men, he finds that the typical church service “can be long and difficult to get through.” Other men told us that, rather than sit passively through a church service, they want to offer their thoughts, and join the conversation. Avoidance of tough questions Many men have serious questions about matters of faith. They feel their questions are unwelcome. David, a college student, told us how his difficult questions about the canonization of the Bible

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were deflected and dismissed. Frustrated, he left the church. He wasn’t looking for an easy answer from a clerical know-it-all. He simply wanted a degree of honesty, authenticity, and humility. Lack of adventure Church happenings are too programmed and predictable for many men. They’re looking for a little risk and challenge–just as the original disciples encountered while living with Jesus. But, as David Murrow says, “the actual mission of most congregations is making people feel comfortable and safe–especially longtime members.” Even the concept of discipleship has been stripped of its original meaning. It’s been reduced to a sheltered academic exercise in most churches. Their discipleship programs amount to no more than a Bible study class. Murrow is looking to return to a real biblical process to disciple men. He calls it Men’s League. It engages 12 men at a time in a year-long series of “ordeals”–challenging experiences that build healthy reliance on Christ. Efforts such as these may help men get to know the real Jesus. Not the fragile-looking Jesus they remember from the faded portraits in the church hall. But the real, gritty carpenter who camped with fishermen, stood up to his threatening critics, withstood harrowing abuse, carried his own cross timbers, and conquered death itself. That’s a man–and Lord–men today would find magnetic.

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Church For Men

I Attend The Perfect Church Let me tell you a little bit about my church. By David Murrow

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unday services are superb. They last anywhere from 8 to 10 hours, depending on how the Spirit is moving. At least 100 people are saved at every service. Dozens more are healed of debilitating diseases, and a handful of people are raised from the dead. We add at least 3,000 new members a month. And speaking of members, everyone in our church has emptied their bank accounts and given every cent they have to the poor. Our city does not have any homeless or hungry people, thanks to our congregation’s on-site food pantry and homeless shelter. (A few of our members became homeless after giving their houses away, but they simply bunk at the shelter). We have a prayer team that intercedes 24 hours a day for the church and for one another. They don’t eat. They don’t sleep. They just pray. Our pastor is amazing. His personal life is exemplary. He’s never been a hypocrite, prays and reads scripture 8 hours daily and personally disciples every person in our church. He’s memoThe American Church Magazine®

rized the entire Bible, not only in English, but also in the original languages. He and his wife have been married for 23 years. They have 19 children. Twelve are adopted with special needs. Our youth ministries are outstanding. Youth meetings run anywhere from 4 to 5 hours, most of it praising our blessed savior in song. The youth are raising funds for a mission trip to North Korea to preach on the streets and distribute Bibles. Sounds like a great church, right? As you might have guessed, this church does not exist. It’s The Perfect Church church we all refer to when we talk about what the Ameri-

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can church should be. Christians use this nonexistent, flawless congregation to bash their own churches – and other Christians. Self-loathing is very chic these days. It’s seen as a mark of open-mindedness. Meanwhile, selfconfidence is seen as egotism. It’s good to be aware of our flaws, but when we obsess on them we can descend into a spiral of depression. In its most pernicious form it becomes an excuse for inaction. This critical attitude rears its head when I write about men and church. I’ll make some helpful suggestion how churches can become more guy-friendly, and I’m met with comments about how guys should be. “If men just loved God more they’d enjoy singing in church.” “If men loved the Word then they’d love going to church.” “If men were truly saved, they’d volunteer in church.”

exactly as we’ve created it. By putting the onus on guys to be perfect, we excuse ourselves from having to do anything different to reach them. So as you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, add this to the list: stop comparing your church to the non-existent, perfect church. And stop comparing your men to non-existent, perfect men. And while you’re at it, stop criticizing yourself and your fellow Christians for not being perfect. We’re all hypocrites. Environmentalists drive cars. Conservatives accept government help. And everyone who claims to follow Jesus falls short of the perfection he demands (Matthew 5:48, Romans 3:23). Christmas is a time to be grateful for God’s grace – an abundant grace that makes up for all our shortcomings. Read more from David Murrow at churchformen. com

In other words, if men were exactly as we want them to be, then they’d love the church

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