Evangelizing & Franchises

From Gary North’s Critical Mass – Part 15: Designing an Evangelism Program

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests (Matt. 22:8-10).

The parable of the king who invites guests to his son’s wedding is a familiar one. It illustrates the process of evangelism. The marriage supper of the lamb is the final judgment. The whole world will be brought to this wedding feast, but those who wear no wedding garments will be cast out:

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:11-14).

There are four stages in this selection process. First, the initial invitations went to people who all refused to attend the wedding, or thought they could refuse.

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my failings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city (Matt. 22:3-7).

This referred to Old Covenant Israel. The fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 fulfilled this prophecy of imminent judgment in history.

Second, the servants go into all the highways, so as to send the invitations to everyone. This refers to the gentile world. The highways constitute the entire world. Third, the wedding feast begins. Everyone must attend. This is the day of final judgment. Fourth, those without the proper garments are cast out. This is the lake of fire.

Why don’t people understand that the wrath of God is both justified and absolute?

Why do people think that God is kidding?

He isn’t.

It is very difficult to persuade anyone to believe that your organization can meet his or her needs. Physical needs are met first by paychecks. Wal-Mart meets most of these needs cheaply. State welfare agencies meet the others. When it comes to spiritual needs, almost nobody regards them as personal needs, since people assume: (1) God meets all these needs free of charge for all people; or (2) these needs have been taken care of by the individual’s existing supplier; or (3) they are not really needs. Reason two is why the first group of people identified by Jesus’ parable paid no attention to the king’s servants. Reasons one and three are why hardly anyone takes seriously the free offer of the gospel.

And now you know, why vast numbers of men, women, and children will explicitly choose burn in the lake of fire forever.

(Few explicitly choose to enter hell, just as few explicitly worship Satan.

But the natural choice of all men is to despise God, and go to hell by a roundabout, self-deceiving route. Salvation, heaven, joy, holiness, and entrance into the Church Triumphant and the New Creation is an extraordinary gift, paid for by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

There is no other way to enter the Joy of the Lord, to be cleansed of our sins, than through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But rebellion, damnation, accursedness, hellfire, and the lake of fire is the natural, traditional, and typical destiny of man. It is our proper wages for our defiled nature: a nature that is somewhat obscured by common grace and Divine mercy here on earth, but crystal clear after death, where we become what we always were…

But what we need to be is like Jesus Christ: we need to put on His nature, with all our sins and filth washed away, to enter the Kingdom of God.)

If your church’s evangelism programs have failed to attract visitors, let alone new members, when appealing to spiritual people’s needs, the church must do what successful advertisers do if it expects to grow — to reach critical mass. It must appeal to people’s wants.

Wants

What are wants? Wants are goals that people are willing to pay for when they believe that someone else can help them achieve them. They are medium-term and long-term goals which, unlike physical needs, people are willing to buy on a deferred delivery installment plan. Here is a short list of wants that are universal: peace of mind, more friends, a better job, more money at the end of the month, greater control over your life, business connections. social connections, and above all, a sense of purpose or meaning in life. (In Texas, people also want free access to a gymnasium, a racquet ball court, a basketball court, and a whirlpool unit. This is called a “family life center.” Large Baptist churches build them.) Married couples want fewer arguments, obedient children, moral children, better relations with in-laws and children, a good day care program, better education for older children, and a youth group larger than five attendees for each [age group]. Single people want to get married.

Service to people’s wants opens the door to service to people’s needs.

How can a church prove that it can fulfill a traveler’s wants? By targeting primarily those travelers whose wants are met by the congregation’s package of benefits. Because no congregation can fulfill every person’s wants, each must specialize in fulfilling specific wants of just a few targeted groups. Until a congregation has identified those groups whose wants it can uniquely or at least sufficiently fulfill, its evangelism program is unlikely to prosper.

The first step in developing a successful evangelism program is to identify the congregation’s appropriate highway. The second step is to make sure that the offer can be met by the product, i.e., that the promise of being able to fulfill several important wants can be met by the programs that the congregation offers — preferably, programs unique to the congregation.

You have to identify the desires of men, in order to serve them.
After you serve people’s wants, then you may be able to serve people’s needs.


From Gary North’s Critical Mass – Part 16: The Franchise Model

n a previous report, I argued that there are distinct limits to local church growth. The main one is the limit of leadership. There are only a few gifted people who are capable of running large organizations. The church must not base its evangelism programs on the availability of highly competent and gifted people.

A successful church can not be a elitist church. It must be a church grounded in the heart and abilities of the ordinary man.

The text is clear: we are to establish our institutions on the assumption that the wise and gifted people of this world will not join the church until such time as Christianity is dominant in culture and new standards of performance and wisdom prevail.

You can be sure of that! Even more than most men, the Ruling Classes view the Church with a natural distaste…

Even then, the bell-shaped curve of performance will still be in force: a few retarded people, a few geniuses, and most people in between. We must build the church with, at best, ordinary people.

Extraordinary Performance from Ordinary People

The widely known secret of McDonald’s and other franchise businesses is that they have found a system that enables managers to extract extraordinary performance out of ordinary people. What is not widely known is that the original model for all franchise operations is the church. Even the church has generally forgotten that it pioneered the concept of the franchise — and an international franchise at that. its leaders no longer work night and day to find ways to equip ordinary people to produce extraordinary results. The result: the church today barely produces ordinary results, except on the foreign mission field, where the original franchise model is still honored.

(…)

Each restaurant has an operations manual. Each seeks to hire ordinary people to serve ordinary people. The goal is not to hire French chefs to serve gourmet dinners. The goal is to make a lot of money. The best way to make lots of money is to serve lots and lots of ordinary people.

Have we ever seen this strategy before? Of course: Jesus’ initial recruits. The only professional among them was a tax collector: low imputed status. God does not recruit extraordinary people to serve as the leaders of His church. God chooses the foolish of the world to confound the wise.

What is said of the British Navy is almost true of the church: an organization designed by geniuses to be run by morons. The church is an organization designed by God to be run by ordinary people. God loves ordinary people, for He has made so many of them.

Not one megachurch, not one cathedral, but vast numbers of small churches, generally house churches.

Bishops

No member of a megachurch dares utter in public the word which best describes its institutional role: cathedral. No member calls a megachurch’s pastor by his functional office’s title: bishop. (The exception is a charismatic megachurch. Sometimes their pastors do appropriate the title of bishop.)

Yes: Charismatics can understand and obey Biblical instructions more than Calvinists do.

Because American Protestantism is generally congregational, the divide-and-conquer strategy is rejected. Because a man cannot officially become a bishop in most Protestant denominations, ambitious men have as their goal overseeing a megachurch. They seek to establish their visible dominance with big congregations. They seek to become operational bishops: overseeing a horde of assistant pastors and secretaries, thereby becoming the dominant voices in the denominational association. The office of bishop is an inescapable concept. It is never a question of “bishop vs. no bishop.” It is a question of “which kind of bishop?”

“Oh, no,” some dedicated congregationalist objects. “In our association, all the pastors are equal.” Really? If you think that Rev. Bland, pastor of a rural congregation of 75 adult members, has the same clout in the denomination-association as Rev. Sharp, pastor of First Whatever Church of Dallas, with 25,000 members on the roles, a 12,215–pipe organ, and 17 assistant pastors program directors, you are living in fantasyland.

The goal of every church growth program should be to plant sister churches in every section of the community. The problem is this: sister churches do not exist without mother churches, whether official or unofficial. These mother churches today are large, heavily indebted operations: megachurches. Until American Protestantism can at least imitate the Mormons — debt-free buildings — it will be in bondage to bankers. A church-planting system that places the Church of Jesus Christ in bondage to bankers is not going to be blessed by God. Nobody in positions of church authority believes this, of course. They also wonder why God refuses to bless the American church.

Churches enslaved to bankers are careful with their preaching. “Gotta water it down, to keep the money coming in!”

God will not tolerate split loyalties.

Planting a New Congregation: The Franchise Moment

If a pastor is also the manager or owner of an independent preschool or day care, he can make money by establishing another branch of the school. He has an incentive to seek out a young would-be pastor and his wife to run the branch school. Then he encourages this young would-be pastor to start a congregation.

It is at this point that Church A has its moment of truth. Will Pastor A ask 50 members of his 150-member congregation to move under the authority of Pastor B at a new congregation? A man seeking the bishop’s office has an ecclesiastical incentive to do this. In a denomination without bishops, there is no personal church-related incentive to do this. But there may be an economic incentive: income from the new day care branch.

This is the moment of truth because it is the franchise moment. The owner of a McDonald’s franchise is allowed and encouraged to start another McDonald’s locally. He has an economic incentive to do this. He will own the competing franchise. But what about a local pastor? What is his personal incentive to reduce the size of his congregation in order to build up a new one? Almost none.

It’s time to bring back the bishopric.

The church needs growth. How should it achieve this? By systematically re-adopting and applying the church’s original organizational concept: the franchise system.

A congregation needs two things to begin: an operations manual and a good location. A Christian preschool operation can pay for the location. But the operations manual is still missing, almost two millennia after Christ. There is no existing, non-bishop-based church operations manual that establishes both economic and psychological incentives for an ambitious pastor to content himself with a congregation of 200 adults when his talents allow him to serve 500 or 5,000. The small local franchise becomes a great local conglomerate — for a time. But eventually the ecclesiastical equivalent of a buy-out occurs: selling off the assets. Until there is a widely tested, widely imitated solution to the ambitious pastor’s motivation problem, church growth will remain hampered.

It’s time for God’s people to get on the grow!

Karma, Economics, and Salvation-Rest

As Rushdoony illustrates, there is no salvation in karma, only slavery and the rule of the dead hand of the past. In Christ, there is both Justice and Mercy, Joy and a Future.

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FKarma, Debt, and the SabbathA

By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony

The doctrine of Karma is one of the most important religious doctrines invented by man. Its origins are Brahmanic, but its great development is Buddhist. Perhaps no other non-Biblical doctrine is more important and more perceptive, however deadly. Karma is the law of cause and effect as it regulates the present and future life of man. Karma says that what a man sows, that shall he also reap; every man inherits his own burden of sin and guilt, and no man can inherit the good or evil acts of another man. Karma holds that sin cannot be destroyed by sacrifice, penance, or repentance, but only by self-expiation. A man thus spends his life (and future reincarnations, according to this doctrine) working out the atonement for sin. The important fact about Karma is that this doctrine does justice to the reality…

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The Church as an Organic Functioning Body

A great article by Rushdoony!

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sunset churchThe Church as Function

By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony

The church began its history in the Roman Empire, in the midst of a Greco-Roman culture. Jerusalem itself reflected that fact and was richly subsidized by the emperors because of its strategic importance. Keeping Judea peaceful and happy was a basic policy. Judea’s failure to appreciate its “privileges” led to the intensity of Roman vengeance during and after the war of AD. 66-70.

The church was both influenced by that Greco-EmilyCarr-Indian-Church-1929Roman culture and also hostile to it. Herbert B. Workman, in Persecution in the Early Church (1906), noted: “By Roman theory the State was the one society which must engross every interest of its subjects, religious, social, political, humanitarian, with the one possible exception of the family. There was no room in Roman law for the existence, much less the development on its own lines of organic growth, of any corporation…

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Growth and the Strengthening of the Body…

…and the worthlessness of bank-enslaved, debt-ridden pastorates.

From North’s Critical Mass – Part 14: The Division of Labor

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him (I Cor. 12:15-18).

The greater the number of integrated parts, the greater the body of Christ. This is why church growth is a moral imperative. But this does not mean that church growth is cost-free. We must count the costs of church growth.

All good things have a price tag attached to it.

Because the church has been on a century-long retreat, except on the-foreign mission field, Christians tend to-forget that stagnation also has a price: the threat of attrition. Attrition has an even higher price: the threat of extinction. So, a price must be paid for church growth and for attrition. Attrition is too high a price to pay: you eventually wind up in a different, theologically weaker church anyway.

Also, all evil things.

(And aren’t you wary of endless, endless retreat and endless, endless failure? I certainly am! And if I, a mere sinful believer, am tired of it, would’t God be actually enraged with our disobedience – with our wealth and our ease and our cowardice and our contempt for His word?

Well.

Actually, I think it’s long past mere enragement: THAT was back in the 1910s-1950s period, of blood and violence and insanity and public slaughter of young men (and the masses under both flavours of Socialism). Now, I believe that God isn’t worried at all about the Western Christian Church, and it’s high levels of comfort with our quiet slaughter of the unborn…

…”let the dead bury the dead”.

And as for the remnant that still hews close to His will, His commandments?

God sees the few who strive and struggle to obey Him, as surely as He sees the multitudes who mock and hate Him.

Wait and see…)

Consider the benefits of a growing congregation. Specialization increases with the increase in the division of labor. The productive church member finds that his talents fit the needs of the congregation more closely than before. The needs of the congregation can therefore be met less expensively than before. As with all specialization, output per unit of resource input increases.

There are limits to this growth process. One major limit is parking space….

The number-one limit to growth, however, is leadership management…

There are ways around this: see Beating the State: Third Century Christianity in the Third World Today and The Unknown Christian Revolutionary Who Has Launched a Massive Recruiting System to Transform the Third World. (Also: Is the Third Great Awakening About to Begin? But let’s continue…

On what a dying church looks like:

The psychological problems facing a shrinking congregation are many: loss of confidence, increasing embarrassment, a sense of futility, growing frustration followed by desperation. The economic problems facing a shrinking congregation are also bad, especially if the congregation is in debt.

God has little use for churches who are in debt to bankers, and not to Himself.

Most American pastors don’t believe this.

Most American pastors are as insipid as possible in their preaching, to keep those donations coming to pay off the debt.

God has ways to get even with rebellious pastors, who have placed bankers, real estate, and money before His explicit commandments.

In my opinion, the greatest problem facing a shrinking congregation is the reduction of the division of labor and its corollary, a reduction of specialization. When a congregation begins to shrink, the number of tasks associated with it rarely shrinks equally rapidly. It is like a family’s expenditures: when the income stream drops, expenditures rarely are cut proportionately without careful budgeting — and nobody likes to budget. So, as a congregation shrinks, the leaders ask the remaining members to take on more burdens. This request must be accompanied by a motivational appeal. As a temporary emergency measure, the appeal may work. But when the burdened members see that the attrition process is continuing, they are tempted to quit carrying these extra burdens. The polite way to do this in modern congregational Christianity is to transfer to another congregation. Roman Catholics cannot do this easily, since their system is geographical: a parish system. Not so in American Protestantism.

(…)

When the challenges are attrition challenges rather than growth challenges, most people prefer to avoid them. To avoid them, some members will transfer. The longer the attrition process goes on, the more people will leave: compound shrinking. Eventually a shrinking congregation reaches negative critical mass. Then it dies.

Expect to see a lot more of these dying churches, in the next few decades. Blatant Christian contempt of God’s explicit commandments has a price tag – to the astonishment of comfortable churchmen and pew warmers everywhere.

But don’t churches who hew close to God’s teachings stay small?

Sound theology is controversial; it drives away most people. The pastor who preaches sound theology finds that his congregation stops growing early in his career. He must content himself with a limited audience, The congregation’s common denominator theologically is high, but it is small.

Here is the inescapable truth: to grow a church, there must be a change in the prevailing standards for preaching. This can be done in several ways. First, the formal theological standards are reduced, as with liberalism. Second, the theological content of preaching is reduced, as with neo-evangelicalism. Third, the theological content of the morning worship service is reduced. This is my recommendation. Why? Because this inescapable reduction can be offset in the other meetings.

The fact is, outsiders who know nothing theologically cannot be force-fed advanced sermons based on the Westminster Confession of Faith or its equivalent. They will leave. They do leave. They have left . . . for three centuries.

Theology must be made both understandable and practical if newcomers are not to be driven out. As surely as foreign missionaries on a new field must downgrade the content of their sermons, so must preachers after their sermons to meet the abilities and interests of newcomers. Communications require that the one speaking deal with the capacities of those listening. For example, no one tells foreign missionaries to preach from the Westminster Confession in terms suitable for seminary students. It would be far more sensible to tell seminary professors to teach their students as if the students were recently converted savages.

Personal debt and church debt make fear-driven pragmatists of most American pastors. With their congregations in debt and vulnerable to an exodus of donors, pastors are terrified to speak out against abortion, let alone other, less controversial abominations of the day. Built from the beginning on compromise and borrowed money, a large congregation whose leaders begin taking controversial stands will face the attrition process. Debt plus church-growth techniques water down the testimony of most growing congregations. The only alternative, pastors believe, is attrition.

True, this: large congregations won’t tolerate Biblical teaching, in the main.

Now, the best way to handle this is to NOT build megachurches: instead, there should be many , multiplying small churches.

But I’m stealing North’s thunder here, from Critical Mass 16. Let’s stick to what’s available here, today, and read North’s concise and powerful answer to the problem:

Grammar, Dialect, and Accent

To communicate, you must speak the language of your listeners. You must properly employ grammar, dialect, and accent. So it ls with preaching.

First, there is Sunday school. Here is where the basics of the Christian faith are taught, what I call the grammarof the faith. Bible stories are appropriate here, for they are more easily remembered than theology. We teach our children here. We also teach others who know little about the Bible.

The evening service should be theologically rigorous. The Christian Reformed Church requires every congregation to be taken through the Heidelberg Catechism once a year: 52 sermons. This makes good sense. Here is where the theological heritage of the denomination is maintained. I call this the dialect of the faith: the denominational tradition. I argue that elders and deacons must attend. So must candidates for church office. Here is the backbone of any congregation.

The key to growth is the traditional American 11 am. service. It must be set apart (sanctified) for introductory evangelism. It is from 11 a.m. to noon (not one minute longer) that attrition is overcome. It is here that the spiritually walking wounded of a nation must be confronted with the simple gospel message. To attract people and keep them, the gospel must be tied to practical topics: getting your life together, disciplining children, attaining better relations with in-laws, helping the poor, and a dozen other practical, real-world, problem-solving topics. Jesus speaks to these issues. He heals people who are suffering from lack of answers and lack of will. I call this the accent of the faith: whatever local conditions require. “Solutions spoken here!”

By structuring Sunday’s entire program in terms of this three-part communications model, churches can bring the immature, step by step, into positions of authority within the congregation. This is the homiletic structure that produces spiritual maturity.

…and there’s your battle plan!

Resistance in Building a Critical Mass

From North’s Critical Mass – Part 13: Preparing For Resistance

But sanctity the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (I Peter 3:15-17).

Paul’s injunction applies to the avoidance of strife with people who are in the clutches of Satan. There are lots of Christians who are not in the clutches of the devil, covenantally speaking, but who will enthusiastically give the dedicated reformer a lot of trouble. Why? Because they are in sympathy with some teaching or practice that the devil finds useful in deflecting covenant-keepers from keeping the judicial and moral terms of the full-orbed covenant they profess.

Yes, there are Christians – even saved believers – who are trapped in some snare of Satan, and want to ensnare others to ease their conscience “everyone is doing it”, or at least avoid rebuke and being forced to abandon the corruption.

It is certainly possible that these people are in influential positions in the local Church.

Strife is an illegitimate alternative to two things: peace and a formal trial. Anyone who is unwilling to seek the second should seek the first.

Cutting Strife Short

If the level of confrontation has escalated to the point of church court action, but neither participant is willing to bring a formal accusation against the other, both are commanded by Paul to cease the confrontation. A debate has become strife. Strife must be settled. Any confrontation that is not worth settling judicially should not be allowed to escalate to the point of creating divisions in the church: one vs. one, faction vs. faction.

When someone approaches a pastor with a warning about someone else in the church, the pastor may be wise to listen. But when he perceives that the talebearer is trying to recruit him to act as his personal agent of informal condemnation, the pastor should take out a notebook and ask the talebearer to repeat his statement, just in case the complaint should go to a trial. This will normally silence the tale-bearer, who is not interested in a trial. (I am reminded of Anita Hill’s 1991 tale about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. She did not volunteer to testify publicly under oath. She consented to do so only after the story she told to Senate staffers was leaked to the press.)

We must learn to think judicially. This is not easy for modern Christians. They have been taught to be antinomians. They do not think in terms of legal categories. They prefer to talk about “relationships” rather than law, as if covenantally established relationships were not law-bound. The word “relationship” has become a code word that means “not under biblical law.”

Over time, the antinomians will grow more consistent in their beliefs, moving from “men can earn salvation” to “men can generate their own salvation.”

This can be proven by looking around you, and observing the shift in this antinomian civilization who is disposing of the last few rotting rags of ‘Our Christian Heritage’.

(But then again, “Our Christian Heritage’ was always a code phrase of conservatives who wanted to pose as Christians, but deeply despised actually obeying the law and commandments.)

The trouble is, such relationships keep winding up on the front page of the local newspaper: “Pastor Admits Adultery, Asks Forgiveness.”

Is anyone surprised, by this point of time? Lawless men are lawless men… regardless of their deeply religious language.

Somewhere in the article will be a paragraph on his employment status. “Forgiveness” in such a context has also become a code word. It means: “will not be asked to resign.” That is, he wants to evade and avoid negative sanctions. He assumes that there are no negative sanctions attached to his transgression, other than embarrassment.

The problem is, many, many congregations will keep the adulterer on the payroll in order to avoid strife. The scandal is public, but the congregation pretends that strife can be avoided by ignoring the required sanctions. It refuses to press charges. This frequently leads to an exodus of the morally outraged faction. There can be legitimate forgiveness in the settling of strife, but only by the victims, and the victims can insist on restitution. If the husband of the adulteress says “fire him,” he should be fired. Even if a victim refuses to press charges, the church must, as the victimized institution. The man is no longer blameless; he is no longer eligible for the pastorate (l Tim. 3:1-2).

The original sin is bad enough: but why do churches ignore the explicit commandments of God regarding how to run their church?

I guess that they don’t feel that God has poured enough contempt on them, and they still have too much power and respect, even now.

No matter: this will be rectified, and sooner than you’d expect.

Peter wrote: “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” It is better to become the victim of one seeking to create strife than to be the initiator of strife.

A winner is a winner, and a loser is a loser… regardless of political machinations.

The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) is a very powerful doctrine. It creates opportunities for strife. It blows things up; for example, Old Covenant Israel. Modern Christians have sought to limit the devastation by narrowly defining the Great Commission as strictly the salvation of souls. But this is not what the text says: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (v. 19). Baptize nations — whole peoples: this is a huge assignment. It means that nations are to be brought under the comprehensive covenant of God, which alone offers comprehensive redemption.

Christians dislike power, because power has a price tag: increased Divine scrutiny, and judgement for failure to live up to the standards God has set.

Looking around you, it’s clear that Christians would prefer to be ruled by Loving Masters who have utter contempt for everything they believe in, and everything they are… so long as the cheap/free/corporate health care, the pensions, and the job is secure.

Worthless salt exist only to be cast aside, to be trampled into the earth.

When someone who reads and believes Kenneth Gentry’s book, The Greatness of the Great Commission (ICE, 1990), begins to discuss its thesis of comprehensive redemption in a typical evangelical church, he will meet opposition. The doctrine of comprehensive redemption — the whole of sin’s realm progressively subdued by God through His church — is too divisive today. It announces the comprehensive responsibility of Christians. Christians are not willing to accept this degree of responsibility, so they seek ways to avoid the implications of the Great Commission.

“We Christians don’t want to work too hard, or be judged for failure, so let’s completely ignore the Direct Command of Jesus Christ!

Christians go out of their way to bring judgement on their heads: THAT much should be obvious by now; again, just look around you…

One way is to attack the interpretation given to Christ’s words by the one who has presented the gospel’s comprehensive claims. This challenge becomes an opportunity for strife.

The best way to avoid strife in this case is for the defender of comprehensive redemption to present his case initially through deeds rather than words.

“Presenting your case by deeds rather than words” – now, that’s a powerful idea!

He begins a charitable project or other worthwhile project. He acts as a steward over the project. When he recruits people in the church to work with him, he speaks about all the good that the project will accomplish, and all the spiritual benefits to those participating as co-workers. He should stress benefits: to the beneficiaries (the word reveals its origins) and also to the participants. He does not talk theology; he practices theology.

Then, if he is asked what his motivation is, he can direct the discussion back to the Great Commission.

Now, on to the necessity of works:

The worthwhile nature of the project, coupled with the sacrifice of the project’s initiator, forms a shield around the theology of social transformation. The agenda of the initiator is visible: the project. The agenda of the critic is implied: avoiding commitment to the project. Both agendas are grounded in a theology. But most Christians care little for theology. They share this attitude with non-Christians.

Yes, this bears repeating: “But most Christians care little for theology. They share this attitude with non-Christians.”

What most people do care about is making the world a little better for the decent people of the world, including the underprivileged. This caring attitude is an important aspect of common grace. It helps soften the resistance to the gospel:

But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day. Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:4-8).

James wrote: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). He who defends himself based on his works alone is doomed. But he is not interested in hearing of saving faith from someone whose works are non-existent. The “hook” is the presence of good works. The good works do not supplement saving faith; they confirm saving faith. Works are an aspect of testimony.

And on to the finish:

Rather than go on the offensive verbally, the reformer must go on the offensive charitably. He begins a project that is clearly worth doing. He bootstraps it. This effort will be seen as a work of righteousness. This work will tend to undermine workers of unrighteousness in the community outside the church and non-workers inside the church.

That is the offence – and the offensiveness – of actual believers: works of righteousness.

Reformation, the Right Way

From North’s Critical Mass – Part 12: Organizing a Successful Reformation:

Christ is the head of the church. Paul said […] the church is unique among mankind’s institutions. The church has been given the Holy Spirit in a special way: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The language of the sacrament of baptism is crucial to Paul’s metaphor of the church as Christ’s body. By placing its members under the covenantal sign of baptism, the church extends its authority and influence in history.

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s agent of communication and direction in history. Paul used a metaphor to describe the church–the body–but he did not rest his case on a mere metaphor. He rested it rather on the historical action of the Holy Spirit within the church. This action is judicial: the sacramental act of baptism. The church is a sacramentally unified institution. No other institution possesses this judicial mark of God’s delegated authority.

It is the Church that is the gateway to God’s salvation of both men and nations.

Word-and-Deed Evangelism

What is the secret of successful, God-honoring ecclesiastical reformation? Word-and-deed evangelism. There must be straight speaking (orthodoxy) coupled judicially with straight actions (orthopraxy). James was clear about this.

Straight talk, and straight actions, working as one. (James 2:14-26).

This is not “works religion.” This is God’s inspired word. Reformation should begin with a recognition that God’s predestinating grace underlies both our faith and our works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). It is not surprising that modern fundamentalists memorize verses 8 and 9, but then neglect to memorize verse 10 — a verse which announces both God’s predestination and our mandatory ethical response.

A person who wants to advance the kingdom of God through church growth and the extension of church influence must demonstrate his commitment to orthodoxy by means of his orthopraxy. What men see in us is more important initially than what they hear from us.

It’s worth repeating: “What men see in us is more important initially than what they hear from us.”

The Bible is very clear about this temporal relationship between sight and sound, both personally (as we read in James) and institutionally:

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:5-6).

While we are FIRST saved, and then DO good works, the pagans around us FIRST see the works, and THEN – if we have done right by God and man – judge us to be righteous men, with a credible witness worth listening to.

So, the next point sees that we must have a self-discipline life…

The reformer must discipline his life in terms of the ethical and judicial imperatives of his recommended reform. That is to say, point three of the biblical covenant model (law) must govern point four (sanctions). All government begins with self-government. The restraining sanctions should be applied internally before they are imposed externally.

…and then become a recruiting sergeant, before rising to a commanding general:

The reformer needs to recruit people who are self-disciplined. He must encourage all of them to identify those tasks for which their individual skills are uniquely suited. He must draw from them the productivity that others have not recognized–in some cases, not even themselves. He must recruit eyes and encourage them to stand watch–first over their own acts. He must recruit ears and encourage them to listen carefully–first to their own words, unspoken as well as spoken. He must recruit many hands and feet. The point is, he must serve as a recruiting officer before he serves as a general. Men and women must be recruited to serve.

Unlike biblical civil government, an institution of exclusively negative sanctions, the church is an agency that extends both positive and negative sanctions.

Today’s intensely anti-Christian governments provide positive sanctions, as they – and not the Church – are to be seen as the source of salvation for mankind. Any secularist could tell you the same.

For most people in the West, the positive sanctions of the State are

  • Free Education – to better teach all, from their youth, to Submit to the Bureaucracy (while getting the kids out of your hair)
  • Free/Cheap Government Health Care: “For the People – and not God – will heal you”; and
  • Free Welfare Money: “For the State gives you bread without labour. We feed you and house you… we heal you from sickness… we teach your children without cost.”

And the desired reply?

“Exalted be the Name of the Leader! Exalted be the State and It’s Might!” — the natural response of the People to the Idol it has made.

Why do Christian nations insist on looking up to the State their Healer and their Source of Bread, when there are multitudes of pagans who know better – even in China, or the Islamic cultures?

(Yes, they have their own idols: but at least they don’t adore The Leader and The State!)

Anyways, back from dying and bankrupt delusions, to genuine salvation for the long haul:

Beyond collecting the tithe from voting members, the institutional church can extend positive sanctions in history only by recruiting and mobilizing those members who will voluntarily donate their time and money. The church cannot lawfully draft members into particular forms of service. This is the challenge of effective church leadership: providing a vision of victory, a plan of action based on a strategy of service, and specific assignments.

SO: a vision of victory, a plan of action based on service (as opposed to deception or power), placing the right man in the right place.

The successful reformer should begin with a vision of victory for both time and eternity. He needs a strategy of service: a broad vision of what needs to be done by his local congregation, which is a member of the Church international. He needs a step-by-step program for volunteers to commit to for at least one year. This program must be governed by the U.S. Army’s number-one rule governing all tactics, KISS: “Keep it simple, stupid.” That is to say, he needs the division of labor. He cannot be a leader without followers, He cannot logically expect to mobilize followers without a list of assignments. He must match assignments with available volunteers. A full year’s service will show all those concerned whether the match between a volunteer and his assignment has worked.

Again:

  • a vision of victory, now and eternally
    • also, regionally and nationally
  • doable by the ordinary people of the local congregation
    • (while extraordinary people are welcome, they must not be necessary)
  • “Keep it simple, stupid”
  • Use the division of labour, with assignments;
  • Let a year pass to see if someone is successful in a given assignment.

Singing About the Death of a Civilization

Reflections on Fleetwood Mac’s Sara:

When, two or three centuries ago, historians study why Europe and East Asia diminished into nothingness, I hope that they can still find a copy of Wikipedia’s List of songs about abortion.

A very strange collection of dirges, laments, and requiems: but that’s the memorial the West has chosen, before the end.


I admit, I still far prefer Kipling’s Recessional, though: written in 1897, it was published before the West shot itself in the head, in World War I. If you listen carefully, you can often make a good prediction on what’s coming round the bend…

Dover Beach, written in 1867, was also prescient: less Imperial, more spiritual.

Of course, this is 2016: the struggle, the thrashing, and the drama of the West is over: now, there is only the self-pleasuring, the aging, the senility, the sterility, and the quietude of the coming darkness.

Fortunately, the Christian Faith is not tied to the White West. The future focus is now on Post-America Christianity, and not the failure, the rotting, and the death of a particular nation or civilization.

It is the Church that is eternal, for her head is Christ the King.

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