Archive for the church Category

John 17 – One in God!

Posted in church, relationships with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

In John 17:1-26 Jesus is praying the High Priestly Prayer and he is interceding for himself, his disciples and finally for believers who would be chosen by his sovereign grace 200 years later. Jesus’ farewell prayer at the close of the last supper gives an account of his ministry to the Father and there is so much theology packed into these 26 verses that it would take days and weeks to unpack it but let me give you 2 highlights:

  1. V10-12 Jesus’ prayer points to the perseverance of the saints and eternal security. Jesus prayer request was that we would be kept and keep in mind, the Son of God always gets his prayers answered by the Father. As a believer in Jesus, you can have assurance that your faith has a future because the Father would not give to his Son a gift (believers) that would not last.
  2. V20-26 Jesus calls upon the Father to make his church one even as Christ and the Father are one. V13-19 gives us the qualities that are a result of being united with the Father – Joy, Sanctification, Witness and God’s glory.

John 17 points us to the Trinitarian nature of God. Even though the Old Testament introduces us to the Trinitarian nature of God (Gen 1:26-27), the Jews of Jesus’ day were raised in strict monotheism = God was singular (Deut 6:4). Suddenly Jesus Christ arrives on the scene and at his baptism (Matt 3), the Father declares Jesus as his beloved Son and then the Holy Spirit dropped in on the party and remained upon Jesus. It took another 400 years of theological debate before the church formed an official doctrinal position on the trinitarian nature of God. Due to the theological debate and discussions of the Council of Nicaea (325AD) and the Council of Constantinople (381AD) the Nicene Creed was formed and is absolutely essential in helping us understand what the bible teaches about the trinity. A short summary of it in my own words is provided:

“The Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms the revelation of the eternal Godhead, who has revealed himself as one God, existing in 3 persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who dwell in eternal community of interdependent and reciprocal love; distinguishable but inseparable in essence; co-eternal, co-existent and co-equal in nature, attributes, power and glory.”

Why is the Trinity relevant to being ONE in our relationships? What unites the Godhead is perfect intimacy. God experiences divine community within himself and the church is supposed to reflect that oneness in the way we relate to each other and represent God to the world.

Jesus, in perfect intimacy with the Father prays, “I ask for those who will believe in my name, that they may all be one, just as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:20-21).

When we are ONE, we point the world to the sent ONE of God = Jesus Christ!

Just as God raised up Israel to be a witness of his glory to the nations, so too has God raised the Church up to be a witness and representation of him throughout the earth. Being unified and authentic in our relationships isn’t about warm fuzzies and being nice to people alone but our unity is a chief sign that God is among us.

Tomorrow we will look at what being authentically ONE looks like practically.

Lead the Change!

Church = Gospel City

Posted in church, gospel with tags , , on July 19, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

The Church is called to be a city within a city. Matthew 5:14-15 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Last night, while I was preaching in our evening service, I said, “The church is called to be a gospel city.” I like that and as I unpacked it, I would like to think it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The church is called to be an ambassador of the gospel in the world we live in. The gospel is counter-cultural and very challenging.

The more I preach the gospel, the more I find it excruciatingly difficult to swallow because it rejects many of the things our society says is important. When I mention the word “Gospel” in this blog, I’m not meaning it just in an evangelistic sense, I mean it in a biblical sense of the whole counsel of God’s Word that points to Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 15:1-4 outlines what the essence of the gospel is, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”

It is this gospel that we are called to proclaim and it is this gospel we are not to be ashamed of. Paul said in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.””

Too many of us have lost confidence in the gospel and rely on therapeutic ministry to provoke change in people’s lives. The Apostle Paul acknowledges that the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, the gospel is Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor 1:20-25).

I want to spend my days proclaiming the Gospel and building a Gospel City for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity. What about you? Have you made Christianity something other than about the Gospel. The Gospel is the essence of and substance of Christianity. Let’s follow Paul’s example, “I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

Lead the Change!

Paradigm Shift!

Posted in church, Transformation with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

There is a shift that’s taking place in the Church I lead. The Spirit of God is inspiring it and I am very, very excited about what will unfold in the coming 9 months. Why 9 months?

Well in 9 months time our church will be 5 years old. Statistically, the culture and formation of a church is basically solidified around the 5 year mark. Church culture does change after that but a lot of the foundation has been laid as a platform to build upon.

Just as a mum to be, has a gestation period of 9 months before a beautiful baby is born, so too our church will be going through a spiritual gestation period over the next 9 months getting ready to give birth to the church God has called us to build.

I thought when we launched the church that we had given birth to it but in a lot of ways the last 5 years has been a warm up period before the true raw church that God desires is revealed. Planting and leading a church to maturity and uniqueness takes time. Thank God for what he has taught us a long the way and the victories that have been secured in Christ. The elders of our church will be working very hard over the next 9 months to lead, teach and set an example of the church God has called us to be.

Whenever a church goes through a shift, it’s because God has taken the leaders through a season of shifting, refinement and preparation. I have a book cooking in me about the several shifts that I have had to embrace over the last 4 and a bit years to be positioned for what God is about to do. I have a website cooking in my heart that equips emerging leaders & pastors to plant and lead Gospel centered churches. I have sermons cooking in my heart that I know will impact people with the person of Jesus Christ.

A PARADIGM is a way of thinking. When our lives come into alignment with Romans 12:2, our way of thinking gets re-aligned with God’s thoughts and ideals. I have gone through an intense 4 year process of paradigm shifting that has been apart of God’s great cosmic plan for my life and ministry.

God desires the same for all of us. What about your journey right now is shifting? Things you used to think, people you used to connect with but now don’t, places you used to visit and beliefs you used to embrace but now question are all part of the shifting process. Opportunity beckons for you and I to embrace the shifts that Christ is calling us all too. Every shift that God leads us into will be grounded in the Scriptures and call us to a more biblical life. You can never go wrong when you prayerfully and humbly shift towards God through the Scriptures.

Embrace the paradigm shifts God is leading you into and watch what God unfolds in you and through you.

Lead the Change!

4 things I want in a Church!

Posted in church with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Real Church – does it exist? Can I find it?

These are some of the questions that spiritual seekers and Christians alike may ask themselves from time to time. I am a pastor and have been a Christian for a long time and I want to be apart of a real church as well as lead a real church that others can be apart of.

Truth is many churches are simply not helping people fight the battle of their lives.

What has prompted some of my thoughts on this topic is a book written by Larry Crabb “Real Church”. It’s a challenging read because it dares to say what some of us are already thinking about church and explores some real world answers for our searching questions on the church.

From reading the bible, this book and from personal experience, there are 4 things I want in a church:

  1. Biblical Theology – Loving truth: I want to be apart of a church that hungers for the truth of God’s Word that meets me right where I’m at and sets me free from the addiction of self-sufficiency. I want to be apart of a church that speaks living and active truth right into the centre of my battle. I want truth is expose the contours of my battle with life that I can’t see and give me insight to conquer it.
  2. Spiritual Formation – Loving God: I want to be apart of a church that helps me hunger for God more, even if my experience of God isn’t fully satisfied until I stand before him face to face in heaven. Philippians 3:8 is my life verse – I want to know Christ above all else. I want to become more like Christ at the core of my heart and have the Spirit of God transform me from the inside out.
  3. Authentic Community – Loving People: I want to be apart of a church that values real transparency in relationships, willing to confess sin to each other and not avoid conflict because it’s uncomfortable. Speaks the truth in love and takes literally Jesus example, “By this shall all people know that you are my disciples – how you love one another.”
  4. Innovative Mission – Loving the World: I want to be apart of a church that is energised by the mission of Jesus. Not just social action – Matthew 25, that’s a given but seeing real people who don’t know Christ taken on a journey (in the context of relationship) to know Christ and embrace these 4 qualities. I want the mission to be creative and and not reliant on formula’s but come from the heart.

Lead the Change!

First Steps in Faith!

Posted in church, Discipleship, Spiritual Formation with tags , , on June 7, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

One of the most exciting things about ministry is seeing people’s lives transformed by the Gospel. Just recently @ Activate we have seen several people surrender their lives to Christ and begin a journey of discipleship. This is very exciting and has emphasized the need for some basic steps to be put in place to help ground new believers in their faith. Observing this process in action has also brought into clear focus the need for mature Christians to step up and start to disciple new believers. I think Church leaders need to think about what we are actually equipping the church to do – attend meetings or make disciples.

Step 1 – Meet with another Christian who can disciple you on a weekly basis

Following Jesus is best embraced within community. God created us for relationship and not for isolation and everyone of us need close connection with the people around us to become a healthy and whole individual. Telling new believers to follow Christ without supporting them in their faith journey is setting them up for a fall. A guest speaker came through recently who said that he had someone meet with him every week for 15 years discipling him in the Christian faith.

Step 2 – Establish a daily appointment with God

Like you would make an appointment with a friend or a colleague at work, carve out time in your diary and calendar to spend time with God. Be it an hour, 30mins or 15mins schedule it and keep it. This 1 appointment each day will form the foundation of your relationship with God as you grow closer to him each day. In your time with God, pull out your bible (ESV translation is a great bible to read) and begin to read a chapter or two from the Gospel of Matthew and a chapter or two from the Book of Genesis and work your way through the Bible over the course of a year.

As well as reading your bible, share your thoughts, desires, concerns and burdens with God in prayer. Keep your prayers real and speak to God from your heart and then spend time listening to what God will say to you in response, both through his word and in your heart.

Step 3 – Connect to a Life Group in your local church

Christian community can help you significantly in your spiritual growth. Being apart of a small group that meets together regularly can go a long way to enhancing your own understanding of the Bible and help you belong to a local Christian community. Ask your church leaders about how you can connect to a group and which group will be best suited to you.

Step 4 – Start to share your faith with people you are already in relationship with

When you become a Christian you will want to tell people about what Christ has done in your life. In a very real way, share with people from your heart about what is happening to you and what you are learning about God. Some of your friends, work colleagues, and family may not completely understand you but if they see your genuine love for them and the friendship, your authenticity as a follower of Christ will shine through. When people around you see the consistency of your witness over time, some will be attracted to it and will want to find out more and others will be repelled by it. Just keep being faithful to God and let God do the work he wants to do through you.

Step 5: Gather together weekly with your church

The bible says to not give up meeting together as is the habit of some but consider how to stir up one another toward love and good works. We can’t stir each other up to love and good works if we aren’t meeting together. Each Sunday or Saturday or Wednesday or whenever your church meets together, be there to learn more about God and his word, connect with other believers and celebrate all who God is in worship. There’s something powerful that happens when God’s people meet together. Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in Christ’s name, he is present among them.

There is lots more to be said to help you along your spiritual journey but these are some basic and initial steps to help you get started.

Lead the Change!

Why go to Church?

Posted in church with tags , , on June 4, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

I know, I know… Someone out there, including me will say, “We don’t go to church, we are the church. The church goes with us everywhere we go.” Yes, this is true and hopefully some of the church understands this as a daily reality but the truth is, many people who either attend church or who perceive church to be boring ask this question in their minds.

There are 3 inadequate reasons we’ve dished up to people to attend church and we are trying to sell this to our customers in the millions. They include:

  1. It will make your life better with blessings
  2. It will help you change the world through loving activism
  3. It will offer you salvation and moralise you

These reasons are subtle but insufficient. On the surface they may sound very religious but people aren’t swallowing them and are bored with them.

Answer #1 promises that church will change your life for your sake. Larry Crabb says, “A church that advertises itself as a place to go to make your life better is not a church I want to go to. I don’t even think it’s a church.” (Real Church; pg29)

Answer #2 pledges there is a way to live your life for a cause bigger than yourself and that following Jesus is the way.┬áThis answer promises you that going to church will show you how Jesus wants you to change the world. You don’t have to go to church to find out how to change the world.

Answer #3 says that going to church is all about getting people saved and helping the already saved to be visibly moral. The question is, is that the deep change God wants? Do you want to go to a church that tells you your job is to save lost souls and your responsibility as a Christian is to live morally and if you take on these two tasks, you are doing just fine?

Truth is these reasons are inadequate. There is more to being apart of a church and being the church than my life being better, the world being changed and the lost being saved with righteous living thrown in. These reasons are a given but not complete.

Larry Crabb offers these reasons to go to church. “I want to go to a church that knows I’m not OK and neither is anyone else” (Lets do away with the masks we bring to church). “One that acknowledges where we are and meets us with the truth of God’s Word” (Speaks truth into the centre of my battle and exposes the contours of it that I can’t see – I call this insight) and “One that understands my need to talk to God about what’s going on inside of me” (spiritual formation). Food for thought.

Lead the Change!

Innovare!

Posted in church, Spiritual Formation, Transformation with tags , , on June 3, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

One of our 3 core values as a faith community is “Innovative Leadership”. To innovate is to make changes and bring in new ideas. The word innovation comes from the root Latin word, “Innovare” and it means to renew, start again and initiate change.

I love this concept and I love doing exactly this in my life and ministry. When we encounter Christ we immediately encounter change. When you get transformed by Christ, the old has gone, the new has come and you enter into the process of sanctification as the Holy Spirit begins to make you more like Christ. God intends for us to be new creations in Christ Jesus.

Churches are the ultimate epi-centres of “Innovare” because we are all about helping people start again, embrace spiritual transformation and be renewed in our thinking and lifestyles. Where is God “Innovare-ing” in your life and where are you helping others have their own “Innovare” encounter with Christ?

Lead the Change!