Archive for church

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!

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!

Real Church!

Posted in church with tags , , on May 26, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

There appears to be a lot of frustration within the church and in many believers who have left the church about the state of the church. I have heard many people over the years speak of a hunger and desire to be apart of a REAL Church. What does this mean?

It is a sad day when people leave the Church to find Christ. I would suggest that what people are leaving isn’t in fact the church but churchianity. People shouldn’t have to disconnect from the Church to find a richer and deeper relationship with Christ.

All of us at some point or another have looked at our lives and asked the question, “Is this all there is? Surely, there is something more to life.” We ask that same question of the church and many believers go from Christian gathering to Christian gathering to find the more they are searching for. Sometimes this is helpful for them but generally it inly reinforces the disillusionment they feel.

Unfortunately some of the Church has become manageable and boring and lifeless and predictable and void of God. Things like worship, altar calls, budgets, systems, follow up, staff, small groups, outreach, social justice can all happen without the Spirit of God. So what is a REAL CHURCH?

Larry Crabb in his book REAL CHURCH offers this thought, “A gathering becomes a church when people meet for one supreme purpose, to become more like Jesus in thought, motive and action all for the pleasure of the Father.”

Interesting... He goes on to say that the, “More we are searching for is hearing God’s music, dancing with God into the relationships and circumstances of life in order to bring heavens way of doing things to earth.”

I think REAL Church begins with a personal revival of our own hearts, where we ask God to give us a heart for the things He has a heart for. Out of this place of personal renewal in our relationship with God flows 4 primary things to go on a journey of living out: 1) Biblical theology; 2) Spiritual formation; 3) Loving relationships; 4) Missional living.

I like you, am on a journey of discovering what REAL Church is and one thing I am sure of Jesus Christ loves the Church, gave himself up for her and we are not to give up on it either. We are to become apart of the solution and not the problem to the church being REAL in the world.

Lead the Change!

Church for the Unchurched!

Posted in activate church, apologetics, church with tags , on May 25, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

Too many of our churches are for the churched and not for the unchurched!

4 years on since starting Activate Church, I realise that while my heart and words reflected a passion for engaging with people who don’t know Christ, in the first 2 years of our church, my style, ministry expression and language was more relevant for churched people than unchurched people.

Over the last 4 years God has been taking me on a journey to embrace not only a heart for people but also discovering an expression that engages more unchurched people. This is a challenging process and requires a willingness to kill sacred cows once highly esteemed by believers raised in the church.

Some people think to be a church to the unchurched you have to ‘dumb’ down the theology of your sermons but in fact what we are discovering is people who don’t know Christ not only want theological meat but they want to understand the biblical terminology we use as well. Preaching God’s Word in todays culture requires a rediscovery of apologetics (defense of the gospel) and engagement with the power of the Spirit in a very real and authentic way.

Building with Christ a church for the unchurched is an experiment and an adventure. Sometimes what you try works and sometimes it doesn’t have the impact you were aiming for. I have decided to lead a church that serves Christ first and people second. The church belongs to Jesus and we must be faithful to Christ before we be relevant to people. It’s out of a heart to follow Christ that we catch a passion for connecting with people who don’t know Christ and for whom Christ deeply cares for. When God’s Word is in its rightful place and Jesus Christ is worshipped as the head of the Church, we can then innovate our methods to love and serve people.

I am on a journey and the Church I lead is on a journey to discover what a church for the unchurched looks like. Why is this important? Because many people still need to hear the Gospel message and many people are still living in sin.

I recently was alarmed to hear of a growing trend in the Church across Victoria where we are seeing approximately 170 people per fortnight leaving the church throughout the state. Also 1 church a week is closing down in Victoria and the church growth that’s being measured is take-over growth, where churches are taking over existing and struggling churches.

This trend has to change and to do so we must build the church for the unchurched.

Lead the change!