Why Don’t We Address Decline in the Church?

336452_57056457The church is not buildings, but people.  So what do you do when the people are in decline?  Sadly, most churches don’t demonstrate reasonable approaches to address declining numbers.  Chuck Lawless, knocks it out of the park with the article I’ve listed below.  I’d encourage every member of Ovilla Road to read it and take a personal inventory to see if they fall into any of his twelve categories.  I saw a little of myself in almost everyone.

Getting from, “Can I have a lemon in my sweet tea?” to “Let me tell you about my Savior.”

Last week I stawaiterrted a three week course on Wednesday nights at my church on evangelism.  Inevitably, the question comes up on how to make the transition from ordinary moments in our day-to-day to sharing the gospel to those whom God brings in our path.  Below, are a few tips that I’ve learned from others and from my own personal experience.

  1. Be prayerful.  This is first and foremost.  I’m convinced that most people don’t seize opportunities to share their faith, because they are not looking for them.  How many days go by and people do we pass and we never even give a second thought to their eternal destiny?
  2. Do you have a church home?  Even in the belt buckle of the bible belt, the answer to this question is usually no.  I know it’s a little direct, but it’s a quick and easy way to transition to the why not question.  Getting to the why will reveal many of their hurts and allow you to deal with their doubts.
  3. What do you believe about God?  Too often I find people trying to correct doctrinal errors with people.  The truth is, most people have variant views of God that differ from the Bible.  This is a time to just sit, listen, and learn.  Understanding where they are, will give you a better idea on where to go.
  4. Tell me what is good about your life right now?  Most people love to talk, especially about themselves.  This is a great question just to get them going.  If things are really good, it’s a great bridge to transition to the author behind those good things.
  5. Tell about some of your struggles?  Hurting people are desperately searching for someone to listen.  You’d be surprised how quickly people are willing to share, especially if they know you genuinely are concerned about their well being.

Is Heaven for Real? (Updated)

heaven-is-for-real***There have been several on FB who have commented and private messaged me that are leaning into 2 Cor. 12:2-4, where Paul was caught up into heaven as well.  I’d encourage you to remember that what Paul saw was so vivid he said he didn’t know whether he went there bodily or not, but as he states there were things that were so unlawful to utter, he gave no details. He covered the whole incident in just three verses (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).  If Paul was forbidden to talk about it, I don’t see much justification for someone else to have that freedom.  In the end, it’s better left unsaid. 

In the Scriptures, the three biblical writers who saw heaven and described their visions each gave comparatively few details, but they agree perfectly (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4-6). Of the accounts, it is clear they are in contradiction to Burpo’s version of heaven. The accuracy and details Burpo gives are vastly different. An important thing to remember is in the biblical accounts the authors are all solely fixated on God’s glory.  To quote another theologian: “They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller lists.”  This is ultimately, why it sits wrong with me.  For me Scripture always trumps experience.  We can certainly learn from experience, but it must not be the primary means through which truth is validated, especially when it doesn’t sit as a complement to the authority of Scripture.***

(Original Post)

Recently, I finished Todd Burpo’s book, Heaven is for Real.  Over the past few weeks, I have had several questions directed at me regarding my thoughts towards whether or not Burpo’s four year old son, Colton, was telling the truth? There have been several great blog posts by other authors and theologians addressing the book and they share some similar concerns that I have had. I know many from the church family of ORBC have read the book or have seen the movie. I hope these links are a resource to you as you discern and engage in conversation with many of your friends and families who might see the movie or read the book. This is a great opportunity to speak to the sufficiency of Scripture over human experience.

As followers of Christ, we should always be mindful to read everything through the lens of Scripture. In the end, I don’t find myself believing that Colton’s account actually happened. I believe that he truly believe’s his account, but truth be told, his journey stands in complete contradiction to scripture. According to Proverbs 30:4, the writer asks, “Who has ascended to heaven and come down?” Answer: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”  All of the accounts of heaven in Scripture are visions, not journeys taken by dead people. And even visions of heaven are very, very rare to say the least. Scripture should always be our final means of interpretation, not human experience. As believers in God’s word, we should never turn our backs on clear biblical teaching to seek an alternative view in mystical experiences that don’t mirror God’s word at all.  In the end, I’d encourage you to read the book and see the movie. This past weekend, the movie did over 28 million in sales. Let’s not let a great opportunity slip by and not engage people in or be prepared to speak to the truths of Scripture.

A Call to Pray



Many have asked how they can be praying for our next worship minister. I compiled a list, along with the staff, of characteristics and qualities we can be praying for. Below is a link to our website, where you can download the PDF and watch the video of me talking about each trait. Please consider joining me, as ORBC searches for the man God wants to give us.