Are We Dead or Alive?

What is a church?

A church is an assembly of people called together for a common purpose. The Christian church exists to give glory to God through worship and service. A church is nothing more or less than the people who attend. Some people are alive in Christ while the faith of others is quite dead.

Truth Fellowship Live is entering its second year. The name of our church is very significant. Truth is what we rely upon to guide our lives. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6) and “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Fellowship is what we are—an assembly of people who come together to give glory to God and to serve Him according to His will. Live in our name has a couple of components. First, we broadcast our sermons live. That gives people an opportunity to join us wherever they are. But more importantly, we want to be a church that is alive with Christ; that is, we want to be a church that is alive instead of dead.

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During our first year, we solidified our worship service and began work on the structure of our church. It is now time to consider what kind of church we want to become; that is, how will we serve God with our gifts and finances. There are some options in the direction we could go.

We could remain as we are—a small church with 20-35 people attending. This would be a recipe for disaster. We are currently in a space that does not allow us to grow—indeed some say it is quite claustrophobic. We cannot include more people in our current space and we have little opportunity to teach children and youth.

With our strength in technology, we could become an internet church. That is, most of those who worship at TFL would not attend our formal meetings. This type of church may work well in our culture because it would be easy for people to learn from our sermon, but have very little or no commitment. The problem is that people would not form and build relationships with others in the church—this would not be the model of the church presented in the Book of Acts. It also would not help to develop families by providing growth opportunities for all age groups.

TFL is now in a position to move into a larger space.

  • This space will provide more space for our worship service. Over the past year, we have had difficulty inviting people to come worship with us because of the extremely cramped conditions in our current location.
  • This space will provide room for Sunday school classes for all age groups.
  • This space will give us a permanent home base from which to operate. This gives us credence as a church and places us in a community in which we can minister.

With these thoughts, I would like us to consider the importance of our decision to move by faith into this new space. I support this move for a couple of reasons.

  • We cannot grow in our current space. If we cannot grow then we will die as a church.
  • Such a move will help build a sense of ownership in TFL.
  • The move will provide us new opportunities for ministry. Some ideas include:
    • Begin meeting on Sunday mornings
    • Implementation of a Small Group Program (this is vitally important for TFL)
    • Development of a children’s Sunday school program
    • Development of an adult education program
    • Implementation of a leadership development program
    • Helping young men and women to become solid in their study, interpretation, and application of the Bible
    • Ministering to those around us through evangelism and discipleship (there are several high-density neighborhoods around the proposed location)
    • And the list goes on.
  • TFL is unique within the Bismarck/Mandan community because of our Free Grace and dispensational positions. We need to disciple others in these truths because we believe this is what the Bible teaches.

I believe many people in our community love God’s word and need to hear it preached. Others have not trusted in Christ and need to be evangelized. Still others have trusted in Christ, but they have never grown in their faith. Truth Fellowship Live is based on bringing Biblical truth to life. Our message consists of the careful and straightforward teaching of the Bible and our ministries are directed toward helping people trust in Christ and to grow in their faith. Now is the time to share what we have with the people of the Bismarck/Mandan community.

So we have a decision to make. Do we want to move forward and become a growing and ministering church or will we continue along the path we are currently following. The table below, developed an unknown author, summarizes some of the differences between live and dead churches.

Live Churches Dead Churches
Live churches’ expenses are always more than their income Dead churches don’t need much money
Live churches have parking problems Dead churches have empty spaces
Live churches may have some noisy children Dead churches are quiet as a cemetery
Live churches keep changing their ways of doing things Dead churches see no need for change
Live churches grow so fast you can’t keep up with people’s names In dead churches everybody always knows everybody’s name
Live churches strongly support world missions Dead churches keep the money at home
Live churches are full of regular, cheerful givers Dead churches are full of grudging tippers
Live churches move ahead on prayer and faith Dead churches work only on sight
Live churches plant daughter churches Dead churches fear spending the money, time, and talent
Live churches outgrow their Sunday School facilities Dead churches have room to spare
Live churches welcome all classes of people Dead churches stick to their own kind
Live churches’ members read their Bibles and bring them to church Dead churches’ members seldom do
Live churches’ members enthusiastically support the ministries Dead churches have no ministries—only functions
Live churches’ members look for someone they can help Dead churches’ members look for something to complain about
Live churches’ members reach out to share their faith in Christ Dead churches’ members don’t have enough to share

Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations: Dead or Alive (Biblical Studies Press, 2002)

In our culture today, we see many churches that are represented by what Jesus said to the Church of the Laodiceans:

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:15–20)

I don’t think anyone ever intends for their church to become this type of a church, but over time this is what they become. We do not want this to happen to us. We must maintain our fellowship with Christ—we must dine with Him. Yes, we will spend more money than we currently have, but remember in live churches’ expenses are always more than their income, but dead churches don’t need much money. Live churches are full of regular, cheerful givers. So, money should not drive our decision to move forward. Our conviction that God has called us together to form TFL must drive us to seek and to do His will.

God has brought us together as a church for a reason. Our responsibility is to trust God and to do the work of the ministry. God has given us gifted people that are in TFL “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Eph 4:12–13).

Are you ready for the great work God is about to work through us at Truth Fellowship Live?


2 Replies to "Are We Dead or Alive?"

  • Katie
    June 5, 2013 (3:14 pm)
    Reply

    This is great Jon! Loved the Alive/Dead contrast. Very nice. And loved your final verse from Eph. 4 too! Very apropos (if I use that word right). I’m excited to be that church. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to exercise some God-ordained FAITH! It’s a privilege and thrill to practice faith! And to answer your final question: I could burst I’m so excited to see what God is going to do through us! This is a VERY exciting and thrilling time indeed!! God is faithful!! Let’s glorify Him with every last breath this ALIVE church breathes!!

    • Dr. Jon Hanson
      June 5, 2013 (3:57 pm)
      Reply

      I too am very excited to see what God will do through a faithful few. I think we should grow steadily at first. I believe God will want us to get much more involved in community outreach and evangelism. That too will be exciting.


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