Book Review: Unchurching – Christianity Without Churchianity

unchurchingI would like to introduce you to a new book called: Unchurching: Christianity Without Churchianity writen by a friend of mine named Richard Jacobson.

This book is one of the best offerings on the modern day church system that I have read in a long time.  It’s a sticky subject for many to say the least. And I guess the million dollar question would be:

Is the “church” we see and experience all around us in our time the same church that we read about in the New Testament?

My wife and I started asking that question over thirty years ago.  The only conclusion we could come up with was an absolute “NO!” What we see around us definitely is not the same as what we read about in our bibles.  I think that most Christians, if they are honest with themselves, would agree with that statement.  But then the next question which is begging to be answered is: “well, then what do we do about it?”  And are we even supposed to do anything about it?

In this book, aptly titled Unchurching, Richard Jacobson does an excellent job at tackling these questions head-on using only the scriptures as his resource.  He does so with razor sharp biblical and theological accuracy with attention to every detail.  Fundamentalists, evangelicals, and charismatics alike will have a very difficult time arguing with Richard’s points made in this book.

So, if you are searching for the truth about the way we “do” church nowadays and are willing to be painfully truthful with yourself about the answers, this is the book for you!  I guarantee that it will completely rock your world.  And so it should!  It’s way past time for God’s people to stand up, be counted, and be willing to speak the truth in love with the goal in mind that God will get the church that HE has always dreamed of!

I highly recommend you read this book today, but only if you are not afraid of the truth!

You can find out more about Unchurching and download a copy at this website:

Unchurching Book

Is Christ Enough? Consumerism

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“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24).

“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim 6:9-10).

“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov 30:8)

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21)

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

This post is a short add-on to my last one on God provision for us based upon Matthew 6.  What I would like to focus on this time is how much difference there is between what God wants for his kingdom and what we see happening in the world around us.

Modern Consumerism

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You would have to be living in a hole somewhere to not notice our society becoming more and more materialistic.  We work really hard (long hours) so that we can buy more, bigger, and better stuff.  It’s all about the “stuff” folks!  As comedian George Carlin used to say!  (warning- Carlin uses explicit language in most of his routines).

If you doubt this then I would challenge you to just visit any large shopping center during the holidays!  Have you noticed that more and more holidays are being used as materialistic heydays?  Of course, Christmas has been like this for many years, but now we have every holiday becoming more and more of a “feast” for our shopping delights.  Also, now with the smart phones we have a whole new avenue to be sold and purchase more stuff!

Why do we need all of this stuff?  I recently did a quick study on the happiest countries in the world.  You can Google this if you like.  You will find that these countries are on the top of the list: Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland.  But the question begs to be answered… WHY?  According to people who live in Denmark, they are happier because they live a simple, worry-free life.  Stuff is not the priority, relationships are!  Have you heard of “hygge“? In essence, hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight, for example, is hygge.

Birds and Lilies

But of course we already know this because our Lord Jesus told us explicitly that living a simple life in utter dependence upon God would guarantee a worry-free existence.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:25-32)

And yet we think that we need to have all our “ducks in a row” and secure our financial futures!  We need large bank accounts, IRAs, CDs, stocks, and so on to keep us protected and safe for the rest of our days.  That’s exactly what the Lord told us to do, right?  Store up all our treasures here on the earth, right!

W R O N G !!!

As we all know He told us to store up our treasures (riches) in heaven.

But how do we do that?

Well, first of all, in the context of this passage Jesus is speaking about the kingdom of God (the heavens).  In Matthew chapter five he begins his discourse on the description of the kingdom.  The beatitudes sum up a description of the people in the kingdom and their character.  Of course, the King (Jesus) is at the Center of the kingdom!  So then we have the summation of everything the King is talking about the kingdom in chapter 6 verse 33.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

The main point in this whole passage is the Kingdom of the heavens (God).  So laying up treasure in heaven means to invest in the kingdom of God, not the world system of man controlled by Satan.  It’s His interests and His purpose that is at the forefront for the citizens of the kingdom.

Also, we have this:

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21)

So in these verses we see (very clearly) that “laying up treasures” practically means being generous, rich in good works, ready to share, and giving to the poor.

We need to make some dramatic, concrete moves to escape the materialism that seeps into our minds via diabolically clever and incessant advertising. We have been brainwashed to believe that bigger houses, more prosperous businesses, and more sophisticated gadgets are the way to joy and fulfillment. As a result, we are caught in an absurd, materialistic spiral. The more we make, the more we think we need in order to live decently and respectably. Somehow we have to break this cycle because it makes us sin against our needy brothers and sisters and, therefore, against our Lord. And it also destroys us. Sharing with others is the way to real joy.”
― Ronald J. Sider, “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity

 
So… seeking first the kingdom means (in part) that all of our resources are to be invested in God’s purpose and plan to propagate his kingdom of the heavens on the earth. We are to live simply, without worry, trusting him to provide for all our needs. As we go about living a life in Christ and by Christ, then God will have his interests satisfied.

Is Christ Enough?

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I am now writing a series of blog posts concerning the above question: Is Christ Enough?

We will explore and apply that question to various areas of our lives such as:

  • Our physical provision in this life
  • Our emotional well being
  • The way we think about things
  • Our personal lifestyles
  • The practical outworking of the kingdom
  • Our families

And perhaps many other things…


Our Physical Provision in this Life

loaves“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:19-34)

The Big Deal

This is a really big deal for us Christians in this modern age.  And it’s especially true of the so called “western world” or “first world”. That’s because we spend so much of our time and energy and attention on “making a living” and providing for our families.  In impoverished countries provision is also a huge distraction because of always needing to find your next meal! So we have the opposite sides of the same coin, that of being mammon (riches or for some just daily bread).

I cannot speak much into the impoverished scenario since I was born, grew up, and lived most of my life in America.  However, I have seen the needy not only in this country but in several third world countries as well.  But I mostly work here (in the U.S.) helping organic expressions of the Body of Christ.  And yet it’s obvious that our Lord’s words in Matthew 6 apply to all people everywhere.  Therefore, I believe this post will apply to everyone in the world even though I may use some examples from my own environment.

It looks to me from the passage above that Jesus went out of His way to hit this nail really hard on its head!  Apparently, even in those days this was a big deal.  Of course, we cannot live without food and drink.  Just won’t happen unless God supernaturally intervenes.  So this is an important matter.  I remember when I was in West Africa and my friend and I went to one of the sidewalk shops and found a statue of a man sitting almost like the “Thinker” by Rodin.  Except this statue had one major difference… he had no stomach!  Curious about this, I asked the store clerk what it meant.  He told me that the man was trying very hard NOT to think about his stomach because he was very hungry!  Wow!  What an eye opener that was!  So this is something that effects everyone throughout the world no matter what their situation may be.  We are driven to find provision because we absolutely must eat and drink – end of story.  However, that is not the main point of the words of our Lord.

The Main Point

From what I can see in this passage in Matthew 6 these are the main points Jesus makes:

  • Do not approach provision the same way that the Gentiles (heathen) do
  • In the Kingdom of God we are not to worry about such things
  • In the Kingdom of God we are not to “store up” or provide for our future provision because if you do your heart focus will be on those “things”
  • This means that you will not only be distracted from the Kingdom but your whole focus (eye) will be polluted
  • Don’t worry!  God is very able to take care of you!  Worry is fear and is the opposite of faith and trust in God
  • We should be like birds and lilies!  They live a simple life of complete dependence upon God
  • Our full focus should always be on Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and nothing else

Wow!  Is this something we all need to hear or what?!?!  I would say that 90% of the believers that we work with in organic churches in the United States struggle with this issue as one of the top five struggles.  There is the incredible pressure all around us to keep up with the “status quo” or “the Jones’s” and whatever that all means.  Especially in large metropolitan areas there is what we used to call “the rat race” which means that we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to “make it” in the world around us.  The pressure of social and financial “success” is everywhere and in everything we are taught.  That’s why we are told that we need to go to college and get a degree so that we can be qualified to get a good job, and more importantly, a good career.

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”  (Matthew 6:28-29)

I have been sharing recently with a few churches about the Song of Solomon.  It has been an incredible experience.

Do you realize that “the Lilies” is one of the themes throughout the Song?

 My beloved has gone down to his garden, To the beds of balsam, To pasture his flock in the gardens And gather lilies.  (Song of Songs 6:2 )

The Beloved here is our Lord Jesus, the King!  The Maiden (the Bride) is telling us that He pastures his flock in the garden to gather lilies.  There are five other references to the lilies in the Song.  Jesus is looking to gather together the lilies.  The only reference in the New Testament is the one in Matthew 6 and yet it completely ties in Christ as the One (the Beloved) who is gathering lilies!

lilies_images

However, there are things that get in the way and the world is one of them.

Brothers and sisters, we are not a part of the world system!

In fact, pertaining to that system we should have the same attitude as the apostle Paul:

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

In other words; We are now completely DEAD to the world system and the world system to us!

But is this how we really live?  If we are really honest with ourselves isn’t it true that we get most of our cues from this world system instead of God’s kingdom? Saints, do you know who is the mastermind behind the scenes controlling the world system?

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

But are we taking cues for our lives from this system?  Are we swallowing the lies, philosophies, psychology, goals, and dreams of that system instead of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom?  Is the “American Dream” our dream or is it what King Jesus wants?

Seeking the kingdom means that we put all of our attention, our goals, our resources, our thoughts, our time, and our focus on the interests of God instead of Man!

A Promise from the King

And guess what?  The Lord Jesus (the King of the Kingdom of God) guarantees us that if we put His interests and priorities first that He will completely take care of all our physical provision!  And that’s not all!  He also promises us that we will live a worry-free life.  Do you see that?  Matt. 6:33 is a spiritual principle.  But it is a conditional principle!  It’s as if He is saying: “if you do this, then I will do that.”  If you see first my interests, my purpose, my kingdom, then I will take care of all your physical needs.  Wow!  What a deal!!!

Seeing the Unseen

Of course, what our Lord is talking about here is pure and simple faith.  That is, complete trust in Him.  It is by faith that we bring things that are not seen into the seen realm.  It has to do with the word “substantiation”.

Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

The word “substantiating” literally means:

  1. to establish by proof or competent evidence
  2. to substantiate a charge
  3. to give substantial existence to
  4. to substantiate an idea through action
  5. to affirm as having substance; give body to; strengthen

In other words; faith actually brings the invisible into the visible world!  When we trust God with all of our provision He will do it!  He will bring it into this physical world by our simple trust in Him.

What a King we have!

Why I’m Still Involved with Talking About, Writing About, and Planting Organic Churches

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:22-23)

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out], Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus. [The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord, In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).
(Ephesians 3:8-12)

This, in a nutshell is why I cannot and will not, as long as I have breath in my body, cease from proclaiming this “mystery” which Paul tells us is “Christ in you (plural), the hope of glory”.  (Col. 1: 28)

This church, (the one that functions out from the life of Christ within us).

This church, (the one that functions out from His Headship and Leadership).

This church, (without hierarchy, clergy, or laity) that functions with all of the members (believers) by the life of Christ in them and under His direct headship.

This church, (who us learning to abide in Christ (the Vine) and live by His life).

This church, (who is not intimidated by polls, surveys, the public opinion, what’s popular or not popular).

This church, (who is the expression and direct reflection of her Lord Jesus the Christ).

This church, (who is the obvious usher to bring the kingdom of God to the earth).

This church, (who is the absolute fullness of the glory of her Christ).

This is the church that I will live for and die for as long as I am on this planet!

I don’t care what others are doing or saying.

I don’t care how much it cost me or how much time it takes.

Just to make things clear.. I am really only still doing this for one simple reason:

It is the will of God in Christ Jesus!

How could I do anything else?

 

By the way: if you cannot find an “organic” church in your area you may consider starting one. Either that or you could move to another location where there is such a group.

If you feel lead to start one, please see my FREE ebook: Starting Organic Churches

If you are willing to move to be a part of such a church please email me at:
milt@therebuilders.org

 

Starting Organic Churches – New Ebook!

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Starting Organic Churches  (FREE Ebook!)

A Short and Simple Guide for the Newbie

By Milt Rodriguez

It’s now very documented that over 60 million American Christians have left the institutional/traditional churches over the last ten years! What is going on? Are these folks dropping out of everything? Have they fallen away from the faith? On the contrary, they are looking for MORE! That is, they are looking for much more than they received from the institutions. They are looking for more of the life of Jesus Christ in His people. They are looking for more freedom to live by and serve this Christ. They are looking for a Family, a group of believers who share their lives together. In other words, they are longing for the authentic expression of Christ in and through His Body, Bride, House, Kingdom, and Community!

Milt Rodriguez and his wife Mary have been starting and planting organic expressions of this community since 1990. They have learned much through trial and error, making a ton of mistakes, and yet never giving up. In this ebook, Milt will share with you how to start such groups of Christians. Written both as a spiritual and a practical guide, Milt will share with you his knowledge and experience. If you have longing to experience this kind of life and want to help start new groups that have a much better chance of making it towards that goal, then this is the book for you!

In this ebook you will learn the following:

    • Contacting some believers (and/or unbelievers) who may be interested
    • Opening up your home (or someone else’s) for some initial gatherings
    • Sharing your vision and purpose for starting such a community
    • Meeting together on a regular basis to get to know one another (in and out of meetings)
    • Gaining more of a revelation of Christ
    • Calling for an experienced church planter to help lay the foundation of Christ
    • Practical guidelines and steps to follow through which each of these!
    • Many resources to use and apply (and edit) for your own use!

Special bonuses!

      Future revisions and additions sent directly to your email!

Plus there is a very special offer that Milt is presenting at the very end of the book!

Help is on the way!  The book is NOW released.

Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy!

It’s Here!!! Starting Organic Churches – Download Your Copy Today!

Starting_OC_Cover_Smaller

Starting Organic Churches  (FREE Ebook!)

A Short and Simple Guide for the Newbie

By Milt Rodriguez

It’s now very documented that over 60 million American Christians have left the institutional/traditional churches over the last ten years! What is going on? Are these folks dropping out of everything? Have they fallen away from the faith? On the contrary, they are looking for MORE! That is, they are looking for much more than they received from the institutions. They are looking for more of the life of Jesus Christ in His people. They are looking for more freedom to live by and serve this Christ. They are looking for a Family, a group of believers who share their lives together. In other words, they are longing for the authentic expression of Christ in and through His Body, Bride, House, Kingdom, and Community!

Milt Rodriguez and his wife Mary have been starting and planting organic expressions of this community since 1990. They have learned much through trial and error, making a ton of mistakes, and yet never giving up. In this ebook, Milt will share with you how to start such groups of Christians. Written both as a spiritual and a practical guide, Milt will share with you his knowledge and experience. If you have longing to experience this kind of life and want to help start new groups that have a much better chance of making it towards that goal, then this is the book for you!

In this ebook you will learn the following:

    • Contacting some believers (and/or unbelievers) who may be interested
    • Opening up your home (or someone else’s) for some initial gatherings
    • Sharing your vision and purpose for starting such a community
    • Meeting together on a regular basis to get to know one another (in and out of meetings)
    • Gaining more of a revelation of Christ
    • Calling for an experienced church planter to help lay the foundation of Christ
    • Practical guidelines and steps to follow through which each of these!
    • Many resources to use and apply (and edit) for your own use!

Special bonuses!

      Future revisions and additions sent directly to your email!

Plus there is a very special offer that Milt is presenting at the very end of the book!

Help is on the way!  The book is NOW released.

Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy!

Foundations

Yo, Look!  Another podcast!

We are breaking records here on this blog…

This particular message was given in Sonoma County at an Infusion event in Northern California.  This is where I introduce the idea that we desperately need to tear down all our religious history and begin from “ground zero”, that is the beginning.  When we speak of the beginning we are speaking of the Ground and the Foundation that is laid upon that ground.

One of the main problems we encounter as we travel planting organic churches is the idea that we can just tack on something (organic church) to what we already have.  This never works!  It’s the wrong foundation!  If you build upon the wrong foundation then the building is doomed to be the wrong building.

What is required in order for us to begin again?  We must become those who are poor in spirit.  If we are not willing to empty ourselves and embrace the humble Christ, then we will not see God’s eternal purpose in His Son.

Enjoy!

 

Christ in the Story

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This blog post is actually a podcast!  The message is taken from the Infusion SoCal 2014 conference in which I spoke with Jon Zens and some other new co-workers in southern California.  What I attempted to do in this message is tell the story of the New Testament church.  However, I added some things.  Not to the story, but to my presentation of it.  One thing I did was to preach the gospel (which is Christ!) from Paul’s letter to the Colossians chapter one.  I did this throughout the telling of the story.  The other thing I did was to compare our popular messages preached and written today to that original message of the first century.

I hope that you will enjoy this message.  Please let me know your responses by commenting.  Thanks!