Category Archives: Charlotte

Missed opportunities

I just finished reading a piece in the most recent issue of Relevant Magazine by Adam Smith. I’ve become a huge fan of Adam’s listening to him on the Relevant Podcast, truly one of the funniest things out there. If you don’t subscribe go to itunes now and subscribe. Next to the Ephesus Church podcast, it’s one of the best audio excursions out there! Adam recently moved to New Zealand to explore some new opportunities in life, but he has continued to Skype into the podcast and write for Relevant. This month he recounts a recent occurrence in his life after moving to New Zealand. He was at a bus stop when a young (very) couple sat down next to him. She was crying and the guy was trying to get Adam to talk. Adam relates how he had no desire to talk with them or get involved in the situation. The guy continues to prod and eventually Adam talks with him and learns of the difficult situation they’re in. What Adam honestly admits is that he didn’t want to, and didn’t do much for them and struggled with that reality afterward. He says he can quickly give to a worthy cause, or buy clothing that supports the right causes in the world but when God put opportunity right in front of him he shied away. This struck me to the core. How true of so many of us who claim to be Christians. We’ll give money, drink fair trade coffee and avoid Nikes but when it’s right in front of us, we can’t be bothered, don’t want to be bothered. I struggle with this constantly. I’m working on it. God has called me and Ephesus to Charlotte. There is very wealthy communities in this city and there are extremely downtrodden communities, what am I going to do to be hands-on with both? It can’t just be a check or an exhorting word from the pulpit. It has to be life…. Very soon at Ephesus we’ll be introducing you to the Hyaets Community in West Charlotte. One of our attenders, Anna, is living out Jesus right in the neighborhood. Actions are speaking. I’m praying I’ll get out of my self-induced bunker and live and work with the people God has called us to in Charlotte. I’m praying that the vision God has given for Ephesus will happen. He’s called us to reach those who are more fortunate and then leverage the available resources to impact, in a HANDS-ON way, those not as fortunate. It’s the model of the New Testament church. It’s also the model the founder of our Foursquare movement, Aimee Semple McPherson, lived out at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles during the Depression. Through Angelus Temple, the affluent of Los Angeles, including movie stars like Charlie Chaplin, used what they had to feed and clothe so many affected by the poor economic times. In fact the food banks and commisarys of Angelus Temple fed and clothed more than the City of Los Angeles or any other government agency of the time. Today, the Dream Center and Angelus Temple continue this very hands-on Christian lifestyle. It’s encouraging and challenging to be reminded this kind of Christian lifestyle is a part of our denominational heritage.

I saw myself so clearly in Adam’s story of the bus stop (he’s a former pastor). I’m praying God will increase my boldness. I’m looking forward to plugging in with Anna and Hyaets and what they’re doing in West Charlotte. Pick up a copy of the most recent issue of Relevant and be challenged in what you are REALLY doing to be Jesus to this world and our community.

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Charlotte Observer’s article about Ephesus Church!

Read the story here: Sorry, but the link is no longer working…doggone Charlotte Observer changed the link.

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Time Change

I wanted to let everyone know that starting October 12th, Ephesus Sunday service time is changing to 10:30am. Our ReLaunch will be our first service held at our new time. There’s great reasons for a morning and an evening service and in the near future, as we grow, we hope to start a second service in the evening. But, we feel right now 10:30am on Sunday morning is the best time for us to come together. If you are planning on coming to our ReLaunch, please make note of the time change! We are planning on moving back to Brevard Street next Sunday, 9/28, but will still meet at 6pm until October 12th. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@ephesuschurch.tv Also, tomorrow (Sunday) in the Uptown area’s local section of the Charlotte Observer there will be an article about Ephesus Church by Marty Minchin! If you don’t live in the Uptown area, you’ll be able to find the article on the Observer’s website or by going to a local store and picking up a copy with the Uptown “Friend’s & Neighbors” section. Exciting stuff happening for Ephesus, thanks for being a part!

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Follow up to The Vision-Revisited

This past week at Ephesus Church we looked again at the vision God has given us as a church in Uptown Charlotte. I was just looking over some notes from a sermon we had on what the church is supposed to be back about 5 months ago. I saw many things in that sermon that dovetailed very nicely with this past Sunday. So in a first, never been done before, I’m posting my notes from that sermon in their raw form. Basically I’m being lazy and not wanting to reformat and edit for the blog (the bullets and tabbing is off too, oh well!) so enjoy and get a taste of how I arrange my thoughts for Sundays while also digging deeper into who God has called Ephesus to be as a church…

The Church Pt. 5                                                          27 April 2008

 

REVIEW last week

1.    Ekklesia

o   “called out”

2.    an assembly of believers

3.    A place of belonging

q  Salvation was not meant to be spent alone

4. the church belongs to Jesus

PART 2

  1. A place to discover Jesus
  2. A place to encounter God

q  Supernatural origins

  1. A healthy community

q  The church is designed for relationship

  1. A place to be challenged

q  Edification-building up and encouraging

q  Exhortation

5. A place to serve

q  Being in a church gives us a place to serve with eternal purpose

 

Worship

q  Giving adoration and devotion

q  Includes music and includes lifestyle

 

The Lord’s supper/Communion

1.    Remembrance

2.    Communion

3.    Expectation

 

How the church reaches out

q  Many names

  • q  Evangelism
  • q  Outreach
  • q  Missions

q  Many different ways it has been done in

  • q  Crusades
  • q  Tracts
  • q  Apologetics
  • q  Altar calls

q  All of these are fine within the right cultural contexts

  • q  Culture today has changed
  • q  Its full of slick marketing
  • q  Slick sales-pitches
  • q  Mass advertising
  • q  Creating events with mass emotional appeal
  • q  People are burned out on it
  • q  We see through the hype
  • q  We’re wary of it
  • q  We’re calloused and bitter most of the time

q  We have the most important message on earth but have to be challenged in how we present it

  • q  STORY> stripper turned Christian
  • q  Stef

                       o   Teenager

                       o   Drugs sex

                       o   Stripping

                       o   Boyfriend

                       o   Moved in together

                       o   Missing something

                       o   BUT didn’t want to be told what to do

q  Began with relationships

  • q  Began with a church and its people willing to accept her and her boyfriend where they were
  • q  AND pursue friendships with them
  • q  Not an emotional response to a big event
  • q  A process in which she was led to Jesus

q  People all over this city, need to be loved, need to find friends and need to know Jesus

q  Our vision as a church is “Loving Jesus, loving people, loving the city”

q  That begins with reaching out in love and building relationships with people

q  It is our biblical mandate:

 

Matthew 28.18-20

All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

1.   Jesus is the man

2.   Go make disciples

  • q  Get deep
  • q  Get real
  • q  Follow Jesus’ example

            o   He didn’t start with a huge blowout laser and light extravaganza giving out free donkeys
            o   He started by meeting a couple of guys down at the lake, doing some fishing, going to a party,                      turning a little water into wine

3.   Trust him when he says he’s with us to the end

 

How

1.   Focus on Jesus

John 12.32

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself

 

q  Jesus’ resurrection will draw people in

q  There’s the victory and hope we have

q  Jesus is alive, he defeated sin

 

2.   Understand, then practice Missional living

q  Change in American culture requires a change in how people discover Jesus

q  George Hunter-Celtic Way of Evangelism

                                              i.     Celtic population of the British Isles was reached through integrating into the culture

                                            ii.     Becoming a part of their lives, while still living by Christian principles-“lifting up Jesus”

                                          iii.     Through relationships the Celts discovered Jesus

q  This applies in our culture today

                                              i.     Peter Berger “Social Construction of Reality” wrote this in 1966 about how people can shift their worldview in our culture

1.   Person’s view of reality is shaped within the community into which they are socialized

2.   In a pluralistic society (of which we are certainly a part!) conversion, or changing the way one perceives reality, is opened up through conversations with people who live with a contrasting view of reality

3.   One adopts and internalizes the new worldview through resocialization into a community sharing that new worldview

q  What does that mean for us?

                                              i.     Get out there!

                                            ii.     Make friends, build relationships, have conversations

Colossians 4.5-6 MSG

5 Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. 6 Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

                                          iii.     Live life together

                                          iv.     Trust Jesus to be with you until the end of the age

 

3.   Bigger scale-Plug into the city

q  God loves the city

                                               i.     The bible ends with the city

                                             ii.     First missionaries went to plant churches in the city

                                            iii.     Nehemiah sent to rebuild the city of Jerusalem

                                           iv.     Jonah sent to the “great city” of Nineveh

                                             v.     Culture flows out of the city

1.    Change happens in the city

2.    Density of population

a.    More relationships

b.    More communication

c.    More openness to life change

q  We have to be praying a seeking how to better plug into Charlotte

                                               i.     Opportunities

                                             ii.     Key, strategic relationships

                                            iii.     Give back to the city in real tangible ways

                                           iv.     Make a positive name for ourselves in Charlotte

 

All this may happen before someone even comes to church

q  That’s tough for me

o   This is where I’m measured and judged right?

o   This is the big deal…

 

4.   When folks come Welcome and include everyone

q  As someone’s social network includes more and more Christians they may get plugged in

q  We have to be open and welcoming to everyone

                                               i.     Goth chick

q  Allow them to “belong, then believe”

                                               i.     Maybe they play in the band

                                             ii.     Help with the website

                                            iii.     Shake hands at the door

                                           iv.     Whatever

q   We have to be intentional about this

5.    Preach about Jesus

q  2 issues to avoid as we live missionally

Syncretism

1.    Culture becoming more important than the Gospel

a.    Dangerous because the Gospel is controversial

b.    In our fear of offending people we could water down the Truth of Jesus

Romans 12.2

do not be conformed to this world

  Sectarianism

1.    Making the church more important the Gospel

a.    This leads us to create a “holy huddle”

b.    We become protective of what we are and don’t engage people who don’t yet know Jesus

John 17.15

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

 

q  Jesus is the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father

q  We do contextualize

  • o   We have to continually adjust our methods to bring relevance within the culture we live
  • o   Paul in Acts 17 in Athens
  • o   Missionaries around the world

o   MISSIONAL

o   If not, the church will die of irrelevance

 

6.   Baptizing

a.    As someone’s life is transformed through the Christian relationships they develop they to become a follower of Jesus

b.    May not be a precise moment of raising a hand or checking a box

c.    They fully grasp Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

d.    Tell their friends and the church celebrates

e.    Then they are baptized as a public example of what has happened in their lives

                                               i.     This is an opportunity for others to see Jesus

                                             ii.     An opportunity for the church to celebrate

f.      More on my blog this week

g.    Do you want to be baptized?

 

7.   Continue living life together

q  Be real and be repentant

q  Romans 6-we’re free from sin, and become slaves to righteousness

q  So step up our lives and accountability as we journey together

 

Challenge

q  Salt of the earth

Matthew 5.13-16

q  Will you be salt or will you be thrown out, marginalized?

q  This is the call on all of our lives

 

Ephesus is called to this city and the people-are you going to step up, are you willing?

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Prayer List

Today we’re finishing our 17 WEEK series in Ephesians. Wow, it’s been fun, at least for me….Paul finishes this letter with a discussion on prayer as one of our weapons in the spiritual battle we are a part of as Christians. We’ve spent the last several weeks looking at the realities of the spiritual world. Paul then concludes for a request for prayer that I believe is a call to all of us who follow Jesus to constantly be praying for what is before us as we move forward in the mission He calls us to. With that in mind, we’ll be hitting prayer hard and heavy tonight. I’ll mention a few areas that we need to be constantly be praying about. I wanted to put together a simple list that could be used to guide prayer as it relates to areas of Ephesus Church and the city of Charlotte. Below is the list. I hope it will be of value

  1. Ephesus Church
  • People will discover Jesus
  • Relationships will be created, strengthened and restored
  • Disciples will be created 
  • Vision to Love Jesus, Love People, Love the City will continue to be lived out
  • Me! (Ben)
  • Ministry directors-currently: Children (Christina Edwards), Media/Tech (David Harkness), Connections (Karen Furr), Home Groups (David Koran), Worship (Seth Snider)
  • The vision to impact the people and culture of Charlotte will continue to be pursued
2. Foursquare (our denomination)
  • Jack Hayford-international president
  • Glenn Burris-national director/General Supervisor
  • Farrell Lemings-division leader (our direct point of contact)
3. Charlotte
  • The people of this great city
  • Ephesus’ place as a part of the culture of this city
  • Relationships to be established in and around the city
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