I don’t suppose most men and women who launch out into church life have it in their mind to ‘grow’ a small church. We’ve been raised on the era of ‘big’ and the concept of church is generally tied around one major goal: growth. Growth is health. Big equals influence. Right?
Certainly, a large, healthy church feels great on most Sunday mornings. There is a sense of unity and combined purpose. I love big church! But I’ve also learned to love small church because right now, at this point in time, that is what we have. Yet, though we may be ‘small’, we sure are mighty.
C3 Church London, this one’s for you.
When we arrived in London, Simon and I didn’t know what to expect. What we got was the most incredible, galvanized team of leaders we could have ever wished for. Dedicated, down to earth, these men and women are fun-spirited and love Jesus. And yes, we all wanted to grow this church, to see it blow up!
But in a city like London, where the attrition rate is massive, 2-year Visas and the like, the flow in and out can be well, quite fluid. And that can be disheartening. You can start to grow and then watch some of your best people get on the next plane back to where they came from. What to do? Well, for those of you out there immersed in the rough and tumble of growing your church, the best way we’ve found to ‘get on with it’ is really quite simple: love your people well.
Showing up on a Sunday and fixating on the people that aren’t there doesn’t send a great signal to the ones that are. These are your people, all 100 of them! With all they have going on in their world, here they are on a Sunday morning, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, ready to worship our Lord and Savior. Aren’t we blessed? This is our tribe. Small can be mighty.
If you have a small church and you dream of bigger, don’t give up on the dream, but love your people well through the process– and watch God do His thing. You aren’t going to grow your church, He is. You may as well enjoy the journey with the gorgeous family He has given you. And it is a gift – treat them with love.
– Valerie McIntyre
This month we are featuring a story and video from Caleb & Bethany Westwood, two members of our church who travelled to India to document one of our C3 Churches.
In India, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and various other religions play their part in the nation’s cultural makeup. Christianity lends itself to 2.3% of the population – an estimated 27.8 million people. C3 Church currently has eight churches spread out across India and Beth and I set out to tell the story of one – C3 Siliguri.
When we first arrived at Pastor John and Carlin’s house we discovered three things; their love and hospitality, the vision of the Church, and the significant position of Siliguri. Known as “The Gateway of North East India”, Siliguri is recognised as the centre of trade for it’s neighbouring towns, states and countries. Seated at the base of the Himalayan Ranges, this commercial centre is bordered by Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. Siliguri therefore holds major economic influence, not just for India, but South Asia as well.
You can only imagine why a church plant here holds such significance.
From when we first arrived to when we left, the Pastors, their family and church members showed us the kind of hospitality Paul talks about in the New Testament. But it wasn’t just their kindness to people who were merely strangers a few days before, but it was their love for God and their church family that moved me.
Many had left their homes and families to build a church in a foreign place with foreign people. Why? Because of love. The same love God has also given to us – for Him and His people. Pastor John and Carlin spoke with pride of the C3 family they had become part of. A family, in their eyes, that had the responsibility to take in and care for anyone and everyone.
The vision of C3 Siliguri is continuing to grow. “We are growing in every area possible” says Pastor John, believing they will soon have the funds to lay the foundation for a new building on the land they have recently purchased. I have no doubt that with their partners and support from other C3 Churches around the world, C3 Siliguri will prosper.
Beth and I were so blessed to meet these people and to be part of this global family. Stand with us in prayer as we believe C3 Siliguri will not just be able to touch the lives of those around them but this will overflow into neighbouring countries, leading a movement throughout North East India and Asia.
Caleb & Bethany Westwood
When we arrived that first morning, what stood out and still does, was the way Ps Phil was directing everyone towards the presence of Jesus. Today with all the hype, fads, promotions, and tech savvy ways of doing church it was a breath of fresh air to see everyone connecting to His Presence. Jesus is the centre piece of the bible, it’s in Him we live and move and have our being.Mayra and myself no longer felt a distinction of cultures because we had entered into God’s culture, through the presence of Jesus Christ. The C3 movement under the guidance of Ps. Phil and Chris has maintained the biblical culture that unites all other cultures, His Presence. It’s because of this that God’s Spirit is able to move in every service.
In many ways it reminds me of this story;
A middle age women worked for years as a housekeeper for a very wealthy Gentlemen, he had but one child a young boy who was crippled and confined to a wheelchair, she loved and helped care for this young man. After several years of service the man of the house died, having previously lost his wife, the extended family was notified of his death and his last Will and Testament could not be found.
A battle broke out among the relatives for the estate, the State was called in to disperse the assets of the home. It was during this time that a man from the State asked the housekeeper if she would like any small item from the house, “Yes” she said, “I would love to have the painting of the young boy.” As he took the painting off the wall he felt something behind it.
It was an envelope that contained the man’s Last Will. It read, “I leave all to the one that loves my son.” “Well,” the man said, “I guess everything belongs to you.”
Thank you Ps. Phil and Chris for always making everything about His Son.
Regional Director – C3 Español
Senior Pastor – C3 Church Las Vegas
Our July devotionals are coming to us from Phil & Denise Buechler, Senior Sastors of C3 Long Island! Check in every Monday for a new devotional, and read Phil’s first devotional below!
Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
We don’t know what injustice this widow experienced; we do know that she wouldn’t take no for an answer. We also know she was desperate. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Jesus’ punchline begins in verse 6: “hear what the unjust judge said.”What did he say? “I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (verse 5). The judge knew there was no quit in the persistent widow. Does the just judge know that about you? If an unjust judge will give the desired verdict, how much more will the just judge of heaven and earth? Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.
That we are to show kindness to everyone goes without saying. That we are to show kindness especially to the household of faith doesn’t always.
I suspect the church may have been slow cooked into seeing the validity of faith being best expressed in good works – community charity. It sounds good, it is accepted by the world (who wouldn’t accept someone else paying the bill for the collapse of community, morality and law), and it isn’t intrusive, but this is, at heart, a patronization of the church, and unreflective of her raison d’etre.
**I am making a point more than criticising the Salvation Army, for whom I have respect.
For example: everyone loves the Salvation Army, until, that is, they dare preach the gospel of redemption to the people they assist. Their charitable status would be questioned, the imposition of faith would be scorned, their good works smothered in a pile of righteous indignation by a world that hates the very thought of righteousness, but not indignation.
The General may well squirm in his grave if he saw what had become of the ‘blood and fire’ of the gospel he lived for and so passionately preached.
Galatians 6:10 invokes kindness where we see the need of it, and can do something about it. It is inclusive and never-ending, in that the poor we will always have with us. There is however a caveat. The priority of our charity is not the world but the church – the household of faith.
1 Timothy 5:8 emphatically states that we are worse than an unbeliever if we fail to provide for our own household, as we have in effect denied the faith. In essence this is saying that the faith we espouse has its first and primary impact in our own house – domestic and church. To fail at this is to fail at the faith. This is a serious but seldom heeded truth.
Caring for the needs of communities is laudable, but not so at the cost of the people of God, who are indisputably and unequivocally, our first priority.
The church was always meant to be a self-sustaining community, “showing forth the praises of God.” It was never intended to merely be a social organisation given to the relief of the poverty that is so often engendered by this world’s systems – greedy people and corrupt governments. The church is something quite other than just this, although, and rightly it does include this – but not as its defining motif. Paul would not have had a bar of that, much less Jesus. Their vision of the church is far different than that imposed by the body politic on us. We have been tightly squeezed into a garment that was meant to be a loose fit.
Many will argue that the vision of the church finding its validity in the care of the poor as the priority of the love of God is no where better described for us than in the scene in Matthew 25 – The Final Judgment. “My brothers” is here interpreted as the world’s poor. This is a common theme and use of this text when people want to help the marginalised, the poor – the brethren of Jesus?
**Craig Keener is instructive in his commentary on these verses. “This passage probably refers to receiving messengers of Christ. Such missionaries needed shelter, food and help in imprisonment and other complications caused by persecution … Receiving them was like receiving Christ.” He appears cautious in saying this when the text essentially demands it
In itself, caring for others, isn’t a problem, however the “brothers and sisters” of the Lord are believers. They may be in jail, poor and treated with contempt, as many Christians were, as Paul himself was – alone and neglected in prison. But it is a fair stretch of the imagination to say that all the poor of the world are the brothers and sisters of Jesus. He certainly loves them, and has a will towards them but they aren’t family by virtue of their poverty.
The poor are no more inclined to do God’s will than the rich.
Jesus clearly contextualizes who his family is – Matthew 12:50. His own family came demanding he see them, undoubtedly because they thought he was mad. His blunt and somewhat surprising answer was that his mother and brothers were those who did the will of his father in heaven – which thing they weren’t doing then and there.
In Acts 6:1-7 a justifiable complaint arose over care of widows. The Greek widows were being neglected by the Hebrews, who, no doubt, were caring for their own. (Even in the halcyon days of the early church – selective racial bias was evident.) The widows referred to were believers, as are those Paul addresses in his letters to Timothy.
The beauty of the church was that it was a society within a society – one that didn’t collapse the society they were in, by being different, but rather bettered it. It is countercultural but not culturally destructive, as was the plea of Justin Martyr, the early church apologist and philosopher. He argued to the Caesar that Christ made for better society, and wasn’t a destructive influence in civil society, as enemies of the church would have had it.
Psalm 94:5-7 speaks of God seeing the treatment of widows and the fatherless. However the people he speaks of are God’s people – “your people … your heritage,” and not the surrounding nations.
Today we are enemies if we dare suggest that the role of the church is anything more than charitable, and its ministers anything more than mild, kind, effete, muted, and neutered – frankly, saccharine people.
But the church is more, and so are its ministers.
The prime focus of the New Testament Epistles is the church – not the world. Paul’s passion was that the Body of Christ be built. Certainly this includes social action and justice, but never at the expense of the Glory of God – his church. It is normally directed to the church.
The church has been first cab off the rank, innovative and influential in caring for people – for centuries. And the world is not better off when these innovations and their institutions became centralised, legislated and government controlled. And what the church has and continues to do isn’t something I suggest should stop, aside from which, by what moral authority do I suggest it should?
But I do have a right to say that we do the church no favours by making it second best – not the prime focus of our care and generosity.
God’s church first, God’s people first. And if this disturbs you then you have been slowly roasted over the fires of the opinion of the world, and not nurtured by the New Testament, which we insist says something it doesn’t say.
“And especially to the household of faith.”
Written by Simon Mcintyre
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work
The Apostle Paul talks about two approaches to giving; how to give and how not to give. He instructs us not to ‘give sparingly and reluctantly’, but instead to ‘give generously and freely’.
The one who gives ‘sparingly and reluctantly’ is one who gives some, but still withholds – you know, like Ananias and Sapphira. Sure, they’ll give something; they may even tithe. But they approach God with their money like this; “God, I will give to you what I will give to you and I will hold the rest back for myself. What’s the least that I need to give to follow Christ? 10%, I heard? Deal. Lock me in on those terms. I will give you 10%. I will keep 90%. This small pile is yours. This big pile is mine.”
Well, what if God wants some from that big pile?
What if God wants all of the big pile?
Who is the master of our lives – God, or the big pile?
Either the big pile belongs to God, or the big pile is our God.
To be ‘generous’ and ‘free’ in our giving is to not ‘withhold any of our pile’ from God, in the same way that He did not withhold His son, but rather gave Him completely over for us as a sacrificial offering. So that by His offering we could receive forgiveness of sin and liberty from death, not by our merit, but by His grace.
So, the whole ‘His pile/my pile’ approach seems a bit insulting, doesn’t it? Following Jesus begins with surrender – including a surrender of your whole pile. The question isn’t ‘how much do we dare to give?’ The question is ‘how much do we dare to keep?’
He is faithful. He is able.
Written by Steve Burgess
C3 Cares exists to help people in need, in crisis or isolation across Sydney. We believe in community and bringing a message of hope and practical support. C3 Cares Dee Why recently had their first outdoor service where we saw two people receive Christ, and four people healed! Many people gathered and heard a message of hope, including a short testimony and the Gospel.
A Buddhist monk was brought into the service by one of our GO team. He heard the Gospel, gave his heart to Jesus, and was set free from depression and anxiety. He said He could see and feel Jesus and will be coming along to our Alpha courses, and bringing his mum with him!
Another lady approached our prayer tent and wanted to talk to one of our team. She had recently lost a loved one and was suffering with grief. We prayed for her and she felt the peace of God and received the Prince of Peace into her life right then and there.
C3 Cares provides the perfect opportunity to connect with the community. Church without walls. The bad news is that people have the wrong idea about who Christians, the Church and God are. The good news is that we can change those opinions and judgements one person at a time.
For more info on C3 Cares please visit their website www.C3cares.com.au
We have the honour of sharing devotionals from Lars & Megan Halvorsen, from C3 Darwin! Read Megan’s devotional about making the most of our today below:
Psalm 116: 16 (MSG) Oh God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
One of the great benefits of salvation is freedom. Freedom from sin, guilt, shame, our past, sickness, bondage and the list goes on. It is for freedom He has set us free!
What is the purpose of this freedom though? The world would tell us that freedom is all about the ability to run your own life, forge your own path, follow the desires of the flesh and be free from the restrictions others place upon us.The true freedom of the Kingdom is of course different. I love the heart cry of David here in this Psalm: “Set me free for your service!” He had the revelation that the purpose of his freedom in Christ was to actually freely lay his life down in service to God.
One of my favourite things is hearing people’s joy when they discover the fulfillment that comes from serving. As we serve God, others, our church and our community we bring a revolution!
No matter what role, title or function we perform, let’s always keep at heart: “God, here I am, your servant.”
Giving thanks is so much more than saying grace before a meal. It may include this, but it goes way beyond it.
Paul’s constant personal giving of thanks, and encouragement to give thanks, is a feature of his life and letters. A cursory reading could make it appear incidental, a nice opening phrase, or filler that has cultural value, in that it is a common form of greeting. But, we would miss the point entirely were we to treat giving thanks so casually.
Giving thanks is a significant part of his letters. It is the New Testament equivalent, and some, of Old Testament regulations for approaching a holy God in worship. This being so, the giving of thanks assumes an importance that is difficult to over state, and one that is not wise to under project.
Suddenly we are faced with something that isn’t just a cute phrase, as though giving thanks was largely a positive habit that had wonderful side benefits in outlook and relationships. In other words it is a good habit that has good outcome – good for you.
Pragmatism, however, is not the modus operandi of giving thanks – the praise and worship of God is.
Giving thanks demands of us much more than the perfunctory, the casual, or an erratic fulfilment. It requires heart, obedience, and consistency.
If approach to God in the Old Testament era were highly regulated, specified and serious, why would we imagine that the worship of God for us is something less? It is certainly more wonderful, and is based on a better way through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, and it isn’t demanded of us that we appear with lambs and bulls for sacrifice, but this isn’t to cheapen or to make casual our worship of God. It is still costly – bloody in its own way.
When the nation approached God in worship and sacrifice their individual feelings weren’t even on the agenda. God was. Our feelings were of little to no account in the temple-based worship of the law.
We, however, have mistaken the freedom to give thanks and worship with the right to be guided (hijacked) by our current emotional state.
For this reason Paul speaks of a sacrifice of praise. It is a sacrifice in that it is offered to God, and it is a sacrifice in that it is done regardless, regularly, in spite of our feelings, and is God focused not outcome oriented.
We are the poorer if our worship is impelled by our feelings. We are the richer if we worship no matter the circumstance.
Giving thanks is not an optional extra – it is fundamental, and it is a lens through which we will see much of God’s nature and goodness. Failure in one is failure in the other.
“Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good.”
Written by Simon McIntyre
Sometimes it’s just one word that catches your attention … in this case it was two! I was reading the words of Jesus to his disciples who had eagerly asked the Lord; “teach us to pray.” Jesus responded by teaching them the Lord’s Prayer, then He challenges the disciples that all they need to do is to ask, to seek and to knock! He then tells them a story how they should do this … and it is in this story where these two words are hidden which captured my heart!
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of yourshameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. Luke 11:5-8 (NIV)
Wow these two words … shameless audacity … powerfully struck me. I was stirred by them … and I could not shake them. All day, I kept repeating these words to myself … shameless audacity … over and over again!
I reread the passage in a number of Bible versions and found that different words were used to describe this person and their prayers … persistent, importune and impudent!
Interestingly the person in this story did not just persistently ask but they did so to the point of being annoying and even rude.
Shameless audacity though is even stronger.
When you are shamelessly audacious you are … more bold … more rude … more pushy … more feisty … more offensive … more unrestrained … more reckless!
When you are shamelessly audacious you have absolutely no consideration for what is proper, decent or appropriate.
The thing that really WOWED me was that God loves it when we are shamelessly audacious! It attracts him … it captures his attention … and causes him to act. We need to remember that Jesus is encouraging us to:
- Have shameless audacious faith
- Make shameless audacious requests
- Do shameless audacious acts
I believe the future of our church, ministries, family and revelations are on the other side of our shameless audacity.
So let’s choose today to engage in being shamelessly audacious!