Monday, June 20, 2011

Falling Towers Coming Down Pt. 1

Matthew 16:15-19 ~"15-He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16-And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17-And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18-And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19-And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"

Frank Viola, in his response to Dr. Ben Witherington over Ben's review of his book, "Reimagining Church", stated the following on pg. 4 pt. 9 of his rebuttal:
"The main point of all of this, of course, is my contention that the church is a spiritual organism and not a human organization." 
While Frank's books are certainly on my personal wish list, I couldn't help but conclude that although the gates of hell will not prevail against it, the "spiritual organism" known as the church, in it's modern form and under its modern composition,  is sick, afflicted, in pain and in serious trouble. If I were a Doctor I would send it home for a permanent vacation and bed rest. My reasoning is because what is currently transpiring in the body of Christ is nothing less than an epidemic.

First, as Frank states, the modern church is being built inversely of scripture. No matter the organizational affilliation, it has become a top-down or hierarchical entity. At the local level there is a considerable amount of  pressure placed on a single leader, usually the Pastor, to perform in an almost a superhuman manner. Balancing business acumen with social skills, all while finding time to give himself to God, and seek and deliver a word. Unfortunately even that word has been reduced to more of a motivational speech as many modern pastors do not preach against sin and have even reverted to calling themselves "Life Coaches".

The structure of the modern church means that the leaders, usually a select few, formulate, define and shape the church. The select few also claim to provide the power to the modern day church. Notice, nothing gets done without that select few either in charge, in place or in a management capacity. Herein is part of the problem within the modern church. This is not to say that everyone in the church should have decision making authority. However all decisions within the church should have their root and base within the word of God upon which all saved individuals should be able to find agreement.

OK, before one starts to rip into me and say, "Pastor Burnett, you're a member of the same type of structured church that you criticize, and aside from that God set the church in order and there is a structure to it. It is built upon Jesus and the apostles"

In response I would say that certainly Christ gave us a structure and pattern for the church. In this writing neither the order that Christ established, nor the structure of the church are in question and that's where  Mr. Viola and I part as he is an organizational deconstructionist. [Apologist J.P. Holding has written a good critique on many of Franks positions, especially those embraced in his work "Pagan Christianity" I would STRONGLY suggest reading his review so that one can familiarize one's self with Franks critical errors] I would say however that even my critique is far beyond any particular organizational type of church structure or organization. In addition, whether a "church" is deemed denominational or non-denominational, if there can be such a thing (So noone has anything to brag about-LOL) is aside from my assessment also.  I would sum it up by saying that the problem comes in when we believe that the "church" is established by anyone other than Jesus and is limited to things such as organizations, buildings and even persons who lead the body of believers or come to the assistance and advocacy of those things and individuals. A church is not a church because people call it that. A church is not anything that is inanimate and without a soul. A church is a living, breathing body of called out believers who have been called out for the purpose of serving the Lord and carrying out his business.

Don't Talk About My Church Or My Preacha!

The church is not a church because of the preacher or pastor. Yet alone Christianity. What I mean is that Christianity is not defined by any singular person outside of Christ himself. It is forever amazing that a person can talk about God all day long and totally discredit him and accuse him of all kinds of things that he hasn't done, and the accuser can get a pass and even be endorsed as being bold and cutting edge. However, when an individual says something about a star pastor, church group, singer, denomination or something else along those lines, we'll see individuals line up ready to defend what and whom they think represents God. 

A fellow laborer in Christ, Not Your Typical Negro (NYTN), recently found that out when he assessed Creflo Dollar's recent statements to the wandering members of New Birth Baptist Church. NYTN received a death threat simply because he analyzed and told the truth about words that Creflo said out of his own mouth. In this case NYTN exposed the money making ability, and totally heretical and anti-biblical ramblings of Creflo. It seems that for someone, Creflo, and his perceived public reputation, was more important than anything about God in the Bible. In this case it seems that Creflo and his words were more important and were worth fighting for more so than even the truth and all at the expense of human life itself.

Certainly the bible declares that the laborer is worthy of his hire (1 Tim. 5:18), but don't forget verse 17. Only those that labor in the word were worthy of that double honor. To labor in the word means to be committed to it in a sacrificial manner. In addition, what we are talking about is issues that have been confused. The "church" is not the preacher, neither is the preacher the church. The words of the preacher don't supersede the words of scripture of the commands of the Lord. This is what is missed by many. The pastor's actions must be subject to the word of God and he must be faithful in ministry to the church, or the living organism which comprises the body of Christ. Instead many have taken it upon themselves to be societal icons. GOd hasn't called a single minister to be an icon of society.  

You Don't Understand, I Love My Church!

Is it possible to love the church ie: the building, organization, the aesthetic and even the process of the religion, and not love God?

Matthew 15:8-98-This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9-But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. "

Some say that a person "loves the church" because they give a certain amount of money to it. Others say that some "really love the church" because they attend faithfully and regularly. How many times do we say that someone is a "church person" simply because they tuck a bible under their arm and attend a church facility regularly? Although those things are commendable and noteworthy in many cases, none of those things solidify a relationship either with God or with HIS CHURCH.
Over $60 Million worth of building designed by an atheist
aka: Crystal Cathedral, Filed Bankruptcy Jan. 2011 
What do we mean when we say that we "love the church" or that we are "having church"? Normally, we mean that we have an affinity for and are looking, acting and doing the things that we are familiar with when the corporate body of believers comes together...singing, clapping, shouting dancing, being moved in the spiritual gifts and listening to a charismatic preacher. This is sometimes known as the practice of "religion". Are we surprised that one can love that and those things and not love God? In other words, our perception of what the "church" is, has been particularly understood in terms of it being a material entity mysteriously directed, endorsed and empowered by God. However, that is not an accurate portrayal of the church. The believer is the one empowered to do the mission (Acts 1:8) and the entity of the corporate body is the vehicle by which that mission is accomplished. However, it was not established to serve itself. It was established to serve Christ and ultimately the need of souls. As stated, the church that Christ has established is a spiritual community, a living organism built upon Jesus himself as the foundation and supported by the righteousness that he has established as its chief cornerstone.

Mark 12:10-11 ~ "10-And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11-This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" 
(See Ps. 118:22)
The church is living and breathing and has relationship with Christ. It is not material. In fact one can be associated with the earthly church and never know the "spiritual organism" which is the church. The church is built from the bottom up with Jesus at its head, where the strong serve the weak and the rich or wealthy avail themselves to the poor.

Now some see this and immediately become critical because they have been taught that the church should serve the leader or people with their hands out. Some feel that they should receive all of their material needs from the church.  However, what goes for the body of believers also goes for the individual. Everyone should be involved in service because each individual is the "Temple Of God" or a place where their is sacrifice,  yielding and worship. With that said, every individual should be actively looking and seeking how to serve the Lord. This is where it gets sticky, but keep reading, you'll understand where I'm going with this in a minute.

How Far We Have Come
$3.9 Million Hammond Cessna ~ Preacha's Jet Of Choice
Serving the Lord is an expensive proposition so they say. The problem is that in our modern day effort to "be all things to all men" we have redefined the church based on a standard of modern morality and a new unbiblical value system. We have chosen what we want it (the church or body of believers) to be and further defined who "all men" are to us and have forgotten and left the foundational principles upon which Christ told us to build. We have assigned a value and a priority toward certain individuals because we have been emotionally seduced into class categorizations, misplacing the importance of following the mission of Christ, with the importance of conducting business.

Example: As we look out across the land can I ask:

1- How many multi-million dollar building projects are underway? (Even during recession)

This is in contrast to

2- How many multi-million dollar soul winning, feeding, housing and clothing projects are currently established by those same organizations and corporate churches? How many churches are placing millions of dollars aside in soul winning projects and community emergency fund dollars?

I'm not talking about asking for donations to fund a program or project that is simply designed to serve physical needs. I'm talking about taking the money, raised by the membership during the normal course of business and using it to get the job done. Why is it that spending church funds on a new pastoral couch, suit, Bentley or jet sounds normal, while spending money to reach souls needs an executive session? I'm talking about creating a monthly fund from current donations to reach souls that is the largest expenditure of the church. Has reaching souls ever been the primary expenditure of the physical church? Salary, utility, maintenance...then SOULS??? What we find is that #2 listed above, is often considered to be a pay as you go type of arrangement and only is funded as needed and in the scheme of things is somewhat of an after thought.

Let's go one step further...Why is it that the church needs a fundraiser to to reach souls? Isn't the soul winning efforts of the body of believers supposed to be a normal extension of the believer's life and testimony? Then why is it that the leadership, in many cases, thwarts soul winning efforts and stifles the life of the body of Christ and ultimately deters the physical church from what the church is and its mission? Do we not think there will be judgement or that we will have to give an answer for this?

1 Thess. 5:19-22 ~ "19-Quench not the Spirit. 20-Despise not prophesyings. 21-Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22-Abstain from all appearance of evil."

Some have taken out loans in the multiple thousands to purchase land or expand a sanctuary. Have you ever heard one church make an application to a bank for multiple thousands of dollars to simply preach to and save souls, feed the poor and clothe the naked? We all know that most banks wouldn't lend to anyone for that specific purpose, but the point is that the modern church views the investment into living souls as somewhat of an unreasonable proposition and something almost out of the established order of God because that investment does not automatically display material and natural benefits, nor does it guarantee a return. The big business of the church uses "ministry" as a method to acquire wealth and material prosperity. Many consider investments into souls as simply "bad stewardship" stating that we certainly can't "throw good money away". However, what makes money good to hoard and preserve and and reaching souls and expense. On the other hand, a church that simply serves the needs of the disadvantaged, without connecting the resource to the deliverance of the souls has missed the institution of the church also.

The organism, which is the church, lives, moves and breathes into multiple dimensions. Unfortunately that organism is either being used, abused or lulled to sleep by the seduction of modern day false prophets.

Romans 13:11-14 ~ "11-And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12-The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13-Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14-But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."

We're just warming up on this one.



  1. Priorities are a must and it is high time for leadership to stop overlooking the need in all attempts to grab the want(s).

    Good article!

  2. Vaughn,

    I think that's the problem...they say they NEED what they WANT...

    The church becomes a means to the end of personal satisfaction and whatever else they want. Remember Paulk's "doctrine of the King's Meat"...The "King" (somehow a pastor or a bishop)should receive what they want in the kingdom because it belongs to him or is under his supervision...Totally APOSTATE. However, that's the application that many use today.

  3. Great article! These are observations my husband and I have made. I don't understand why it takes so much to invest in true evangelism and outreach! Getting a church to simply purchase Gospel tracts for a street ministry or to have equipment for tent revivals or for ministry at festivals etc. is just looked at as "pearls to the swine". The following statement that you made is quite sobering:

    "Why is it that the church needs a fundraiser to to reach souls? Isn't the soul winning efforts of the body of believers supposed to be a normal extension of the believer's life and testimony? Then why is it that the leadership, in many cases, thwarts soul winning efforts and stifles the life of the body of Christ and ultimately deters the physical church from what the church is and its mission? Do we not think there will be judgement or that we will have to give an answer for this?"

    THIS is what is heavy on my heart right now! This is why my family has embraced street ministry as the way God has called us to minister. I mean true Spirit-filled and Holy Spirit led street ministry/preaching. It is time that we stop just having "good services" that only make the saints feel good! Those good services should stir us to correct ACTION!

    I can not tell you how many times we have had good "saints" tell us that street ministry is a waste of time and effort!

    So I ask: "How should we do it?" their response is usually about "church services" that the people we minister to DO NOT attend.

    The definition for Church and ministry both have been hijacked and twisted to mean things not defined in God's Word.

    We must return to the Word for our direction and understanding of the "ministry of reconciliation" Today!

  4. Making disciples of men is most overlooked while opulence goes to the forefront, It's funny Pastor B. that I had written that word, opulence, in my Sunday School Book a few weeks before you came with that article about that, we were discussing what hinders giving.

    Making disciples is still the point!

  5. I found out that there are 2 Frank Violas...One is an award winning baseball player and former atheist whom I heard on Focus on The Family some time back. The other is the book writer. I thought they were one in the same.

    I guess Franks with the last name Viola were destined to build the Kingdom of the Lord!-LOL


    Certainly true. There are very few "disciple makers". We make people like us...fashioned after men, but disciple makers are rare. Don't come to the bible classes if all you want to do is be like others around you. Seek HIM and HIS righteousness and all these other things will be added. That was good about "opulence"...that's the word that stuck our in that Inside Edition piece.

  6. well written Pastor Burnett! I'm going to have to use some of your quotes on facebook tonight!

    My former Bishop told me that speaking the truth was not the right thing to do. He said we are to win souls for Christ!

    How can we do that when the bible is not preached, and the truth is not proclaimed??

  7. Minister Davison,

    I've got a eyeopening letter from one of our Senior Bishops. It is about the best and most well written document I've seen, especially from someone in leadership of COGIC.

    Email me and I'll send it to you. These towers are coming down though...4-real!

  8. Great Job Pastor! really good stuff!

    Its hard to see how the church got here when you read the teachings of Christ to His disciples.

    Matthew 10
    7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,[c] cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

    Paul says

    1 Timothy 5:18
    For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

    What we see here in Christs words and what Paul is saying is that these men are workers and they should have what is sufficient for them to continue to work. These verses dont give off any understanding as to where the Pastor is to drive a Bentley, etc.

    Someone told me that a young preacher said that the tithe was for the Pastor and offerings were to take care of everything else!

    You are so right about the lack of funding for the harvest and to be truthful only the Church that I am have been going to for a few months has really had a focus on souls.

  9. The Crystal Cathedral is now the property of the Catholic Church

    I wonder why didn't any of the mega churches that saw the sun rise and set in this man come to his aid?

    Believe me, I already know...but, ooh well...


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