Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Letter from Pastor Tim Helm

Dear Hanfieldites, 

As you know, Hanfield is looking at options to trim costs in order to keep our current staff alignment and to continue the funding of our ministry. We've had several staff members volunteer to make vocational adjustments. I want to let you know about two of these: Beth Fisher and Brad Terhune have taken employment outside our church in order to reduce their hours at Hanfield. Both will continue on our staff, and both will continue to move their respective ministries forward, but in a part-time capacity. 

Thank you for all you do for your church!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Rainer's "Seven Traits of Healthy Churches Today"


I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Indeed, put me in a room with nine other people, and I am likely to be the tenth in intellect.

So, I compensate for my cognitive deficiencies by listening, observing, and researching. The wisdom of others is far greater than any chance of intellect I may have. Indeed, I love listening to church leaders. I love watching what other churches do. And I love reporting these observations to you, my readers.

A member of the Church Answers community recently asked about the characteristics of healthy churches today. Immediately, I began to review churches that were having great community impact, whose members regularly had gospel conversations, and whose leaders faithfully preached the Word with power every week.

I noted several characteristics of the thirty plus churches that I would unequivocally designate as healthy. When it was all said and done, I had nearly fifty different traits. But I was able to put most of these traits into one of seven categories.

They truly believe in the power of the gospel. Sure, most church members and leaders would affirm their own belief in the power of the gospel. But few would actually act on that belief. Few actually move into areas and directions that can only be accomplished in God’s power. For most churches, it’s lip service. But not so for these healthy churches.

They have courageous leaders. I call them “Joshua leaders.” They are ready to lead the people into the community and storm the gates of hell. They remind the members to be courageous, even as they are courageous. One pastor put it this way: “I don’t want to live a life without making a difference in God’s power. I will accept the challenges, the risks, and the criticisms to be able to make a difference.”

They embrace change. Most church members, and some church leaders, fiercely resist change. They idolize the past, the way we’ve always done it. Or they fear the future and God’s provisions for the future. But the healthy churches on my watch list embrace change as long as it does not go counter to the biblical truth. These churches don’t spend their energies and resources trying to convince people to move forward. They are ready to go!

They are not nostalgic. Sure, these church members honor and respect the past. But they don’t live there. They are constantly anticipating what God will do in the present and the future. They don’t have time to be nostalgic, because they are too busy moving forward.

They see reality. They don’t just see reality; they make highly intentional efforts to see reality more clearly. They often have secret guests evaluate their churches. They use tools to help them improve. They don’t fear to find something negative with their churches, because those findings become areas for improvement.

They intentionally intersect their lives with non-Christians. They see their weekday vocation as a mission field. They see their neighborhoods as their Jerusalem in Acts 1:8. They intentionally work and do business with non-Christians. They are highly intentional about inviting people to church.

They accept responsibility. Too many church members and leaders blame the changes in culture. Healthy churches see those changes as opportunities. Too many church members and leaders blame their denominations for not providing for them. Healthy churches accept their own responsibility for impacting the community. Too many church members and leaders blame other churches for taking their members and guests. Healthy churches realize the fields are truly white unto harvest. They believe other churches are partners in mission, not competitors. 

Obviously, my list is not exhaustive. But these are the seven main buckets of traits I saw as I surveyed the landscape of healthy churches.

What would you add to this list?

Monday, July 16, 2018

REVIVAL SIGN #4: WE ARE DRAWN INTO WORSHIP

The first church was a worshipping church:

“They devoted themselves to … the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper) and the prayers (the daily three times of formal prayer) . 43 And awe (holy, reverent fear/respect) came upon every soul.”

In times of revival, we forget about ourselves because God is THE center. We’re consumed with our encounter with the living God through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a vivid illustration of this God-entranced worship in Revelation 4. We’re given a portal into the throne room of God. There, in the presence of Almighty God himself, the elders and angels around the throne can’t help themselves. They fall down before him. They cry out “holy, holy, holy Lord.”

Such worship makes no sense to a cold heart. But it makes perfect sense to a revived heart. The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to and grateful for our mighty salvation in Jesus Christ. We respond to the mercy and grace of God to us.

A revived heart wants to bring glory to God - in every part of life. This is reflected at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Their mission statement reads:

“We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

When the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary measure, he makes God so huge in our minds and hearts that we want our whole lives to bring praise to him. We respond like the psalm writer:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” - Psalm 34:1-3

In times of revival, we become 24/7 worshippers (see, for example, Romans 12:1-2). We live to bring glory to Jesus. It’s not so much about singing as it is about showing God’s majesty at home and work and everywhere through our joyful, faith-filled delight in and surrender to. We obey for the glory of the God who has saved us and kept us and loves us in his Son. A revived Christian believes his purpose is to be an all-out, in all things, all-the-time, “glorifier” of God.