We are living in trying times. Many of us find ourselves (as was my prayer in 2021) calling out to the LORD to please intervene and make things go back to the way they were. However, God is beginning to change my heart; and with it, my perspective. I am beginning to realize the greatest crisis of the church is not from Covid or secular culture; it is a crisis of discipleship. The Church (over many decades) made salvation a priority -- the goal was to get people saved. Jesus-followers should always be prepared to share the Good News, but Jesus spoke far more about discipleship and the calling for faithful obedience than He spoke about eternal salvation. Discipleship is the training and shaping of a surrendered life so a person may remain faithful in the many trials of life. In His final command to His disciples, Jesus expressly told them to go into all the world and make Disciples. As the culture around us changes rapidly, we (the Church) must examine the condition of our lives as Disciples of Jesus. To ensure we possess the discipline and Holy Spirit-led fortitude to remain faithful to Jesus and His call on our lives, we must acknowledge the health of our discipleship (or how we are formed into Jesus-followers) The generations of First Covenant Church have responded in faithful obedience to God’s calling. While the methods of discipleship have changed throughout the ages -- the transformative effect on individual lives (as evidenced by Spiritual Fruit) has persevered. Over the next 2 months, we will be in a series entitled Church Culture Revolution. We will be utilizing resources, research, and insights gathered by pastor and author, Peter Scazzero. Scazzero has dedicated his life to helping Jesus-followers grow into resilient Disciples of Jesus -- trained and equipped to live out Christ’s calling in a post-Christian world. We begin our series with Jesus' prayer for us found in John 17:20-26.
January 9, 2022 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • John 17:20–26
CCR: "Every Person in Full-time Ministry"
February 20, 2022 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Colossians 3:23–24
This week’s Church Culture Revolution challenge is "Every Person in Full-Time Ministry." When you read this you might immediately associate this challenge with being an employee of the church. However, a church culture that encourages life-transforming discipleship has a distinctively biblical understanding of “Sacred Call” which is linked to new life in Jesus Christ, not a special dispensation of God’s grace on a select few. A church culture that encourages every person in full-time ministry acknowledges that we all are workers, created in the image of a working God, whose labors have been made hard because of sin -- but restored to purpose and significance because of Jesus Christ. Do you have a theology of work? (Not atonement of works, suggesting you can somehow earn God’s grace and forgiveness.) A theology of work considers God’s intention and God’s design for people as it pertains to the labors they are given. You might think of your job as just a paycheck. Perhaps you work to enjoy your weekend or your retirement. People have shared with me that they were looking forward to retirement so then they could give attention to more “spiritual things.” While it is true that Jesus invited the twelve to leave their occupations in order to follow him, there were far more people who Jesus sent back into their everyday lives as witnesses for him. This is certainly the case as Christianity spread across the world. The greater biblical narrative would indicate that some of God’s greatest servants were women and men who had “real jobs.” The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” A revolutionary church culture reminds us that we all work for Jesus.
CCR-"Passionate Marriages & Singleness
February 13, 2022 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus
A Church Culture Revolution is needed if, and when, people's involvement with the Church leaves them unchanged. Jesus established the Church as the Fellowship of those who have been called out from their families of origin and societal culture and called into a new life and new community found in Christ Jesus. A church culture resulting in changed lives is evidenced in both marriage and singleness that reflects the oneness we are to have with Jesus Christ. In short, Christian singleness looks and acts differently than our culture's expression of singleness - as does Christian marriage - meaning that married and single people both bear witness to God’s love for humanity. Jesus followers desiring to grow as emotionally healthy disciples must learn what it means to submit either their singleness or their marriage unto the LORD. The Apostle Paul has written to this reality in 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesian 5. Join us this Sunday as we consider how a church culture that promotes both passionate marriages and singleness can impact and grow generations of healthy disciples.
CCR "Healthy Community"
February 6, 2022 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • John 13:34–35
In our series "Church Culture Revolution," we are considering how our church culture is the result of our discipleship and how our discipleship is inevitably shaped by our culture. Simply put, Culture is the "way we do things around here.” For Christians, we are to practice and be enveloped within a distinct “Jesus Culture.” A church culture that encourages the kind of discipleship used by Jesus values several characteristics which are becoming increasingly contrary to our broader society. Thus far we have considered the impacts: Of a Slowed-Down Spirituality (January 16) Beneath the Surface Discipleship (January 23) And the necessity of Integrity in Leadership (January 30) That these may run in conflict with our broader society shouldn’t surprise us -- that is why Jesus' followers are called the Ecclesia; meaning the “called out ones,” or more commonly translated simply as “The Church.” Christ-followers, by their very identity, are culture revolutionaries, having been reborn in Christ Jesus and daily being transformed into his likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday we will consider a fourth distinguishing characteristic of a “Jesus-Culture,” which is "Healthy Community." To be clear (lest you mistake a healthy community for a health club or wellness center) “healthy” is defined by Jesus as our quality and capacity to love. Join us this Sunday as we consider Jesus’ own shaping of a culture -- which would encourage deep discipleship through communities practicing unconditional - transformative - love. As part of this Sunday’s celebration, we will partake in holy communion. In preparation please reflect on Jesus’ command given in John 13:34-35.