Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.
Bob+photo+JMy friend and brother, Bob Chapman, who lives in Western Australia sent me this article. The message is clear…the response of Christ’s disciples has been weak. The Roman Catholic church and its offspring are observed here, but the message is the same for all of us who claim to follow Christ. Get strong or go home

You know the hour is late when God uses a gay atheist to bring a sobering wake-up call to the church, but that’s exactly what happened after Ireland, traditionally a bastion of Catholicism, voted to redefine marriage. The gay atheist was Matthew Parris, and the Spectator posted his article entitled “As a gay atheist, I want to see the church oppose same-sex marriage.” Parris was grieved over the Catholic Church’s response to Ireland’s vote, feeling that it was weak and almost apologetic, like someone arriving late to a major cultural revolution and saying, “Oh my. I guess times have changed. We’ll have to do better with social media in the future.”
He also stated his opinion that, for some years now, the Catholic Church in Ireland had not offered a robust moral argument against redefining marriage, also making reference to the “rantings” of evangelicals. He wrote, “Even as a gay atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change?” With brilliant sarcasm, Parris rewrites Exodus 32, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai to find his people worshipping idols and engaging in immorality, prompting him to smash the tablets in anger and shaming the people with their sin.

In the new Parris version, the events go like this: “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the Irish referendum’s huge majority for gay marriage, and the dancing: and Moses’ alarm was palpable. And he took a copy of the Pink Paper and, flourishing it, said, “We have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities. I appreciate how these naked revellers (sic) feel on this day. That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution. We need to find a new language to connect with a whole generation of young people, the prophet concluded; then, casting off his garments, Moses said, ‘Hey, lead me to the coolest gay bar in the camp.'”

Parris has hit the bull’s-eye, demonstrating more prophetic perception than many church leaders in the West, both in Europe and America. Since when does a popular vote determine morality? Since when does the majority determine the will of God? Since when do the shifting tides of culture determine what the Bible actually says? And since when have spiritual leaders been called to follow the crowd? I thought we were called to lead the crowd. Parris states: “The conservative Catholic’s only proper response to news such as that from Dublin is that 62 percent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin.”
Yes, a gay atheist is calling Christians to have moral backbone, and he is doing it with a clarity sorely lacking among many leaders today. And what do human opinions have to do with the truth of God anyway? How utterly perverse that some leaders make their decisions based on what is trending on Twitter or on what teens are doing on Instagram rather than basing everything on what God has clearly spoken in His Word, with sensitivity, compassion and cultural wisdom. Parris asks, “Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic?” He also questions: “Can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice?
Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?” I would love for these sentences to be circulated to every church, and then after everyone has said their hearty “Amen!” to tell them it was a gay atheist who penned these piercing words. And Parris is right to point out that Christians, of all people, should recognize that the majority is often wrong, stating that believers “need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the early church.”

Enough with our gospel of cultural accommodation.

Enough with our man-pleasing, spineless, non-confrontational message.

Enough with trying to save our lives rather than losing our lives for Jesus and His cause.

Enough with catering to the crowds instead of swimming against the tide and proclaiming the cross boldly and without compromise.

It is a shameful day when a gay atheist has more spiritual insight and moral backbone than many church leaders in the West.


The Answers to Everything


Dwight Whitsett
Dwight Whitsett

Two questions: Why did the number of disciples explode in the first three centuries after the establishment of the church on that wondrous Day of Pentecost? And, why isn’t similar growth occurring now? Once we have answered these questions, we will have the answers for everything. So what are the differences between then and now and us and them?  I can think of a few:

1.      They were Holy Spirit motivated and driven. Too many of us are ignorant of the Spirit’s provision, power and His primary legacy: inspired Scripture. It is within these God-breathed words we will find the answers we seek, not in some book on church growth.

2.      They were not building-oriented. We are. We spend millions on structures we mistakenly call “churches” with a “sanctuary” and classrooms. Try finding that in Scripture!  What a classic misappropriation of time, energy and money!

3.      They did not have a “professional class” or clergy. We do. We spend millions on their salaries and benefits. Then we work the hound out of them. This too is alien to Scripture. As Lisa Sells has written,

…the pastor (“preacher” for us restorationists-DW) is expected to both nurture the mature and win the lost through a one-way monologue (i.e., the weekly sermon-DW).  Then through the week the pastor is expected to satisfy member needs for personal love and concern.

“The result is often a membership that watches the pastor try to do all the ministry as well as a pastor that is overextended and skating on the edge of burnout. (Lisa Sells, “Avery Willis’ Last Dream,” Mission Frontiers, USCWM, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 626-7971111, www.missionfrontiers.org. January-February 2011, p. 9)

4.      They were not assembly-oriented. We are. Assembly has been called, “The Sunday Morning Show.” It has replaced The Great Commission as the focus of our resources and energies.  Assembly an essential part of our Christian walk but it must not become our major focus.  As Steve Smith wrote,

The Great Commission says we are to go, not invite people to come to us.  We must go to where the lost are, and train the new believers to also go to the lost, into factories, homes, shops and neighborhoods (Steve Smith, “Training for Trainers Process,” Mission Frontiers, January-February 2011, p. 11)

5.      They understood what “making disciples” was and how to do it.  We don’t.  They proclaimed the word, lived the gospel, baptized those who came to belief and taught them to observe all that Jesus commanded.  Those disciples made more disciples who could make disciples and multi-level-discipling was born.

6.      They knew that their mission was to follow Christ.  We know it too, but we get distracted by stuff that has little or nothing to do with our primary mission. They didn’t get involved in peripheral diversions.  Since Jesus came to seek, serve and save the lost, they knew that was their job too.  It’s all right there in the Gospels and the Letters.

It is high time to dump the ineffective inventions, innovations, diversions and distractions that have gummed up the simple process of seeking, saving and discipling the lost. It is time to stop wringing our hands in despair and to fill those hands with a copy of Scripture.  It is time to quit looking around wondering what to do and to fill our eyes, mind and heart with the teachings and examples of Jesus and the apostles. There we will find what to do. There we will find the answers to everything.

The Church as the Body of Christ

Dwight Whitsett

In 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 1:24; it is made clear that the church is the body of Christ. If we believe Scripture to be inspired then we cannot deny this. But have we considered the implications?
The body of Christ was taken up into heaven John 3:13; Ephesians 4:10; Luke 14:51; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11. So that accounts for His earthly body. That leaves us as His body on earth. What does that imply? Correct me if I’m wrong but that means we continue the work He began. It answers the question, What is the mission and purpose of the church? This requires us to know what His mission was and continue doing what He did. Simple, isn’t it?
Passages such as what today we call the Great Commission distill that down into several items as revealed in Matthew 28:19,20 and Luke 24:47.
1. Proclaim repentance for forgiveness of sins
2. Make disciples of all the nations
3. Baptizing (immersing) them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
4. Teaching them to observe all that He commanded us
It is instructive to compare these simple-to-understand directives with what we are doing or not doing today. My contention is that if it is not covered here, it is not our mission.
Notice that he did not say, “…go forth and build buildings”. However that is a priority with most churches. There’s nothing wrong with buildings when we can’t find other venues for assembly (although I wonder what he would say about our huge, expensive, comfortable, air-conditioned and lavishly appointed edifices).
Notice that he did not say “…go forth and fill your buildings with the finest performers money can buy so you can attract people to them” (nowhere in Scripture is the assembly which we wrongly call “worship services” given an evangelistic purpose). Assembly is solely for the encouragement and edification of the saints. We also need to question the mistaken notion that attending assembly regularly is the most important part of following Christ.
When we get to the specifics of Jesus mission (subsequently, our mission) we will be able to understand what we really should be involved in: Jesus came:
• to fulfill the Law and the prophets.
Matthew 5:17 (NIV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
• to testify to the truth. He told Pilate,
John 18:37 (NIV) “…for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
• to preach.
Mark 1:38 (NNAS) He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”
• to call sinners to repentance.
Matthew 9:13 (NIV) “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
• for judgment.
John 9:39 (NIV) Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
• to divide men into believers and unbelievers.
Luke 12:51 (NIV) “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”
• to serve.
Mark 10:45 (NIV) “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
• that we might have abundant life.
John 10:10 (NNAS) “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
• to do the will of the Father.
John 6:38 (NIV) “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”
• as light into the world.
John 12:46 (NNAS) “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
• to seek and save what was lost.
Luke 19:10 (NIV) “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Let me challenge us as disciples and churches to rethink our objectives. Can they fit into any of Christ’s purposes? If not, then we should immediately jettison them. This may not be an exhaustive list and certainly we have not considered the characteristics of Jesus’ attitudes and character he modeled for us which is another essential consideration. But, we will have to leave that for another article and for another time. May God bless you as you carefully reexamine our mission as the body of Christ, and courageously make the adjustments necessary to more effectively bring Him to our dark world.

Worship Services

I believe that one of the most beneficial changes any church could make is to correct their misunderstanding of evangelism.  We’ve made such a monster of it in our minds that very few of us do any of it at all.  We count on having user-friendly churches with seeker-sensitive assemblies featuring a great preacher, state-of-the-art equipment and methods.  We rely on doing Bible classes and assemblies so well that when people visit us to do their church shopping, we hope they’ll choose us instead of that other church down the road.  There are three things wrong with that.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-22 04:03:30Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com

·         First, it’s not evangelism it’s accumulation.

·         Secondly, people who have to be won by attractive methods and surface cosmetics will only last as long as it takes them to fade.

·         Third, it is a focus and emphasis unknown by Jesus, the apostles and the early church.

The church that won the Roman Empire knew nothing of “user-friendly” or “seeker-sensitive churches or spectacular methods of reaching the unconverted.  Mark Galli writes,

“What it did have seems paltry: unspectacular people, with a hodgepodge of methods (so hodgepodge they can hardly be called “methods”), and rarely a gathering of more than a handful of people.  The paltry seems to have been enough, however, to make an emperor or two stop and take notice” (Christian History, Issue 57, p. 8).

Without publicized campaigns or even an explicit evangelistic strategy, Christianity made its way quietly and effectively in an environment not wholly unlike that in the post-Christian West today.

            Glenn Hinson writes, “Most churches had the same goal: evangelism.”  But it was not evangelism based on getting people into church buildings since it was nearly 300 years before the first one was built.  This was evangelism by friendship.  It was outreach through good works such as feeding the hungry and rescuing abandoned children (1 Peter 2:12).  It was the message of a moral and pure way of life (1 Peter 3:2).  It was seen in their keen pursuit of justice.  Each disciple was ready to tell their friends and associates the reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15).

            Evangelism is the life-blood of any congregation of the church.  Only if it becomes our goal, we will truly become alive.

Geller in Garland

Militaant Muslims  I assume everyone now knows about the incident in Garland Texas where two terrorists tried to kill the participants in a contest to see who could draw the best cartoon depicting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.
Islam prohibits any depiction of Muhammad in any form. To do so draws the ire of Muslims, whether militant or not.
Ms. Geller’s stunt seems to have divided people into two camps. One camp says that since we have a right as Americans to express ourselves in free speech, no one can lawfully prohibit us from speaking our mind even if it is hateful and inflammatory. Some seem determined to prove it.
The other camp thinks Ms. Geller was deliberately looking for trouble and she got it. She has been criticized for putting the Garland police in harm’s way as well the group of cartoonists who attended her “contest.”
But there is a third group with no patience with the savages engaged in Jihad. This camp agrees that their cruelty must be stopped and innocent lives saved by military force if necessary (and are amazed that it has not happened yet!). Yet they are also sensitive to the feelings of Muslims in general. They know that to take what is holy to them and drag it through the mud is counterproductive. No, we don’t agree with their prophet or their theology — but we know that their souls are precious and that God wants them to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). If we close any door on hearts that might have eventually been open to the gospel we shoot ourselves in the foot. Instead of baiting them, why not use our energy and resources to show them the Christ that draws all humans to Him? (John 12:32).
How do we do this? We do it by letting our light be seen by everyone (including Muslims) resulting in open hearts and glory for God (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15). One can’t make fun of their prophet in one breath and win them in the next (Colossians 4:6).
Do you agree? Let me know.

Edify or Amplify?

The Case for Rejecting Instruments in the Assembly

spbc-2Churches of Christ (the a cappella segment) seem to be becoming very different very quickly.  Several larger congregations and a number of smaller ones (I have no idea of the actual numbers) have opted for adding mechanical (as opposed to vocal) instruments to their assemblies (I absolutely refuse to call them “worship services” as that description of assemblies of the saints is nowhere to be found in Scripture – and, when you think about it, it betrays an ignorance of the meanings of both “worship” and “service”).  For over a century, one of the distinguishing marks of churches of Christ was strong opposition to the use of instruments in assemblies.  Countless debates, articles and divisions occurred with both sides remaining unconvinced. 

It will not be my purpose here to pile more verbiage on the tons of arguments by taking one side or the other.  I’m not sure it would serve any purpose except to put me in one opposing camp or another.  No, my point will be something different.  I want us to take an honest look at our motives.  WHY are we ditching our a cappella tradition?

The most common reason given is some variation on the desire to attract a younger, hipper crowd into our buildings.  One group is currently remodeling their auditorium to add a stage for the musicians.  If we build it, they reason, they will come.  Sound familiar?  Put simply, it is an attempt to increase attendance at their “worship services.” 

At this point let me ask a question that seldom seems asked: what are assemblies for?  No…not what do you WANT them for but what are they REALLY for?  By that I mean what does Scripture say they are for? 

·         Are they for “seekers?”  Can you show me a passage for that?

·         Are they for the entertainment of the members?  Passage?

·         Are they for the excitement of the members?  Passage?

·         Are they for the encouragement of the members?  Bingo!

·         Are they for the edification of the members?  Score!

Our purpose for assemblies and our conduct during them seems to be the focus of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in chapters eleven and fourteen.  He deals with several subjects but his emphasis; especially in chapter fourteen is edification.  Edification has absolutely nothing to do with attracting a crowd and blowing them away with sanctified rock (make no mistake, I like to rock as much as anyone).  To edify is to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge…promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by teaching or by example.  Look it up.  Paul goes so far as to say, “…let all things be done for edification” (I Corinthians 14:26).

So.  How do we instruct and promote each other’s spiritual growth?  One of the most important and effective ways is by singing to one another (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16).  Notice that our singing is for teaching and admonishing one another.  Sorry folks, well-choreographed and orchestrated performances accomplish nothing assembly is designed for.  In truth, they hinder the process.  Inevitably, the volume gets louder and louder.  How can we edify one another if we can’t hear the singing of the one standing next to us?  Read lips? Not likely!

Could this be the reason we are commanded to sing to one another?  Singing with thankfulness is not assisted by a groovy drummer, hot guitarist, deft keyboardist and a soloist who’s been listening to a lot of contemporary Christian radio.  Save all that for a concert.

Are there exceptions?  Of course.  Some of the new contemporary music conveys wonderful spiritual, edifying truths.  Even a cappella churches have adapted and incorporated some of these songs in our assemblies.  In my experience, however, the mechanical instruments overwhelm the potential edification as they play louder and louder.

Here is the crux of the problem as I see it: we have turned our assemblies into something they were never intended to be.  They are times of encouragement and edification.  When this is not accomplished, our assemblies are failures no matter how well choreographed they are.  When we leave behind principles and purposes taught by Scripture; when we replace them with innovations never envisioned by the Spirit; when edification and encouragement are no longer the focus of our assemblies; when synthetic externals take precedence over spiritual internals — we can expect to fail.  In the words of Hosea (8:7), we have sown the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.

Here are a couple of articles that, while I don’t agree with everything they say, help make my point: http://churchformen.com/uncategorized/have-christians-stopped-singing/  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/afewgrownmen/2013/05/why-men-have-stopped-singing-in-church/


Join The Revolution

From a brother in a cross-cultural mission field:

Dear brother,

I have been following your writings for some time now.  However, please be encouraged that we share similar thoughts concerning church leadership, assemblies, buildings, “teachers,” disciples, etc, etc.  Thanks for your writings that serve to stimulate and encourage.  BTW, there are a growing number of disciples who truly thirst and hunger for serving God, not man.

Here in (my mission field), I sometimes feel as though I were Elijah and that there are no others (1 Kgs 19:10).  Please, please pray that I march on in the Spirit of peace, grace and love, while standing firm in the truth that must be re-revealed because it has been veiled by far too many traditions and doctrines of men.  God help me!

Working night and day because far too many have not yet heard about the coming wrath and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dear _________,

Thank you for your kind words regarding my writings.  It is slow work getting our brothers and sisters out of their hindering paradigms.  I regret that I did not make a lot more “noise” about these matters.  I don’t have much time left at 71 but I hope to do what I can to provoke
thinking about these deviations from our mission.  I guess we just have to keep getting on our soapbox even though it may not increase our popularity!

I am really of the opinion that unless we jettison all the peripherals that Jesus said nothing about and get down to the business of simply following Him that we will increasingly be marginalized and ignored as irrelevant.

You are a great encouragement to me and I admire your work that flows from your commitment to our Master.  

Your brother in the Christ,

This site is dedicated to following Jesus Christ and proclaiming him to our world.  It was begun when I was involved in missions in the South Pacific region – hence the name.  There will probably be a name change in the future.  If you are interested in recapturing the mission and purpose of disciples (followers) of Christ, subscribe to this blog and please add your comments to the ongoing discussion.

Preacher Pressure


Foxworthy Preacher
Photo from Randy Boyd via Levi Sisemore

Generally, I love the comedy of Jeff Foxworthy.  This time I am both laughing and crying.  I was a preacher for a long time and I know the pressures of the profession.  When the congregation is not growing/happy/interested/involved/etc., the preacher is the first one blamed and, very often, sent packing.  Maybe a new preacher will be more dynamic/younger/pretty/gregarious/educated/entertaining/etc.  Sorry, Jeff, that’s not really his job.

Most of this pressure is because we have become assembly-oriented.  “Going to church” is the expected and almost exclusive activity of the majority.  Because of this, it had better be well-orchestrated (maybe even have an orchestra).  If “going to church” is not interesting/exciting/ entertaining, then attendees will drift to a more appealing (I almost wrote, “appalling”) venue.  Consequently, all kinds of shenanigans are pulled to draw the crowds away from one congregation to another.

It never seems to cross our minds that our purpose is not to have the biggest congregation, but simply to follow Christ with the strength and wisdom that God provides.  It doesn’t seem to occur to us that assemblies are for edification and encouragement.  If we restore assemblies to their scriptural purpose, we won’t need smoke bombs, rock bands and a new preacher to keep folks coming back.

The light that we are commissioned to bring to all the world has nothing to do with electricity.  It has everything to do with letting the light of Jesus shine through our words, actions and attitudes, bringing glory to God.

Nowhere in the instructions of Jesus and the apostles is there even a hint of having preacher as a position, much less heaping upon him primary responsibility for the state of the congregation and the quality of the “worship service” (a term not found in Scripture).

With church affiliation declining across the denominational spectrum, it is high time to take a fresh look at Scripture.  Are we truly following Christ into the world or leaving him in the uncomfortable streets while we attend another comfortable “worship service” in our well-appointed “church buildings?”

May God forgive me (us) for participating so long in something so foreign to Scripture and deviant to our purpose.


Today I am featuring a blog from my friend Randy Mashburn.  You can check out his blogs at http://themansioninheaven.wordpress.com/

June 14, 2013

Text: “And he said, the kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows: he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

Have you ever planted a vegetable garden? This was not in my ken until we moved to a small town in Oklahoma. We moved there in March and soon everyone was asking us, “Are you going to plant a garden?” So my wife and I took the challenge. With the guidance of an elderly couple we gathered what we needed, prepared the ground, and started the task of planting and tending it. But then one day green beans started to sprout, tomato plants put on little flowers, and black-eyed peas appeared. Soon we began to harvest vegetables and eat, can or freeze them. However, like the man in the parable, try as I may I can not comprehend how putting seed in the ground produces fruit, however, I know it does.

In our text Jesus compares His kingdom to the most basic concept: what makes plants grow? Jesus does not explain how plants grow, but He declared it works. He asserts this in two ways: (1) “the seed sprouts and grows” (2) “the earth produces by itself”. Further, if it works in the material world, it also works in the spiritual world. Jesus gave us some concept of spiritual seed growing. In Luke 8:11 Jesus says, “The seed is the word of God”. Further He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of man.” Matthew 13:37  So this is a process of God and we must trust that it is real. This is the enterprise of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Paul confirms that men play an indispensable part in this spiritual process. He says in I Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” In the verse before he stated that he and Apollos were “servants” declaring the word of God, i.e. seed. To take these thoughts further, the apostle Peter wrote, “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” I Peter 1:23

Here’s the point. Once your become a Christian you become a servant (or slave) of God.  ”But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God…” Romans 6:22 ESV  As above, Paul and Apollos were servants who declared the word of God. As they were sowing seed into the hearts of men, so we must be servants sowing the seed of God. 

So ask yourself this question: “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” I Corinthians 10:14d

You are a sower, so sow the seed into someone’s heart tomorrow and frequently thereafter.

Are We Commissioned to Build Buildings?

I received another note today (on an unnamed social medium) about another building expansion being completed.  It celebrated funds raised to add more brick and mortar to an existing building.  Oh Hurrah!

We act sometimes like the Great Commission said, “Go into all the world and build buildings to worship in.”  What He really said was to make disciples.  Furthermore, even though Jesus had nothing to say about “worship services,” we can worship anywhere…in a park, under a tree, in a rented hall, in a house…anywhere.


I can’t, for the life of me, see the connection between building or expanding buildings and seeking and saving the lost.  May God forgive us for putting untold billions into buildings constructed in the middle of neighborhoods we have no plans for reaching with the saving gospel.