Praying in Unity

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“After Peter and John had been set free they went to their fellowship and told them what the chief priests and the Jewish elders had said to them. All who heard their story were moved, and in one mind prayed together…When they had finished, the place where they were together was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to tell God’s message fearlessly.” Acts 4:23-24, 31 (paraphrase)

Peter and John were arrested by the Jewish religious leaders. God had done a miracle through them in healing a lame man. All the people who saw were amazed and were eager to know how this could happen. Peter and John went on to preach Jesus Christ, who not only has the power to heal but to save. They were arrested for preaching Jesus Christ. Finding no way to keep them or punish them due to the public miracle they let them go.

After hearing the story the people, having one mind, began to pray. They praised God for his works, they prayed the Scriptures, they prayed about their situation, and they prayed for boldness to preach the message of the gospel, and the power to heal with signs and wonders.

We read the books of Acts in one of two ways. Either we read the book of Acts as history seeing all that God had done in the past through the apostles and disciples. We see all that happened as being in the past and “not for today.” The book of Acts is only information about what happened and not a mirror to compare our lives, or our churches, to. As a consequence, many churches remain dead and powerless.

Another way we read the book of Acts is with a longing for God to work like he did before. We sit in our pews and wonder why God is not moving like he did in the book of Acts. Why people aren’t being saved. Why we see no miracles, signs and wonders. Why we remain in disunity, faithless, and powerless. Why are our churches empty. The consequence of being “pew sitters” is the same as reading the book of Acts as history: dead and powerless churches.

Our acts don’t match the acts of the disciples in the book of Acts.
Peyton Jones said, “If we want to witness kingdom expansion like the apostles did, it’s not enough to know what they knew. We need to do what they did.” [1]

From our passage today we see a glimpse of what the disciples of the early Church did: they prayed.

Not just any type of praying, but, praying together in unity. The Scripture says, “they lifted their voices together to God…” (ESV). They prayed with one heart, one focus, and one mission. They wanted the power of God in their church, not for protection, but for power and boldness to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the act, the first act, any church, or group of churches, should take in winning their community to God.

When the Church comes together in unity there is power in our prayer. Jesus promises his presence, especially when we are gathered together in his name. And when we pray as one, we shake the community, and we become bold to speak his message fearlessly.

[1] Peyton Jones, Reaching the Unreached Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art, (Zondrvan, 2017) pg. 23

A Solemn Assembly is Needed…

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Recently, a pastor friend of mine gave me a document called, “A Solemn Assembly is Needed…”. It was a list of conditions, or symptoms, of a local church that when observed, a solemn assembly of repentance and renewal needs to be called.

Inspired by such a list I’ve adapted my own for the local Christian community. These symptoms point to the need for a community-wide solemn assembly. Read this list and see if you can relate to some of this symptoms. I know I do.

A Community Solemn Assembly is Needed…

  • When we find ourselves walking by sight instead of walking by faith
  • When prayer is the last resort instead of the foundation of our community
  • When events for evangelism are preferred over one-on-one evangelism
  • When our passion to build the biggest church overshadows our passion and pursuit of God’s kingdom in the community
  • When the ministry of God in our community does not include the poor, the widows, and the fatherless
  • When there is a greater emphasis on pleasing people, looking good in the community, and having the greatest influence, than pleasing God
  • When we find ourselves being more excited about building our own church than the health of our community
  • When the pastors of our churches do all the evangelism and discipleship in our community while our people spectate from their chairs
  • When we seem to be producing “converts” instead of “disciples” in our community
  • When growing our attendance is more important than the spiritual health of the community, and the spiritual health of other churches
  • When most growth in churches today is transfer growth
  • When there is disunity among the churches or ministries in the community
  • When there is no community vision, and no cooperation to see that vision through
  • When we see the other churches as competition, instead of partners in the kingdom of God
  • When each church exists as an isolated island unto itself, and we work within the community as if we are the only church

Which symptoms resonated with you? What would you add to the list?

Solemn Assembly

Towards the end of last year, I was burdened for the community of Lapeer. Looking at the demographics of our city and county, I discovered that many in the population do not attend church. A staggering 69% of the people marked they had no religious affiliation.

With 88,373 people in our county, that means almost 70,000 people are unreached. 6,000 unreached souls live within the Lapeer city limits alone. The harvest is huge; the harvest is white. We need to pray and get to work.

So, I met with local pastors and leaders to discuss how we can work together in order to reach the lost in our communities. We felt the need to call an assembly, a solemn assembly. One in which the churches and the people would come together for prayer, for repentance, and for consecration. Just as our Lord has said, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

We will pray for God to send laborers. We will pray that He will prepare the hearts and minds of the lost to receive His gospel. We will repent of our inaction in evangelism. We will consecrate ourselves to being fishers of men as the Lord has called us to be.

There will be worship, prayer, and scripture reading throughout the service, all relating towards evangelism.

We are inviting every Christian in Lapeer County to this solemn assembly. It will take place on Sunday evening, March 11 at 6:30 pm. Hillside Discipleship Church has graciously offered their building for this assembly.

HILLSIDE Discipleship Church
4025 North Lapeer Rd.
Lapeer, Michigan 48446

You can find the Facebook event page by going here:

You can download a flyer to print for your church here: Flyer

Stronger Together

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“Two are better than one…though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12)

It is no secret to Christians that we have an enemy. Paul exhorts us that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Satan and his minions are out to steal, kill, and destroy the kingdom of God, and all who are called by His name. And Satan would love nothing more than to divide us.

Our Lord says, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” But our history shows we have been a kingdom divided. And one does not need to be a student of history to know we are divided. You only have to look at local churches. Each is exclusively building their own kingdoms. Some even at the expense of other churches in the form of transfer growth. Others function as if they are the only church in town. In other areas, hostility towards one another over doctrines, liturgies, or practices is prevalent. This division only weakens us; incapacitates our mission, witness, and resolve.

Imagine what we could do together. How strong would our communities be if we did come together?

First, our mission could be fulfilled more efficiently. We would reach and affect more people in our communities.

Second, our witness would be illuminated. Our Lord says our discipleship is shown to the world when we love each other.

Thirdly, our resolve will grow. When we are together, we build our confidence. We encourage one another with our works in the community. We become a stabilizing force in our world.

Churches that partner together are stronger together.

Rejoicing & Mourning

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“Two are better than one… if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?” Ecclesiastes 4:9,11

In the last post, I said that troubles would come; it is part of life. If we go about life alone, we are sure never to find comfort when comfort is needed. If we go about life alone, we are certain never to find someone to rejoice with.

As humans, we find comfort when we are within relationships. We create family units: father, mother, and children. We create work units: boss, worker, co-worker, etc. We build spiritual units: elders, mentors, disciples, etc. All of these units highlights our inner need for relationships. This is why God Himself said concerning Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God wanted us to form communal ties.

God wants us to be relational so that we can be there for each other. Paul says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” We are to love one another inasmuch we feel the joy that they feel, identify with their sorrow, and also rejoice and mourn with them. This is how God wants the saints to be towards one another. This is the way God wants the churches to relate with one another.

Do you know the people in other churches around you? Do you pray for one another’s needs? Do you know when a saint passes away? Do you know when babies are born, couples are married, or a saint beats cancer?
Do you rejoice when another local church grows? Do you mourn when another closes its doors?

As Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus calls Him the Comforter, the One who comes to help you. This same Spirit resides in us. Would not this same Spirit move us to go alongside our fellow churches in holy relationships to comfort, support, and strive side by side for the gospel?

Churches that partner together are able to rejoice with each other in blessings and mourn with one another in losses.

Helping Each Other

“Two are better than one…For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Times of trouble will come. Our Lord says, “In the world, you will have many troubles” (John 16:33). Troubles are unavoidable, and many churches find themselves in it due to low attendance, city ordinances, dissension, building problems, lack of leadership, etc.

A church may have low attendance and are barely making the bills. What will such a church do if one of their own needs help?

A church may experience a fire incident that destroys their building. Where will they hold their services now? Can they rent AND pay their mortgage?

A church has a pastor, who left unexpectedly and accumulated several unpaid bills. Who would they seek assistance from to help them get back on their feet?

A new city ordinance has put pressure on a local church to bring their old building up to code, but they don’t have the finances to comply. How can they stay open if they can’t comply?

Some churches are part of a network of denominations that can help in these situations. But even if the church is part of a network, they still might not have the help needed. Many denominations now are struggling to keep other churches open and might not be able to assist during times of crisis. Also, these networks and denominations sometimes encourage a monochurch culture, seeing their assembly as the only viable and worthwhile church in a given city or area.

In each of the scenarios above, local churches can come to the aid of other local churches in order to keep the kingdom advancing. I am certain you are thinking of ways to help these churches now!

By keeping as many churches as possible open and viable, including ministering to the community, will help the locale in ways unseen by most. By allowing a church to fall, you may be closing the only soup kitchen in the area. Another may be the one ministering to and praying for schools. Others may specialize in helping single mothers get back on their feet. If these churches fall, will the other churches be able to pick up where they left off? Probably not. The community would be hugely affected.

Churches can help each other and their communities more efficiently when partnering together.



See The Kingdom Advance Further

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“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Here begins a four-part series inspired by John Maxwell’s “Partnership Principles” he highlights in his book, The Power of Partnership in the Church. His focus was on individuals. My attention will be on churches partnering together; that is, to-be co-churches in their communities.

Two are better than one. We see this in the Scriptures played out over and over again:

God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. So He created Eve.

God sent Aaron to Moses to be his right-hand man.

David had Jonathan as a close friend.

Elijah had Elisha washing his hands.

Jesus sent out His disciples two-by-two.

There are many reasons one could guess why God partnered people together. Several are given in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Verse 9 speaks of a greater reward for work. Another translation says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (NLT). When two people come together, they can do twice the work and get the job done faster, or get more return for the extra work. Also, they can strive towards the same goal and help each other succeed in that goal.

Could churches not work the same way?

If two churches come together, their work is multiplied on a huge scale. They can get more done than if they were doing it alone. The one goal every church should have is the kingdom’s advancement. If the goal is the same, why work to build the kingdom only in your own church? Why not work to build the kingdom in both churches? Outreaches and evangelism are great avenues in which churches can partner together.

For example, think about a backpack giveaway to children before school. One church may be able to buy and fill ten backpacks. Another may be able to fill fifty, but the first church wants to be exclusive in their outreach. They will miss an opportunity to not only serve more people in their community but also show the love of Christ in a new way in unity. Isn’t this how Jesus said we would show that we are His disciples: when we love each other? By partnering together, you’ll have a more significant impact in your community—both in the physical and spiritual.

Churches that partner together will see the kingdom advanced further than going alone.

Seek Kingdom

Opera stars were a thing, believe it or not. John Maxwell told this story:

In recent years, opera superstars Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti have enjoyed singing together. They’ve done it frequently, but prior to their first performance the three world-class tenors had never sung together on one stage.
The November 1994 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported that prior to their performance in Los Angeles, a journalist tried to press the issue of competitiveness between the three men. But they quickly disarmed him. “You have to put all of your concentration into opening your heart to the music,” Domingo said. “You can’t be rivals when you’re together making music.”

What a powerful statement. What Domingo said was essentially, we are too busy working on music, the language of the music, the movement of the music, the beauty of the music, that they could not be rivals if they were to perform the best that music can be. Together, they can bring out the best music the world has seen.

Imagine what the Church could do if it had the same mentality. Imagine, if every church was so busy seeking the kingdom of God, living the kingdom of God, and building the kingdom of God, so much that rivalries are not even thought of. If all the churches were truly working for the kingdom of God, there would be no rivalries amongst local churches.

But alas, we are still fallen creatures. We still have pride issues, envy issues. We need to remember the work of Christ in our hearts to weed out these fruit of the flesh and to grow in our spirit fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is a daily sacrifice to live for Christ. It is a daily sacrifice to live in unity in Christ.

Let’s seek out the kingdom of God with such fervency that the lines that divide us blur with our love towards one another.

Pentecostal, Baptists, Independent…We All Need Each Other

A good article from Together for the Gospel called, “Why Charismatics and Calvinists Need Each Other,” speaks of the possible unity between missional oriented Charismatics and theological depth of the Calvinists.

He begins by describing why we are so separated.

This separation has never been more apparent than the present. It’s cause for concern when Pentecostals/charismatics get together in their conferences, read their books, remain in their churches, and never get out of their sandbox… Just as concerning as it is when charismatics stay in their own sandbox, so it is with us Calvinists.

Too often we look at other traditions and believe they are “wrong”, therefore, we cannot work together, worship together, or even converse with each other. We would prefer to die upon our hill of doctrine than to understand the other tradition and see where we have similarities. When we discard whole traditions for past disagreements we can fall into error in our own understanding of the gospel.

As one of my mentors put it, “Charismatics love the fire of God’s power, but sometimes we burn things down with it.” …we Calvinists construct a beautiful fireplace, but sometimes we struggle to get the fire going.

The author is saying that both traditions can learn from each other. We both can strengthen each other’s weakness. Imagine what would happen if we did come together for the gospel?

I am thankful I am seeing more people in the Reformed camp calling themselves Reformed Charismatics.

The goal of this post is not to convince you to be Reformed or Charismatic. The goal is to show you that our traditions should not keep us from coming together as one body of Christ. We need each other! What if the different traditions represent the different body parts of the body of Christ?

Can the eye say to the hand, “I have no need of you”? Or the head to the feet say, “I have no need of you”? Can the Charismatic say to the Reformed, “I have no need of you”? Can the Reformed say to the Charismatic, “I have no need of you”?

“You keep using that word…”

In studying the topic of partnership and working together I found myself writing different phrases that mean the same thing:

Churches that partner together.

Churches that work together.

Partnering churches.

Churches who work alone.

To simplify my writing and note taking I am creating new words: multichurch, monochurch, and cochurch.

These aren’t the only ones I am sure to create in my lifetime. I don’t expect much publicity, or recognition pertaining to these words. Most people don’t remember who coined what word. Who coined the word megachurch?

If there is a megachurch, is there such a thing as a microchurch? Or are there only churches and megachurches? Anyways…

Let me define these terms and how I am going to use them.

Multichurch: an association of churches in an area partnered towards a goal or set of goals. This is different than a denomination in that several traditions will be in the same multichurch. Also, I did not want to use the word “ecumenical” because it tends toward a larger body, a global body. My focus will be more localized within a city, town, or area. I will also make use of “multichurch culture” to describe the paradigm I am promoting: a culture where local churches work together for evangelism and outreach.

Monochurch – a church that does not work with other churches, and may even work against other churches. These churches are sceptical of other traditions. Some may even see these churches as heretical. Monochurch culture refers the current culture within the Church today.

Cochurch – an individual church that exists within a multichurch (much like the word coworker). The church is partnered with another church or group of churches. I may not use this word as much as the others.

Tell me what you think? Do you think these words are adequate? Do you think they’ll catch on?