Archive for May, 2015

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – The World’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation – God’s View

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The title of this blog post might come as a bit of a surprise in light of my position as a vocational pastor and leader of a local church. Let me start by commending what I believe to be the intent of the bill, which is to protect the church, an essential pillar of society, from harm or harassment from an increasingly antagonistic government.  Anything we can do to protect the “conscience of the state” is praiseworthy.  On that front the bill is excellent.  We need to ensure that the government cannot force a pastor, clergy member, or church to perform any act that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. My problem is not with the bill’s intent but rather with its implications.

While it is essential that we protect the rights of pastors and churches for our country to prosper as God intended, it not okay to perpetuate an unhealthy understanding of the role of every believer in the church.  Intentionally or not, this bill will do that by implying a false distinction between church staff and church members.  As the bill is currently written (see bottom of post) it will continue to reinforce a perspective that is too often and too widely held by too many church attenders.

The “Priesthood” of The Believer

Regarding the Church, SB 2065, in its current state, is inconsistent with Scripture’s teaching regarding the identity of priests and pastors.  The Bible makes no distinction between salaried saints and faithful laymen. The Scriptures teach the “priesthood” of the believer (1 Peter 2:9-10); SB 2065 does not. Any law that would give vocational clergy and the institutional church protection, but deny those same protections to individuals, is intentionally (even if unwittingly) redefining the biblical mandate for all believers to “walk worthy of the calling to which they have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

If there is a distinction in the roles of leadership and laymen taught in God’s Word, it can be found in Ephesians 4:11-16. Here we see that it is the role of leadership to equip the saints for the work of service, which is to say, it is the job of every member of the church to remind, reprove, correct, care for the people and speak truth in the land.  The idea that a pastoral staff alone is to be given responsibilities,  protection and rights was never God’s intention. The Church (which is a people, not a 501C3), is defined in Scripture as a people called by God out of darkness into His marvelous light to proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).  Faithfully proclaiming God’s word and faithfully performing God’s will are responsibilities given to every Christ follower, not just those on a church staff.

The First Amendment Already Protects All “Pastors.”

While SB 2065 is written in such a way that it will give me, as a vocational leader, fortified protections, in its silence it withholds it from others who deserve the same protections.  The fact that this bill even needs to be proposed, when our Constitution already gives and protects the rights of all believers to be able to live out their faith unhindered by government, is the first part of the problem; the second is that current language of the bill far too narrowly defines, and thus reduces, the number of individuals called by God to speak His word.  The First Amendment clearly grants the rights of all citizens to courageously live their faith in our country in the Establishment Clause, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Any bill that continues the common error of confusing the distinction of clergy and laity, is not helpful to society or the Church itself.

Centuries ago, Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Retracting our society’s understanding of what defines the “good men” who are legally protected in their right to speak good won’t help. The last thing we need is to pass a law that could potentially limit the rights of the true Church by claiming that only those ordained by men have the right to do what has been ordained by God for all His men to do.

There are three divine institutions established in God’s Word: the Family, the Church, and Government.   Any damage done to any of these will directly result in damage done to the land.

1. FAMILY:  Whose job is to educate the next generation.

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

2. CHURCH: Whose job it is to remind, reprove, correct and care for people.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1–5

1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.5 ‘He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.

Ezekiel 33:1–7

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

3. GOVERNMENT: Whose job it is to prosecute evil and protect those who do right.

1 Peter 2:13–14

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Romans 13:1-7

Our government is already looking to constitutionally redefine the family.  Our government is already operating outside of its biblical mandate to prosecute evil and praise those who do right.  Let’s not help the government by limiting the definition of the true church or by limiting the number of people who already constitutionally have protection.

Join Me In Ministering To Others!

Since starting Watermark 16 years ago, I have consistently said, “Just as there was a reformation in the 16th century, which got the word of God out of the hands of clergy and into the hands of the entire Church, there needs to be another reformation today that gets the work of God out of the hands of the clergy and into the hands of the laity.”  Whatever your view on SB 2065 may be, join me in being a minister of the Gospel in our land and a beacon or truth and hope to all. No matter your title, the tidal wave of compromise is here and the time to remind, reprove, correct and care for our land and its citizens is now.  All of us need to play our prophetic role.  Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is God’s encouragement to us all.

Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:13–16

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Colossians 4:2–6

Below you will find a copy of the Pastor Protection Bill (SB2065)

By:  Estes                                            S.B. No. 2065

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT

relating to the rights of certain religious organizations and individuals relating to a marriage that violates a sincerely held religious belief.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION 1.  Chapter 2, Family Code, is amended by adding Subchapter G to read as follows:

SUBCHAPTER G.  FREEDOM OF RELIGION WITH RESPECT TO RECOGNIZING OR PERFORMING CERTAIN MARRIAGES

Sec. 2.601.  RIGHTS OF CERTAIN RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.  A religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage, provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.

Sec. 2.602.  DISCRIMINATION AGAINST RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION PROHIBITED.  A refusal to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges under Section 2.601 is not the basis for a civil or criminal cause of action or any other action by this state or a political subdivision of this state to penalize or withhold benefits or privileges, including tax exemptions or governmental contracts, grants, or licenses, from any protected organization or individual.

SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

Todd is the Senior Pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX, which he and handful of friends established just over a decade ago to reach the unchurched and de-churched, and to encourage, challenge and spur on the dead-churched and unmoved so they can enjoy the fullness of living as radical servants and leaders in Christ’s Kingdom.

Though he enjoys teaching both at Watermark and at conferences and camps around the country, his favorite past-times are laughing with his family and coaching his kids and their friends in any and all sports throughout the year.

bad-bank-robbery

During a robbery in Guangzhou, China, the bank robber shouted to everyone in the bank: “Don’t move. The money belongs to the State. Your life belongs to you.”

Everyone in the bank laid down quietly. This is called “Mind Changing Concept” Changing the conventional way of thinking.

When a lady lay on the table provocatively, the robber shouted at her: “Please be civilized! This is a robbery and not a rape!”

This is called “Being Professional” Focus only on what you are trained to do!

When the bank robbers returned home, the younger robber (MBA-trained) told the older robber (who has only completed Year 6 in primary school): “Big brother, let’s count how much we got.”

The older robber rebutted and said: “You are very stupid. There is so much money it will take us a long time to count. Tonight, the TV news will tell us how much we robbed from the bank!”

This is called “Experience.” Nowadays, experience is more important than paper qualifications!

After the robbers had left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the police quickly. But the supervisor said to him: “Wait! Let us take out $10 million from the bank for ourselves and add it to the $70 million that we have previously embezzled from the bank”.

This is called “Swim with the tide.” Converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage!

The supervisor says: “It will be good if there is a robbery every month.”

This is called “Killing Boredom.” Personal Happiness is more important than your job.

The next day, the TV news reported that $100 million was taken from the bank. The robbers counted and counted and counted, but they could only count $20 million. The robbers were very angry and complained: “We risked our lives and only took $20 million. The bank manager took $80 million with a snap of his fingers. It looks like it is better to be educated than to be a thief!”

This is called “Knowledge is worth as much as gold!”

The bank manager was smiling and happy because his losses in the share market are now covered by this robbery.

This is called “Seizing the opportunity.” Daring to take risks!

So who are the real robbers here?

Is it ok for a Christian to have a concealed handgun license? In this quick video Pastor Todd Wagner of the Watermark Church explains…

Watch and be informed.

Click here to watch

osama Bin Laden Library

The Obama administration on Wednesday declassified nearly 80 documents and other materials, including books and press clippings, seized from Bin Laden’s compound during the raid by Navy Seal members in May 2011 which resulted in the death of the world no 1 most wanted.

The materials showed that Bin Laden spent a lot of time reading. The books showed that Osama read a wide range of books from sober works of history and current affairs to wild conspiracy theories spun by anti-Semites.

He also studied his enemy the United States by reading the “9/11 Commission Report” as well as other reports on Al Qaeda by the Congressional Research Service.

The list of English-language books – which were all digital copies rather than printed editions – reads like a university reading list, largely made up of serious texts on international relations, politics and law.

So if you are looking for a reading list this summer, here is help.

The full list of English language books:

  • The 2030 Spike by Colin Mason
  • A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by IA Ibrahim
  • America’s Strategic Blunders by Willard Matthias
  • America’s “War on Terrorism” by Michel Chossudovsky
  • Al-Qaeda’s Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007 by Hanna Rogan
  • The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
  • The Best Enemy Money Can Buy by Anthony Sutton
  • Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris
  • Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier
  • Bounding the Global War on Terror by Jeffrey Record
  • Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions by Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson
  • Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 A.D. by CR Haines
  • Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard
  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
  • Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 by John Coleman
  • Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert
  • Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (only the book’s introduction) by C Christine Fair and Peter Chalk
  • Guerrilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerrilla Forces by James Crabtree
  • Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust
  • Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
  • Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer
  • In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure by Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam Ud-Deen and Naahah Ibrahim
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum
  • Military Intelligence Blunders by John Hughes-Wilson
  • Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification. Joint hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, August 3, 1977. United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky
  • New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin
  • New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper
  • Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward
  • Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum
  • The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (1928)
  • Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins
  • The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague
  • Unfinished Business, U.S. Overseas Military Presence in the 21st Century by Michael O’Hanlon
  • The U.S. and Vietnam 1787-1941 by Robert Hopkins Miller
  • Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11, article posted on ICV2.com (this file contained only a single saved web page)

The documents ‘probably used by other compound residents’ includes

  • Art Education: The Journal of National Art Education Association, “Islamic Art as an Educational Tool about the Teaching of Islam” by Fayeq S Oweiss (March 2002)
  • Arabic Calligraphy Workshop by Fayeq S Oweiss
  • Published Work Sample from Fayeq S Oweiss (2004)
  • Resume for Fayeq S. Oweiss, PhD (2006)
  • Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide
  • Game Spot Videogame Guide
  • Grappler’s Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry
  • Guinness Book of World Records Children’s Edition 2008 (scans of several pages from)
  • Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny (suicide prevention guide)
  • Silkscreening Instructions
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (CNA) talked about several things in her Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture, which closed the PEN World Voices festival in New York Sunday night.

She had sharp words for everyone and here I capture the poignant points.

• CNA declared that America had its own censorship. “There is a general tendency in the United States to define problems of censorship as essentially foreign problems,” Adichie said. She pointed out that Americans like to be “comfortable”. And she worried that the comfort has brought “dangerous silencing” into American public conversation. “The fear of causing offence, the fear of ruffling the careful layers of comfort, becomes a fetish,” Adichie said. As such, the goal of many public conversations in the United States “is not truth … [it] is comfort.”

• Without mentioning the personal ordeal surrounding the kidnapping and release of her father, she characterized Nigerian’s life as one where they expect “pain.”

• CNA identified social media as a contemporary “tool of silencing”. That the focus of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, which was centered on the abducted girls in Chibok was censorship forcing Boko Haram to look just like the Taliban. “It is censorship to force a story to fit into something that already pre-exists.” She pointed out that Boko Haram were not targeting girls only, but opposed western education for both boys and girls.

• CNA said that breaking silence is not always easy. “To choose to write is to reject silence,” Adichie went on to say, “I have often been told that I cannot speak on certain issues because I am young, and female, or, to use the disparaging Nigerian speak, because I am a ‘small girl’ … I have also been told that I should not speak because I am a fiction writer … But I am as much a citizen as I am a writer,” she said. It was as a citizen and writer that she spoke out against the recent criminalisation of homosexuality in her home country, a law that not only put the safety of many innocent civilians at risk, but also many of her friends.

• CNA concluded with an anecdote about her own teaching of a workshop in Lagos. A student complained that a story was not “teaching us anything”. At first Adichie dismissed him, but later she thought she had engaged in an “overprivileging of literature”. His question, “Does literature matter?” was an important one to her. “I would not want to live if I were not able to have the consolation that stories give me,” she concluded, “and for this reason I will stand and I will speak for the right of everyone, everyone, to tell his or her story.”

floyd-mayweather_jpeg

Late last year, radio personality Kelly Mac interviewed outspoken and undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather on 107.3 Jamz. The “best” pound for pound boxer, Floyd “Money” Mayweather confessed that he has a “good heart,” but that he does not feel obligated to give to charities, specifically in Africa.
“[People] say ‘well, he got all this money, why is he not giving to Africa?’” starts Mayweather. “Well, what has Africa given to us? What has Africa came and gave to my children and to my family? Things work two ways.” He then discussed the threat that he believes giving too much money to charity can cause. “Everybody’s always talking about giving, giving, giving. That’s the problem. Everybody’s doing so much giving, at the end of the day, they may not have nothing. Then they’ll say ‘why was he giving this to that person, and giving this to that person when he should have been saving?’”

Mayweather goes on to say that he should be able to do whatever he wants with his earnings, such as using it to provide for himself and his family. “I never got involved in the sport of boxing to say ‘I’m going to fight and make hundreds of millions of dollars and just give it all away.’ If I’m gonna mess money off in a bad way, I’m going to spend it on myself. I’m going to do what I want to do with my money. You hear people talking about, ‘well, he should…donate to this or donate to that.’ No, I should donate to Floyd Mayweather, donate to Floyd Mayweather’s family. Because that’s what it’s about.” According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mayweather, 38, is now worth $330 million. Mayweather also has a charity, The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation, in which the foundation declares to help underprivileged youth in Las Vegas, Nevada. Recently, Mayweather has been in the news for reportedly spending $50,000 for rapper Nicki Minaj to appear at his daughter’s birthday party.
Watch the Video here and Tell me what you think

Click to Watch

Do you know any ORPHAN (Who lost both parents) who has completed secondary school and desires to study in the university? Tell them to apply for a SCHOLARSHIP @ www.samamagafoundation.org/apply. Deadline: May 29, 2015. For More inquiries call: 08034622690, 08174364192, 09036804381:) Please feel free to share amongst our brothers and sister.

New-Bible-Hi-Res-JPG

Q: Shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 117
Q: Longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 119
Q: Chapter at the centre of the Bible?
A: Psalm 118

#‎FACTS‬:
– There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118.
– There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118.
– Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q: What is the centre verse in the Bible?
A: Psalm 118:8

The next time someone says they would like to find God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the centre of His will, just send them to the centre of His Word!

Psalms 118:8 (NKJV) says
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. “Coincidence?

CONCLUSION – The bible is not a mere history book. It’s a pre-written Program.

RECOMMENDED READ – The Bible Code (Vol 1&2)

Let me start this way, have you ever tried being someone else? or imitating their personal attributes?, I wonder why I even bothered asking, we all are guilty of that at some points and areas in our lives (If not all). The point here is that, inasmuch as the act of imitation may look good or produce desired results, it just could be so wrong. in Fact it could be a Trap, Yes a TRAP and of course there is something called the IMITATION TRAP.

WHAT IS THE IMITATION TRAP?

I noticed the trap in pulpit ministry before I saw it in music ministry. Young preachers imitating older or better known preachers. Cadence, vocal pitch, even attempting to mimic the humor or jokes, and sometimes just outright stealing stories and analogies employed by the preacher they obviously admired.

The same thing is true in music ministries and if you’ve been around long enough you’ve probably seen it yourself. Churches whose Choir play note for note everything exactly like it was off the record. The singer who is obviously trying to be Kim Walker-Smith or the worship leader who is shouting things because he heard Matt Redman do it.

The Imitation Trap is seeing the success of someone else, and assuming that this is the way that you have to do it. To judge your success not on what God has called you to do, but on how others live out their callings. I want to present four reasons that worship leaders or any minister at all, should avoid this trap at all costs, and a positive alternative to imitation that might just be a way forward for you, and your ministry.

1.) THE PRESENT IS ALWAYS THE PAST

I don’t need any more new songs. It’s not that they are bad or that the old songs were better; it’s just that I don’t need them. I could stop hearing new worship songs and still introduce new songs to my church every Sunday for the next 10 years. That is how big my back catalog is, and I would venture to say the same would be true for a lot of churches.

When I became a leader in my Church, their song list was very different than the one from my previous church. I quickly realized that even if I did a new song every Sunday I would never catch us up to the song list I was used to because my old church kept adding new songs, they were always going to be a step ahead of me.

The same principle applies to worship ministry in general. You can try really, really hard to emulate what you see or read about the ministries at churches like Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, Fresh Life, The Village, Saddleback, etc. But by the time you bring your church to that point (assuming it’s even possible), all of those churches that you’re trying to copy have moved forward to the next thing. You will always be a step behind.

The first reason to avoid the Imitation Trap is that it will always leave you a step behind.

2.) THEIR CALLING MAY NOT BE YOUR CALLING

A friend of mine just built a studio at his church; it’s pretty nice. They’ve got the Mac Pro’s running the latest version of Logic and Pro Tools and all the other gear you’d expect to find. They put out an album. Whether it was good or not isn’t for me to say, but I can say that it wasn’t received in the way they had hoped it would be.

Why did they make a record? Did they have a thriving artistic/songwriting community in their church? No. Did they have an audience watching their worship service on YouTube? Was there demand? Was it a natural response to how God was growing their music ministry? The answer to all of these is of course, not really.

So why did they make the record? Because it was what other churches were doing.

There are churches who strive and struggle needlessly because they are trying to be something God has never asked them to be. The small church plant barely 6 months off the ground that’s trying to operate like the large, established church that birthed them. The rural church with a worship leader who acts like you’re in the heart of Lagos, Abuja, New York or even Australia. Then there is the urban church that moves to the suburbs so they can have a large meeting space.

The second reason to avoid the Imitation Trap is because you may be trying to live out a calling that is not yours. God never called you to be like the church down the street or the church in some other town. He’s called you to be you, your church to be itself. A good verse to consider here is John 21:22-23 where Jesus tells Peter that it doesn’t matter what he’s called someone else to do, it only matters what Jesus has called Peter to do.

3.) THEY DON’T LIVE WHERE YOU DO

I believe in contextualization; I believe it because I see it in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, the Apostle writes that he has “become all things to all men that I might win some to Christ Jesus.” He states that “to the Jew I am a Jew, and to the Greek I became a Greek.” I believe that there is a biblical principle for us to follow, that we should minister to our church in a way that makes sense to our cultural context.

A great example of this is a church I know of in the heart of one of Nigeria’s most secular neighbourhood with well-schooled, lively, young-minded and educated church members. They have no cultural context for popular Worship songs in Nigerian languages. This church has folk, indie rock, and even techno/electronic worship. While I enjoy what I’ve heard from the Church Choir, almost none of it would work at my church, and in the same way, the majority of what happens at my church probably wouldn’t go over well there.

The third problem with the Imitation Trap is that you might be imitation something or someone who is specifically geared towards a very specific context that doesn’t apply to you. I’m really glad that the guys in the RCCG Choir (Redeemed Christian Church of God) didn’t try to be Hillsong United. In the same way, I am thankful that Avalanche (Common Wealth of Zion Assembly, COZA Choir) didn’t try to be Deeper Life Choristers. My hope is that you will do what you are called to do, in the context that you are called to do it in, and that everyone else (myself included) will do the same.

4.) THEY CAN’T EVEN IMITATE THEMSELVES

The dirty little secret to all of this is that most of the churches that people try to emulate couldn’t emulate themselves.in America, Mars Hill music was very different before they hired a bunch of outside musicians to lead their bands. Elevation Church and Bethel both hire outside musicians like James Duke, and Stu G to come in and work on their records. All or most of the musicians at the big church who’s stuff you watch on YouTube are probably paid.

Now, I’m not saying that’s wrong or evil. I am also not saying that there isn’t a big church somewhere with homegrown talent, or that any of the churches I’ve mentioned are without homegrown talent, because that’s obviously not the case.

What I am saying is that you may be trying to copy something that can’t be copied. In some ways this goes back to the last point regarding context, in that if Elevation church were the size of your church, or in your churches context, they probably wouldn’t do things the same way as they do know in their context.

The fourth problem with the Imitation Trap is that you’re trying to imitate something that isn’t real. I’m not questioning the genuineness of another church. I’ve met and spent time with folks from some of these well known churches and they are awesome brothers and sisters in Christ who have a passion for him, his church and his glory. But if you’re running and pushing a volunteer music team to operate like paid, professional musicians then you are only hurting yourself.

It reminds me of Acts 15 where Peter asks why people were burdening “believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to make this application: why are we burdening our music ministries with expectations that even these massive churches can’t meet on their own?

INFLUNCE IS DIFFERENT THAN IMITATION

I once told a friend that “I’ll borrow a good idea from anyone.” I’ve seen great ideas from every church I’ve mentioned here, and some even better ideas from churches you’ve never heard of. But it’s always been with the goal of moving towards what God has called me, or my church to do and to be.

I’m thankful for the insight and example that many ministries have. I’ve really appreciated some of the online training via YouTube that I’ve received from brothers like Paul Baloche or Bob Kauflin. James Duke is an incredibly influential guitar voice to me personally, and I always enjoy a Hillsong tune. I am thankful for the influence of all of these and more not mentioned. But I am even more thankful for the freedom in Christ to be who I am, and for my church to be what God has called us to be.

FINAL NOTE

As a final thought, I realize that this is a broad topic and that I’ve spoken in broad terms. I also recognize that I’ve mentioned specific groups and people directly as examples. If I didn’t speak clearly on something or something you read came off as being poorly worded or disagreeable, please email me or leave a comment so we can avoid confusion and miscommunication. Who knows? It’s very possible that I could be wrong on something.