Tag Archives: evangelism

Olive Grove Church

I have pastored Nuevo Community Church for the past 21 years.  This year we are changing the name of the church to “Olive Grove Church.”  The reason we are changing our name is not simply to be trendy but we feel the need to start a new chapter in the life of the church based on the following philosophy of ministry.  I decided to put this on the blog for those of you who are presently a part of NCC to highlight our direction and give a foundation statement for the name change.  For those of you not a part of NCC I would love to hear your thoughts.  

In order to carry out our mission and purpose,

“Nuevo Community Church exists to glorify God by equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.  The result is that every man, woman and child has the opportunity to hear and understand the Gospel and accept or reject Jesus as their personal Savior”

the following proposal and philosophy of ministry is presented for discussion, emendation, approval, and implementation.

The Scriptures often use the picture of trees, fields, harvest and fruit as the metaphor for both growth and community.  The following is a short list:

  • Psalm 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
  • Jeremiah 17:8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
  • Isaiah 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.’
  • John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
  • Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This picture of organic growth is an important one for the purposes of the church. Can we make a jump from the metaphor to structure in the church without violating the sense of the text? An affirmative answer reveals an attractive model for personal and corporate growth and reproduction in the church context.

The Believer as a Tree and the Church as a Stream

The Bible often mixes its metaphors. I will take some liberties with this practice to try and paint a picture of church importance and structure.

The godly man is pictured as a tree growing by streams of water. The result is that the tree is strong and fruitful. Water in the Scriptures often signifies the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The believers proximity to the Spirit is the source of sustenance, strength and growth. The Holy Spirit’s main focus of ministry is not purely individualized, rather it is concentrated in the body of Christ, the church.

So the logical jump is the godly man grows when he is attached to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in His church. We believe this to be true and so our other ministry purpose statements reflect this:

“Nuevo Community Church exists to glorify God by equipping the saints for the spiritual service of worship. The result is that every man woman and child who is part of the church in Nuevo will be: Transformed by the renewing their mind; Fulfilling their purpose as a chosen vessel; Called to the praise of the glory of His grace; Cultivating a lifestyle and attitude that are filled with thankfulness.”

and

“Nuevo Community Church exists to glorify God by equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. Every man, woman and child who is part of the church in Nuevo will be conformed to the image of Christ and to: Attain to the unity of the faith and Arrive at maturity in Christ by growing in the knowledge of the Son of God.”

The method by which God has designed Christian growth is for the believer to be in active fellowship with His Spirit and His Body, the church.

The Church as a Tree and Stream

As we broaden our focus outward to the ministry and growth of the church, we have a choice. To continue with the model or to introduce a new one.

This is the discussion that the Elders of NCC have needed to have in light of the purchase of land and the possibility of growth: How will our growth be managed? What will it look like?

The typical growth model these days is to just get bigger in one location. Big churches are seen as healthy churches. So we have a Saddleback, Harvest, Revival, etc. Buying a large piece of property may have communicated to some that our growth model would be this particular one. But from the beginning I have tried to discourage that model. We spoke about a campus that housed ministry as opposed to simply being a large meeting place.

“According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 94% of all existing churches have less than 500 attendees, and two-thirds of these have less than one hundred.  Churches of more than two thousand attendees represent less than one half of one percent of all churches in America.”# This reality speaks to our own view of the future and seeing the value of the smaller church model as more reproducible, more likely to produce discipleship context and community, more likely to encourage initiative-style evangelism.

The philosophy proposed here is that church size and location should have primary geographic Great Commission responsibilities. The primary outreach focus of the local church should be an area within reasonable geographic reach of the main meeting place. In our case: Nuevo-Lakeview-Juniper Flats-Romoland- Perris. An approximate 5 mile radius is the target size.

As far as church size (this is not a dictum and there could be exceptions) it seems that 500-750 people provides a good limitation on the upper end. So the range of people is somewhere in the vicinity of 150-750 for the ideal functioning of a local church.

What is being proposed here is first the adoption of the mission of the local body at NCC to take primary responsibility for the gospel ministry in Nuevo. Second, the embracing the planting of churches to form a “grove” of churches. Our growth and focus is never limited in the Bible to simply our immediate neighborhood; Jerusalem formed a center that led to the uttermost parts of the earth. And so we desire to be global in focus. But we also want to reach our Judea and Samaria. In fact, the vision encompasses a network of Olive Grove Church sites throughout the 215/60/15 corridor and triangle. These Churches that would take primary responsibility for their 5 mile radius.

Our perennial problem is implementation. I am proposing that we spend a good percentage of our energy as a church and board to putting feet to this proposal.

What’s next? The who, what, where, and why questions need to be augmented by the how and when.

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Steve’s Five Points

Steve’s Five Points
(originally Wally’s 5 points, but nobody* knows Wally)

The following 5 points are the essential characteristics of healthy church life.

  1. Exegetical Preaching. The preaching of the church must be based upon God’s Word and the purpose of preaching is to explain a particular text of Scripture  – 2 Timothy 4:2
  2. Genuine Expression of Worship. The church must display genuine worship which points people toward the Creator   –  John 4:21-24.
  3. Emphasis on helping people to share their faith. Personal evangelism must be a high priority for the local church  -Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:28; 1 Peter 2:9.
  4. Servanthood. the church must accept all people and truly care for them. An attitude of putting others first and serving Jesus Christ is emphasized  – Philippians 2:1-11.
  5. Love people rather than use them. We want everyone to reach their full potential in Christ and we want to avoid using people to reach our own ends – John 15:12-17.

*”nobody” meaning nobody in Nuevo where I currently pastor.  No disrespect to Wally Norling (May 4, 1925–April 26, 2010) who was the District Superintendent of the Southwestern District of the Evangelical Free Church from 1966 to 1992.  He was responsible for planting over 35 churches during that time and these are “his” five points as communicated to me when I served in the Evangelical Free Church from 1985-1991.

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Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

Penn Jillette has a lot to say about religion, he is an atheist, but here is a provocative video where he tells of someone who gave him a Bible. He says some interesting things that Christians should remember when talking to unbelievers:

  • He was complimentary
  • He said nice stuff
  • He gave me…
  • He looked me in the eye
  • He made it personal (Penn says: “He said I wrote in the front of it, wanted you to have it)
  • He was not defensive
  • He was truly complimentary, kind, nice, sane, looked me in the eye
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Here are some other things he said about the encounter and evangelism (proselytizing):

  • It was really wonderful
  • I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize
  • How much do you have to hate people to not proselytize, if you really believe heaven and hell is at stake?
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Not all atheists and unbelievers are interested in being evangelized, but everyone is interested when you care about them. Evangelism must be driven by unadulterated love for the person you are speaking to. It is not a debate or an argument, it is an expression of care and concern.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2054134&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

more about “Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible“, posted with vodpod

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More Signage Evangelism, and Just Stupid Signage

More Signage Evangelism in our small town.  These handmade signs pop up on a regular basis and they always have a “compelling” message.  I love this sign.  It is soooo appropriate.  We should be afraid of the verichip in the same way we were afraid of bar codes in the 70’s and 80’s.  Look at the power the anti-Christ has with bar codes.  Sheesh.

Now that the bar code has been with us for some time, the shift is on.  It is not bar codes per se, but now it is bar codes in conjunction with implantable chips  (read about this pablum here).  This is the equivalent of Christian grafitti, it is a blight on the environment and most municipalities don’t allow this sort of signage.  Since I live in the “county” there are less controls.  nonetheless, the foil border is a nice touch of class.

The VeriChip is the new “projected” tool of the anti-Christ, his means of controlling what we buy and sell.  In essence, what left-behinders have done in the last few decades has been to brand any sort of technological achievement as a sign of the end times.  As things become better, they call them worse.

News flash to all who oppose technology: Evil people in positions of power have used whatever means available to them to control and abuse their subjects.  We have nothing to fear from technology, only the people who may misuse it.  Hence, the VeriChip is a  potentially helpful and therefore beneficial or potentially misusable and therefore harmful piece of technology.  So was fire.  Fire is used to warm us, cook, heat our water, and fire was used to burn Christians.  I oppose fire.

Staying with the same theme of stupid signs;  who is it that needs this sign?  Notice the step by step instructions!  The sign also implies that washing is optional for non-employees.  Some of you probably take it that way.  What particular educational system failed to tell us how to properly wash our hands?  This photo was taken at the Starbucks in Granada Hills, but I think it is in all Starbucks.  Is there not a hand washing section for Starbucks employees in their employee handbook?  Do they not cover it in orientation?  Are they hiring kindergartners???  And for all you slobs out there who forgot the basics of personal hygene, the foundation of a civilized people is:  WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!

If you are easily offended, stop reading here.

For all you Boston Legal fans, do you remember when Alan Shore first meets Shirley Schmidt?  It is in the men’s restroom at the firm, and Alan extends his hand without washing his hand- a response to her inappropriate intrusion into the men’s room – and says “don’t worry, I have a very clean p$@#s”.  Trust me, you are not that clean.

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Signage Evangelism


This sign has remarkably been up on a “prime” corner in my town for at least two months.  I am not sure I totally understand the message.

We have a sense of urgency:  LAST CALL!

That is a catchy opening.  I am sure that most people reading were given the appropriate sense of urgency that drove them to consider the remaining message.

R U REDY?

Here we have that “hip” texting abbreviation.  Saves space and maybe some printing costs???  Double check that spelling, or another attempt at hip?

Then there is the critical closing:  WHO IS JESUS TO U?

Can anyone tell me the purpose of these kinds of attempts at evangelism?  I just don’t understand.  Even more, I find them offensive.  It is belittling to the gospel to trivialize the method we use  to proclaim the gospel.  Here we have the most critical message of history next to “Yard Sale this weekend”.  This is really a step down from my other favorite gospel medium:  bumper stickers.

So now we attach verses and fish to advertisements in the yellow pages and on telephone poles.  Here the call is to Christians, please, no unbelievers need respond.  Only Christians would be worthy to rent a room, and we wouldn’t want our evangelism to extend beyond signage.  Living with unbelievers is a threat to our holiness, so please don’t apply – just read our signs.

All of this was made famous by a guy named Rollen Stewart who used to hold up signs that simply read John 3:16 at sporting events while dressed like a clown with multi-colored hair.

This is not evangelism.  This is self-serving self promotion.  You know people like this, they just want to be on stage and would use anything to achieve that place, even the pretense of preaching the gospel.

When we do this we place the message of the cross next to “Go Chargers”, equating our allegiance to Christ with an allegiance to a sports team.  Could there be any quicker way to trivialize the gospel?

This methodology has also crept into our churches who are turning to gimmicks to draw crowds and subsequently to entertain the crowds once they are attracted.

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