Saturday, January 5, 2019

An Annual Report for Churches

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    It was over thirty years ago.

    Stimp and I were in the sanctuary of Winston-Salem, North Carolina's First Presbyterian Church.

    We had met to go over the liturgy for the first service.

    A florist came in, apologized for being late, and asked where he should put the flowers.

    I turned to Stimp and asked, "Well, Stimp, do you remember what they taught us about that in seminary?"

    Paul Simon: "When I look back on all the crap I learned in..."

    Churches are obsessed with so many superficial, silly to stupid, innocuous, irrelevant, and divinely insulting rubrics, rituals+ceremonies=rites, traditions, and other religious idolatries that nauseated Jesus a la Matthew 15 and 23.

    You'd think that after two thousand years...

    Yeah, churches used to have the luxury to long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.

    No more!

    With the Korean and WWII generations that paid the bills heading off to heaven in increasing numbers every day and so many Baby Boomers identifying less with them and more with succeeding generations who think as much about Jesus and His body the Church as DC, Springfield, public education, media, and other increasingly anti-Christian institutions and idiots, churches are going to have to...

    That's a big part of what Francis Chan is trying to urge in his latest called Letters to the Church.

    Denominational jingoists and idolaters ain't gonna like it.

    I think Jesus does.

    And so I've written an invitation to our church that may be applicable to your church unless, uh, you know, you're still longing for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.

It’s all about Jesus at…

First Presbyterian Church

primarily known as

Our Family of Faith on the Corner of Lincoln and Main

“Where Jesus is Lord and you are invited, welcomed, included, and loved!”

221 North Main Street
Belvidere, Illinois 61008
Office – (815) 544-6402
Prayer Line – (815) 544-3535

RRK, Undershepherd to the Good Shepherd


We are called to build upon the best of the past for a more faithful future.

Jesus is our model and the Bible is our manual.

Of course, all faithful churches share that same prayer and passion.

We want to increase our intimacy with Him to incarnate increasingly His best intentions for the Church.

Francis Chan wrote in Letters to the Church (2018):

           Imagine you find yourself stranded on a deserted island with
          nothing but a copy of the Bible.  You have no experience with
          Christianity whatsoever, and all you know about the Church will come from your reading of the Bible.  

How would you imagine a church to function?  

Seriously.  Close your eyes for two minutes and try to picture “Church” as you would know it.

          Now think about your current church experience.  Is it even close?

          Can you live with that?

Chan’s book is about figuring out the kind of Church that Jesus has in mind.

Cautioning us about people who “are eager to fight” and how there are many challenges to building the Church as Jesus intended, he urges, moretheless, “The clock is ticking…The end is near…There is no time to care about what I want in the Church.  There’s no time to worry about what others are looking for in a church.  I will be facing Him soon, so I have to stay focused on His desires…I’ll be standing face-to-face with God when that timer expires.  This gives me courage to say everything I think He would want me to say.  If I really was going to die, I would care very little about people’s complaints.  I would be obsessed with seeing the face of God and wanting His approval.”

I put it this way in a book back in 2004 that nobody’s read so I won’t mention it: “Remembering you’re going to live a lot longer with Jesus than anybody else makes establishing life’s priorities a no-brainer.”

“I have the same thought now.  If I knew,” Chan confesses, “I was going to die after writing this book, what would I write?  If I didn’t worry about the fallout but sought only to be faithful to God, how would this book read?”

Chan proceeds to write about the Church as he thinks He envisioned it.

Our Visioning Team on the corner of Lincoln and Main will be trying to do that for much of 2019.

We want to say the things that Jesus would say and do the things that Jesus would do where we’ve been planted.

We want to be faithful to Jesus by the book.

In addition to reading Chan’s book together to provoke prayer-filled envisioning, our Visioning Team needs your help.

We want to know what you think God intends for a faithful part of His Church on the corner of Lincoln and Main.

Sooooooo beginning in February, we’re going to have some fireside chats to hear Him through your intimacy with Him.

Groups of up to 7 will meet for about an hour to chat and then pray about His future at First.

A sign-up sheet will be posted in our Gathering Room.

Our deacons will provide caffeine and maybe a cookie or three to refresh us; pero our chats and prayers will be especially invigorating as we join together in the quest of building upon the best of the past for a more faithful future with Jesus as our model and the Bible as our manual.

I will report our inspirations and sometimes indigestions to our Visioning Team that will report to session sometime before the parousia.

Well into the second decade of our life and ministry together, I look forward to these opportunities to envision His best intentions for the next decade and beyond.

Blessings and Love,

B. Kopp


Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!






Joe said...

Will watch with interest

Anonymous said...

Excellent article you just put out there.

And I'm interested in learning more about your plan with these small groups.

I believe the core of the folks at the corner of Lincolnway and Genesee are living more by the bible year by year. The church I came to work for is gone. And though we can define ourself as thriving, pledges are worse than ever and the end is near (5-8 years) if our deficit simply stays as is.

It makes me wonder about what the Council is focusing on right now. Albeit, it's a good start, I'm afraid that any church that hasn't figured out the secret to thriving is by serving Christ, I have to guess they are dead in the water at this point.

So here I am screaming from the middle of the lake in our 'thriving' boat with a hole in it, "We're really trying, Lord. What else can we do? We want to keep serving you as this family/part of your body! Help!"

Our session will be making our future a top priority this year, but won't be letting what we are doing for Christ slip in the meantime.

U available for a short chat via phone this next week? If so, let me know when is good for you.

Grace and Peace

Dan said...

Brilliant design. You provided a kingdom context to focus their thinking. You challenged them to break the old paradigm. You gave them a vehicle to share insights

I hope the chats are facilitated by a non-pastor to ensure common questions are addressed. Non-pastor removes hesitancy to speak honestly

Tape the groups to capture actual wording nuances. Get a broad participation so anyone who wants to be heard has the chance

Mark said...

Churches are obsessed with so many superficial, silly to stupid, innocuous, irrelevant, and divinely insulting rubrics, rituals+ceremonies=rites, traditions, and other religious idolatries that nauseated Jesus a la Matthew 15 and 23.

That is being sacramentalized but not evangelized. The whole problem with the Roman Church however it also seems strong in our denomination as well. Traditions of men.

John McArthur had a great diagnosis of this in his Explaining the Heresy of the Catholic Mass, Part 2 - Grace to You

People replace sound preaching of the Word and the Transformation of lives with traditions.