Revelation 3 church of Sardis

Jul 14, 2014
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You have name for accomplishing great things but the reality does not reflect this. You talk a great talk but you aren't finishing anything you start. You are dabbling but not working. You are living in the past and those days are gone along with those ministries...

The end result is that nothing is being accomplished now.

Jesus call is to turn from this error - Be vigilant and conscientious to bring your current work all the way to fruition. Accomplish things.

Put away all the dabbling, inattention, false starts, living in the past, balking, excuses, etc.... All the 10,000,000 things that result in not finishing what you start. The road to hell is paved with good intentions....
 
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Jesus call is an individual call to act outside of the official organization - not a corporate call to the organization.

Jesus is outside looking in.

We should expect to see effective ministry here started, lead, and sustained by individuals without much official church involvement - not officially sponsored corporate ministry sustained through the formal "church organization" .....

If anything - putting the ministry under official church administration brings dithering and ineffectiveness resulting in not accomplishing anything useful.
 
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bobinfaith

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Hello JohnC;

Your thread is an ongoing eye opener and a never ending discipline in our faith walk. Sad, too many times loud trumpets are blown, "we're going to do this and accomplish that" and end up lacking results but overflowing with excuses.
We should always pray for this struggle in the church and life.

Proverbs 18:9, Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.

As believers for the Kingdom we need to seek the diligent for Christ. Zeal breeds zeal, commitment breeds commitment.

God bless you, JohnC.
 
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Thanks for the feedback.

I want to encourage you all in this....

If this rings a bell for you.. You feel frustrated because you are trying to seek permission and opportunity to serve God through your church organization and it's just not working.

See if God will open a door for you to serve Him "outside"... Is there a way you can intentionally serve God through your job and life.

Open the door to participate in God answering prayers through you. Perhaps create a job. Perhaps train up a young man to work. Perhaps help a vendor get paid... Perhaps hire a single mom. Help people get medical care... Help people get paperwork done so they can untangle their lives.. Etc....

Thanks
 
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Jesus call is an individual call to act outside of the official organization - not a corporate call to the organization.

Jesus is outside looking in.

We should expect to see effective ministry here started, lead, and sustained by individuals without much official church involvement - not officially sponsored corporate ministry sustained through the formal "church organization" .....

If anything - putting the ministry under official church administration brings dithering and ineffectiveness resulting in not accomplishing anything useful.
Your description of the failure of the post modern church is a good one.

Following WWII, churches experienced an influx of donations that matched the prosperity of the time. Since then, both donations and popularity of church membership has declined. Every poll you can reference echoes this trend. Most use 1950 as a benchmark year. In 2010, several polls revealed that regular church attendance had fallen between 40% and 60% since 1950 (depending upon which poll you consulted). Given the current trend, statisticians predict that by 2050 attendance will be only about 10% of 1950 levels. Because donations have fallen, most churches in America are now deeply excessively in debt. There are almost NO churches at all that are not in hock for millions each.

Why has attendance fallen?

There are several reasons. One reason is the tendency to use electronic and digital media to present the gospel instead of personal effort. The gospel is not preached in great stadiums any more. Lazy leaders take the money they're given and put it into digital media - where it languishes and dies. Nobody tracks clicks on church web sites and even if they do there is no way to effectively measure personal decisions. One reason is the tendency to dilute the gospel in favor of messages that sell religious membership; the prosperity gospel, personal improvement gospel, happy talk and the elaborate Vegas style dogs and pony show on Sunday morning. One reason is that Christianity has changed from a religion to a lucrative god business. Church congregations are literally referred to as regional franchises, like McDonalds' or Starbucks. Missionary groups do NOT participate in humanitarian projects, especially emergency ones, until and unless resources both monetary and medical are purchased and shipped - even when these resources are already available to them in their warehouses.

The bottom line is that in 2017 churches have either corrupted themselves and the gospel so as to seek monetary advantages, or that they have been negligent in their spiritual duties. I am aware of too many sincere honest and devout churches who have been either incompetent or negligent with the resources God has given them. Almost all are in debt for obscene amounts of money. Very few are on a pay-as-you-go basis.

But it isn't all about money........

Christian education is the most neglected part of religious practice. Our young are almost never given an adequate religious and philosophical preparation for life after High School. When they graduate they are exposed to the harsh realities of making a living or the terrible soul-crunching attacks organized upon them in colleges and universities. As a result, they abandon the single most efficacious philosophy on the planet and the only chance they may have for making peace with God. Adults don't fare much better. Most adult Bible studies are written at the Middle School level and only reiterate accepted norms and doctrines. None challenge the adult student to study and none provide tools for effective personal examination of scripture, religious and political issues. NONE. Consequently congregations are exposed to repetitious slogans masquerading as doctrine and loud humanistic music which subverts Godly spiritual worship and praise. It's all about how much God loves ME ME ME, rather than how much allegiance and trust I owe to God....there is almost none of the latter.

Repentance?

Forget about it. Sermons about repentance will never be heard in church these days. It cuts down on donations and risks people heading to the parking lot too early. But has there EVER been a time in recent history when all of us and most of us don't need a good exposure to repentance?

and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...
 
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I think that you have posted a good analysis....

But I want to focus on "What do I personally do?"

I want to point out that OUR ENTIRE LIFE is a testimony... Our "Testimony" is not simply a couple sentences about Jesus blood - it also encompasses the way we live our lives. The ongoing "testimony" that God is transforming our lives...

Doing a good job at work. Being a good parent. Working to reduce the hassle and frustration of our co-workers, customers, and suppliers. Being a good spouse... All these things are an ongoing testimony of God's work in your life that others witness... They are often intentional decisions that may be hard ones... You may have to grit your teeth hard and fall back on knowing God calls us to Service and Obedience - and this sercive and obedience can be hard in real life....

For example - how shameful is it to see a friend's wife posting all sort of "Holy is me" scripture on Facebook when you have witnessed that she is a narcissistic slave driver ruining your friend's life at home?
 
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Your description of the failure of the post modern church is a good one.

Christian education is the most neglected part of religious practice. Our young are almost never given an adequate religious and philosophical preparation for life after High School. When they graduate they are exposed to the harsh realities of making a living or the terrible soul-crunching attacks organized upon them in colleges and universities. As a result, they abandon the single most efficacious philosophy on the planet and the only chance they may have for making peace with God. Adults don't fare much better. Most adult Bible studies are written at the Middle School level and only reiterate accepted norms and doctrines. None challenge the adult student to study and none provide tools for effective personal examination of scripture, religious and political issues. NONE. Consequently congregations are exposed to repetitious slogans masquerading as doctrine and loud humanistic music which subverts Godly spiritual worship and praise. It's all about how much God loves ME ME ME, rather than how much allegiance and trust I owe to God....there is almost none of the latter.

Repentance?

Forget about it. Sermons about repentance will never be heard in church these days. It cuts down on donations and risks people heading to the parking lot too early. But has there EVER been a time in recent history when all of us and most of us don't need a good exposure to repentance?

and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...
Choir Loft,

I completely agree with you on the Christian Education part. My Church formerly did a great job of really challenging our youth teens and getting them to own their faith not just regurgitate scripture. These kids are my oldest daughters age and are her friends so I have been able to see first hand that many of them have kept their faith strong and are passing it on. I am not so sure the current youth is getting the same blessings.

I agree with you, most adult Sunday school classes are not challenging at all. As you say, I could pass them on to the middle school youth and they would have no problem keeping up. When the opportunity arises I always try to bring things to a deeper understanding which sometimes pushes to less popular ideas concerning doctrine and especially tradition. I have been pleased when others are willing to discuss (even if they disagree) and dismayed by those who will automatically dismiss but refuse to inform me on why am wrong. I do applaud the strong faith of the latter parties but it is clear they have blindly accepted things by faith and either chose not to understand them or (more likely) were never properly instructed. Unfortunately it is this lackadaisical attitude that pervades most, established for many different reasons, and reduces in every generation those who will accept Christ because they can't understand the blind faith they see in others.

In Christ,

Heisonfirst
 
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Thanks for the feedback.

I want to encourage you all in this....

If this rings a bell for you.. You feel frustrated because you are trying to seek permission and opportunity to serve God through your church organization and it's just not working.

See if God will open a door for you to serve Him "outside"... Is there a way you can intentionally serve God through your job and life.

Open the door to participate in God answering prayers through you. Perhaps create a job. Perhaps train up a young man to work. Perhaps help a vendor get paid... Perhaps hire a single mom. Help people get medical care... Help people get paperwork done so they can untangle their lives.. Etc....

Thanks
JohnC,

I love this post. I recently left my job. I left my job because I was so overtaken with my work that I didn't have time for my family or Kingdom work. I let everyone know I was going to make it so my job would also be kingdom work. The interesting thing that happened when I told my coworkers this, was the sheer number of people who started telling me how they wish they could do this and then started telling me about things at their Church. I worked in this job for 2 years and this was the first time I was even cursorily aware they were Believers. Two months after I started I was introduced by my office manager as someone who was very active in my Church. I had people regularly ask me about my faith or apologize when they thought they had offended me, since I am a Christian. When I first started I prayed with people, read them scriptures and 6 months into my tenure I had a young man open up to me about his drug addiction and look to me for help, I did what I could, prayed for him then and to this day (he is doing well, Praise God).

I share this to say we can absolutely live our lives in a way that shares our faith. I am amazed how often people will stop and ask me if I am a Christian after a brief (non-religious) conversation. More often than not, I am not consciously aware of doing anything that would give away my faith. That being said, I often speak of the Church, the Bible, Christ, faith and family without even thinking about it.

Please don't think I am boasting. I feel like a failure everyday for not doing enough.

All the things you mention above, good people who are not Christians do those things everyday. It's important that others know you do these things in Christ's name and for his Kingdom or might just be a small favor from one person to another. The Bible tells us we will be known when we love one another as Christ loved us.

2 years ago I was helping an acquaintance of mine who was about to lose her children to the state. Her oldest son had witnessed or heard of most of the things my wife and I were doing for her and,by proxy, for him and his siblings. She was by most definitions a lady of the night. Her son had clearly seen men and women come in and out of his mom's life and they all wanted something from her. He was clearly confused as he saw that I didn't want anything from her. He asked me why I was doing what I was doing, was his mom paying me. I told him it was just the right thing to do and I just wanted to help.

I failed that young man, he was reaching out, he saw something different in me and when he sought understanding I failed to share Christ's love with him. To him, my works were simply that of a good man. Either that or he thinks I just wasn't willing to admit I wanted something from his mom. I hope someday he will remember me and equate that to Christ working in his life but I doubt it.

To wrap this up, you don't have to do much of anything special to show Christ's love in your daily life if he is in your heart. Be mindful of why you are doing Kingdom work and be ready to share Christ's involvement in that work at any time. Do not be ashamed to pronounce his name in all that you do.

In Christ,

Heisonfirst
 
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I think that you have posted a good analysis....

But I want to focus on "What do I personally do?"

I want to point out that OUR ENTIRE LIFE is a testimony... Our "Testimony" is not simply a couple sentences about Jesus blood - it also encompasses the way we live our lives. The ongoing "testimony" that God is transforming our lives...

Doing a good job at work. Being a good parent. Working to reduce the hassle and frustration of our co-workers, customers, and suppliers. Being a good spouse... All these things are an ongoing testimony of God's work in your life that others witness... They are often intentional decisions that may be hard ones... You may have to grit your teeth hard and fall back on knowing God calls us to Service and Obedience - and this sercive and obedience can be hard in real life....

For example - how shameful is it to see a friend's wife posting all sort of "Holy is me" scripture on Facebook when you have witnessed that she is a narcissistic slave driver ruining your friend's life at home?
For many years we've been sold on the idea of life-as-testimony. That idea doesn't wash the dog any more. May I point out that devout Muslims exhibit all the character attributes of a good Christian that you mention. They DO make an effort to display life-as-testimony in ways too numerous to list here. However, I don't believe they are saved. Works won't save and if that's our testimony it's a false one. Muslims do all the things you mentioned while denying Christ - which is the core of the apple so to speak. Testimony must be spoken. The gracious acts of God must be admitted in public and in voice both to the church and to the secular world. My point is that Christian leadership doesn't do it and many Christians don't do it.

Voice God's blessings upon you at work and you are liable to get a reprimand. I did and I got one. I bet you a dollar there are people on these pages who've had the same experience. I'd be willing to bet you've had the same experience. It's not unique in our God hating society today.

You mentioned a friend's wife. A good woman is the pillar of the family. A wicked one corrupts all. I know a young fellow who had great promise in life until he met and married a shrew. Many who know her believe she is demonized. The young couple are now on the run from the authorities. Nobody knows where they are and if they show up nobody will help them. Everyone has been conned and hurt from these thieves.

Last word first now.... What can we do? We can focus upon Christian education. The young MUST be educated first with adult education a close second. Adults have all the necessary qualities of good scholarship, yet the materials supplied to them for study (if any are supplied at all) are middle school level or lower. Frankly the situation is insulting to the adult mind - and as a result many do not attend. The young know nothing. They are willing to learn, but they are not taught.

At one time I questioned a youth leader about this. He said there wasn't time. There IS time if one makes time. I asked him if he knew anything about pastafarianism.(*) A high school boy standing next to us knew about it. He'd heard about it, but the leader hadn't. This is the sort of garbage our youth are being exposed to. This is the sort of trash our leadership doesn't address because THEY haven't bothered to look into it. The boy knew about this assault upon the gospel. The leader hadn't a clue.

Christian education is at the core of the solution. Christian witness is on the cutting edge of blessings. If a church is hungry for God's blessings, they MUST carry the gospel to the world PERSONALLY. God won't bless a dead church.....or a nation that has told Him it hates His Word and told Him to leave it alone. So it has and So He has done.

and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...

(*) flying spaghetti monster
 
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For many years we've been sold on the idea of life-as-testimony. That idea doesn't wash the dog any more. May I point out that devout Muslims exhibit all the character attributes of a good Christian that you mention. They DO make an effort to display life-as-testimony in ways too numerous to list here. However, I don't believe they are saved. Works won't save and if that's our testimony it's a false one. Muslims do all the things you mentioned while denying Christ - which is the core of the apple so to speak. Testimony must be spoken. The gracious acts of God must be admitted in public and in voice both to the church and to the secular world. My point is that Christian leadership doesn't do it and many Christians don't do it.
Certainly good works aren't an end in themselves... But I will point out that simply Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit DOES in fact make a powerful ministry which opens the door wide to The Gospel of Jesus... Sowing the seed of hate, anger, frustration, and discord will undo every "good word" you can speak about The Gospel....

I will point out that thousands of people are leaving Islam for Christ daily due to the violence and hate being spread under that banner... It's worth observing that people DO see the good fruit of christians and they Do want to have that in their own lives...

Within the point I was making on Revelation 3 - Church of Sardis.. Answer the individual call Jesus is making of you - and realize it is a call on you personally. Don't be discouraged that you can't get "The Church" interested.... Do the good that you can do and point people towards Jesus.
 
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Certainly good works aren't an end in themselves... But I will point out that simply Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit DOES in fact make a powerful ministry which opens the door wide to The Gospel of Jesus... Sowing the seed of hate, anger, frustration, and discord will undo every "good word" you can speak about The Gospel....

I will point out that thousands of people are leaving Islam for Christ daily due to the violence and hate being spread under that banner... It's worth observing that people DO see the good fruit of christians and they Do want to have that in their own lives...

Within the point I was making on Revelation 3 - Church of Sardis.. Answer the individual call Jesus is making of you - and realize it is a call on you personally. Don't be discouraged that you can't get "The Church" interested.... Do the good that you can do and point people towards Jesus.
Church records concerning conversion of Muslims to the cross are greatly over stated. In many cases the discrepancy is deliberate.

Historically, Muslims have invaded nations (by peaceful settlement as is the case today) and then lied about conversion to the local religion. In point of fact, Islam is the only religion on the planet that approves of lying as a matter of accepted doctrine. Don't believe me? Read the words of Islam yourself;

2 doctrines of religious deception:

Taqiyya - (concealment) A Muslim may lie about what they believe, denying aspects of their faith that are offensive [to others]. [Qur'an 16:106]

Kitman - (mental reservation, the telling of partial truth with intention to deceive or mislead) "The scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to either go along with them in the interests of self-preservation, or to refuse." - Ibn Kathir


With regard to falsification of church records, it has become obvious to those who examine the numbers that church leaders have regularly deceived contributors about conversions. Who examines? Gallup poll and PEW poll among others.

How does this deception work?

A good example comes from central Florida where I live. Churches here routinely calculate membership figures that DO NOT agree with actual head count. Members may belong to two churches at once such as Snow Birds who live in Florida in the winter and return to their northern dwellings in summer. One person may therefore be a member to two churches - effectively cutting the real membership number in half. The same is true for Muslim membership. They claim conversion, but seldom or never attend church worship services or non-religious meetings and functions thereby skewing the numbers. Church leaders are aware of this, but generally do nothing to curtail the practice. They'd look bad - numerically speaking.

Returning to the subject at hand, the Bible talks about TESTIMONY as an important certification of the work of the Kingdom of Heaven. Romans 10:19 says you "must confess with your mouth" as well as believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. Again, it is NOT ENOUGH to live a good life. One must CONFESS Jesus Christ. That's where the rubber hits the road and that's where one can get into deep trouble (as I did at my work place).

Let us not be confused about what is expected of us (from God) or what can be expected from the enemy of truth (Islam).

and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...
 
Jul 14, 2014
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Returning to the subject at hand, the Bible talks about TESTIMONY as an important certification of the work of the Kingdom of Heaven. Romans 10:19 says you "must confess with your mouth" as well as believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. Again, it is NOT ENOUGH to live a good life. One must CONFESS Jesus Christ. That's where the rubber hits the road and that's where one can get into deep trouble (as I did at my work place.
It seems like we are noisily agreeing... To make it clear - it is critical that we both bear good fruit and profess Jesus.

When we try to profess Jesus and bear evil fruit - we drive people away from Jesus...

When we don't profess Jesus but bear good fruit - everybody just thinks we are a nice, kind, good, friendly, moral person... They will not understand that we are working hard to live for God....

And this ties into the subject at hand...

What do you do when you dearly want to serve - but it seems like there is no "Dynamism" or "charisma" within the church organization?

It's not our place to bring down the leaders in the place... There is no place for machinations and politicking against our appointed church leadership....

What I am seeing is that a lot of people are being individually called to serve outside of their formal church organization... Our biggest single opportunity is the daily life we live...

This doesn't mean that we quit going to church and do our own thing... It means that out outreach ends up outside of formal organized programs...
 
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It seems like we are noisily agreeing... To make it clear - it is critical that we both bear good fruit and profess Jesus.

When we try to profess Jesus and bear evil fruit - we drive people away from Jesus...

When we don't profess Jesus but bear good fruit - everybody just thinks we are a nice, kind, good, friendly, moral person... They will not understand that we are working hard to live for God....

And this ties into the subject at hand...

What do you do when you dearly want to serve - but it seems like there is no "Dynamism" or "charisma" within the church organization?

It's not our place to bring down the leaders in the place... There is no place for machinations and politicking against our appointed church leadership....

What I am seeing is that a lot of people are being individually called to serve outside of their formal church organization... Our biggest single opportunity is the daily life we live...

This doesn't mean that we quit going to church and do our own thing... It means that out outreach ends up outside of formal organized programs...
Noise doesn't imply problems with cohesion of the group. It means people are excited enough to participate.

During the council of Nicea the issue of the Trinity was discussed. Heresy was involved and one delegate, Nicholas of Lycia, became so inflamed he struck Arias, the leader of the heretical opposition, in the face with his fist. This is the same Nicholas that was later raised to sainthood by the Pope and who is known today as Santa Claus. I don't think you and I are anywhere near coming to blows, so I'm good with the discussion so far.

You said that disagreement "doesn't mean we quit going to church". Unfortunately this statement is theory only. In actual practice people ARE failing to attend church. The reasons for their abandonment are legion. As a general observation from where I sit (actual from where I've sat), the leadership has betrayed the flock. They are shepherds who have corrupted themselves and threaten the spiritual foundations of Christendom as well as the individual spiritual journey of those who attend their meetings.

I live in west central Florida and for many years my wife and I wandered from one church to another looking for a place that hadn't corrupted the gospel. The retort to this is usually that 'nobody is perfect' and that one should be loyal to a church. How can one be loyal when the leadership has betrayed the gospel? Being asked to recant faith in Jesus Christ to become a leader, being told that anyone can be admitted to Paradise without being saved, being told that any social life style is acceptable to God, being told that happy talk is necessary to fill seats on Sunday morning, and being advised that the congregation can "go out and sin all you want this week so that grace may abound" are all actual things I've seen and heard personally. In years past, such leaders would have been summarily dismissed from their duties. Today they continue only because their personal charisma brings people into the group (temporarily I must add).

Through the last ten years or so my wife and I wandered from church to church. Here's where it gets creepy - we met other people who were doing the same thing for the same reasons. Be advised that I have a Masters Degree in Theology from a northern seminary, so I know lies and heresy when I hear it. That being said the gospel isn't rocket science and anyone can tell when they're being conned.

Nobody 'brings down leaders' any more.

That's old school Today people just walk out - and they are leaving in droves. PEW and Gallup statistics use the year 1948 as a benchmark for attendance records. Attendance in years following is compared to '48. In 2010, statistics state that only 40% of respondents attended church on a regular basis ('regular basis' was defined as attendance at a minimum of once per month) as compared to 1948. I think Gallup said 50%. A third poll, which actually counted heads and did not rely upon statements of record, which can be skewed, stated something like 30%. I don't remember the name of the 3rd poll, but can forward that upon request. All the polls projected current trends and predicted that by 2050 the tally would dip to 10%. This is a problem of leadership, not the flock.

When the shepherds do not do their ordained duties, the flock wanders away. So it was in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah and so it is today. Some things never change.

To this day my wife does not attend services regularly. I have found a much more satisfying spiritual home in a Messianic Jewish congregation. There are many variations of this all over the place and the seeker would do well to education himself prior to making any sort of commitment. Some Messianics are more fundy than others and some adhere closely to parent denominations. The one I found has no Christian association attached to it. The clarity of doctrine and the depth of sermons is amazing and very refreshing. I've been attending for over two years and am contemplating permanent membership.

My point is that there IS an option without abandoning the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the Jewish leadership abandoned Christ, the Holy Spirit raised up the church. Today the church has abandoned Christ and the Lord has raised up a community not dissimilar to the first century Christians - Messianic Jews. In the late 1960's through the early 1970's America experienced its last great national revival. The church generally opposed the movement and told the Holy Spirit to hit the road. Evangelicals took up the standard and marched with the gospel for about a decade until satellite TV preachers gutted the gospel and made its message illegitimate. Many great theologians of the mid to third quarter of the twentieth century bemoaned this state of affairs (Francis Schaeffer, Richard Niebuhr, and a few apologists such as Ravi Zacharias). But the Holy Spirit did not leave the Kingdom of Heaven without a witness. At the same time the Jesus movement was being rejected by denominational churches(*), the Messianic Jewish movement was born. It was a very strange turn of events and continues to this day.

There IS an option to dead churches and corrupt Christian leadership. I advise the reader to NOT give up looking. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.

and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...

(*) I was beginning to be established in a role of Christian leadership at the time and can attest to personally witnessing conversations that pointedly rejected Jesus Christ and the desire of hungry congregations to hear more solid gospel teaching. I was told that the ministry was "just a job" and that personal conviction was not necessary. Missionaries I met have told me that the organizations forbid communications that mention the name of Jesus and that these same organizations are mismanaging funds for plague and hunger relief in third world countries.

A third option is Home Church. I've explored this as well, but find that leadership there is as vacuous as denominational churches that retain tradition but deny Christ. New Age heresy has kept in there, thus making them spiritually toxic.
 
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Thanks for sharing that insight.

What you are saying confirms this notion that I have had that God has been actively "Chopping down the tree" of these entrenched "religious" organizations....

Why? Parable of the mustard seed... These various organizations grew into a gigantic, bloated, and far longer living things which they were never meant to be (mustard springs up for a season, grows like mad, sends out it's seeds, and dies). As a result of becoming so large, powerful, and long lived - they provided a "nest" for all sorts of evil that would never have been able to dwell there...

And that's what we have seen.. Over and over and over.. Seminaries, large denominations, large Christian organizations, etc.....

And God has been actively chopping them down since WWI - which marked breaking the back of The Powerful State Church as a vehicle of the ruling class...

But that also means that believers often have to go outside of the "normal" channels to serve...