The gates of hell

The strategy of the church against Satan is offensive not defensive.

Many people misunderstand that, especially when you read a naff transalation of Jesus’ charge to Peter “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (NASB) or “all the gates of hell will not conquer it” (NLT)

Since when do gates overpower or conquer an army? Don’t armies attack gates when they storm a city occupied by the enemy? Gates are defensive structures.

The literal translation is “The gates of Hades will not prevail against it”. How could gates ever overcome the Church? The traditional outlook is that global church is in danger of being destoyed by the enemy but God preserves it.

Jesus is saying something very different. Satan’s fortress is in danger – we are the invaders, who will knock down Hades gates and walls and release the prisoners in side.

Paul tells us the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds ( 2Cor 10:4). New Testament strategy is offensive not defensive.So  we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the earth. Not power to survive as a remnant in a bunker, but power to move out into the world and win people back to God.

 

Our great commission has been given by Jesus who has of all authority in heaven on earth . Out of that authority, we have been given authority to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20)

So let’s be a gateway for the gospel to go to the nations, not a fortress hunkering down hoping the gates of hell won’t overcome against us!

Pleasantly Surprised!Each year I have to write a short report on the Church for the annual accounts – not usually riveting stuff, but as I reflected back on the last year I was pleasantly surprised at what God has done in what felt like a pretty challenging and hard year for the Gateway Church.

Here’s the activity section…

Activities:
2011-2012 was a challenging year for The Gateway Church. Daniel & Alisa Foytik’s Russian outreach project came to an end in June 2011and a number of families moved on to other churches.
We moved venue to Gaywood Community Primary School, which offers more flexible facilities for a lower price.
 In September we launched a fortnightly youth club which is growing and already resulted in one teenager becoming a Christian.
 We relaunched the Eastern European outreach project by running a fortnightly International Café, which is advancing the Christian faith through ESOL lessons based around the Jesus Film.
 Two adults became Christians through a Start Course
The Gateway Church has also been instrumental in helping run the King’s Lynn Foodbank to provide emergency food to needy families referred by other agencies.
Average Sunday attendance for 2011-2010: 43 adults,12 children (6% increase on 2010-2011)
Small Groups: 3
New Converts: 2 adults, 1 teenager

God is good! Average attendance increased but more importantly we had our first converts! Come on Lord! We also ended the financial year accounting wise with a small surplus for the reserves of £1000. God is so good!

Keep praying! Keep inviting friends and chatting to them about Jesus. Keep gathering together on Sundays and in Life Groups. Keep giving generously and sacrificiallly to see His Kingdom established here in West Norfolk.

Above all look to God and who He is to empower you for life and mission. We are going to see some great promises from God fulfilled over coming years, so these are exciting days!

FiftyWe have hovered around the 50 mark for a while now and it’s a wall we are going to punch through! It’s a size of church that can feel comfortable for regulars but uncomfortable for newcomers too. Fifty people feels like an overgrown family – you do know everyone’s name but once we get regularly past it you won’t.

So should we break it?

1) God wants everyone to get a chance to repent of their sin and receive the good news of Jesus Christ and become part of His body, the Church (2 Pet 3:9), so sticking at fifty because it is nice is not really an option!
2) Jesus told a story of a banquet – the invited guests didn’t come so the host sent out the servants to go get people from the highways to enjoy the feast. We have a great church, where we feast in worship, hearing and applying the Bible and getting connected, growing and serving in our small groups. Jesus’ banquet story in Luke 14 is an invitation to go out and get more people to thefeast. If some don’t respond, go find some others!
3) In 1Cor 3:6 Pauls tells his experience – Paul planted, Apollos watered and God gave the growth. All of us have a part to play – some plant, some water but at the end of the day God is the One who will give the growth!
Should we break 50? Yes – its not about numbers it’s about people, who are finding Christ.

<h2>I want to be able to look around one Sunday in a few years time and see…</h2>

  • A Svetlana who found Christ through the international Cafe
  • Harry and Freddie who became Christians in the youth club and are doing a GAP year before going off to university
  • Anna who used to go to church, but stopped in her teens, ended up coming with Emma to a small group social and is now on fire for God
  • Tim and Anna, who still have plenty of questions but have made some great friends while playing badminton every Monday

To blast past 50, we will need to make some changes – there will be more small groups, more leaders be trained and released, a bigger pastoral team, an outreach strategy and great process to help people get connected.

Here’s the 6 steps we will be working through

  1. Pray We need to get praying, get God’s heart for our area and feel for it the way He does. Then we need to pray expectantly and listening for what He wants us to do both strategically as a church and in the day to day that will resultinKingdom buidling life change encounters with friends, family, neighbours and total strangers!
  2. Identify the Obstacles Take a good look at any obstacles to us growing: from simple stuff like car parking to small groups and finding leaders.
  3. Cast Vision Over the next few months, we will be getting vision from God of that preferable future for The Gateway Church that will inspire us to go for it. Alongside it will be some goals and plans onhow to put legs on the vision.
  4. Prepare – We need to start thinking like a church twice our size and working out how we can do it – from kids work, to ministries to youth and venue.
  5. Act Go for it! Hudson Taylor said “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”. We will go for more evangelistic and community impact, build for those high Sundays like baptisms, Christmas and Easter and follow up everyone!
  6. Leave the rest to God – There’s a balance to church life of working hard and God working on our behalf.
    “The Christian’s motto should not be ‘Let go and let God’ but ‘trust God and get going!’” —J.I. Packer
    At the end of the day we rely on God to bring the growth and pour out his blessing on His Kingdom and His Church. Eph 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work in us,to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”

The South Gate in Lynn gives me goose bumps every time I drive through it. It was there in 2006 I heard God! On my first ever visit to Kings Lynn, God spoke to me “Call it the Gateway, it will be a gateway for the Gospel to goto the nations.” We moved here with a passion to plant a vibrant New Testament Church made up of every nation represented in and around Lynn.

Our new logo looks a bit like the South Gate, made up of multi-coloured blocks. On New Years day we built an 7ft high logo to illustate an important point!

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The church is made of up of living stones joined together by the Holy Spirit (Eph2:22 and 1 Peter 2:5). One of the great beauties of New Testament Churches is that we are made up of diverse peoples – of different nations, class, age, background. It’s a breathtaking work of the Spirit to see such different people love one another and be joined together because we love Jesus and He is changing us.

Last Sunday we built our logo during the sermon as a powerful illustration of each one of us being joined together by the Spirit. In an age where we are quick to change gas and electricity supplier, mobile phone company and mortgages, we have become relentless consumers who chop and change at the slightest upset. The church is called to be radically different – a people joined together by the Spirit, who work things through and not walk easily!

Perry Noble wrote a great blog post about nearly walking away from Chick-fil-a after one bad experience in 20 years. He then applied it to church life. Someone could be going to a church for years, but one bad experience…

  • Someone didn’t call when they weren’t there for two weeks
  • Someone said something hurtful to or about them
  • Didn’t like what the preacher said
  • Didn’t like what the kids were doing

That one thing trumps everything else and they walk. But, If you are in a church long enough…

  • You will see some hypocrisy
  • Someone will say something hurtful
  • There will be a decision you don’t like
  • There will be a sermon that makes you mad!

And then the enemy will want to convince you to walk away and not be joined together as living stones. But if we pull one away, the whole body suffers

So being “joined together” means a number of things – addressed in the “one another” scriptures

  • Talk and dialogue over issues – Jesus tells how in Matt 5 and Matt 18
  • Forgive one another Eph 4:32; Col 3:13
  • Bear with one another Eph 4:2
  • Be at peace with one another Mark 9:50
  • Love one another – dozens of times
  • Live in harmony with one another Rom 12:16
  • Stop passing judgement on one another Rom 14:13
  • Honour one another Rom 12:10
  • Admonish one another Col 3:16
  • Don’t grumble against each other James 5:9
  • Encourage one another Hebrews 3:13

That’s what being joined together looks like. That is Hard! It is much easier to walk away – but walking away is not God’s way.

That is why Eph2:22 tells us the Spirit is building us together. It is a work of the Spirit in our lives.

What I believe God will be doing in us is strengthening the joins! Work of the Spirit and time – it takes time to build deep relationships and it requires the Spirit to help us die to self, to spiritual pride and say sorry when we need to.

Let’s be joined together by the Spirit and show the world what it means to be a church who radically loves one another!