Branching Out

The continuing growth and development of Tree of Life Church

There Are 50 Ways To Leave Your Church (part 4 Jacob and Moses)



For the last few weeks, we have been looking at leaving churches in a godly way.  A lot of people have emailed me or Facebook’d me after reading the blog and it has really helped them – they were planning to leave a church and found out how to do it properly with dignity and grace.  I am really glad these series has helped many people.  Sometimes the Lord leads me to talk about things and I have never heard others talk about them, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t, it just means that I haven’t heard it.  Sometimes I think – is this helping people, so it is great to hear that something is genuinely helping people.

So, because of that I have decided to continue this series for a few weeks and this week we will look at Jacob who left badly and Moses who left well.

Jacob left unexpectedly, and his absence wasn’t noticed for several days.

  • If you leaving a church is a surprise move, then it is a calculated and wicked thing to do.
  • If you are going to leave, leave alone.  Don’t try and influence others to leave with you.
  • Don’t try and win the hearts of the people around you before you leave, making yourself special friends all around and building special friendships with vital church people.

If you make your intentions known that you are going to leave, then you cannot try and influence others and can’t play politics before you leave.  If you fail to do this, you will leave a confused church behind you who are forced to choose between their friendship with you and their commitment to their local church.  If you cannot see what is wrong with this, then you have a problem!

Be grateful for the church you are leaving.  Don’t spread rumours after you leave!  Don’t muddy the waters – it will kill your own credibility if nothing else!

If you intend to start another church or ministry you should absolutely share that with the lead minister of the church you are in.  If you are godly, you leave a considerable gap between where you are ministering and where your church is.  I consider 20 miles a reasonable gap, but to be honest, 50 is probably more honourable.  It is improper, unethical (and let’s say it: tacky) to open up a church virtually next door to the church you have just been in.  It is also a bit strange to call the church virtually the same name as the church you have just come from.

Let’s not be Jacob.   He left unexpectedly.  He snuck away from Laban, and it took three days before Laban was told (Gen. 31.20-22).  Many people sneak off and never discuss their leaving plans.

Moses left his father-in-law the right way.  Moses had been serving Jethro for 40 years:

And Moses went and returned to Jethro, his father-in-law and said unto him: Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive.  And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace (Ex. 4.18)

Now when you leave right, then you can come back and still drink from the wisdom of  the pastor of the church you have left.  Later on in his life, Moses is about to die of exhaustion and Jethro gives him the wisdom to save his life (Exodus 18) by showing him how to delegate.  I guarantee anyone who has been running a church, and you left that church, has wisdom you can benefit from as you launch out.  By leaving right, by moving forward properly, you can still enjoy that wisdom.

Are you going to be Jacob or Moses?  That’s a deep question, and we need to learn from these lessons.  We need to know how to behave in the kingdom.

Next week, we are going to turn this one upside-down and talk about when is it right to remove someone from a church.  Get ready!

The Life Changing Power of Grace Mixed With Truth!


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth (John 1.14)

When Jesus lived on planet earth, He was full of grace and truth.  Not full of grace, that’s not Jesus.  Not full of truth, that’s not Jesus.  Jesus is full of grace and truth.  Knowing this is very important, and what we need to do to be wise is to consider how to act and live full of both grace and truth.  To just show grace is unbalanced, to just show truth is unbalanced, to show neither is foolish, but to show both is true life.

Truth without grace is very very dangerous.  Truth without grace would kill all of us!  Let’s face it: how many of us really obey the Word of God and do what God says?  How many of us walk in love all the time?  How many of us walk in perfect forgiveness of those who wronged us.  If all we had was truth, we might as well give up now.  The Psalmist said: “if thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who should stand?” (Psalm 130.3).  If all we have is the truth then we are in all people in the worst mess in the world!

Grace without truth will never change someone’s life.  We need to be honest with people and talk the truth, but we have to have grace and truth together.

We have to walk in the balance of grace and truth, and treat others with the balance of grace and truth.  When we treat others with truth and grace together, we are acting like Jesus.  That’s when we make discipleship.

That’s when we change lives.  It’s not easy to operate in this balance, but by looking at Jesus and accepting him as our wisdom we can.

Now there are many incidents from the life of Jesus (as you would expect), and we could talk about many of them, but for me the most powerful incident where we see Jesus modelling a balance of grace and truth is in his dealings with Peter, and nowhere is it more vivid than the incident where Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross.

Peter tells Jesus that he won’t let Him die, not because Peter was heroic or balanced, or wise, or amazing.  It wasn’t because Peter knew best.  He wasn’t there to tell Jesus how to behave, he was there as a disciple to learn.  No – Peter didn’t grasp Jesus’ mission, Peter didn’t see the resurrection and didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.  He was being influenced by satanic plans and ways of thinking.

So when Peter challenged Jesus, Jesus said “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16.23).

That sentence is truth.  Jesus knew the truth about Peter – Peter was the guy who fell asleep in the prayer meeting, Peter was the guy who denied Christ, Peter was the guy who sank walking on water because it was windy, Peter was the guy who almost didn’t advance the church because he was racist.  He knew that Peter was listening to the devil because of his limited mind.

That’s the truth.  And let’s not be afraid of the truth.  Let’s not be afraid to tell the people we are discipling (and I mean people we have a deep relationship with, not the random guy on Facebook whose post you don’t like) the truth.  Let’s tell them when they are acting like the devil, like they are acting like a fool, like they are sowing to the wind and will inevitably reap the whirlwind.  Let’s not be afraid of the truth!

But knowing the truth, don’t use the truth to know people down.  Don’t use the truth to kill people, use the truth to help and love people.  Truth points out what is wrong with your today, but grace gives you the power to be something bigger tomorrow.

Jesus didn’t kick Peter to the curb, he didn’t throw him in the dustbin, he kept showing grace even in the face of the truth.  Jesus knew the truth, knew He would be let down, knew Peter couldn’t be perfect, couldn’t be strong, couldn’t be consistent, yet He still kept Peter on the team.

Jesus knew Peter would betray Him in His darkest hour.  He knew Peter, when his plans for ministry didn’t go the way he wanted, would run back to the fishing boats.  He knew that – but the glory of Christ is not filled with truth, the glory of Christ is that He is filled with grace and truth.

And by continually holding grace and truth up to Peter, Jesus enabled Peter to grow, to develop, to mature, to change.  And eventually Peter became one of the greatest leaders in the church.  That is the power of grace and truth mixed together.

Know the truth, but operate in grace.  Never find out what truth says until you can find out what grace says.  Be full of grace and truth and be glorious!  Build a church full of grace and truth and it will be glorious!

The Law of Genesis


You will never be a success until you understand that the universe is held together and created with inviolable laws or principles that cannot be violated.

An example in the natural realm that science can study and measure is what is commonly called the law of gravity.  Now when the word “law” is used here, it doesn’t mean that if you break gravity the police will arrest you.  It just means that gravity works universally and is absolutely no respecter of persons.  A man jumping off a building to end it all because his heart is broken and an infant tripping and falling off the same building both die because both are subject to the law of gravity.  Because it is a law it treats everyone the same, has no mercy, has no grace but always works the same.

The only reason you can fly is if you find another law which supersedes the law of gravity  – the law of thrust and lift or the law of aerodynamics.

Learning the inviolable laws of the realms of the spirit and soul are essential to life success, and the single most important law is what I like to call the law of Genesis because it is right there as soon as you open the Bible.  Now, many people do not know the Bible has two purposes.  Firstly, it is to reveal the person of Jesus Christ so you can know Him.  You should know Him – He is the best friend you have could ever have, He never lets you go, never judges you, never lets you down, never messes you about.

Jesus is pure grace and pure love.  You can know Him through the Bible as it reveals Him and His love for us.  It tells us how we can know Him through believing in Him and His crucifixion and resurrection.

Secondly though, the Bible reveals the principles of Jesus.  Jesus Christ created the universe (John 1.1-3) before He became human and dwelt among us.  And He created the universe through principles and if you learn these principles you will always prosper and have success in this life (Joshua 1.6-8).

I have met many people who know the person of Jesus but don’t know the principles.  If you move in Christian circles, you probably have met the old dear who when you walk in her house, it’s like the presence of the Lord is in that house like a cloud of love and grace.  Talking to her is like talking to Jesus, she is so encouraging, so kind – she knows the person of Jesus and His love flows through her.  But she is living hand-to-mouth, eating store brand products and hasn’t been on holiday for years.  She is taking fifteen different tablets a day.  She clearly does not know the principles of Jesus.

On the other hand, you have probably met the salesman who is staring at his reflection in the mirror everyday visualizing and declaring that today he is a champion, today he will break records, today he will make millions.

He doesn’t have a clue that what he is doing comes straight from the Bible (Mark 11.23-24, Proverbs 23.7, Genesis 1.3) and is actually utilizing the principles hard-wired into the cosmos by God Himself.  He knows the principles of Jesus, but he doesn’t have a clue who the person of Jesus is.

He might not even believe there ever was a person of Jesus, or even a God. But he is working the principles.  He could easily be a jerk, and easily be struggling in his personal relationships because he doesn’t know the person of Jesus.  But he will make his millions because the principles are like the law of gravity – they don’t have favourites, they don’t play character, they don’t care who you are.

So in Genesis you find out that in the darkness, God said “Let there be light” and there was light (Genesis 1.3).  This principle is described ten times in Genesis 1 alone!  This is the law of genesis.  It covers a number of principles that underlie how the universe works.

Firstly, if you want something you have to see it on the inside before you ever see it on the outside. This is key to achieving in life.  Many Christians avoid this truth saying it is New Agey or because they think that being holy and being a poor and sick failure are synonymous.  Nothing could be further from the truth, Jesus came to bring life and life in abundance (John 10.10).  We receive life when we believe in the person of Jesus and He pours His life and goodness into us.  That’s a life changing event and that is something very special.  But we receive life in abundance when we learn from Him and His Word the principles and we put them to use in our lives.

You have to see it on the inside before you see it on the outside.  You have to dream big before you can live big.  This is how God created the universe.  He saw the light on the inside before there was light on the outside.  Your imagination is so important it is impossible to overestimate its value.

Hebrews 11.1 says faith is the substance of things hoped for.  The word hoped here means “imagined”.  Faith gives life and substance to your imagination.  If you don’t imagine it, you cannot believe it.  You have to use your imagination to imagine an abundant life for yourself.  This is the teaching of Jesus, not the teaching of some New Age guru.  If they are teaching this it is because they have discovered a principle, a law, that only works because Jesus hardwired it into the universe.

Then, the second part of the law of Genesis is that to have it manifest in your life – to see it on the outside, you have to say it.  Words are absolutely vital to achieving your life in abundance, to seeing miracles happen in this life.  What you say matters.  You are trapped by the Word of your mouth (Proverbs 6.20) and if you speak to the mountain in your life you can move it (Mark 11.23-24).

So any darkness you find yourself in, you can pray and you can fast, and you can go to church.  That’s all awesome, and I think you should do all those things.  But the darkness does not leave until you think light and speak light.

Abraham did it like this – he saw himself childless and stayed childless (Genesis 15.2).  Then God taught Him to go out and count the stars in heaven and imagine each star as one of his children.  Then, at the age of 100 and his wife being 90, she got pregnant.  This is a triple miracle: firstly, a 90 year old cannot get pregnant to a 100 year old.  Secondly, they couldn’t get pregnant anyway – they had been trying for 80 years.  Thirdly, without being indelicate, it takes a miracle for a 100 year old man to actually do the thing that gets his wife pregnant.  How was this miracle achieved – through knowing God?  No, Abraham knew God and was God’s friend for decades before this.  He knew the person of Jesus.

But when Abraham stopped seeing himself childless and started seeing himself as a father of nations, and started speaking that he was a father of many nations, he against his imagination, in his imagination believed God (Romans 4.18).  In other words, his imagination – his image-inator stopped producing the image of childlessness – and produced the image of father.  When this happened, Sarah was with child.

You can use these principles in your life too.  You can receive healing if you see it and say it you can have it.  You can be out of debt – if you can see it and say it you can have it.

Sometimes when I teach on the principles, I am told – don’t neglect the person of Jesus.  I understand that – if I had to choose between the person and the principles, I would choose the person of Jesus every time.

I would rather die of cancer and go to be with Jesus, than live healthily without him.  I would rather live under a bridge with the person of Jesus than live in a mansion without Him.  I would rather be in hell with Jesus than in heaven without Him.

But here is the good news: we don’t have to choose.  We can all have the person and principles of Jesus; we can all have life AND life in abundance.

You can enjoy the love of Jesus and work the law of genesis in your life.


There Are 50 Ways To Leave Your Church (part 3 Leaving Checklist)


Here is our final week’s blogging on leaving churches.  It’s a sort of check list to help you know you are leaving well.  I have seen people leave great churches well and go on to greatness, I have seen people leave really dysfunctional churches for the right reasons but leave the wrong way and they never plugged back into Christian community and they never prospered.  How you leave is about a billion times more important than what you leave or why you leave.

  • Have you actually tried to talk things through with the church leadership?  Not just talk but actually listen.  It’s amazing how many people have left churches but never once discuss a problem or issue they have.  Even if you still decide to leave it might help people realize the problem or issue.  If you just send a text “See ya I am leaving”, or leave via Facebook, or don’t even tell people you are leaving, you are undoubtedly leaving offended.  That is the wrong reason to leave.  By making sure you personally talk to people about your leaving, it is proving to yourself that your heart is not offended and that you are able to discuss this like an adult.
  • Have you prayed about it?  I’m not talking about the smash-their-teeth-in-their-mouth kind of prayer here, but have you spent genuine time with the Father in the Word asking for direction and wisdom.  If God is leading you to leave a church, God will give you a road map.  Sitting down and not going to church for the next few months, even years is not God’s road map for your life!
  • Have you said your goodbyes graciously and properly?  If you ask, and you have genuine reasons for leaving, many church leaders are happy to bless you in a service and speak life over the next part of your journey.  Do not use your goodbyes to criticize and attack the church, don’t try and rip the body of Christ apart and take people out with you – let people make their own choices.
  • Have you ensured that the disruption caused by your leaving is minimal?  That you have let people know who are in the same departments as you for example so they can cover your positions on the rota.
  • Have you collated your good memories about your time there?  That is important.  It can be difficult, especially when you have left because of an issue with the church, to remember that you have learned good things at some point and made some happy memories. This will help keep your heart pure when and as you leave.
  • When you have left, and left well, stay left.  Don’t come back every so often, invite people from the church round for dinner and tell them all your grievances.  It’s amazing how many people have left a church but are still carrying it around, sitting on the sidelines waiting for it, even hoping and praying for it to fail.  Then they meet other people who still go there – of course, they are still “friends”, but their agenda is not friendly, it is to badmouth the church.  Don’t be the unwelcome guest, shake the dust off your feet, shake the hate out of your heart and move on with grace and peace.  Otherwise you will never move forward and your life will be stuck.  Don’t be Absalom, not building anything but hanging around criticizing the building because you feel you should be sitting on top of it.  If you feel that strongly, go and build something.

There Are 50 Ways To Leave Your Church (part 2 Don’t Leave Offended)



In our first post in this series (which can be found here), I shared about good and bad reasons to leave a local church.  In that post, I quoted the pastor’s pastor, Bob Yandian, as saying most people leave churches offended.  From my own experience and discussions with many other church leaders that is most definitely a true statement.

Now, if you are leaving a church offended you won’t leave well.  If you are leaving a church offended you will leave for a petty reason – they didn’t play the song I liked, the pastor didn’t call me when I wanted him to, so and so didn’t say hello to me, I didn’t get promoted in the church, and so on and so forth.  And you will leave badly and hurt the church and hurt your walk with Christ. 

Next week, I will post a sort of leaving a church check list so you can leave a church in a way that honours God and honours the kingdom and reflects the character of Christ.  But you will not be interested in leaving right, indeed just reading that will annoy you, if you are offended.

Leviticus 19.18 says:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord

Why does the Bible tell us not to take vengeance or hear a grudge?  Because it is actually fairly easy to get offended at church, at the pastor, at the elders, at our church family.

We get offended in three ways.  Firstly, we have unrealistic and ungodly expectations.  Secondly, because our pastors are human; and thirdly because our pastors do things wrong.

So firstly we get offended through unrealistic and ungodly expectations.  We have a mental image of what a pastor should be, painted in our minds by our past experiences, our culture, by preachers on the TV and many other things. 

Some people come to our church for example from a background where the pastor wears a suit every Sunday.  I don’t do that because I am reaching people to whom a suit would be a barrier to hearing me.  But their unrealistic and unbiblical expectation causes offense because I am not dressed the way they see a pastor dressing.  I have had people go out and buy me a suit because they felt sorry for me because I was a pastor without a suit.  I have a lot of suits, God is very generous to me and clothes me better than the lillies of the field, but where in the Bible is a suit mentioned for a pastor?  That’s tradition, not Bible.

We all have our traditions and our pet things and when they are challenged we can get offended.  That is a dumb reason to leave a church, especially when the challenging of those traditions helps us renew our minds and transforms our life.

When our unrealistic and unbiblical expectations are challenged we can get offended but we need to see that as a growth opportunity. 

We had a couple leave our church because I challenged an unrealistic and unbiblical tradition they had.  They said to me they knew God had spoken to them to be in our church, they knew God had called them to be with us (and we knew it too), but they couldn’t work out why God would bring them to a church where the pastor didn’t for their expectations.  They had written a list of reasons why God might have told them to come to us with about 8 or 9 reasons on, and not one of the reasons was “so I could change and grow and be transformed”.  We get offended when we hold so tightly to our traditions that the idea that God could work in a different way to our traditions is not even on the piece of paper!

We also get offended because pastors and other leaders are human.  I am not omnipresent and I am not all-knowing.  Sometimes God reveals a problem to me, but mainly you need to tell me.  When the church was growing in Acts 6, the soup kitchen it ran was only catering to Jewish widows and the Greek widows were going hungry.  Not one of the twelve apostles got a dream, a vision or impression.  No angel visited them.  The church had to tell them.  Sometimes I need to be in two places at once and someone gets offended I send a deputy!  They don’t realize pastors are human.  Sometimes I put my family above the church and people get upset… No, I am a father and husband first.  Be human, and don’t be afraid to be human, but don’t at offended because your church is led by a human. 

Jesus couldn’t do miracles when people were offended at his humanity, the fact he had a dad, and his dad had a job upset people and offended people to the point they couldn’t receive a miracle from him.  I had a mother once ban her daighter from coming to our church because I am white.  My humanity offended them to the point they missed out on miracles.  Sadly still most people go to churches where the pastor looks like them, and that will never being healthy Christianity to London.

Finally, let’s face it pastors do sin still.  I certainly do, if you don’t, let me know so I can join your prayer line!  Now there will be a point where a pastor’s integrity is damaged so badly, it would be dumb to keep getting fed by him.

There are pastors in my city who have been arrested for child abuse and yet are still in the pulpit, that’s crazy.  Yes there is grace but there is also wisdom!

On the other hand, don’t run off because a pastor is still working out his salvation with fear and trembling.  In fact, learn from their journey.  I shared last week in one of our churches one of my biggest struggles which is to believe God can actually change the United Kingdom through me.  I spend a lot of time re-reading and re-listening to a sermon series by Andrew Wommack called Don’t Limit God because that is certainly something I do.  It was not comfortable to share so honestly and starkly but afterwards so many people were encouraged and inspired and even challenged, I am very glad I did.

Don’t get offended, but if you do get offended, don’t leave the church offended.  You might still leave later for a better reason, but don’t leave offended – not for the churches’ sake, they will be surprisingly fine without you – but for your sake and for the sake of your spirituality.

There Are 50 Ways to Leave Your Church! (part 1 – why leave)


There are definitely more than fifty ways to leave a church.

  • You could just sit further and further back each week and come less and less until you have shrunk out of the back door.
  • You could leave dramatically and cause a scene, email a bunch of people, hold secret meetings and tell everyone why the church is a disaster.
  • You could just stop going and if anyone asks after you tell them all is well and avoid any resolution at all.

But if you are going to leave a church, you should leave with grace and integrity.  Leaving a church does not mean you have to stop acting like a Christian!

Sometimes it is absolutely the right thing to do to leave a church.  I have left a couple of churches in my time, and everytime I have done it well.  We will talk about how to leave well next week, but this week it is important to consider the right and wrong reasons to leave a church.  Bob Yandian said at the last pastor’s conference I went to that “most people leave churches out of offense” and that if people leave a church offended it can take ages – if ever – for them to get back to the point where they trust the Word and live the Christian life the way they were before they stormed out.

So we need to think very carefully about this issue, and make sure that whenever we change churches we do it through being Spirit led, not offense led.

Let’s start with five great reasons to move churches:

  1. You are being led by the Lord to move to a different geographical area where it would be impossible to continue to invest in the life and community of the local church.  Now, make sure the change in geography is Spirit-led and not money-led, and make sure there is a healthy church where you are going.  However, if this is the case, it’s a healthy reason to leave a church.
  2. When you have through the study of the Word come to a clear conviction that what the church is teaching is not something you can with a good conscience support.  Now, don’t run out the door because you disagree on one or two points with your pastor – we all disagree with each other on a couple of points.  We are talking about the big issues – how we are saved, the true nature of God, the nature of redemption, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  If this is the case, it is probably better that you leave – I have seen people try and change churches from within and it never works out well.
  3. When it is clear that the Spirit of God is leading you to be part of the life and community of another church.  Always move forward, never move away.
  4. When something about the church has been exposed as exceptionally unhealthy. Perhaps the pastor has had an affair, money has been misused, the culture favours the wealthy and there is an in-crowd and clique.  Again, we are not talking about rumour and the conjecture of the offended, they exist in the healthiest of churches.
  5. Because you are getting married.  Ideally husbands and wives should worship together and bring the children to church with them.

So there are times it is good and wise to move church.  However, these are in the UK (and US, and probably around the world) people moving churches for these reasons are few and far between.  Most people leave because of offense, and no good comes from it.  As a pastor, I have sent many people who have left their churches out of offense and come to Tree of Life Church back to their original church (so far no other pastor has ever repaid the favour).  I told them if they sorted out the offense then they would be more than welcome to the Tree.

But I am genuinely grateful that all of the people I have sent back made amends with their first church and are still there!  That is good news – we are not building an empire, we are building a church.  I am interested in helping people!

Now here are 5 really bad reasons to leave a church:

  1. Offense.  Now you knew that would be on the list, because it is ubiquitous.  We live in a generation of remarkably thin skinned people.  People leave churches because pastor is preaching against me when pastor knew nothing of your situation and was just preaching as the Spirit led.  People leave becaue they don’t get their needs met, they don’t get a platform, they don’t get to lead worship the way they want, they don’t get whatever.  It’s a symptom of our increasingly handout desiring generation that has elected Obama the president of America and Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour party back here in the UK.  People want to get what they can from the system without investing in it.  When they don’t get their wants, they get offended.  And of course, sometimes people get offended for legitimate reasons, but having a good reason to be offended is not a reason to get offended!  Pastors – you need to preach on the stupidity of being offended a lot – it is contagious.
  2. Because the church is splitting.  A church splits because someone in the church wants the big chair and does not have the patience or character to launch out on their own or wait for the Lord’s timing, so they rip apart another building to get bricks for theirs.  With the wisdom of Solomon, most lead pastors – who have build from nothing most of the time – would rather people are kept alive than ripped in two and will not fight in the way you might expect.  In a church split go with the man of peace, don’t follow Absalom, you won’t get anywhere fast, and his church will end up caught in his vanity like Absalom’s hair was tangled in the tree.
  3. Because your pastor is being attacked.  I thoroughly recommend staying in a church when the pastor is being attacked, you are about to learn the most important lessons he can teach you.
  4. Because other people are leaving.  Don’t be a lemming – they often end up going splat!
  5. Because a new cool trendy church has opened up down the street.  I have been preaching for over two decades and ministered in four different continents and I have found churches come in two main types – the mushroom and the oak tree.  Mushroom churches are seeker-friendly, cool, trendy with the right music and the right coffee.  The problem is that they do not feed people, and eventually they fall apart, have a mid-life crisis as the world’s definition of cool changes, and a new trendy church opens up five years later with the new new music and new new sounds.  Better to find a church that is growing slowy but surely, and that feeds people the truth of the Word.  Some people will come and go because of all sorts of reasons but the core will keep growing and produce a harvest of 30, 60 and 100 fold in time.

What church you go to is the third most important decision of your life,  (getting saved and who to marry, if you must know) so don’t let your base emotions make that decision for you. Pray, fast if you have to, listen to the Lord, but get the decision right!  Without being overly dramatic whether you live or die could depend on it!

I Thought This Was A Grace Church!?!



Every so often I will make a decision that leads to someone saying about Tree of Life “I thought this was a grace church!”

Maybe I remove someone from the worship team for sexual immorality, or ask someone not to share a prophetic word that is a bit kooky, or preach a message that challenges people in terms of maybe tithing or loving or world mission.

Then someone says to me “I thought this was a grace church”, meaning I thought anything goes here and I am offended it doesn’t.

So explain and answer.  Let me make this every clear: Tree of Life Church is not a grace church. We are not founded on grace and our cultural pillars do not mention the word grace.

Let me explain before you share that all over Facebook with “I knew it”… Tree of Life Church is a Word church.  Our foundation is the Word of God.  Our first cultural pillar is FULL OF THE WORD.

So, we are a grace church, because grace is in the Word and we are full of the Word so we are full of grace.  I wouldn’t know grace if I didn’t know it from the Word.

But here is the big thing: when you are a Word church, your definition of grace comes from the Word.  Your grace is balanced and healthy because it comes from the Word.  When what you think about grace contradicts the Word you change your opinions on grace, not the Word.

That is what it truly means to be a grace church, to be full of the Word.

The same Bible that says “we are saved by grace through faith, not of works” also says “I beseech you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice”.

The same Bible that lets us know the.depth of Christ’s unconditional love for the church is the same Bible in which Paul commands the church to walk worthy, instructs Timothy to forbid elders from teaching nonsense, in which there are clear character requirements for leaders.

Let’s be a grace church, but only the pure grace of the Word of God, not some unbiblical substitute because we only know two Scriptures and mistakenly think grace means anarchy!

Let’s be a grace church, where we teach boldly that the grace of God through Christ and His redemptive sacrifice are available freely to all men. But let’s also teach boldly that this grace teaches us to deny ungodly lusts.

Let’s declare that to all who believe are saved, but let’s also declare that those who believe not are condemned.

Let’s leave no one in doubt God loves them.  But let’s leave no one in doubt what an appropriate response to that love is.

Let’s inspire people to dream, but let’s challenge them to make the choices that mean they can live those dreams!

I thought this was a grace church – no, we are something so much more: a Word church!


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