Posts

Arizona Here We Come

Nearly seven years ago my wife and I packed our cars with everything we owned and drove from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tustin, California. Like the Gold Rushers of the 1800’s we scrambled to get to California as quickly as we could. But this was no search for gold. In fact, we were leaving the gold! The reason was simple: prosperity gospel theology and the lifestyle we were immersed in had left us spiritually and emotionally bankrupt. No matter what the money provided, we couldn’t shake the conviction that had taken hold of our hearts.

During the years that followed, God did extraordinary things that were beyond anything we’d ever imagined.

There was my true conversion. There was a church-wide transformation from the seeker-driven model to a “Bible Church” model; complete with expository preaching and a joint effort with other leaders towards biblical ecclesiology. Three name changes and a whole lot of other changes later took us from being “Moment Church” to “Mission Bible Church.” There was the loss of my title as “pastor” and the whole-hearted embrace of seminary classes and re-training for biblical ministry. There was the bond of new relationships and friends who became family. There was discipleship that impacted us eternally. And there was four years of silence and supervised ministry before beginning to push back against the prosperity gospel and word of faith heresies that I’d taken part in. Perhaps the best summary would be to say that the grace of God overflowed and saturated every area of our lives and we came under the oversight of Christ’s Church. We were part of the true Church for the first time in our lives.

Now, a time of transition has come. In June I’ll be joining the team of elders at Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, Arizona.

The Spirit-Led Process

One of the biggest blessings in the process thus far is that every step has been led by the Holy Spirit through prayer. Elders on both sides of the process have continued to be floored by how the Holy Spirit orchestrated every step. The process has been very simple and very spiritual.

Last fall I had the privilege of preaching at Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, AZ during a two-day conference. We enjoyed fellowship and the word during a brief 36 hours together. It was exciting to hear about their ministry and what was a powerful story of revitalization. The church had gone from around 90 to 900 in four years and was doing nothing uniquely innovative. They were simply preaching the Bible and shepherding the people. In similar fashion to what we witnessed at Mission Bible Church, they’d seen the Lord bless their work as they determined to be faithful in what mattered most.

Around that same time two of the elders from Redeemer were praying for the Lord to add to the team of elders because of the growing needs within the church and the region. Shortly after my visit they reached out and we began having friendly discussions about life, ministry philosophy, preaching, and training. After developing a friendship with these men, we stayed in touch and soon reconnected at another conference. That’s when the Lord made it very clear that there was a door opening for ministry in Arizona. After spending some weeks in prayer and talking with my wife, I knew it was serious enough to take to my current elders.

Upon conferring with the elders at Mission Bible Church, the affirmation of this call was unanimous and we began to make plans for a smooth and God-honoring transition.

The Spiritual Need

During the process my intrigue (and excitement) grew as I studied the region I’d be moving to if I accepted the call. Gilbert is a suburb in the Phoenix/Scottsdale region and if you know that area, you know the harvest there is plentiful! That area consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, and is top three on the list of highest Mormon populations in the nation. When we visited last week, we were blown away by the amount of Mormon wards either already built or being built within the burgeoning suburban developments. Equally as encouraging as the opportunity for ministry to lost souls was the unity amongst local pastors. We’ve heard story after story of how many of them help each other, meet together, pray for one another, and encourage one another. Personally, this was refreshing. Like many other Christians, I loathe cutthroat and competitive attitudes between pastors. There’s so little time to waste and souls to be won.

In the region we’ll be moving to there is a huge spiritual need and I am thankful that God called us to join the army of Christian workers already laboring there.

The Superior Replacement

What few will realize at this stage in the transition is what a superior replacement the new executive pastor at Mission Bible Church is. Simply put: he is far better than me in that role! I know this because not only is he a very dear friend, but I’ve watched him faithfully shepherd the local church and prove to be an administrative mastermind. As much as I feel like God opened a door for me to step deeper into my calling as a preacher and a shepherd, I can’t help but simultaneously think that He moved me out-of-the-way in order to take Mission Bible into the future under a better leader. Only God can make all the pieces fit so perfectly. The new XP is a gift to MBC and the best is yet to come because of his God-given talents. I’m excited to shift roles from pastor to cheerleader for the amazing leaders and people who’ve been our family for these past several years.

Like any transition, there is a mix of emotions. God has allowed us to foster relationships that will impact us for the rest of our lives. As Pastor Tony described it in his announcement to the congregation at MBC on Sunday, “It’s a time of both tears and cheers because of how much we all love each other. But remember, this is not a loss. This is simply our Father moving one of His children from one room in His house to another. We’re all still part of the same family.”

There will undoubtedly be many new challenges and many joyous victories ahead. No matter what, Jesus is building His church and we’re honored to be laboring to that end at Redeemer Bible Church.

Arizona here we come!

Top 3 Questions Defining Deception’s Readers are Asking

Over the past 3 months our latest book, Defining Deception, has ended up in the hands of nearly 3000 people. Reviews are pouring in from people who claim a variety of denominational alliances and most (including Pentecostals and Charismatics) are calling the book a timely work with a balanced argument. So, for all the potential controversy the book could have caused, it seems to be clear that Christians from all walks of life are tired of the deception; they want the truth.

In light of phone calls, emails, and personal correspondence with pastors and people who’ve read the book, here are the top 3 questions people are asking. Keep in mind, these are brief answers that should spark your own thoughts in light of Scripture. Much more can be said here.

#1 Does your church sing Bethel songs?

Both Pastor Anthony and I serve the same church so our answer is the same. Absolutely not. To be blunt, we’d be hypocrites if we wrote Defining Deception and offered the evangelical community advice on something we weren’t implementing ourselves. The book was originally written for our church, so much of it had already been taught there.

Our plurality of leaders – which includes pastoral staff and lay elders – are completely aligned on the convictions of Mission Bible Church. More importantly, we’re aligned on the clarity of the Scriptures regarding false teachers and doctrines that damage the bride of Christ. Our structure is such that a worship pastor at MBC must be theologically astute and capable of building a ministry team of worshippers who are guided by biblical convictions on worship. There is no room for compromise.

There isn’t a singer, guitarist, drummer, or tech volunteer who isn’t theologically aligned with what we call, “Tier 1” doctrinal beliefs. This includes Christology, which Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Bill Johnson specialize in butchering.

Dr. Steve Lawson was with us at Mission Bible recently when he squared up nearly 100 local church leaders and declared with unwavering boldness:  “The preacher is the worship leader!” That’s how we feel about the importance of preaching the truth in a church. There is no split between the pulpit and the piano. What is preached will be sung. What is sung will be preached.

#2 Why is the book so Short?

Because we wanted people to read it and use it quickly. Most readers don’t want a historical textbook that takes them down every rabbit hole of every sub group of every movement. Besides, better men have written those textbooks already. For now, Defining Deception was written with pastors and laymen (laywomen) in mind who are in the local church trenches. The book needed to be clear and concise so it could be consumed. Things were broken down into the most basic form so people could see the errors, identify with the illustrations, and convey the truth to others in a portable way.

Still, if you’re looking for a longer version then you will find it useful to go through the footnotes. There are literally countless videos, articles, and other books that you can put to use and further your research just like we did. Just make sure your kids aren’t around when you watch the Kenneth Hagin videos. They’re literally demonic.

#3 How do we get our church to change?

This is a loaded question – but a very serious one. I’ve spoken to multiple pastors with churches that have split over the “Bethel Music” issue. I know other churches with pastors who refuse to read the book, endorse the book, or to involve themselves in the issue because they’re scared of what they’ll lose if they stand for truth. Whatever the situation, here are several helpful things to keep in mind when trying to change the direction of your church on this issue. These may depend on whether your a member of the church or a pastor of the church:

Be respectful of church leadership. Sometimes they are busy doing funerals, hospice care, discipleship, evangelism, preaching prep for multiple sermons, counseling, meeting with elders, balancing the budget, leading the staff, and loving their family…(deep breath)…so they haven’t had the chance to get up to speed on the latest hot-button issues. This isn’t an excuse for their lack of protecting the flock, but it is a reason for people to be understanding of the speed with which a pastor catches up on all issues. Bethel may not be on your pastor’s radar yet. Help him by providing the book and telling him, “Pastor, I’m with you all the way if you have to take on these issues in our church.”

God hates when people spread strife among the brethren (Proverbs 6:19). Steer clear of divisive behavior, developing factions and pushing your weight around. Starting a theological gang to overthrow the leadership or start a worship war is not how to go about changing a church.

Your pastor may be an imposter who is not a real pastor. This one may rub some people the wrong way but it’s clear in Scripture that Satan likes to use deception to infiltrate the ranks of the church (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). There may be a “pastor” in your church who the elders need to remove because he’s not fulfilling his mandate to shepherd the flock faithfully. Keep in mind, the elders need to do it. Stay calm and trust leadership to do their God-given job. Even the best of men are men at best. Give leadership the chance to make things right.

It may be best to leave your church. This is not the first choice for anybody who loves the bride of Christ. I know of people who have stayed in a church for years; praying the pastor out before they ever dreamed about leaving. Still, there may come a time when it’s just too divisive to stay. It also may be that your church leadership is unified on going a dangerous direction. Whatever the case, people should seriously pray about going somewhere safe; somewhere that the pulpit is fearsomely devoted to truth. Find a church that loves God’s people enough to protect them.

Start a Sunday school class or mid-week study addressing these issues. What Bethel and it’s leaders are teaching is Christological heresy and many people likely don’t know that because they don’t know much about the doctrine of Christ to begin with. Take several weeks and teach people in your church about the truth. Use the errors as illustrations of deception and preface the class by explaining that you’re going to name names at some point (Romans 16:17-18). Maybe even include a session called, “Paul Named Names…So Should We,” before calling out certain people. Some Christians have been so malnourished they need to be helped with just the basics about Jesus. Whatever you decide, equipping God’s people is the best way to help lead change. He designed us that way!

As the months carry on and Defining Deception makes its way overseas and into churches across America, one thing is for sure: people are desperate for the truth. May God continue to use the book to bring much needed nourishment to starving souls. Best of all, we’re praying that the Lord use it to save people from the clutches of darkness – no matter how good it looks…or sounds.


 

Defining Deception can be ordered via Amazon by clicking here.

For bulk orders, distribution, or other inquiries email chinn@missionbible.org.