- FOR CHRISTIANS
1. THE BIBLE: The Bible is a supernatural book that changes hearts and lives. Jesus did not call us to be His fans, but to be His disciples, which means students. That includes reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word. Church involvement and Christian fellowship are of limited spiritual value to the Christian who is not wrestling with God’s Word. The purposes of one’s Bible study include drawing closer to God, applying God’s teachings to one’s own life, and teaching His Word to others. The Joshua One challenge: for every Christian to read and pray through at least one chapter of the Bible each day.
2. PRAYER: In prayer we draw close to God, and God draws close to us. In prayer we open our heart to God and God fills us with His Spirit. Prayer should be a daily conversation, planning meeting and counseling session between each believer and the God he or she serves. Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God, and that makes prayer — conversing with God, thanking and praising Him, submitting to Him — a No. 1 priority.
3. FELLOWSHIP: Every Christian should be part of a group of believers who know each other and share their faith with each other. Worship service attendance is a good thing, but it does not take the place of the “one another” experience described throughout the New Testament — teaching and testifying to each other, confessing sins to each other, encouraging and supporting each other, loving and serving each other. It may be a Sunday School class, a Bible study group, a home meeting or a ministry team. Regardless of the format, genuine and intimate fellowship is an essential aspect of discipleship. However, in our busy culture it is increasingly rare.
4. CHURCH HEALTH: We must start measuring the progress of our churches by God’s ideals rather than worldly standards. Enough is enough with the modern focus on the ABCs of attendance, buildings and cash. Much more importantly, we need to be asking: are our members drawing closer to God, studying His Word, praying, being filled with the Spirit, growing in love and reaching out evangelistically to family and friends? It is not enough to count the noses of those we are drawing; we must also consider: What are we drawing them to? Besides, the best church growth is a product of good church health.
5. PREACHING AND TEACHING THE WORD: The most important ingredient ensuring good church health is an emphasis on God’s Word. Christians pay little attention to the Bible because they attend churches that pay little attention to the Bible. Many churches imagine themselves to be Bible churches because they give lip service to the Word, but it is not the primary basis of their teachings or their practices. A church’s commitment to the Word should manifest itself in many ways, including:
* Bible preaching: It is woefully insufficient for a sermon to merely mention Scripture, as just another device to punctuate the sermon. A good sermon begins with the preacher wrestling with God’s Word and then proclaiming what God has taught.
* Enthusiastic promotion of Biblical education through many different means, including Sunday School and Bible study groups.
* Pastors and elders who are chosen for their knowledge of the Bible and their ability to preach and teach it.
6. GOOD LEADERS: A church is only as good as its leaders, only as strong as its leaders, only as healthy as its leaders, only as united as its leaders. Many church problems can be traced to leaders who are unqualified and untrained. We must become much more intentional about recruiting and training church leaders, and being careful to install only those who are qualified. The most obvious qualifications are being full of the Spirit, knowing God’s Word well and demonstrating spiritual wisdom.
7. HELPING THE POOR: Helping the poor was a primary theme of Jesus’ life and teachings. Jesus went so far as to say on several occasions that helping the poor is required of all disciples. It is “true religion.” Many American Christians live in materialistic excess unimaginable to most people of most other countries, cultures and generations. For us especially, helping the poor is an essential way of translating our faith into action.
8. MINISTRY TO MEXICO AND LATIN AMERICA: The whole world is our mission field, and we commend evangelism everywhere on the globe. However, Joshua One believes that in this century, Christian outreach to Mexico and Latin America is more important than ever. As tensions increase between the U.S. and our Spanish-speaking neighbors, it is disappointing to see many Christians passionately advocating political solutions while devoting little attention to the God-given solution: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors. For American Christians, our most obvious neighbors are the 110 million people of Mexico and the 600 million in all of Latin America. Although our primary motivation is their eternal souls, another reason is concern for our own country. If we care about the future of the United States of America, we should be making the 21st century the century of Latin American missions.
First and foremost, we should be providing much-needed support to our many Christian brothers and sisters in the many Christ-honoring, Bible-believing churches of Mexico and Latin America.