2. When every part of the church’s life is hospitable to people who do not yet grasp the Gospel.
3. When we move away from a ‘tribal’ atmosphere to a ‘missional’ atmosphere.
4. When we respect and talk to people like we do at work.
(Find common ground to build friendships)
5. When we understand more and more how the Gospel changes everything.
The Gospel Changes Everything
The Gospel changes people from the inside out. Christ gives us a radically new identity, freeing us from both self-righteousness and self-condemnation. He liberates us to accept people we once excluded, and to break the bondage of things (even good things) that once drove us. In particular, the gospel makes us welcoming and respectful toward those who do not share our beliefs. We can deeply love people who reject or are indifferent to Gospel because we understand that it was the goodness of God that led us to repentance.
This small book has been over ten years in the making. It is a commentary and study guide for the doctrinal teachings of the Church of God aligned with our Declaration of Faith. It was initially prepared for Bible School and seminary students due to the lack of Sunday school and teaching literature in the Bulgarian vernacular. Through the years however, it has became the standard teaching tool in Sunday schools and programs across the country being used in several Bulgarian churches across Europe as well.
The Bible series was initially published in single lesson leaflets for the Church of God in Sofia. Our team would prepare the lessons every week and print about a thousand copies of each to teach at the beginning of each Sunday morning service. As we gathered information from the local churches at the 2002 Church of God national minister’s meeting, it was reported that thousands of leaflets were being copied, distributed and taught each month without us even knowing about it. Our team has further presented the complete series in the Church of God congregations of Sofia, Pravetz, Ruse, Gabrovo and even Chicago. We are grateful that after all these years it has finally seen its publication as a book accompanied with the video teachings of our weekly Bible Hour broadcast program.
Lessons accompanied with video presentations included in volume 1:
Lesson 1: My Bible
Lesson 2: Holy Trinity
Lesson 3: Jesus Christ
Lesson 4: Repentance for Salvation
Lesson 5: Difficult Questions
Lesson 6: Fasting
Lesson 7: Prayer
Lesson 8: Holiness
Lesson 9: Holy Ghost Baptism
Lesson 10: Giving and Charity
Lesson 11: Water Baptism
Lesson 12: Divine Healing
Lesson 12: Divine Healing
Lesson 13: Holy Communion
Lesson 14: Last Days
Lesson 15: Resurrections
Lesson 16: Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit
Lesson 17: Theology with Melody
Lesson 18: Ministry and Praxis
Lesson 19: Angels
Lesson 20: Pentecostal Primitivism
“Selling out the Church” is a protest against the market-driven shape which society has given to the modern church. The authors defend the thesis that the form in which the gospel is manifested molds the content of its message. The main focus is on the aggressive use of marketing principles to advance the vision of the church without taking into consideration all negative effects that may follow because of it.
They contend the church marketing principles articulated by Kotler claiming that the purpose of the church is to be a sign of the future Kingdom and the new creation which God is bringing into being. The marketing principles actively oppose this purpose of the Christian church as they emphasize on making the church more attractive to the eventual “customers.”
These strategies wrongly accent on attracting people to the Christian community through offering them to meet their apparent needs and thus give them proper reasons for being churchgoers. This way the target of the church becomes the consumer as the church is expected to provide the proper products. The problem is that the Christian faith does not follow “the logic of self interested exchanges.”
The main problem is that when the church acts as just another manufacturer of hopes, it is no longer able to act as directed by God. The actual truth is that the world no longer expects the church to act according to its calling but rather according the present market needs. Meeting the worlds expectation means the church mission is redefined to whether or not a “customer” would keep his/her business with the church.
The importance of the book is its presentation of how any cultural formation introduced into the church, can deform its message and form a corrupted vision, which will reflect negatively on its future development.
Metropolitan Neofit of Ruse was elected Sunday as the new spiritual leader of Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christians amid social unrest threatening to throw the Balkan country in a serious political crisis. The 67-year-old Neofit was picked among three candidates shortlisted in a secret ballot by the 14 bishops that make up the Holy Synod of the church.
The enthronement ceremony for Patriarch Neofit was held at Sofia with ongoing nationwide protests against high energy bills, poverty and corruption, and demands for radical political reforms, which forced the government to resign. Speaking at the ceremony, President Rosen Plevneliev voiced hope the new patriarch will contribute to Orthodox unity and the strengthening of the faith, and will preserve the integrity of the church.
The main challenges Neofit will face at home are addressing church unity, the church’s isolation from current public concerns, financial troubles and the dwindling number of priests and monks. Last year, a panel investigating communist-era secret services announced that 11 of the 15 metropolitans had ties to those services. Among those named was also Neofit. Over 20 Pentecostal and charismatic denominational leaders were also revealed to have been a part of a nationwide network of secret agents and handlers organized by the communist secret police. Yet, only two have resigned form their leadership positions. Alike many evangelical leaders in Bulgaria, the patriarch of the Orthodox church is elected for life.
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, who weathered a revolt over his Communist-era ties to lead his country’s Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years, died here on Tuesday. He was 98. Patriarch Maxim’s tenure as the church’s leader bridged Bulgaria’s transition from Communism.
Orthodox Christianity is Bulgaria’s dominant religion, followed by more than 80 percent of the country’s 7.4 million people. Patriarch Maxim’s tenure as the church’s leader bridged the country’s transition from Communism, and he withstood efforts to oust him by the new democratic government and by rebel priests who saw him as a Communist ally. Born Marin Naidenov Minkov on Oct. 29, 1914, he graduated from the Sofia Seminary in 1935 and entered Sofia University’s theology department in 1938, before rising through the church ranks to be named patriarch on July 4, 1971.
After the collapse of Communism in 1989, Bulgaria’s new democratic government sought to replace Communist-appointed figureheads, including the patriarch. The church split between supporters of Patriarch Maxim and breakaway clergymen, who tried to oust him and then formed their own synod. The division plunged the church into turmoil, with church buildings being occupied, priests breaking into fistfights on church steps, and water cannons and tear gas being turned on rebel bishops to clear the main St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia. For more than a decade the two synods existed side by side. The schism ended in 2010, when the head of the alternative synod called for healing and the synod was dissolved.
Patriarch Maxim was hailed for meeting with Pope John Paul II during the pontiff’s visit to Sofia in 2002, a trip seen as warming the frosty relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican. The Holy Synod of 13 senior clergy members will choose an interim patriarch until a larger Church Council is held within four months to pick Patriarch Maxim’s successor, church officials said.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
Pastors who served as agents of the secret police during the Communist Regime in Bulgaria are being revealed this week through special legal provision of the Bulgarian Constitution, which allows secret government dossiers and archives to be made public. The law excuses ministers who are retired, immigrated or deceased as it pays special attention to people who continue to serve on denominational boards, heads of religious organizations or church pastors.
The released records have revealed a significant count of Bulgarian evangelical pastors, who have served directly under the Communist government as secret agents and are currently serving in lead positions in their respective churches and denominations. At least 17 agents have infiltrated the Pentecostal churches in Bulgaria (including the Assemblies of God, Church of God and other charismatic denominations). The count is overwhelming in comparison with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church representing some 90% of Bulgaria’s general population with only 11 regional bishops with secret police dossiers.
The newly released documents reveal that these pastor-agents served the Regime through willfully betraying and reporting fellow ministers and their respective ministries, regularly submitting the names of new believers joining their congregations and the activities of their churches as a whole. Special interest in their reports seems to have been given to “foreign religious emissaries” – missionaries from sister-denominations in other countries who visited Bulgarian evangelicals with the purpose of bringing moral and financial support, smuggling Bibles or just encouraging the churches during their time of trials and tribulations under the Regime.
Even more disturbing is the lack of definite and unified response on behalf of the current denominational leaders and the repulsiveness of the general public on the issue as a whole. While the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance appealed for prayerful but fair dealing with the said misconducts, the Bulgarian Assemblies of God has chosen to deal with the issue internally behind closed doors and the Church of God in Bulgaria has postponed discussion to its general meeting in March or perhaps May. Several outspoken leaders from the Congregational and Apostolic churches have been unsuccessful in bringing about a public debate involving all Bulgarian Protestants, while journalistic investigations in the Christian media have been openly attacked in attempt to be kept silent.
It is understood that many of the said pastor-agents were coerced to serve as such through pressure in their jobs, friends, families and in some cases even their children. Yet, the Bulgarian churches are now struggling to cope with the fact that leading ministers within their denominational structures have continually and purposefully reported on the life of the church, thus betraying fellow believers and ministers.