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    PERSONAL TESTIMONY

WHY DAMASCUS ROAD EXPERIENCE...  WHY NOW?

I have been asked this question on many occasions by many different people, and I have only one answer... I don't know. All I can say is that I feel this is what God is calling me to do, and I will continue to give 100% to this ministry unless He points me in a different direction. The Damascus Road Experience is founded on a few remarkably simple concepts which I think churches of today have forgotten as they morph from ministry entities into business entities. Please take the time to read my personal testimony (link on left side of page), which will hopefully give you more insight into why this ministry is called the Damascus Road Experience.

SIMPLE BIBLE BASED BELIEF STRUCTURE

The first concept that the Damascus Road Experience is founded on is a strong set of beliefs that are all backed by scripture and posted on this website in an easy to read format. It might seem trivial for a church to say their beliefs are backed by the Bible; however, I fear some churches teach concepts that are not found in the Bible. We teach a doctrine of scriptural self reliance, where each individual has the responsibility of confirming the scriptural reality of their beliefs. The Bible teaches to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing who teach false doctrines, and people need to use the Bible as the ultimate gage with which to measure teachings. If the Bible says it, we believe it without question. We also believe that the Bible is perfectly complete and infallable in every word of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It is for this reason that we do not teach or believe doctrines that are not contained within the Bible; the Ultimate Creator of the Universe did not omit anything of importance or make a mistake.

A FAMILY OF BELIEVERS

The second concept that the Damascus Road Experience is founded on is that the church is a group of Christians. The Biblical church was a group of believers who fellowshipped together, debated scriptures together, sold possessions to share with each other, gave money to help the needy and praised God together. The Biblical description of church is much more than a social club; the Biblical description of a church is a family. They could call each other a brother or sister in Christ because they truly became family, and they would do anything for each other.

DISCIPLING CHRISTIANS

The third concept that the Damascus Road Experience is founded on is that the church should disciple Christians. I believe the focus of churches has changed from a focus on discipling Christians to numerical growth. I remember when Sunday mornings were "Sunday School" and Sunday evenings were "Discipleship Training". Sunday mornings were focused on learning the Bible stories while Sunday evenings were focused on how to apply the learnings in those stories to daily life, and more importantly how to share your beliefs with others (witnessing). The responsibility for witnessing and reaching out to non-Christians fell on the church members, while the church took responsibility for preparing those members for that purpose.

The focus of churches today seems to be more and more on growing attendance and offerings. Sunday School, which used to focus on Bible stories, has been replaced by self help sessions focused on things such as relationship management, love languages, parenting, etc. The purpose of this change is to make it more comfortable for non-Christians to attend, who would likely not attend a "lecture" that focused on Biblical teachings. Discipleship Training, which used to focus on teaching Christians how to live Biblical lives and reach others for Christ, has been replaced with things such as men's fraternity, Biblical weight-loss groups, marriage studies, financial planning seminars, etc. It should come as no surprise that the effectiveness of churches has diminished as the focus has shifted away from the original purpose, with churches being filled with non-Christiand and inmature Christians who know little about the Bible.

OUTWARD VERSUS INWARD FOCUS

The fourth concept that the Damascus Road Experience is founded on is that the church should have an outward focus. Churches seem to be judged by the size of their buildings instead of the number of lives they impact in a postive way. Churches are fast to teach a doctrine of stewardship; however, I do not feel that churches are being good stewards of the tithes and offerings given to God through them. Paul talked of how he continued to work to financially support his own ministry. Contrast his servant spirit with the pastors of today who take excessive money out of the offering to live in mansions and drive luxury automobiles.

Where are churches spending their money? It is obvious where the tithes go as many churches have facilities that rival those of the local YMCA or other fitness clubs - they are satisfying their inward wants instead of working to fulfill the Great Commission.

MERGING VERSUS SPLITTING

I believe the largest problem facing churches today is their propensity to split. A simple example will show how a church split negatively impacts their ability to minister to others. Assume a church has 100 families with average annual income of $50,000 and that they all tithe. That church would collect annual offerings of $500,000. We will assume that 60% ($300,000) is spent on administration (staff salaries, building & grounds, utilities, maintenance, etc). Now what if that church were to split exactly in half, resulting in two churches of 50 families with average annual income of $50,000 who all tithe. Each of the two churches would collect annual offerings of $250,000; however, the church that stayed in the original location would still have a budget with administration costs of $300,000. They would immediately need to start cutting their discretionary spending or reduce staff, both of which would have an immediate negative impact on their ministries. The newly formed church would need to hire a staff and obtain a location for services, resulting in their own administration costs. While the church that stayed could reduce its administration costs to around $200,000, it is likely that the newly formed church would have administartion costs of around $200,000 also. The overall result of the split is that the two churches will have combined administration costs of $400,000 out of offerings of $500,000, meaning the percentage of tithes used on administration rose from 60% to 80% due to the split.

The opposite holds true if those same two churches merged, since they would no longer need duplicate staff members or two meeting locations leaving more money for reaching out to and helping others. The best thing that could happen would be for churches to go through a period of mergers, where congregations put aside their selfish pride and join together in an effort to make a larger impact on the communities in which they live. I know of several churches that are approaching financial bankruptcy (they achieved spiritual bankruptcy many years ago). These churches continue to reduce their operating budgets in an effort to keep their doors open, but they are in a position where 100% of their incoming offerings are spent on administration costs and their attendance continues to drop. It is nothing more than pride that keeps these churches operating in this condition, as their only focus is survival instead of ministry. If one of these churches with an annual offering of $100,000 were to merge with another church, the resulting church would have an increase in attendance as well as increased income of $100,000. This increased offering income would be 100% discretionary and could be spent on ministries (assuming they would not need to hire additional staff due to the increased attendance). It is also possible that two of those failing churches could create a healthy church with a new beginning by merging, but their pride will prevent this from happening. It has become "their" church instead of God's church.

The Damascus Road Experience will strive to facilitate church mergers by teaching the Biblical purpose of the church. A single church was started at Pentecost, and there is no Biblical evidence of a church split. The original church focused on helping each other, supporting each other, fellowshipping together, worshipping with each other, helping the needy and reaching a lost world for Christ. These original purposes are lost in a day where churches split over style of music, proper attire and building projects. The root cause of churches splitting today is that those churches have lost site of their divine purpose. I believe that churches should do everything they can to achieve the Great Commission, including merging congregations where possible.

Feel free to email questions or comments to: info@damascusroadexperience.com