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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.