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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Top 10 Churches in the World (by size)

Wolfgang Simson has an interesting post at his SimplyChurch blog that talks about the world's top ten largest churches.  Interestingly enough, not one is in the United States!  Read on...

Agreed: influence in today´s world is far more important than size.
However, looking at the number of people attending some of the world´s largest churches in the year 2004 gives us an understanding of where we are going in the future. Many things are changing: Churches, that have had 300.000 attenders 10 years ago, like the once famous cinema-church "Ondas del Luz y Amor" in Buenos Aires, are almost gone. Completely new models are emerging, like in India´s city Allahabad, where, on Sunday, a University simply changes into a church, with up to 80.000 people attending weekly.

Membership figures are changing strongly, and active participation can be more acurately measured by attendance - "voting with our feet" - than being a name on a membership roll. Yonggi Chos church in Seoul, for example, speaks of 773.000 members, but "only" 253.000 do actually attend the services in the main church and the Seoul satellite churches.

But one of the emerging trends is that clearly "Church" is getting defined in a very different way than we used to. It moves from a denominationally organized setup to organic regionality, from pastoral leadership to apostolic networks, from leaders to elders or parents. Church is no longer just a single organized "Church" with a Senior pastor, a building with a steeple and a programme, but more the organic fellowship and community of Christians in a City or Region - as in NT times. The Body then is the sum total of all members of the interconnected housechurches, cells, groups and interdependent churches. Leadership is no any longer happening through one Senior Pastor, but through regional teams, often functioning acording to apostolic patterns. Connectedness happens through our belonging to Christ and a earthly home: our common region or city. Unity is practically expressed in housechurches that are linked together as well as large Celebrations, or at least regional leadership meeings in areas, where the church is being watched or persecuted. A comparatively small housechurch network in an area in China, for example, would count 400.000 attenders, large ones several millions. The 10 largest regional (not national!) housechurch networks in China, Vietnam or North-India would completely change the list below.

Rank Pastor Church -- average attenders

1. Yonggi Cho Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea
253.000

2. Javier Vasquez Yotabeche Methodist P. Church, Santiago, Chile
150.000

3. William Kumuyi Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, Nigeria
120.000

4. Mario Vega Elim Church, San Salvador, El Salvador
117,000

5. Cesar Castellanos Mision Carismatica Internacional, Bogota, Kolumbien
90.000

6. Omar Cabrera Vision de Futuro, Santa Fe, Argentinien
70.000

7. Pastor Oh Young Nak Presbyterian Church, S.Korea
60.000

8. David Oyedepa Winners Chapel, Ota, Nigeria
50.000

9. R.B. Lal Yesu Darbar, Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Indien
40.000

10. V. Choudhrie Chattisgarh/MPradesh Housechurchnet, Indien
30.000

FOR DISCUSSION:  Anything here suprise you?

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May 27, 2005 in Church Growth | Permalink

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» What in the world is God doing? from duanecoBlogs
I found this article to be very intriguing. Compared to the article I posted last week on the consumeristic, capitalistic, American church, it makes for very interesting discussion. [Read More]

Tracked on May 30, 2005 12:02:39 AM

Comments

Where is the church of 100? It seems the only way to be a "Top" church is to be one in the thousands!

That would leave out Philippi, Colossi, Derbe, etc...

Posted by: Al | May 27, 2005 10:43:55 AM

Nowhere did anyone say that small churches were invaluable or insignificant. This is merely an article to show that the church universal is much bigger than your church, community, state, or nation. Korean people are important to God as well.

My main purpose for posting this article is this fact: we are so consumed with our churches and culture in the US, that we forget that God isn't American. I love how Lou Giglio puts it, "God does not have a church fetish"! (but that's a whole other post!)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | May 27, 2005 10:47:49 AM

Todd,

"This is merely an article to show that the church universal is much bigger than your church..."

Brother that is for sure! In fact I like to think of my little church as actually being in the thousands! Why? Because all of us are part of the church universal. I would like us to think of our specific “fellowships” as part of the One Great Church of God! Am I wrong for wanting that?

Al

Posted by: Al | May 27, 2005 11:31:39 AM

Why is it we list the name of the pastor of the congregation whenever we see lists like this one? It is not just in this article, but most places that list congregations and their accomplishments, there is a listing of the pastor--like he is responsible for the whole thing.

HMMMM.

Paul

Posted by: Paul Meinsen | May 27, 2005 1:23:58 PM

"but more the organic fellowship and community of Christians in a City or Region - as in NT times."

This is the most valuable point for Christian leaders of America. Until we can facilitate the importance and growth of community in a very complete way, growth will always be hindered and thus will knowledge of Truth.

Posted by: IAMTOO7 | May 27, 2005 4:36:00 PM

"but more the organic fellowship and community of Christians in a City or Region - as in NT times."

This truly is the point. We don't consider THE Church in terms of Cities (like in NT times, Ephesus, Corinth, Phillipi, etc) like the Church in Chicago or Church in New York.

In my hometown there are over 150 churches. That's allot of "house" meetings.

Is everyone in the church "christian" no, just as not all Israel is Israel BUT there is no doubt that if Christians were to congregate in each city (like New York, Chicago, Denver, etc) we would have Churches the size formentioned (imagine how many "pastors" would lose their "status" though - ouch!).

I've mentioned before the REASON we have so many churches are doctrinal divisions BUT there is a "new" movement that seems to be uniting the churches, pentecostal and catholic, baptist and methodist, etc BUT I'm not sure it's uniting under the Truth but rather a diluded illusion of truth.

What I've noticed is that ALL "churches" seem to gravitate towards "common" books - the first were Max Lucado, now they are Rick Warren and Joel Osteen.

So in one sense, the church is becoming "one" like NT "cities" and "regions" BUT in another sense, many are wondering if there is indeed a dividing "force" that hovers over this "new unity" (the likes of which are Doctrinal and Godliness - really, on both sides - one Truly and the other seemingly the "form" of godliness and doctrine).

Just my thoughts. Have a great weekend and remember those who died for the Truth this weekend (great weekend to go back through Fox's book).

Posted by: BeHim | May 27, 2005 6:11:11 PM

Paul/David Yonggi Cho's "church" in S. Korea is not a Christian Church, in my opinion. They are a hard-core "Word of Faith" organization. I've heard the man himself speak in person here in San Jose, and let's just say that on a 1 to 10 scale my discernment-o-meter pegged about a 35. His "Word of Faith" doctrine so permeates everything he teaches that he may as well have said "The [faith] force be with you..." at the end of service. Truly, God is used, not worshipped, and only "worshipped" for what he can do for us (means to an end) rather than who He is. It both saddened me and confirmed all I'd heard. Like dealing with Mormons and other cults, most of Cho's stuff is so wild (e.g., Jesus appearing to him, dressed as a fireman of course) that most people don't want to believe it -- even when they hear it out of his own mouth.

This list also confirms the charismatic explosion. This may surprise some, but not me. Cultures used to worship in altered mental states and having traditions of spiritual superstitions will fall right in to the rampant superstitions and pseudo-gnostic "lost in the spirit" (never mind *which* spirit) experiences endemic to the Pentecostal movement. Because of the rampant hucksterism and charlatanry by these movements, we're now seeing some governments (especially in Africa) and citizenry fed up with wild claims and unfruitful results and have pushed for offical bans and wide-spread unoffical persecution. This hurts all Christians who want to spread the gospel. Full disclosure: I'm a recovering Pentecostal with about three years of sobriety in that area [*grin*].

Posted by: Phil in CA | May 27, 2005 6:29:58 PM

250,000 in one "church"? I think that is what we call a denomination, right?

---------
visit me @ http://www.emerginglife.org

Posted by: J. R. Miller | May 27, 2005 7:08:48 PM

"Paul/David Yonggi Cho's "church" in S. Korea is not a Christian Church, in my opinion."

Dude. You are seriously deceived. Get saved.

Posted by: Art | May 27, 2005 10:40:36 PM

"Paul/David Yonggi Cho's "church" in S. Korea is not a Christian Church, in my opinion."

"Dude. You are seriously deceived. Get saved."

I'll second that!

Posted by: Jerry | May 27, 2005 11:25:23 PM

I'm saved, Art & Jerry. As for deception, let's see...

"Jesus is bound to what you speak forth. As well as you can release Jesus' power through your spoken word, you can also create the presence of Christ. If you do not speak the word of faith clearly, Christ can never be released" -- [Paul Yonggi Cho, "The Fourth Dimension" pg. 81-82]

"You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. If you speak about salvation, the saving Jesus appears. If you speak about divine healing, then you will have the healing Christ in your congregation. If you speak the miracle performing Jesus, then the presence of the miracle performing Jesus is released. He is bound by your lips and by your words. He is depending on you." -- [Paul Yonggi Cho, "The Fourth Dimension" pg. 83]

"Any man's spirit or subconscious, Christian or non-Christian, can be developed to control the natural world and "carry out dominion" upon their third dimension circumstances (e.g., "visualize a bike, get a bike"). […] To accomplish this, the human spirit/subconscious must join up with the spirit of either the evil fourth dimension or the good fourth dimension. Thus, Buddhists possess the identical subconscious powers as Christians. " -- [Paul Yonggi Cho, "The Fourth Dimension"]

In "Prosperity: Our Three-Fold Blessings in Christ" Cho teaches our "promises" of prosperity and physical health, in addition to salvation (that is, a "salvation" validated by money and health). His "faith incubation" process is essentially a new age visualization program wherein you can make your "vision" reality by mental prowess. This, essentially, his core belief system.

"Full Gospel faith not only accepts the Gospel of salvation which Christ made complete as He was resurrected from the dead, but also believes in the release from physical illness and salvation for the cursed life." --- Yoido Full Gospel Church web site.

"Cho recently made the news by changing his name from Paul to David. As Cho tells the story, God showed him that Paul Cho had to die and David Cho was to be resurrected in his place. According to Cho, God Himself came up with his new name." --- Christians Research Institute article, citing a November 1992 interview by C. Peter Wagner, Charisma & Christian Life "Yonggi Cho Changes His Name" So, instead of being dead and then alive in Christ [Gal. 2:20], Cho died and is alive in… Cho!

If those don't convince you, nothing will. Cho's "christianity" is Word of Faith, second-rate metaphysics, and Soka Gakkai (a health and prosperity form of Buddhism, also known as Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism) mixed in a blender and poured out on an increasingly Biblically illiterate world.

See more: http://apologeticsindex.com/c17.html

Posted by: Phil in CA | May 27, 2005 11:40:20 PM

If I had to identify with a particular camp, I would probably be labeled "Word of Faith."

However, I want to point out that Cho is one of the people that has taught things that gives WOF a bad name. There are many things he has written that I agree are New Age rather than Christian!

However, about "Salvation"

The Greek Word Salvation is Soteria which means "Total and complete deliverance and freedom"

Gal. 3:13 says that Christ has redeemed us from the CURSE OF THE LAW by becoming a curse for us...so that the blessing of Abraham may come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith"

Read Deut. 28 and you will see both the promises in the Abrahamic Blessing and the Curse of the Law (for not keeping the ordinances of the Old Covenant Law).

2 Cor. 1:20-22 says that "ALL of the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus and (vs 22) the Spirit is our guaruntee"

Thus, salvation through faith in Jesus includes all of God's promises (forgiveness, deliverance, healing, provision, etc, etc)

Romans 10:8-10 "The Word is near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, that is the Word of Faith which we preach (oh no, Paul was Word of Faith too). That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved (soteria- total & complete salvation. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness (right standing with God) and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (soteria)"

Why do people want to fight against God providing us with a salvation that includes physical healing and prosperity?

If all God promised us was forgiveness, peace and eternity in heaven, I would accept that wonderful gift! But He has provided us with so much more!!

Yes, this life can be hard, even if we walk in the Covenant blessings of God. Life (on this side of heaven) is a "fight of faith". But the Apostle Paul said "You should no longer walk like the Gentiles (people without God) walk, in the futility of their minds. Being alienated from the LIFE of God because of the ignorance that is in them" He also said, "You were once strangers from the COMMON WEALTH OF ISRAEL (DEUT. 28) AND THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE, having no hope and without God in this world. But now IN CHRIST JESUS you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.....Therefore, you are no longer strangers but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." (see Ephesians 2:11-19).

That's not New Age or Dr.Cho, that's the Word of God!

Posted by: Vince | May 28, 2005 12:15:46 AM

Vince,

One of problems with (WOF movement) is that they mix both the old a new covenant, this causes confusion. It’s like mixing law and grace. If you mix the old and new or law with grace it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You reference Deut. 28 and attempt to connect it with Gal. 3:13 as to (the curse of the law). The (curse of the law) in Gal. 3:13 refers to the second death not to the curses found in Deut. 28. The old dealt with a earthly law and earthly curses and blessings, the new deals with spiritual law and spiritual curses and blessings.

Romans 10:8-10 "The Word is near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, that is the Word of Faith which we preach”. The (Word of Faith) means the (Gospel of Jesus Christ) which we preach.

(Heb 8:6-13) But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is (superior to the old one), and (it is founded on better promises). For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said : "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (It will not be like the covenant) I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete); and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

You ask:

“Why do people want to fight against God providing us with a salvation that includes physical healing and prosperity?”


We don’t, but our focus is not on the physical but the spiritual, the heavenly not the earthly. Consider Paul, he received neither physical healing nor financial prosperity. Was he then cursed even though he spoke the (word of faith) as you see it’s meaning?

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the (heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ).

(Luke 12:33-34) Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, (a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted), where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also).

(1 Tim 6:17-19) Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant (nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain), but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, (so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life).

Vince, seek not after what the flesh desires after but what God desires and everything else you need God will provide. Yes, we all desire after health and wealth because we are in this body but that is not what is to be our focus in this life we now live.

Posted by: Michael | May 29, 2005 12:34:10 PM

First of all the Bible never says that Paul did not receive healing. You are refering to the passage in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul speaks of the thorn in the flesh. Religious tradition always assumes this is sickness (that's due to a lack of understanding the Greek text it was written in).

First of all, Paul said the thorn in the flesh was from the devil not God ("A messenger of satan").

God said "My Grace (favor & power to do what you cannot do in your own ability) is SUFFICIENT for you for my power (dunamis- supernatural & miraculous power of God) is made perfect in weakness (human inability)"

The word Sufficient is a Greek word that means "To ward off" ie- God said "My favor & power to do what you cannot do in your own ability is enough to ward off this messenger from satan, for my supernatural power (the power of the Holy Spirit - Acts 1:8) is made perfect in your human inability."

Second, Paul said that he rejoices in his infirmities (that's the same Greek word translated weakness. It does not mean sickness but human inability).

If you read that passage of scripture in context (2 Cor. chpts. 11-12), you will see that Paul was dealing with false Apostles who were trying to impress the Corinthians with their "false humility" and with boasting about how spiritual they were (especially compared with Paul who wasn't a great speaker).

But Paul shows how he could boast about all the things he had done for God and all the persecution he had endured. But when the DEVIL attacked him with a thorn in the flesh, it wasn't Paul's position in the church, his education or his humility that gave him victory. It was God's Grace & Power! So Paul concludes that if he is going to boast about anything, he will boast that he (in and of himself)is weak. And he will boast about Jesus and His grace!

Thirdly, I'm always amazed that people will judge me (or other WOF people) when you don't even know me.

I am not seeking things! However, I need certain things to do what God placed me on this earth to do. If you are a minister of the Gospel (Pastor, Evangelist, etc) then you know that it takes money and resources to preach the Gospel and make disciples!

I never ask people for money and never manipulate or deceive people. But God said (commanded)"He who preaches the Gospel shall live from the Gospel". And regardless of what you may think or what ugly things some people may say about me, God has blessed me materially and He has also healed my body and given me good health.

I don't borrow money, I don't use credit. And yet the same people who often accuse me of being materialistic are the same ones that are always busy working (thus too busy to come to church) and busy trying to get financing to buy the cars and houses that they need and want. Then when we preach that God will provide you with these things, you get upset and say that's erroneous.

I am giving God all the praise for EVERYTHING I have. My trust in not in riches, My trust is in Jehovah Jirah.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 9, the Apostle Paul said that if we sow bountifully we will reap bountifully. He also said that you will be made rich in EVERY way so you can be generous on every occassion.

Jesus said if I have left houses, lands, father, mother, sister and brother for His sake and the Gospels, I will receive NOW IN THIS TIME, 100 fold houses, lands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers with persecution and in the AGE TO COME eternal life.

You can say this is wrong and argue all day about theology, but I know it's true. I see it very clearly in the Word of God and I am living it!!

Finally, I want to respond to what you said about mixing up New Covenant with Old Covenant:

Galatians 3 is talking about the "Blessing of Abraham". It says that no one can add to it or annul (take away from) it.

All of the promises God made to the people of Israel in the Mosaic Covenant were promised as a result of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Covenant God made with Abraham was 400 years BEFORE the Law.

The Curse of the Law was the curses that God said people would live in if they did not keep all of the commandments and ordinances (as seen clearly in Deut. 28).

The New Covenant = ALL of the Promises of God, ie- the Blessing of Abraham & the Covenants of Promise and the Common Wealth of Israel (see Ephesians 2:12-19 & 2 Cor. 1:20). We do not walk in these promises by the works of the law, but by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus!

I know the arguments of those who don't agree with me. I was raised in a church that preached that the new covenant is only spiritual (and does not cover the physical or material needs of man). Well, that's simply not true! God made us spirit, soul and body and He has provided for us spirit, soul and body!

That doesn't mean we will never have any hardships or trials in this life (you'd have to be stupid to believe that). But it does mean that God wants to bless us so we can be a blessing! God wants us to have an abundant life!

For every Scripture you use to try to prove that this is not true, I can show you more Scripture that shows it is!

That's why Jesus said, "Take heed what you hear (when you're hearing His Word). For with the same measure you use It, It will be measured back to you" (Mark 4:24)

Some people are only reaping 30 fold of God's promises in their life (only the promise of forgiveness and new birth) because that's all they will hear! They have been cheated by the traditions of men and are alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance!

I know there are people who preach faith and prosperity for selfish gain! I am not one of them!! But there are many more who live what they preach and are the most generous people in the world. And yet I hear many Christians (even pastors) blasting them and calling them false prophets and accuse them of being carnal!

You can call me whatever you want, but I will pray for you! I LOVE YOU ALL (even those of you who say I'm a false prophet)!

And I am saved the same way you are, by putting my faith in Jesus as Lord! Everything I have in my life (my health, my prosperity, even my faith) is from Him and I will give Him all the praise for what He has done and is doing in my life! If you want to call me evil then you can answer to Him for that!! But I am not going to live in ignorance any more, because I know that God loves me and everything good in my life comes from Him (James 1:17-18)!

Posted by: Vince | May 29, 2005 2:08:35 PM

The fact is, everybody still dies. Why? Sickness or bodily weakness of some sort -- cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or any of a zillion things -- still catches up with us some day. If faith = cure, then this should not happen. Now obviously Word of Faith false teachers will come up with various "wigglers" to get out of this obvious complication to their heresy, but the logic remains for all to see. The other results of the fall are still in place: man works the fields, women have pain in childbirth, men and women are at odds (a.k.a. the battle of the sexes), and death and disease continue to this day.

Where I live, in the Silcon Valley in California, Word of Faith runs rampant here. You know what's funny to me? Virtually every Word of Faith follower I've ever known didn't have two nickels to their name. Seriously. It was like one of those people who gets smitten by Amway and suddenly they'll be millionaires some day soon. But like bogus multi-level marketing schemes, Word of Faith often leaves most wanting. The non-Word of Faith pastors in my valley can tell you the body trail that Word of Faith leaves behind. Once again, bad theology has bad consequences.

When bad things happen, Word of Faith says, "Your lack of faith! Your fault!" Your kid lost his leg in an accident? "Too bad, you should've had more faith." Lost your job in corporate layoff and can't find a job in a down economy? "Your fault on both accounts, since you didn't have enough faith." Word of Faith produces the side effect of a guilt trip that would make the proverbial Jewish mother very proud. That's the garbage that flows from "blab it and grab it" (as my pastor called it) theology.

Posted by: Phil in CA | May 29, 2005 5:48:00 PM

Now hear this (from one of the most prominent Word of Faith teachers of our time)...

"How can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn't function right? How can you glorify God? How can He get glory when your body doesn't even work? ... What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can't see out through the windows and He can't hear with the ears? What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right? ... And what makes you think He wants to live in a temple where He can't see out of the eyes, and He can't walk with the feet, and He can't move with the hand? ... The only eyes that he has that are in the earth realm are the eyes that are in the body. If He can't see out of them then God's gonna be limited" -- Frederick K.C. Price, "Is God Glorified Through Sickness?" (audiotape #FP605)

Folks, both my father and step-mother are deaf. My mother have been disabled, riddled with pain, for decades due to a slowly disintegrating lowers spinal column. Do you have ANY idea (ANY IDEA?) how this kind of message is taken by the disabled who don't yet know Christ? Never mind the error that God's all-knowing, all-seeing ability is limited to, or limited by, the ability to "see" only through the eyes of sighted believers. How disgusting!!! That is no God. Yet this kind of wretched teaching is duplicated across our land every Sunday at Word of Faith churches.

"Pick people up out of the wheelchairs. If they fell, he'd say you didn't have faith." -- Jack Coe (1918 - 1956), Assemblies of God preacher and Word of Faith forefather (cited in "All Things Are Possible", David Edwin Harrell, Jr., p.59)

Millenia from now, as we Christians look back at the various systems of heresy that sprouted in the end times, the God-limiting self-seeking grace-denying heresy called "Word of Faith" will clearly take it's place among the worst to poison the Body of Christ.

Posted by: Phil in CA | May 29, 2005 8:43:08 PM

And Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Luke 12:15

Phil,

You are right on the button! Preach it!

Posted by: Al | May 29, 2005 10:09:57 PM

Whose words will NOT return void?

Man's?

God's?


How much "faith" does it take for the word of a man to not return void?

Faith in who/what?

It's not the amount of faith a person has but rather the focus of that faith.

Is the faith in the 'word' coming to pass?

Or

Is Faith to deny self will (wants/needs) and obey the Will of the Father?

I will say this vince, when you write stuff like this:
[You can say this is wrong and argue all day about theology, but I know it's true. I see it very clearly in the Word of God and I am living it!!]

That statement is VERY dangerous!!!

What you are really saying: We can argue about the Study of God (Theology) but I don't care what you believe, this is true to me (I have my truth and you have your truth, as though God has a different and even contradicting truth) and I can see it clearly in the Word of God and I'm going to live it/believe it (I'll do what is right in my eyes and you can do what is right in your eyes).

Vince, danger, danger, danger! I encourage you to not hold your belief above the Study of God in searching Him in Truth (The Truth might test your belief to be false - wouldn't you agree it is WORTH it, to find out? - I know I sure do!).

Posted by: BeHim | May 29, 2005 10:37:34 PM

Hey BeHim,

My faith has been tested and even changed at times (sometimes my faith in Jesus has grown, sometimes it has declined). But don't put words in my mouth (ie "but I don't care what you believe, this is true to me I have my truth and you have your truth, as though God has a different and even contradicting truth and I can see it clearly in the Word of God and I'm going to live it/believe it I'll do what is right in my eyes and you can do what is right in your eyes."

But so far you guys haven't said anything to "test my faith to be false."

The bottom line is, we all have to give account of OURSELVES before God (that includes you and me). So I guess it really doesn't matter what you think about me or about what I believe. I think it's sad that all of you are so self-righteous that you think you are right and I am wrong!

Everything I believe is in God's Word and is bearing fruit in my life.

Do I believe no one will die if they have enough faith? Of course not. Do I believe God's Spirit cannot live and move through a person who is deaf or sick? Of course not! I am not Fred Price (even though I love him as a dear brother) and I am not the other preachers you are quoting.

But how dare you accuse me of false doctrine when you don't even know what I believe. And by the way, Grace is the power of God to do what I (and you) cannot do in our own ability. So it's not like a choice between grace or faith. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul said "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand."

What's dangerous is judging other people whether or not they are born again based on the fact that we disagree about things like healing and prosperity.

How did you get saved? Was it some other way other than faith in Jesus as Lord? Because that's how I was born again! And if you don't believe I am saved, that's ok I guess because I will not stand before you and give an account. No, just like you, I will stand before God. And He will say "Vince, your name is written in the Book of Life". Not because of what I have done, but because of what He did!

Even my faith in Him is a gift from Him and a fruit of His Spirit.

God's Word is Truth! That's what my faith in Jesus is based on! And I will continue to study His Word and am sure there will be times I find that I am wrong. But after 32 years of being a Christ follower, I can say that my faith has been tested with fire and has proven God's faithfullness time and time again!!

Now, one other thing I would like to respond to: Faith is not a multi-level marketing scam nor a get rich quick scheme! I am sorry for the ignorant among us who think that Godliness in nothing more than a means of material gain! I am also sorry for those who ran around saying "Your lack of faith! Your fault!" Your kid lost his leg in an accident? "Too bad, you should've had more faith."

That happens because of pride! Too many preachers are too full of themselves to say "I don't know why that happened."

However, it's not any more foolish than those who say "God gave you that sickness to teach you humility" That is also ignorance and a misunderstanding of the Word of God (and yet I am sure that some of you will fume when you read this).

I have seen some people who were burned by poor doctrine in Word of Faith churches. But I have seen just as many (probably even more) who were burned and even died because of the doubt and unbelief they were taught by the non-WOF churches.

There are times that people don't get healed because of their "lack of faith." Probably more times than we would like to admit. You can see it several times in the New Testement. Remember the time Jesus went to Nazzareth and "He could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief." Or, what about the time the disciples could not cast the demon out of the boy with epilepsy? Jesus said "You faithless perverts, how long do I have to be with you?"

But most people don't want to take personal responsibility for their own walk of faith. They would rather say "God's a mystery."

Sometimes we all miss it, because we all "know in part." But my commitment to Jesus is, no matter what comes my way (good or bad), I am going to serve Him with all that I am and all that I have for all of the days He gives me in this world!

Posted by: Vince | May 30, 2005 12:04:17 AM

Both views that have been meticulously researched here are valid and Scriptural. I hope that neither party is trying to convince the other that he is right. All you are both doing is sharpening each position. We should all consider that the primary subject of this article is the "Ten largest churches in the world." Our united response to that should be praise to God who is responsible for building His church.

Posted by: Bill | May 30, 2005 1:29:58 AM

Vince writes:
[So I guess it really doesn't matter what you think about me or about what I believe. I think it's sad that all of you are so self-righteous that you think you are right and I am wrong!]

BeHim responds:
Are you wrong? Are you right? How do we as Believers make sure when there is an essential contradiction (faith btw is ESSENTIAL)? We know God would NOT contradict Himself, so it's something we as men are missing. Is it not ESSENTIAL to determine the Truth? Is Truth determined by the belief of men or is Truth what determines the belief of men? I'm simply pointing out that YOUR words lean more towards the prior statement ('truth is determined by the belief of men') - it's okay if you disagree, I'm only pointing to what you wrote.

Vince writes:
Everything I believe is in God's Word and is bearing fruit in my life.

BeHim responds:
I discipled under a pastor that used to say: "There are many things that men believe, written in God's Word. When taken out of context men can even believe they are "but dust" – what is the fruit? Healing? Prosperity? Are these fruits?

We don't use Scripture to prove our belief; we use Scripture to reveal our beliefs.

Vince writes:
But how dare you accuse me of false doctrine when you don't even know what I believe.

BeHim responds:
YOU wrote somewhat of what you believe and all I did was encourage YOU to test THAT belief (the one you wrote about), because it is VERY dangerous. I still encourage you to test your belief with Scripture, not use Scripture to prove what you believe.

I’m sorry you feel I’m putting words into your mouth:
THE ORIGINAL STATEMENT:
[You can say this is wrong and argue all day about theology, but I know it's true. I see it very clearly in the Word of God and I am living it!!]
HOW I TRANSLATED IT
["We can argue about the Study of God (Theology) but I don't care what you believe, this is true to me (I have my truth and you have your truth, as though God has a different and even contradicting truth) and I can see it clearly in the Word of God and I'm going to live it/believe it (I'll do what is right in my eyes and you can do what is right in your eyes)"]

It just seems to me, that you indeed are saying we can argue but I know what I believe and why I believe it and that’s it! Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what your original statement sounds like!

Vince writes:
the Apostle Paul said "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand."

BeHim responds:
Expound on this verse, what PRECISELY are you trying to communicate with this verse? So as to avoid any misinterpretation, like your statement above.

Vince writes:
What's dangerous is judging other people whether or not they are born again based on the fact that we disagree about things like healing and prosperity.

BeHim responds:
I in no way judged your salvation, I encouraged you to test what you are saying, because it is dangerous (deceptive). Faith is indeed an ESSENTIAL to Salvation and ANY misinterpretation or misrepresentation of The Faith should be carefully studied and researched BUT I did not state you were not born again, especially based on non-essentials like healing and prosperity. If I in anyway, either directly or indirectly implied you are not saved, please forgive me and show me so I know where and how I went wrong and won’t make the mistake again.

Posted by: BeHim | May 30, 2005 1:39:36 AM

Vince,

In your understanding who is Jesus Christ?

Posted by: Michael | May 30, 2005 2:14:21 AM

good job

i also posted this info about a month ago on my blog (although i translated Wolf's German names into English) Wolfgang is a dear friend of mine and the guy has a real heart for what God is doing.
You may know that his heart has been house churches and he is the author of "Houses that Change the World"
So we should praise God for the elephants and the mice!

Posted by: andrew jones | May 30, 2005 12:54:42 PM

To say you have faith outside of Gods will is not faith at all. Here is faith, to do the will of God, not for God to do our will. Our Lord didn't do or say anything our Father didn't tell Him too. He followed Gods will and this is faith. Our Lord is our example of true faith, but let your will be done Father not mine.

From what I’ve heard the (WOF) teaches is that if a person prays for what they want or believe they need but don’t receive it, it was from a lack of faith on their part. Would it not be better to say it is not the will of God and allow the person not to doubt if they have any faith at all? Would it not be better to tell a person to pray for Gods wisdom, His guidance by His Holy Spirit that we might understand what Gods will is for us?

Brothers if what I’ve written isn’t correct please correct me.

Posted by: Michael | May 30, 2005 1:28:54 PM

First of all, let me say that I am sorry we have gotten so far off the subject here! I know this post wasn't about "Word of Faith."

I don't have time or even the energy right now to try to answer all the questions asked. But I will deal with a few:

Who do I say Jesus is? Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He is the Christ (Anointed One who has all the power and authority of God). Jesus is Immanuel - God who became flesh and to redeem man from the curse of sin and . I believe that Jesus is sinnless and through His sacrifice on the cross He redeemed us from the curse of sin and the curse of the Law.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except by faith in Him as Lord.

Faith is not getting what you want. Although there are some Christians who seem to think that (in WOF and other groups). I never said that I have faith outside of God's will (I'm not sure how that's even possible). But I believe God reveals His will two ways: First, through His Word. Second, through His Holy Spirit.

There are many things that reveal the will of God in black and white through His Scripture. There are other things that are not black and white in Scripture, so we have to pray with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27 & 1 Cor. 2:9-12).

Faith is not merely trusting that God will make everything fall into place. Faith is trusting God enough to act on what He has promised to us, regardless of what our present circumstances look like or how we feel.

To BeHim, I want to address the issue of Grace. God's grace is not just His power to forgive us of sin. Don't you recognize that everything we have as believers is by the grace of God? Unless of course you are getting things the worlds way (through the power of the flesh). If I am healed in my body, then it's only by the Grace of God. When I receive finances and material increase in this life, it's only by the grace of God! I tried believing that God is only interested in the spiritual things (and when it comes to money and the physical needs of life, we're just in the same boat as unbelievers). And thus I tried to get the best job I could and struggled to make ends meet. But then I discovered that God is actually interested in every part of my life and if I would trust Him and do things His way and put His kingdom first, then He would bless me and provide my needs (all of them)! So I quit striving to make ends meet and I focused my whole life on serving God and seeking to know Him and please Him. As a result, God has blessed me in every way!

As far as Truth goes, I agree that "We don't use Scripture to prove our belief; we use Scripture to reveal our beliefs."

But we are still not going to agree about everything on this side of heaven! The Mormons would agrue with you that they have the corner on the truth and you don't (don't misunderstand me, I don't agree with the Mormons). So would the Catholics, Presbyterans, Baptists, etc, etc, etc.

So it still comes down to every person has to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. While I don't agree with many people in other camps (and some, like the mormons, I fear they are not even born again, due to their ignorance), yet I still know that everyone will have to ultimately decide for themselves what they believe and what they don't believe.


Now, we could all debate and argue for the rest of our natural lives. But I don't have time to do that, and I suppose you don't either! Thus, unless they post an article here that is actually on the subject of Faith (or Word of Faith), I am finished with this conversation!

God bless you and my prayer is that He reveals His Truth to all who seek Him! And I know He will if we humble ourselves.

Posted by: Vince | May 30, 2005 5:15:06 PM

Very well put and completely different than your earlier posts.

I would like to add, there are two types of grace spoke of in Scripture:

Common grace - grace that provides rain for the Believers crops and falls on the unbelievers crops.

Special grace - getting something you don't deserve. Like you stated, a healing, special blessings, etc. You see special grace poured out on God's Elect, like Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, etc.

I'm glad we met on the common ground and you clarified you position on the essential.

The Lord be with you.

Posted by: BeHim | May 30, 2005 5:38:25 PM

It seems to me that we have added so much to message of the gospel. The good news is that Jesus Saves. If your church, whatever denomination it is, makes it difficult for the outside world to see Jesus, then that church needs to re-evaluate and change. Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said " I am the way" and "no one comes to the Father except by me". Billy Graham does an excellent job of sharing this message. He doesn't clutter the good news with personal doctrine, denominational hype. Instead of trying to feed our churches spiritually, we have forgotten that we need to learn to feed ourselves. "Study to show yourself approved" not only for staff ministers, but everybody. The Good News. Many churches have gotten away from that, Word of Faith or otherwise. Jesus Saves.

Posted by: Peter D | May 31, 2005 12:04:33 PM

Yes, I agree that the Gospel is "Jesus saves". However, the word "Salvation" in Greek is Soteria which means total and complete salvation. It doesn't just include forgiveness and heaven when you die, it includes ALL of the promises of God through faith in Jesus as Lord (2 Cor. 1:20)

Billy Graham is a wonderful man of God. However, he is not a Pastor, he is an Evangelist, so of course his primary message will be the new birth.

But as a Pastor, I have a responsibility to not only teach people how to be born again, but also how to live a life of faith in Jesus (including every area of life, not just focusing on getting to heaven).

There are too many Christians who are born again, but they don't know how to live, thus they are always sick, broke and depressed.

The most important issue is being born again. But God has provided His wisdom and power for the other things too, and I as a Pastor have a responsibility to teach people.

When Jesus said "Seek first the Kingdom of God" He wasn't just talking about heaven. He was talking about living God's way and focusing our lives on God's priorities FIRST. God's Word shows how to live (spiritually, relationally, emotionally and even financially). If I am truly seeking God's Kingdom FIRST, then I will need to know how to do all of those God's way!

Posted by: Vince | May 31, 2005 3:30:15 PM

VINCE WRITES:
There are too many Christians who are born again, but they don't know how to live, thus they are always sick, broke and depressed.

BeHim responds:
I'm sure you are not implying that some one who is sick, broke or depressed is not living a Christian life. Are you?

Posted by: BeHim | May 31, 2005 4:05:08 PM

This is flat out DISGUSTING.

To me, it's unfortunate that we did what American believers do. You wanna know why not one American church is in that top 10? THIS!!!!

Why do we constantly tear down those whose churches/teachings are EFFECTIVE? I'm going to tell all of you haters something.

CHURCH GROWTH DOES MATTER! It is a gauge of whether or not you're fulfilling the great commission! Yeah, remember that? Jesus didn't say "congregate in your little buildings and have the same service every week with the same 50 people." He said GO OUT! What I like about Faith/Pentecostal teachers is that they GO OUT! They talk about what is relevant to where people are at: Their money, their integrity, their family lives. Something that the more conservative elements among us have forgotten.

It is no accident that the fastest growing segments of the church universal are the Charismatic/Pentecostal/Word of Faith movement churches. People don't just want to read about a God who sits in heaven, unwilling to interfere in their lives. They want a God that they can experience! Whose presence dwells in the services. Where they don't have to just sit there and listen as a choir sings and a pastor speaks. People are starving for a church that is alive, powerful, and militantly going out and reaching neighborhoods and cities, winning souls and making disciples. You know what Jesus told the disciples to do? Go and heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the Kingdom of God! Proclamation of God's word, and Demonstration of God's power. One without the other is powerless.

So, GET OFF VINCE!

Posted by: John Morris | Jun 1, 2005 11:07:17 AM

"It is no accident that the fastest growing segments of the church universal are the Charismatic/Pentecostal/Word of Faith movement churches."

Speaking of growth - what is the fastest growing *religion*? Growth does not always mean accuracy.

Point - questioning a *teaching* does not make a personal attack. Paul *praised* the Bereans for questioning his teaching and examining it against Scripture. He was not afraid of examination.

Posted by: Ellen | Jun 1, 2005 11:29:38 AM

JOHN MORRIS WRITES:
Why do we constantly tear down those whose churches/teachings are EFFECTIVE? I'm going to tell all of you haters something.

BeHim responds:
John, what do you define as "effective"? What does God consider effective? If they don't match up (not by interpretation but by clarity) then man is wrong and God is right.

Why do you call be a "hater", because I encourage a person to "test what they believe" with Scripture?

BTW. What is the doctrine of Jesus? What is the doctrine of Love? Without doctrine you have nothing except the belief that everything changes (nothing is absolute).

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 1, 2005 7:11:27 PM

I asked Vince " In his understanding who is Jesus Christ."

His ansewer was as follows:

"Who do I say Jesus is? Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He is the Christ (Anointed One who has all the power and authority of God). Jesus is Immanuel - God who became flesh and to redeem man from the curse of sin and . I believe that Jesus is sinnless and through His sacrifice on the cross He redeemed us from the curse of sin and the curse of the Law."

I wonder if anyone here see's a problem with his answer? Though his ansewer is very Bibical it seems to be missing something. I'm not trying to make a accusation here or condemn him. This is totally out of love and concern for him, so please don't take this the wrong way. I would like your comments.

Posted by: Michael | Jun 1, 2005 11:57:59 PM

sorry about the "answer" mis-spell

Posted by: Michael | Jun 1, 2005 11:59:20 PM

Nothing about his death, burial and resurrection or the Second Person of the Triune God (as for who Jesus is) but for the Gospel, he left out conviction, repentance, death, burial and resurrection.

Of course, it's well after 1am and I probably should have waited till tomorrow to answer it.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 2, 2005 3:28:37 AM

"Faith is not getting what you want. Although there are some Christians who seem to think that"

There's the rub. And what started this whole discussion. Read Cho's words: "You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. If you speak about salvation, the saving Jesus appears. If you speak about divine healing, then you will have the healing Christ in your congregation. If you speak the miracle performing Jesus, then the presence of the miracle performing Jesus is released. He is bound by your lips and by your words. He is depending on you." Fourth Dimension, (page 83)

Read again: Jesus is bound by your lips and by your words.

I don't know the specifics of what you teach, Vince, so I'm not addressing your teaching. But I *CAN* address those WOF teachers who are in print, and I can be discerning about their teaching based on their own words.

Posted by: ellen | Jun 2, 2005 7:39:45 AM

It kind of reminds me of the children's movie: Alladin

"poof, genie this, poof, genie that, poof, genie everything I want (wish for)"

The irony is the genie got what he wanted, power and "fame" (if that's what you want to call it) but at a pricey cost: "ten thousand years in the cave of wonders and itty bitty living space"

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 2, 2005 11:06:44 AM

I'm really concerned here! No one is picking up on Vince's apparent lack of a (personal) relationship with Jesus Christ in his anawer to my question.

Posted by: Michael | Jun 3, 2005 8:56:30 AM

Michael, maybe it's because you asked:

"In his understanding who is Jesus Christ"

You didn't ask him to expound on his personal relationship with Him. I know it's semantics but he did answer the direct question.

I can see your point but I honestly think it was in how the question was asked.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 3, 2005 11:19:06 PM

Michael, I thought the same thing - to be fair to Vince, he did write:

"How did you get saved? Was it some other way other than faith in Jesus as Lord? Because that's how I was born again!"

One thing that is curious - Vince said, right up front (sorry if I'm talking around Vince, but Michael's the one that asked) "However, I want to point out that Cho is one of the people that has taught things that gives WOF a bad name. There are many things he has written that I agree are New Age rather than Christian!"

Since Cho (and *hardcore* WOF) were the ones that were the issue - and that is the teaching that I was testing, I don't think (from many of the things that Vince has said) that he is "hardcore"

Vince also said, "Faith is not getting what you want." - getting what you want *is* hard core WOF - as is the teaching that God is a being that is powerless on this earth unless He is released by our prayers.

I also want to address something that John Morris said, "People don't just want to read about a God who sits in heaven, unwilling to interfere in their lives. They want a God that they can experience!"

You don't have to be WOF or even Pentacostal to want that. I reject the teaching of full-cessationist, that God created the world and is just sitting up there, somewhere, waiting to see how it all plays out. I believe in a God that is totally sovereign, in Him all things hold together. I also believe in a God who cares more for my eternity and character than for my comfort in this life.

Posted by: ellen | Jun 4, 2005 10:30:14 AM

BeHim writes,
Michael, maybe it's because you asked:
"In his understanding who is Jesus Christ"

Hmmmm, maybe you're right. If I said,

"In your understanding who is Jesus Christ to you?"

How would that affect your answer? I mean, what would you say then.

Posted by: Michael | Jun 4, 2005 7:16:46 PM

"In your understanding who is Jesus Christ to you?"

He is my Master/Husband/King/Lord/Friend and I am His servant attempting to humble my flesh and will to serve in His Desire.

I understand what your stating with Vince's post but again, I think it was the way it was asked.

The Lord Be with you

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 5, 2005 12:06:51 AM

Perhaps we are all forgetting to invite someone to this conversation...God.

God is soverign. Neither of your belief "camps" can claim anything when it comes to a soverign God. One can not say, "Because I have been given prosperity by doing this or doing that, you too can become prosperous." Neither can one say, "God does not work that way. He does promise us prosperity in this life." Both positions are presumptuous and imply that they have a "corner" on how God works. But it was God Himself who told Moses, and I believe us also, that "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." God is not bound by anything, save His own will and character.

When we concentrate on "Here's what God will do for YOU and ME" or "Here's what God does not promise to do for YOU and ME", the emphasis is on YOU and ME, not HIM.

I have walked in both camps. I now pray to the Father of Lights that, in the words of the old hymn, "whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul."

Walk in the Light.

Posted by: PG | Jun 6, 2005 8:53:02 AM

U missed the point of the original ?. It was posed about the 10 largest churches in the world and what surprised you. I believe that the most significant answer is that in the worlds largest "Christian" country, that we dont have a church on the list. Maybe its because of people like you guys who want to fight about denominations and insignificant ideas instead of working to gether to reach this world.

Posted by: RYan | Jun 6, 2005 10:23:22 AM

None are in the United States. I'm not sure what that says, but it is interesting. Maybe it's because out culture isn't so hugely communal?

Posted by: Lynn Hansen | Jun 20, 2005 7:35:50 PM

...theres St.Peters in Rome also!!!

Posted by: DT | Jul 26, 2005 2:42:05 PM

If evidence is needed at all for the crass commercialisation of Christianity, this list of 'top' 10 churches in the world is it. Please, please please brother/sisters do not contaminate and degrade the church and the gospel by subjecting it to your American preoccupations with size and bigger-is-better-philosophy. This is playing havoc in many churches around the world and you seem to be adding fuel to the fire. Please please, please brothers/sisters in Christ for God's sake use your God given faculties to think seriously about the implications of what you say before you make a mockery of yourself, the church and the gospel by posting such insipid even harmful comments. Please, please please brother/sisters your silence and prayers are probably more valuable than bringing such disrepute on a noble movement - the church - by making such comments.

Posted by: A Deeply Concerned Christian | Jun 13, 2007 3:01:21 AM

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