Moore shows Chapel why local church must live on
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
A former college professor delivered a Chapel talk filled with empirical evidence – and spiritual application – Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena.
Mark Moore, Teaching Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley, wanted to demonstrate why the local church is so important. He asked a simple but provocative question:
“What would happen if the local church suddenly disappeared from the world?”
First, he offered the evidence:
In the 1970s, 20% of Vietnam veterans returning home were addicted to heroin. Normally, that would mean a long road to recovery – Moore said 90% of heroin users relapse after going through rehabilitation.
But it was different for the Vietnam vets. Only 5% of them relapsed. The reason is something Moore learned in his two decades of teaching:
“Addictions are not just about chemicals, they’re about communities,” he said. “We get addicted to something not just because of what it does to our body, but by who we’re with.”
That was an important revelation for the students in attendance, and Moore added another piece of data: 70% of students raised in the church drop out when they go away to college.
“I get it – this is a time of exploration in your life,” he said. “And I know it’s a time when you are taught to think critically – that’s a good thing. And sometimes when you think critically, you become critical, so you criticize your parents, you criticize the government and you criticize the church.”
Criticizing the church is easy, Moore said – he does it, too. But he suggested that before you feel compelled to turn away from its warts, you should look more closely at the beautiful things it does, as demonstrated by Rodney Stark’s book, “How the West Won.”
Stark asserted that the local church was responsible for the growth of science, hospitals, orphanages, women’s rights and prison reform and the abolition of slavery, and places with the most human-rights violations are the places where the church has disappeared.
“We’ve had some dark days, we’ve had some moments of shame,” Moore said. “But don’t you give up on the local church, because the local church is the hope of the world. It has been for centuries, and it is today.”
The spiritual application came in three examples Moore cited.
The first was about his friend Rick, a highly successful businessman whose personal life, in Moore’s words, is a “hot mess.”
Rick wanted to use his business skills to do some good in the world, so together with Christ’s Church of the Valley and other investors they bought a small mining village in Swaziland, Bulembu, that had become a ghost town. Then they went in there and turned things around by putting in businesses and a church and schools and improved the roads. (See it here.)
“Today in Bulembu,” Moore said, “there is very little unemployment. There is high Christianity and high morality and low crime. It is a light in the country of Swaziland because a guy who’s got a fairly screwed-up personal life decided to be professional in his Christianity and use it for the glory of Christ.”
Another friend, Matt, is a financial advisor who invests exclusively in morally sound companies and causes and sought to find the poorest countries in the world with the least access to Jesus. He settled on Nepal, where contaminated water is a huge problem, and started digging water wells with a company called Quenched.
“When you do that, when you give life to a village, you know what happens? They ask you why you’re doing this,” Moore said.
In the name of Jesus Christ, they were told, and that led to the next step in the mission: finding preachers who will risk their lives to spread The Word despite the persecution of Buddhists in the country.
Finally, Moore told the story of Juliette Rose, who turned her life around after a series of missteps. Now she works to rescue women who come from the same dark world.
Moore has created a group fiercely devoted to her … and to Jesus.
“Nobody worships Christ like a group of women who have been rescued from sex trafficking and violent behavior in the home,” he said.
Moore cited Matthew 16:15-18, in which Jesus asked His disciples a simple question: “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Note that Jesus said to build His church. You can’t build a church without being part of one, so Moore’s takeaway was straightforward:
“Find a local church where you can worship. But don’t look for a church where you can worship; look for a church where you can serve. … Your individual talents will be wasted if you don’t leverage the full force of the body of Christ.
“What I learned from this verse is that when you confess Jesus, you are saved. But when you leverage the community of Jesus, our culture is saved.”
That’s why GCU goes out into its neighborhood and does what it does. The vision of GCU President Brian Mueller, Moore said, is to train teachers and nurses and business people “who all leverage your God-given skills and your training, not for your gain and growth, but so that our Valley could find the hope of Jesus Christ.”
● Chapel replay.
● Next week’s speaker: Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students
GCU Today: Russell, Moore make Chapel doubly powerful