Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Throughout college and seminary one of the major emphases of study is based on the idea of church growth. You can go through my office right now and you can find a multitude of books based on church growth. They will tell you how they see it that you can numerically increase your church, they will have neat little slogans like: “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it.” They will tell you how your church must be in the “times” to reach the current world. Yet our model is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who when left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do.
Jesus apparently was not interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.
I believe one of the problems our culture has is that we have cheapened our faith trying to make it ‘easy’ and the fact is the Bible tells us to ‘count the cost.’ Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes even his own life- he cannot be my disciple.” Imagine hearing those words from obscure Jewish teacher in the first century; He just lost most of us; but then he continued: “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Now this is taking it to another level. Pick up an instrument of torture and follow me. This is getting plain weird… and kind of creepy.
Imagine a leader coming on the scene today and inviting all who would come after him to pick up an electric chair and become his disciple. Any takers? As if this were not enough. Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family, this sounds a lot different than “Admit, Believe, Confess, and Pray a Prayer after me doesn't it?” (See the Book 'Radical' by David Platt.)
The great theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer summarizes my point well when he says; “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I would like to challenge you to really take some time and look through the scriptures and find out exactly what Christ expects from his followers. It is truly a life changing decision to genuinely follow our Lord.
Monday, October 28, 2013
We understand that churches work hard to expand and strengthen the Kingdom of God. We fine tune our worship services, we add programs, and classes, and we expand and upgrade our facilities to appeal to the lost world around us. All of these things are justified and can be very effective, however; the core to impacting the Kingdom of God is very simple: “Ignite people’s passion for God and get out of the way.”
You see once the passion is ignited all of a sudden the peripherals don’t matter nearly as much. They’ll endure worship services that may not meet their exact desire because the focus is on God and not themselves. They will sacrifice more of their hard-earned money for the purposes of ministry because they recognize they are stewards and not owners. They will share their faith with others because they simply cannot contain their own excitement about the privilege of relating to God.
Our success is not defined by numbers and budgets, it is a desire to ‘Ignite a Passion’ that changes every area of life. It is a shift that changes its focus from programs to people, not just quantity but quality. We must understand the things that got us to where we are today may not be the things that get us to where we need to be tomorrow.
Jesus changed the world, by gathering twelve out-cast around Him. He prepared these men to infiltrate their culture with a life-giving message, a transformed lifestyle, and a burning desire to serve God with every ounce of capacity they possessed- or die in the process. Although the task was improbable-it worked, and the disciple’s passion was contagious.
This week would you focus and pray about your personal passion. You can’t give something away that you don’t personally have. We can’t expect others to be passionate and on fire for the things of God if we are not personally passionate and on fire for the things of God.
Rick Warren wrote a bestselling book entitled: The Purpose Driven Life. One reason the book was so successful is because people are looking for a purpose. The majority of people go through their routines day after day with no clear direction or point for their lives. I want you to understand this: God has called you to a great purpose! I would like to offer you two points from John 20:21-23.
THERE’S A JOB TO DO: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Realize that your life is on a mission from God. Just as Christ was sent to offer salvation to the lost world, you too are to go into a world of darkness and offer light. There is a job to do; and it is not to sit on a pew week after week and soak in the word of God. No, on the contrary we are called to “GO,” we are being sent out. Look at Biblical examples and you will find that once someone has an encounter with God there is always a job to do; Noah built an ark, Moses delivered the Israelites, Jonah preached to Nineveh. There is much work to be done, yet in our churches there are few workers. Your purpose becomes clear when you are involved in Kingdom work.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The good news is this; you are not alone on your mission. The Holy Spirit indwells believers and guides and directs them on their journey. Take Moses for example, God tells Moses to go deliver the Israelites from bondage but he also tells Moses: “But I will be with you.” Our Job is not always easy; however we are never alone in the work. Despite your limitations, or inadequacies when you realize that the Holy Spirit indwells your life you can truly say: “I can do all things through Christ.”
We need workers. Would you rise to your calling? Would you live a life of great purpose?