Here is an exchange that I had with a fellow pastor about a church sign he posted on facebook.
Me: Unfortunately it seems over 50% of Americans think it does. Just drive around any town and see how many people are not attending church on Sunday morning.
Him: According to research done by The Barna Group it's over 80% in the Northeast.We can all speculate as to why that is but what we know for sure is that "it" needs to change...what is "it"? Perhaps it's our definition of what worship is!
Me: I believe if the church preaches and models Jesus people will be awakened. No need for gimmicks, just being real and loving people where they are and walk them as they are drawn to Jesus.
Him: "being real and loving people where they are and walk with them as they are drawn to Jesus."
Sounds simple Larry, perhaps that should be the new definition of worship. Who knows,by stepping out of our comfort zone WE may even have a personal encounter with Jesus ourselves! Matthew 25:40
Matthew 25:40 (The Message) 37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
Me: When we do that we point people to Jesus instead of our idea of what being a Christian is. I am bound to fail but Jesus never will.
I believe we are two pastors who are more concerned about the hurts, wounds and brokenness of people than how big our churches are. I believe he would agree that gimmicks draw less people to Christ than sharing the model of Christ with people. Simply put, "Jesus always met people where they were not where He wanted them to be."
Him: "That's right, it's more about acts of the holy Spirit than it is mere words. When
we do that we bring Jesus to them!
Mark 13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is
there; believe him not:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so
send I you."
It is true Jesus wants us to flea from sin but He knows that first we must be alert to what sin is. It seems that many Christians and pastors want to hit a person with a two by four as they point out their sin. Most of the time Jesus used a two by four on the church leaders not the sinners. Maybe we should follow the same model. Heal their wounds and hurts then walk with them as they move toward Jesus and away from their sin. That might be harder to do than using the two by four but it will create disciples not just people who come to church for their hell insurance.
To become a follower of Jesus you do not have to conform to a list of standards set by man but you do have to be transformed into an image of Jesus. Too often people are told you must give up smoking, drinking, be this way or that before being accepted into the congregation. Yes, smoking is bad for you, getting drunk is wrong and there are standards to be met. BUT what did Jesus say one needed to do to be saved?
Salvation is simply a process of confessing and believing. A man must confess that Jesus is Lord, which signifies his realization that Christ must have full rule over his life with all of His righteous requirements. This confession of Christ as Lord also assumes that it is Christ who will work and fulfill His own righteousness within man.
Next, he must believe that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. This belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus carries with it the realization that the penalty has been paid for sin and power is provided for man to live a life free from sin. Thus man’s relationship to God is restored. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Bible tells us, “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-11). Do you feel unworthy to “go to heaven”? Peace with God is within your reach.
Let us know your thoughts. I will share them with him.