Thursday, January 15, 2009

Innie or Outie?

I live in a part of the world where there is a Baptist Church just about every 4 or five blocks. More churches than you can shake a stick at, so the saying goes. A few big, some medium sized, but most of them very, very small. Most of them have plateaued or are in decline. A few are growing.

What is the difference?

What makes one church grow and another stagnate? Is it location? Many in this city believe that to be answer so they have up and moved to the wealthy side of town that is growing. I have to ask them: "What about the neighborhood you just left? Don't they need God too?" Does the size of your bank account determine your importance in the church? Does having a six figure income mean that you are more worthy to hear the good news that Jesus died so that we could have a right relationship with God?


So again, I ask, what makes some churches grow and others not grow? I think it has to do with a willingness to do the work God calls churches to do. When a church experiences hardship or decline, it is common for that church to start focusing only on themselves. This, however, is completely against God's design for the church. We do not exist for ourselves, but to serve God in this world. The church is to take up the cause of the orphan and widow.

The church is to make disciples.

If a church stops performing these tasks, they have effectively turned off their light. When this happens, people will stop coming. Churches must be outwardly focused, ministry minded, and great commission driven. If they are not, God will not bless them. This is the great challenge for many churches. A challenge many cannot get over. When giving goes down and attendance drops, rather than redoubling and refocusing their efforts to get the message out and minister to people, they start dropping ministry programs and start focusing inwardly.

I ask you. Is your church an innie or an outie? Does it focus on itself and what it needs, or does it focus on what the community needs? Does it focus on making sure its members are comfortable and happy or does it make disciples that are willing to get out of their comfort zones, get their hands dirty and serve as ministers?

It is a simple difference, but it is significant in effect. When a church is more focused on the happiness and comfort of its own members than it is on fulfilling its God given purpose of making disciples, God will remove his blessing from that Church. When that starts to happen, rather than waking up, many churches dig in and the long march to irrelevance begins.

I pray that never happens to my church or to yours. I have seen it. I have lived it in the past and I never want to be there again.

Friday, January 2, 2009


A verse that has been coming to mind more and more recently is Acts 1:8 - "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Jesus promised his disciples power. Isn't that attractive? Power. This is a concept that many false teachers have jumped on to tell people that faith in God is about being empowered to be a "better you" or to "live your best life now". They make the Gospel into something that is self serving, materialistic, and short sighted, to say the least.

However, lets look a little closer at what Jesus actually said. The "power" they are to receive is to serve a purpose. It is the power to be a witness for Jesus Christ. It is the power to live the Christian life. It is the power to believe what Jesus believed, which, consequently means that as a Christian you believe that anger=murder, lust=adultery, love=love even for enemies, and that God is to be glorified in everything. It is the power to be a part of the Gospel story, not the power to gain a six or seven figure income, drive the nicest car or have the biggest house.

Jesus said specifically that his disciples would receive power to be his witnesses. So I ask you, have you been a witness for Christ? Do you believe what Christ believed? Do you know what Christ believed? The church in America must wake up and realize that this whole Christianity, church thing isn't about getting my needs filled, it is about doing what God "empowered" us to do. Is your spiritual life falling short? Do you feel spiritually disconnected and weak? Maybe it is because you aren't fulfilling your purpose of being a witness for Christ. God is not going to bless a life that is not fulfilling its God given mission. A church will not be blessed if it refuses to reach its neighborhood or moves so it can "follow the money" as a city transitions.

We who are Christians are a part of the continuing story of Acts. The promise of Acts 1:8 applies to us. We have a job to do. We have been given the tools and the mission. Now, it is time that we spread his message "to the ends of the earth." This video pretty much sums the first half of what I am talking about.