7 Things Christians Should Give Up to Reach Unchurched People (By Carey Nieuwhof - November 9, 2017)
I want to share some great insights from Pastor and Author, Carey Nieuwhof. You can read the entire article (which I encourage you to do) by clicking HERE. I still believe that you are a church that wants to reach those who do not know, or are not living in the reality of God’s love. Here’s a little bit of that article…
So you want your church to reach people who don’t go to church. That’s wonderful because that’s basically the mission of the church: to share the love of Christ with the world in hopes that everyone will come into a relationship with Jesus.
The challenge is that unchurched people aren’t exactly flocking to most churches, and many Christians seem stumped as to why that is. There are many reasons, but a surprising number center around one thing: Christians who treat the church as if it’s their private club.
The gravitational pull of human nature is toward self, not toward others, and churches behave the same way. You will focus almost exclusively on your needs and wants unless you decide not to. And that’s exactly what far too many churches do: focus exclusively on the needs and wants of their members. OK, it’s worse than that. Maybe it’s not even about needs and wants. Maybe it’s about preferences.
So many church leaders (staff and volunteer) struggle to lead beyond the preferences of the church members. And as soon as they try, they get inundated with complaints and angry emails. Too many Christians feel like it’s their right to have a church that caters exactly to their tastes and whims, and millions are paying the price for that (including unchurched people).
Catering to the preferences of members is a terrible idea for three reasons:
First, it’s killing the church. Attendance continues to stagnate or decline as people drift further and further from Christ. Second, it’s an unwinnable game. Even in a church of 100 people, you’ll never be able to please everyone. Finally, and most importantly, it’s just wrong. Since when did the personal preferences of members become a legitimate reason to keep people away from God’s love?
When your preferences keep unchurched people from the promise of Christ, it’s time to change your preferences. Here are seven things Christians should give up to reach unchurched people.
7. Our Lives
Christians should be the most generous and selfless people on the planet. Sadly, we’re often known as the stingiest and most selfish (ask any non-Christian who’s worked at a restaurant). The Gospel calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live and to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves. If you give your life away, you find it. When you die to yourself, something greater rises.
For more details and explanations of each of the seven things Christians should give up to reach unchurched people, click HERE.
We love you, Church!
Clay and Laura
What are you in pursuit of? When I was younger, it was to be an Olympic sprinter. I came close in college. Then my pursuit was to be the best youth pastor I could be. Who knows how that turned out after 15 years investing in students. I guess I'll find out in Heaven. Then, I pursued Laura because I felt she was perfect and we’d be the perfect couple. Hmmm. Perfect would not be the word I would use to describe our journey in marriage together. So, I decided to pursue apologetics. Since I could talk my mom into a corner and drive her crazy enough to get my way, I figured I could argue people into a relationship with Jesus. I'm sure you don’t need for me to tell you how fruitless that pursuit was. Then, it finally hit me- most of my pursiuts were for selfish gain. They were to build me up. They were to fulfilll my personal dreams, desires and wants.
So, I have shared with you many of the wrong ways and reasons for a pursuit. What is the right way and right thing to pursue? In my lifetime, I have discovered that the only thing that ultimately matters is that which is defined by God the Father, through the life of Jesus Christ made alive by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit found in the faultless Word of God (The Holy Bible). Now, my pursuit of learning is for the purpose of knowing Him more (Philippians 3:10) and making Him known more often and clearly (Colossians 1:27, Psalm 105:1).
Over the last three decades of ministry, God has become more real, His word more alive and my purpose in response more clear than I could have ever imagined. I love learning! I love the work the Holy Spirit does in my life as a result of obedience. I am so grateful for the grace Jesus shows me daily as I walk this out with great imperfection.
What are you pursuing? What is your motive? Look at the fruit of your life- does it show the blessing and favor from your heavenly Father? Does it all point to Jesus as the Christ? Is it covered, powered and anointed by the Holy Spirit? I want to leave you with some encouraging excerpts from God’s Word. I also want to encourage you to pursue God’s Word daily- in all things and in all matters. It’s your only real source of wisdom and knowledge. Pursue it! Pursue Him!
Proverbs 1:5-7 - Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 18:15 - An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
Proverbs 9:9 - Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We love you, Church!
Clay & Laura
Psalm 139:7-10 "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Highs and lows, hills and valleys, good times and bad times - they’re just facts of life, right? If you’ve been walking on this dusty ball any length of time, you know that this life is one wild rollercoaster ride. We have times of sweet fellowship with Jesus and with His children. We enjoy seasons of favor, abundance and peace. As we know all too well, we also have what James calls “trials of many kinds” as a part of our earthly experience. We might be facing family conflict, financial pressure, or spiritual struggle. Timothy warns that as soldiers in the Lord’s army, we often allow ourselves to get “entangled in civilian pursuits” - those issues that aren’t fitting for us as children of God placed on this earth to advance His kingdom, and not our own. We stumble along, bruised and battered by the troubled seas created by our own double-minded and doubting ways. Our lives are often a cacophony of laughter and tears, shouts of praise and groaning too deep for words.
In the midst of our ever changing seasons, we may find ourselves asking the Lord of all creation, “Where are you, God?” As we learned in our women’s study, The Quest, God’s Holy Word is overflowing with stories of saints who dared to pour out the questions of their hearts before a loving and listening Father. We also learned that God loves to engage in real conversation with His children. He actually has quite a bit to say to us! He is not afraid of the question, “Where are you, God?” His Word already holds the secret to His current whereabouts. And you may be surprised to hear the answer.
In Psalm 139, David simply asked God where he could possibly go on this earth to escape His Holy presence. David spanned the universe in search of a viable option for a hiding place from God. In the end, David determined whether he was at the highest of highs, or whether his life was at the lowest of possible lows, even there God’s hand would still lead him, and His right hand would hold him. Here’s a fun fact for you:
Romans 8:34 “…. Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Did you make the connection? Whether we are currently experiencing the highest mountaintop season of our lives, or crawling through the mud and mire in the lowest of all valleys, we have God’s own Word that even there His own hand is leading us, and Jesus Himself is holding us. I don’t know about you, but that is an amazing comfort to me today!
God’s answer to our heartfelt cry of, “Where are you?” can simply be summed up in two small words: “Even there….”
Be sure to join us this Sunday as Pastor Clay continues our Revive series with a message on loving God with all your mind. If you want to read ahead, take a look at 1 Peter 1:13-16 this week. We hope to see you all there! We love you church!
Clay and Laura
In this world, it seems that people want more and more guarantees. We see it in politics, banks, relationships, and yes, even the church. It’s part of what has made faith so hard. In our “Revive" series on Sundays we have been breaking down what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. When we start expecting guaranteed returns on this love based on human understanding, we cease to uphold the charge given us in Proverbs 3.
Proverbs 3:5-10 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Passages like this out of God’s Word are the very principles that He uses to guide our Elders and pastors in the leading of His church. I praise God for our Elders who are willing to dig into God’s Word, walk faithfully with Him and carry out His will and way. I am so thankful for church members who are passionately pursuing a relationship with Jesus by learning, loving and living His Word.
So what does all this have to do with our steps being established? I’m glad you asked. Knowing, believing and living out of a reality that God is ultimately in control (sovereign) allows us to not feel the need for external guarantees. When we obey His Word, walk in full surrender to Him, no matter how imperfectly we move forward, He delights in us and protects us. Check out this Psalm-
Psalm 37:21-24 - The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when He delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
Church, as we (the Elders and I) have being saying for a while, we are long overdue on paying our debt from the purchase of the church property. We have asked for an extension for three years in a row, each year with the intention of paying it off. Unfortunately, we have only covered the interest without a dime going towards the actual loan. God has made it abundantly clear to our leadership as well as many of you that our time for extensions has come to an end. We must be good stewards and pay our debt. Since God has already given us a resource (the property) to accomplish that, we believe that we would be acting in disobedience to not use it for such. Remember, Psalm 37 establishes that when we will be faithful, however imperfect it may look, He has His people, His church protected from being cast headlong. That is our guarantee! And, it’s all we need.
The Plan: we offered up the property to God officially the beginning of this week. It’s on the market, interest has already been shown. Please continue to pray that God will do exactly what He wants with the property according to His Word, will and way. Keep our Elders lifted up as we seek Him through His Word, prayer and wise counsel. Remember, the sale of the land pays the debt and allows for supplemental resources, but is no replacement for faithfulness in giving from God’s people. Look again at the top of the page (Proverbs 3:9-10). If we honor the Lord with our individual wealth, we can do so with our collective wealth. Only then will we have His promise of barns filled with plenty and vats bursting with wine! Who’s with us? Are you ready for this?! We believe you are. We love you, church!
Clay & Laura
"To Be, Or Not To Be, That Is The Question”
Are you familiar with this phrase from that famous soliloquy by Prince Hamlet (written by William Shakespeare)? This whole piece was about Hamlet considering the big questions about life and death- ultimately, what does it mean to live. “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
When I think about what it means to really live, to really choose life, passages like Deuteronomy 11 come to mind. You see, choosing life is choosing to love God- which is to obey God. Check out the whole chapter if you get the time. Here are a few power statements from God:
Deuteronomy 11:1 - “You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments always."
Deuteronomy 11:8-9 - “You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 - You shall therefore lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 - “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known."
Now, fast forward to the New Testament and you’ll see the same thing in passages like this:
Matthew 28:18-20 - And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Luke 6:46 - “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
John 14:15 - “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
John 14:21 - Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
To be, or not to be filled with God’s love (Then Great Commandment), that is the question.
To be, or not to be obedient to God’s Word (The Great Commission), that is the question.
Join us this Sunday as we share a little more about making 2018 the year we lay the foundation for the new work God is going to do through Discovery Church- through you! We are gearing up to make all our community groups centered around walking through the Bible together. By the end of 2018 we will have established that the core values of our church are more than just words, they are our very life. Here are those core values again:
I. We value learning God’s Word by spending regular time with Him.
II. We value loving God’s Word by fulfilling the Great Commandment.
III. We value living God’s Word by fulfilling the Great Commission.
Get ready for a great day of worship! We’ll see you this Sunday. We love you, Church!
Clay & Laura