Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sunday and Monday Reflections

On Sunday, I spoke about how we must not be a worldly church; instead, we must be a Christ-shaped church. The worldly church judges success in worldly terms--size, budgets, and facilities. The Christ shaped church judges success in terms of lost people who are reached, transformation of people's lives, and service to the community. The temptation that Jesus faced from Satan was to use his power and resources to serve himself. This is the same temptation that the church faces--to serve itself, to devote its resources to itself, rather than the lost.

What I want to head off is the problem that many large churches have in fast-growing areas--being satisfied with transfer and demographic growth, rather than evangelistic growth. Being satisfied with being the biggest church, rather than the most servant-oriented church. This is dangerous waters in Texas, where size is the measure of greatness! However, I was so glad to have this message well received from a wide range of ages. In speaking of how the church is called to be selfless and reach out, one member said, "If this represents what this church is about, then I am on board." In preaching a counter-cultural sermon such as this, it is good to not have this message affirmed and see that people want to be a part of a servant-oriented church.

After Sunday morning, my new friend Travis took me to the airport (a big step in a male relationship, as Seinfeld fans know). I flew to Kansas City to speak at an area-wide church unity gathering called Heartland. The message was about seeking and saving the lost. There was a blending of black and white churches, which was wonderful. (And encouraging for a preacher, as you get a lot of hearty amens!) A large group from the Liberty church came out, and I got to see many of our dear friends. I really got a wonderful sense of God's blessing, knowing that we have great friends all across the US.

Monday night I gave the first half of the missional church seminar at the Odessa Church of Christ. Odessa is a town of 5000 just outside of the KC metroplex ring. Most churches that I have given this seminar for have been suburban. I was glad to see so many turn out. I was touched by the hearts of the people there and their receptivity. Many of these concepts are challenging requiring a rethinking of the central place of mission in the church and new ways of reaching out. And yet, so many older people also affirmed these thoughts. This was just great to see.

Well, I have too many things to get done during my short time here. So I must run.


Steve Kilson said...

Hey buddy.... hope all is well. Good to see things are going well for you in Texas and that you can still find your way back to Missouri.

I like what you had to say about being successful as a church. I often have said that is not the number of people who go IN to a church but rather the number of people who go OUT of a church and into the community that measures its success. We've not done what Jesus has called us to do, until we GO out into the world.

I'm actually here in Dallas for work and I'll be free tomorrow night and or Thursday until early evening when I'm flying back home. Drop me an email or give me a call on my cell. Talk to later Bro!!

James said...

Hi Steve! Great to hear from you. I love that line you gave about the number of people who go OUT of a church and into the community.

I'll be calling you tomorrow to get together Wed. or Thurs. Looking forward to showing you around the new place. Hope your training is going well. God bless.

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Anonymous said...

James- I really enjoyed the missional seminar. You said a few things that stuck with me: 1.explain church lingo to newcomers. 2. go where the lost people are (they aren't usually dressed in a 3 piece suit and in the front row of the Sunday service) 3. think about how we can serve our community (neighbors) 4. dont give people an easy 5 step program to happiness or salvation 6. share our story about how our life, marriage, health, kids,etc are different since becoming a Christian. 7. don't summarize the gospel 8. be prepare to bless others' lives and don't get discouraged if they don't commit to Christ within a set time frame- the Holy Spirit is working in the world.

Enjoyed hanging out with you this past weekend.

Matt B