Are We Scoring Points or Just Tossing the Ball Around?
Are you effective with growing a church, winning the lost, and turning converts into disciples? If so, your effectiveness on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ did not happen by accident. You made some intentional decisions.
The concepts presented here are adapted from my book If Everybody Here Were Just Like Me (What Kind of Church Would This Church Be). The eBook is $6.99 at Amazon. The print version is also available at Amazon.
Have you ever noticed that every career or game establishes a way of keeping score? Isn’t it also true in the church world? Points are scored by:
The size of the Sunday crowd
The church's entertainment factor (unfortunate as that may be)
The quality of the music
The facilities size and attractiveness
Financial contributions to various campaigns
Offices held, etc.
A question: does what we keep score on matter to the Lord?
Our Reason for Being
Over a generation ago, Emil Brunner wrote, “The church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.” Catch the emphasis – mission. Bruner said it: a body of called out believers operating without a mission equals a burned-out fire.
Each item referenced earlier can indicate a church on a mission. Or, it can also indicate a group that was once on a mission. Or, perhaps a gathering of people who have not yet understood the mission.
Consider your situation. Is the church you lead existing by mission? What is your mission in the community? Because we tend to answer such questions abstractly, let's get specific. What is intentionally being done this week to accomplish a mission?
Jesus on the Church
Jesus introduced the New Testament world to the idea of His church by saying: . . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Don't overlook what prompted this statement. Simon Peter had declared his assessment of who Jesus was, "Thou art the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One." Jesus declared Peter's statement to be the result of a revelation.
Churches that Matter Have a Revelation
Above all, the saints have a revelation of who Jesus is. This was
the message of the early church . . . they preached Jesus as the Christ. Peter's message on the Day of Pentecost explained the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and preached the revelation of who Jesus was and is.
Not wanting to parse the principle too closely, but do we really understand this idea of Christ? The attributes and qualities prophesied concerning the Messiah exist in Him. Those attributes and qualities, along with the outcome are foundational to the Christian message.
This may seem trivial. It isn't. The revelation of who Jesus was became the message of the book of Acts church. That powerful but simple revelatory message convinced the Jews and delivered the Gentiles. It still has the same outcome.
Setting the Stage for Revelation
One of the several authors of the book Mastering Teaching wrote, “In our night drive into understanding, revelation is the headlights and reason the wheels; revelation helps us see the way that reason must follow. Without revelation, in fact, the most important things in life are missed: without revelation, you cannot reason your way to the resurrection.”
Revelation is not an option . . . not for Simon Peter and not for this generation. However, with revelation comes responsibility. A responsibility to declare, “Thou art the Christ . . .” Peter was granted a revelation. Was it because he had been in a setting where every word and act was an unveiling of the Messiah?
I'm doing a poor job conveying my point. Let me try to say it succinctly. The more Jesus is talked-about, preached and taught in all of His full wonder the more we create a setting for those in the audience to have their own revelation.
Preach Jesus as the Christ more than you ever have!
Preach "all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him," more than you ever have.
Teach about Jesus as the Father and His Spirit coming into the hearts of men.
This revelation is needed by the entire world. Those who sit in front of you this Sunday will need this.
Revelation - The Foundation for Growth
Jesus had more to say about His church, but it began with an affirmation of this revelation. Are we able to effectively able to go to the next grand thing in God if we don't have a revelation.
Jesus said His church would defeat the "gates of hell." Can a group of people without revelation attack hell's strongholds with any hope of success? Not likely. Oh, how we need a grand discovery of "with whom we have to do."
A man’s concept of Jesus creates his attitude toward his time and ministry. My attitude toward the hour in which I live reveals my concept of God. Without the revelation of, "Thou art the Christ," preaching is anemic. Evangelism is tepid, dependent on program rather than power. It must not be so.
What do your attitude and actions have to say about your revelation?
So the question I'll ask myself, “Do I preach like a man with a revelation?” or is it a warmed over lecture more fit for a lecture-hall than the fervency of an evangelistic encounter?” If my revelation is truly that Jesus has power to save, and will save – then the intensity of that discovery comes through in all I say and do!
Evaluate your preaching for the past six weeks. How much "Jesus" did you actually preach?
Consider taking some component of Christ's ministry for systematic study. When I began this, it shamed me to discover how little I knew about Him. Options to consider: a chronological study of the life of Christ, The Sermon on the Mount, the parables of Christ, His miracles, the incarnation, the passion week, the people around and about Him.
Much of the evangelistic preaching in the book of Acts was actually evangelistic teaching. It was a slow, but steady movement toward a close that would require a response. With today's lack of Biblical knowledge, I find myself doing as much "evangelistic teaching" as preaching.
Doctrine matters! Stay the course. Be excited about who Jesus is and those who hear you will be excited too.
To read a bit more about disciple-making and involving people as leaders you may want to read about the dangers of declaring someone a leader too early.