Many people, many Christians, live a normal, routine life, and most Christians are happy with that life. They don’t have to face adversity. They don’t have to live in guilt. They don’t have to deal with being rejected. It’s safe. It’s within the box. Play it cool and never cross the street to the other side. How’s your life? Somewhere inside, don’t you feel you were made for something more; something greater? What if you could shed the normal, mundane life? What if God wants us to live radical, invitational lives? What if just securing our eternity isn’t enough? What would it be like to get outside of the normal? What if God called us all to a life of risk? Would you take it? Can you imagine a seat on the front row of God’s amazing work? What if we are all called to reach out to others and live the invitational life? Would you take the risk? Would you jump?
Well, good morning to everybody, and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and mobile app. It was funny: Weekends ago, someone asked me, “So, in the number video, are you saying that the way to take a risk for God is to jaywalk?”
And I said, “No, no, no. Those are metaphors, just like my jokes.”
Anyway, it was sort of funny. Ministry can be messy though. I think all of us can agree with that. I heard a cute story. This person called in to a church and got the church secretary. The church secretary said, “Hello. Can I help you?”
He said, “Yeah. I’d like to talk to the tall hog at the trough.”
She’s like, “Excuse me?”
He’s like, “I’d like to talk to the tall hog at the trough.”
And she’s like, “Uhh... I’m guessing by that you mean the pastor?”
He’s like, “Yeah, the pastor.”
She’s like, “You know, that sort of offends me a little bit that you would call him the tall hog at the trough.”
And he’s like, “Well, okay. No big deal. I’m just calling to give 100,000 dollars to the building fund.”
And she says, “You know, I think Porky is coming in right now.”
Well we’re in a series called “Risk.” We’re talking about sharing our faith. Whenever you talk about sharing your faith, let’s be honest here, most people feel a little sense of inadequacy, possibly a little guilt, possibly feel like maybe they’ve not done what they should’ve done in sharing their faith. I want to put you at ease. Listen: That is not what I’m trying to do up here. There’s no guilt involved in this. There’s none of that. That is not what I’m doing at all. I’m just really trying to encourage and inspire you as individuals and us as a church that we really can do something great for Jesus no matter where we’re at in our walk with God.
We can be dangerous for Jesus if we just will be open and honest about what God has done in our life. So it’s taking that risk. I think that if we’re looking at the Scriptures, when Jesus resurrects from the dead, one of the things that we find is over and over again He says the same thing. That is: Go out and be a witness. Go out and share your faith. Go out and make sure that you make disciples.
So it’s really clear that Jesus says the main thing we’re supposed to be doing as a church is reaching people and going out and telling people about Him. But it’s sometimes difficult. So we’re spending a series here talking about Risk and trying to get some tools to equip us to do the things that we need to be able to do to share our faith.
One of the things that’s really important though, and sometimes lost in messages like this because we just talk about people. You know, what you need to do, individuals need to do, and whatever. One of the things that we fail to talk about is that a church in and of itself, Grace Community Church, also has to risk as a church, as a corporate body, to share our faith.
Let me let you in on a little secret: The better we, as a church, do our job, the easier it is for you as individuals to do your job. The more we’re out in the community and doing the things that God wants us to do, the easier it is for you all when somebody goes, “Well, I go to Grace.”
“Oh, you go to Grace? Yeah. The church that does that book bags and First Friday.”
“Yes. We do that because we want to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.”
And, next thing you know, you’re off and running talking about Jesus because the church has done a very good job of reaching the next generation. And let me just say something to you: It’s tough. Oftentimes we don’t think about this, but when you’re a church that decides to step out into the world – because it’s a lot easier to stay just sort of focused within the four walls. When you step out and you start doing ministry, you’re going to get criticized, usually, as a general rule. It’s nothing new. I mean, the history of Christianity is replete with people who had a movement of God, did what they did and God blessed it. Then somebody came along and started to do something differently. Usually, when they’re doing something differently, the people that had been involved in an older type of experience don’t like the newer types of experiences.
And that’s very germane to you and me today, because, in the last 20 years, one of the things that has really gone on in the church and there’s been a lot of debate is things like music. You know? You’ve got people that grew up in churches with certain hymns and so on and so forth. Then, today, we do a little bit more modern music and some people don’t like it and there’s been criticisms and things like that in churches all across America. Lights and technology. Those are things some people – I’ve had people say to me, “The lights give me vertigo.”
You know? And then there’s other people that go, “I wish we had more lights.”
So it’s like you never can please everybody. But all these things are things that as the church tries to figure out ways to reach the next generation, there will always be those that came before that will question the new things. And that’s just the way it is, and it’s gone on and on and on like that, and it will continue to go on and on as long as we’re a church and as long as the Lord has not returned.
And this may surprise you, but Jesus underwent that type of criticism Himself. There were people that had been involved in a ministry that God had ordained, and Jesus came along and Jesus didn’t look like them and they criticized what He was doing. It may surprise you. I’ll show you how that works.
There was a gentleman named John the Baptist. You’ve probably heard of John the Baptist. If you’re new here or maybe you haven’t been to church in a long time, John the Baptist was different than Sam the Methodist or Luke the Episcopalian. It was John the Baptist because he baptized people. He wasn’t a Baptist. There were no denominations back then.
So, John the Baptizer was called by God specifically to a ministry – a God-ordained ministry – to go into the wilderness; into the desert. He’s going to dress funky. He had his funky diet. His message was not easy. It was pretty scathing. A pretty tough message. In fact, his message was so tough that it ended up costing him his life. So when Jesus comes on the scene, John’s disciples, those that are really close to John, look at Jesus and are like, “You don’t look like us. You’re not doing it the way we do it. We question what you’re doing. I mean, dude, you’re showing up at weddings and giving them wine. I mean, you’re not only eating, you’re feasting and with all the wrong people. It doesn’t look like us.”
And Matthew records this. Matthew records when the disciples of John came to Jesus. They came to Jesus because they thought that what Jesus was doing didn’t look like what they were used to, and they questioned it. They said, “Jesus, why do we and the Pharisees fast? I mean, we both know the Pharisees are a little off. But dude, they get it. They get the idea of religion. They get the idea of obedience. They get the idea of holiness. So why are we and the Pharisees fasting, but Your disciples don’t?”
That’s a passive aggressive way of saying it. Notice there they didn’t say, “Jesus, how come You don’t?” They just said, “How come Your disciples don’t?”
“Jesus, You don’t look like us. You don’t smell like us. We want to know what’s up. What’s up, dude? We know what God has done. God has called us to this ministry, and Your ministry doesn’t look anything like what God’s been doing. So we want to know what’s up. How come you’re acting like this?”
Jesus responds: “Well, can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Guys, I don’t think you’re quite understanding something. This is like the wedding time. This is the time for feasting and having a great time. One day that’s going to change. There will be a day when I’m taken away and they will fast. They’ll mourn. They’ll have those moments. That day’s going to come one day. I’m going to get crucified. I’m going to be taken away. And they’re going to have their time of mourning.”
But then what He says next is incredible. What He says next, obviously, probably didn’t go over very well with the disciples of John. He says to them this
“Listen, you can’t take a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.”
What He’s saying is is your ministry’s old and it’s outdated. God’s doing something new now. Don’t try to put your stuff on me.
“For the patch tears away from the garment and a worse tear is made.”
He goes on to say, “Neither is new wine put into old wine skins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wine skins so both are preserved.”
So what God’s doing here is fresh wine. What God’s doing in your midst is fresh. Not that what happened in your generation wasn’t what God was doing, but God doesn’t continue to do the same thing over and over and over again. He continues to be on the move. He’s the God that says, “Behold. I make all things new. The former things pass away and the new things come.”
And this is the challenge of doing ministry. It’s the challenge of being a church on the front lines. You’re always going to have opposition and criticism, even from those people that are good people, because it’s hard for us to change. It’s just difficult for all of us to change. But if we’re going to reach the next generation, if we’re going to reach this generation that’s growing up in front of us, the church is going to have to figure out ways to do things better than what it’s been doing. And that doesn’t mean we compromise the Gospel. It doesn’t mean we compromise the truths of Christianity. But the way in which we reach people has got to be constantly evaluated.
As a staff, we do that on a regular basis. Is this working? Is it not working? If it’s not working, let’s blow it up and let’s do something different, because we want to reach people for the Kingdom of God. As a church, the more we collectively engage the world, the more we collectively do the things of Jesus, the easier it’s going to be for you and me as individuals to share our faith.
So what I want to talk about this weekend with the church is what are the characteristics of a church that will risk to reach the next generation? What’s that going to look like? What will it look like for a church like Grace Community Church to reach that next generation, to be that new wine in the new wine skins, to be those new garments, to be that church that’s on the cutting edge of reaching people without compromising the Gospel, but is willing to do basically whatever we need to do to reach people?
If you’re a note taker, this would be a great time to get out your notes. I’ve got a few things I want to say. I think you should write these down. I think you should ponder them, pray about them, talk to God about them. If you’re not a note taker, this might be the time where God has ordained for you to become a note taker. Right? So just think about that for a minute. But, take some notes down.
So the first thing is this: A church that’s going to reach the next generation realizes that future growth opportunities are ripe with “nones” and “dones.” And you’re probably thinking, “I have no idea what a ‘none’ and a ‘done’ is.”
Don’t worry. I’m going to explain to you what they are. But we have an incredibly harvest field in this group called “the nones and the dones.” The nones are people who are unaffiliated with any faith group at all. They’re 25% of the American population today. They have doubled in the last 10 years. This is the first time in American history that less than 50% of the American population is not Protestant. We’re under 50% now. I mean, that’s just where we’re at as a culture. The nones are people that are atheists and people that are agnostics, and that’s a portion of that 25%. But a good portion of that 25% are people that go, “Yeah, you know, I’m not really opposed to spirituality. I’m not opposed to saying a prayer. I’m not opposed to thinking there’s a higher power. But don’t brand me or affiliate me with anybody, especially not a church and especially not the word ‘Christian’ or anything like that. Don’t affiliate me with anything like that.”
That’s who the nones are, and they’re 25% of our population that fits into this unaffiliated faith group. And it’s growing massively. The dones are a little different. The dones are people that left the church with no intentions of coming back. Many of them were involved in church. Many of them were involved in ministry. Many of them were involved in doing the things of God. And somewhere along the way, whether it was a pastor, whether it was a person, whether it was a small group, whether it was a circumstance or whatever it may be, they decided, “I’m out. I’m out of church. I’m out of the deal. I don’t want to be involved in church anymore,” and they’re done. They’re just simply done with church.
It’s so easy for you and me to sit back and say, “Well, culture’s sort of going to hell and that’s why all of these people are doing the things that they’re doing,” without taking any responsibility as a church for creating some of these subgroups of people. And we have. We’ve done things to create, or at least help create, these groups of nones and dones. It’s not just all culture. Church has done some things. Let me give you some examples of things that I think that we’ve done that have helped to create the nones and the dones.
First of all, we’ve allowed little room for skeptics or non-conformists in the church. If somebody’s a skeptic or somebody questions too much, we’re like, “There’s the door, brother.”
It’s the left foot of fellowship, right? We’ve just not been very good with this type of people. That’s why we have denominations. Denominations sort of give you a structure so that you can go, “Okay, they sort of tick off all the boxes that I have and I can go join that group because they sort of see it the way I see it.”
And it’s comfortable. Well, when somebody rolls in that’s skeptical or doesn’t conform necessarily to the tradition, those people are usually ostracized. And we shouldn’t do that at all.
Another thing that we’ve done is we’ve often given social and political marching orders rather than the wonder and mystery of the faith. I want you to think about this for a second. We will take peripheral issues. We say this all the time. We go, “Well they can’t be a Christian because they ‘this.’”
Listen: When you say someone can’t be a Christian because “this,” what you’re saying is they don’t do Christianity the way you do it. That’s what you’re really saying. Just like when people walk up and say, “Do you take the Bible literally?” what they’re saying is, “Do you read the Bible the way I read the Bible?”
That’s what we mean when we say these things. What does it mean to be a Christian? It says, “Those that call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“Yeah. But, but, but, but, but.”
There’s no buts. There’s none of those. Jesus plus nothing is everything. Sometimes it takes a long time to get a lot of the filter of the world out of our lives. Be careful when you say “they can’t be a Christian because of ‘this,’” because they may be the ones that get in and you may be the one that’s standing on the outside of the door, knocking.
See, Jesus, in His group of disciples – I want you to think about this for a second. Check this out. He had a zealot and He had a tax collector. You could not have been on the more opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum than those two dudes. And to think that they just rolled in and laid it all down and didn’t have any arguments around a campfire is naive. It’s naive. They found their unity in Jesus, not in their positions. And oftentimes we’ve given the marching orders rather than just allowing for the wonder and mystery of the faith.
Another thing that we’ve done is we’ve replaced the call to win souls with a gathering of the likeminded. It’s very rare, it’s infrequent – if you look at churches that are historical churches that have been around for 80-100 years, very, very, very little evangelism going on in those churches in America. It’s a country club. Everybody hangs out. Everybody likes what’s going on. Everybody says, “Oh, all those other churches are going to hell. All those out there doing that thing for Jesus, they don’t need these lights and they don’t need all that stuff. They’re just confusing everything.”
That’s simply not the case. The churches that are out doing the work of the Gospel, the churches that really have a passion to win souls, are still growing. They’re still doing Great things. But oftentimes, we’ve replaced that call to win souls with the country club mentality. Let’s just all come hang out and believe the same thing.
Another thing that we’ve done is we’ve oftentimes sold a brand of culturally infused Christianity rather than proclaiming the Gospel. And I’ll just leave that one alone. But that’s the truth.
So what do we do? I mean, we’ve helped to create these cultures. We’ve helped to create some of these nones and dones. We’ve helped to create and push people away from the church. Well a couple of things that we’re going to have to do if we’re going to reach these groups of people is, one, the old model of “come and see” is going to have to give way to “go and show.”
See, it used to be, 40-50 years ago, everybody went to church. That’s just what they did. So what you did is you picked the church that you liked the best. It was the church buffet. The pastor that you like the best. The choir that you like the best. The Sunday school that you like the best. The seats that you like the best. The view that you like the best. That was where you went. And it was, “Hey, come to my church, man, because it’s really awesome. It’s really cool.”
Nobody cares about that anymore. At all. We’re going to have to go and show. We’re going to have to demonstrate not with words, but with actions, that God is in our midst. We’re going to have to be like the Apostle Paul in the first century. He says, “The Kingdom of God doesn’t consist in talk, it consists in power.”
He’s like, “When I roll into a town, I don’t talk to you about Jesus. I demonstrate Jesus. I pray for people and they get healed. I minister to people and things happen in their lives. It’s not a matter of talk, it’s a matter of power. I live out the Gospel in my life. And for us to reach the next generation, we’re going to have to be a lot more intentional about being a lot more prayed up and a lot more read up and a lot more "feeled" up and a lot more Spirit-baptized than we’ve ever been probably at any time in our life. We’re going to have to get out and go and show.
God wants to use you. And this is the thing. I want you to hear me. God will use you to do great works in people’s lives if you’ll just trust Him for you to be the conduit of His glory. Don’t be shocked if you pray for somebody and something happens. You go, “How’d that happen?”
It’s God. That’s the way He works. Another thing that’s going to have to happen is the like-mindedness that we all like and like everybody to get together, believe the same thing, hunker down and whatever, we’re going to have to change that for more authentic relationships, which means we’re going to have to stretch. We’re going to have to learn to grow. We’re going to have to learn to step out of ourselves a little bit, because it’s really tough.
It’s like Jesus, you know, when He talks to the woman at the well. She knows a lot about religion, she just thinks what she knows isn’t necessarily right. But He’s engaging with her. Not like the disciples. They’re like, “Hey, tell this woman to go.”
Jesus is like, “No. This person matters.”
They didn’t want to talk to her because she didn’t see it the way they saw it and she was a woman. And God forbid that you talk to a woman. But Jesus did, because He valued authentic relationships. And what I’ll say here is this: We’re called to the unity of the faith, not to the uniformity of our brand. This is huge. If we’re going to reach the next generation, we’re going to have to lay down some of the idols that we’ve worshiped at the feet of Jesus and start putting our eyes on Jesus again.
Next thing: If the church is going to reach the next generation, it’s going to allow for open questioning of the traditions without being forced to accept rehearsed answers. One of the things you’ll find is when people start questioning things, we’re usually like, “Well that’s just what we believe. That’s what the Bible says. Get over it.”
We’re going to have to learn to be like Jesus. We’re going to have to be able to say, “You’ve heard it said, but I say to you.”
Let me tell you. Can I tell you something? People out there in the world, if you’re at First Friday and somebody goes, “You know, I’m struggling with this area in my life,” and you just go, “Well brother, what you need is some sanctification,” they’re going to be like, “Come again? What’s that mean? Sancta-what?”
They don’t understand that.
“You know, I’m struggling. I don’t know if God loves me.”
“Brother, you just need to understand your justification.”
They’d be like, “What? Justa-what? Just in time?”
They don’t understand those words. You say, “Brother, what you need is you just need to be cleansed in the blood.”
They’d be like, “You guys are a cult? You pour blood on people?”
They don’t understand those words. We’re a post-Christian society. And it’s funny because the words that we use, people don’t understand. And we look at them like they’re weird. They’re looking at us as if we’re weird. We’re going to have to learn to take on questions and take on the skeptics. And can I tell you something? This is what’s so important to understand. Sometimes it’s not the answer that you give that matters, it’s the fact that you cared enough to listen that matters.
“Hey, you know what? I care about you. I’ll listen.”
Wow. You know, we had one of our young adults that had traveled over the last weekend. He said he sat down with someone at a bar who had had two beers and was telling him about why he hated Christians, why he hated the church and everything else. As the person continued to talk to him, he was like, “Hold on. What’s your brand of Christianity?”
Cause, see, the person who he was talking to, the reasons he didn’t want to go to church and the reasons he didn’t want to know Jesus were for all the reasons none of us would want to go to church and know Jesus. He hadn’t heard about the real, authentic Jesus. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t preach our version of Jesus and that we preach the authentic version of Jesus to people. Because it’s huge. It’s a big difference when we lead with all that you can’t do, shouldn’t do, can’t be a Christian, can’t do that, than when you lead with, “Hey, let me tell you something. There’s a God that loves you with an everlasting love and He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for your sins. He loves you and He wants to bring you home.”
See, that’s the Gospel. When you start adding to it, it becomes the non-gospel. We’re going to have learn to live with people and to struggle through some of these things. Another thing we’re going to have to do is we’re going to need to be a place where people can belong and get involved before believing. This is sort of foreign for a lot of churches, because they’re like, “Well, hold on. We don’t want anybody to come in and we don’t know them. Maybe put them in the back because we don’t really know what they believe. Don’t let them come up front or anything like that.”
Listen, I’m not talking about bringing people off the street and having them teach or in a position of leadership. I’m talking about getting people involved. One of the great things that you can do as a Christian is we do a lot of things. We’ve got backpack things, First Friday things, running things where we pass out bottles of water. We’ve got all kinds of things that we’re doing. We’ll be getting into foster care here in the fall. We’ve got all kinds of stuff that’s going on around this church that we’re going to continue to get involved.
One of the great things that you can do is when you have a friend at work that you know is a good person, you can go, “Hey, my church is doing a thing this Friday night at First Friday. Do you want to come and man the rodeo machine where people ride a buffalo? Do you want to man that with me? Or the thing where they’ve got kids running around?”
You might be surprised. Someone might go, “You know what? I’ll do that. I would love to help you out.”
Okay. That’s a great first step in.
“Hey, we’re doing a book bag thing. Do you want to come serve and help us out?”
“Sure, man. Whatever.”
So see, this is where people can start to belong and get involved before they actually believe. Believe it or not, that was Jesus’ methodology of ministry. He had all kids of people around Him that were followers, but they weren’t believers. And they even spoke to Him. They even told Him what they thought He should do. He had people involved in His life that didn’t believe, but they were following, watching Him, doing things with Him and, eventually, they gave their lives to the Lord because they were belonging and being involved before they believed.
I’ve got a passage here of Scripture that I bet you not anybody in here is aware of. Now, you might have read it, but you probably didn’t read it. I want to expose this to you, because you’re going to go, “Wow. That’s really insightful. That’s cool.”
It’s out of John 7. It says, “So his brothers...” – this is Jesus’ brothers. His real brothers. In John 2:12, it talks about them too. These are brothers that Mary and Joseph had after Jesus was born. They’re His brothers.
“So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing."
Like, “Dude. What You’re doing is pretty awesome. I mean, You’re healing a lot of people, man. Why don’t you go to Judea and show the other disciples so that they can see what You’re doing, man? Because, Jesus, if You just do stuff in secret, people aren’t going to know what You’re doing. If You do these things, why don’t You show Your self so that people can see more of what You’re doing?”
It sounds benign until you read the next verse.
“For not even his brothers believed in him.”
They had His ear. He talked to them. They followed Him. They just didn’t believe in Him. They were following. In fact, they were even trying to tell Jesus what He should do in ministry. They were that close to Him. But they didn’t believe yet. And we’re going to have to ask a question as a church. Are we willing to have followers in our midst? Are we willing to say, “Hey, you can come in here and you can sit in here? Nobody’s going to force you to make a commitment right now. We just want you to hear. We want you to see. We want you to watch. We want you to experience.”
Because I’m convinced that people who are around a movement of God who are seeing God work, are seeing people serve, are seeing people put legs to their words are more than likely going to end up going, “I want some of that.”
Are we willing to be that type of church to reach the next generation?
The next thing is are we willing to put passion over programs and polish? This is huge. Forty years ago it was all about the programs that a church had. It was all about the list of things that you could do. Show me what I can do and get involved in. It was like a cruise ship. You had all the things going on during the day. The cruise director was the pastor. Everybody was doing their stuff and everything was polished and everything was great. The choirs looked great and everybody had robes and everything was polished.
The people of today, they want to see passion. They’ll show up in an old building that’s dilapidated if they feel like something’s going on in that church that is changing people’s lives that they can get involved in. See, the older generation asked this question: “What does the church do for me? What does it do for me? I want to hear what I want to hear. I want to see what I want to see. I want to do what I want to do. What does it do for me? Where are the programs for me? Where’s the small group for me? Where’s the stuff? It’s for me.”
The younger generation doesn’t ask that question. They ask, “What can I believe in, support and get involved with?”
That’s why gangs are growing in America, because the younger generation wants something they can believe in, something that they can support, something that they can passionately get involved in. And we have the greatest message in the world to attract people to get them involved in seeing the world come to Jesus and being passionate about it. Passion. Words don’t matter anymore. It’s what we do.
The last thing is a church that’s going to really succeed in the next generation is committed to God’s approval, not man’s. Which means that we truly believe – and let me go ahead and say, if there’s any question about this, that we believe that God’s Word is God’s Word and we’re not compromising God’s Word to reach people. We’re not going to dumb it down to reach people. We’re not going to change the morals and ethics of Scripture to reach people. We’re going to proclaim the Word of God, but we’re going to do it in a sensitive way and we’re going to do it in a way that truly loves people and shows them dignity and worth.
In fact, here’s what I would tell you: This church will be a church that will go to the gates of hell to get you. We will have the passion to go all the way to the gates of hell to get you and show you dignity and respect. But let me tell you something: We’ll also have the same passion to keep you from going back. And that’s the rub. The rub in the younger generation is they want to hear about a church that will go to the gates of hell to get them. What they don’t want to hear is a church that’ll say, “This is what the Word of God says.”
Let me tell you something: It’s so important that we get what the Word of God says right, because, when people are offended, it needs to be the Word of God, not Chip Bennett’s opinion. Not your opinion. It needs to be the Word of God that offends. And if we are going to be a church that’s really going to reach the next generation, we’re going to have to be committed to God’s Word.
Let me tell you something: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. As long as I’m the pastor of this church, I can tell you one thing. We will preach the Word of God. We’re not going to dumb it down. We’re not going to try to figure out ways to do gymnastics hermeneutically to make people feel comfortable about certain things. We’re going to love people, we’re going to give them dignity and respect, we’ll go to hell and back to get you. But, at the end of the day, we believe that Jesus Christ can change lives and can transform lives and doesn’t leave you where you are or where He met you where you are. He can make you into something better. And we believe that that transformational life shows that God is at work in people and we don’t want to dumb that down in any way, shape, or form.
Amen? I guess what I’m saying – have you ever read the Bible where it’s like “begat, begat, begat,” and you’re like, “Next chapter?” Come on. You know you’ve done that. Everybody’s done that one. Numbers. Twenty thousand. Next. I can’t. Why in the world is this included? Whatever.
Well, if you’re reading 1 Chronicles 12, you’re probably likely to do one of those Numbers thing and just blow through it. But, there is an important little part of the passage there that’s sometimes missed.
It says, “From the Tribe of Issachar,” there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. And, before that, there’s all these numbers and stuff.
But it says, “But all these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”
If we’re going to reach the next generation, we’re going to have to be a church that understands the signs of the times and understands what we need to know to make sure that the Gospel is authentically proclaimed in a way that really reaches people. And we’re going to have to know what the best course of action is. And we’re committed to that. And the more, as a church, that we’re committed to those things, the easier it’s going to be for all of us to share our faith.
I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again and I’m going to continue to say this: I believe with all of my heart, with everything within me, that what God is doing here in our midst is a supernatural thing. The growth here is supernatural, which means that God has something that He wants us to do. And I think that what God wants us to do is I think God wants us to believe and take Him at His word to make a difference in this community and to really expose Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota to who Jesus really is.
My prayer, personally, every time I come in here and pray for every one of the seats, is, God, that You would send revival in our church. And secondly, God, that one day we would turn on the TV and what we would see is commentators from around the world talking about this incredible move of God that’s happening in Lakewood Ranch because a bunch of people decided they just wanted to go full-fledged for Jesus.
The early disciples were the ones that were ridiculed. They said, “These are the people that have turned the world upside down.”
I just want to be the church that has turned Lakewood Ranch upside down for the Gospel of Jesus. Amen? We can do it. Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, my prayer right now, not only for those that are here in the sanctuary, but for those who listen via the mobile app and the internet: Lord, I pray that Your Spirit would fall on our church. God, that it would fall in a way that woke people up in the middle of the night with a burden for the lost. Lord, that we would have a passion to want to make it as difficult as possible to go to hell in Lakewood Ranch.
Lord, help us to be that church that shines bright for Your glory. Help us, Lord, to take a risk as a church to get out and do things for You that might even bring us into question or call us into question by other people. Lord, let us be willing to risk it all for You. Because, Lord, I believe with all of my heart that if we’ll go out and share Your faith and keep the main thing the main thing, what we will see is beyond anything that we could’ve ever thought or imagined.
Lord, I believe You can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. So Lord, I pray that as we leave today, You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, and I pray that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again.
And Lord, I pray that You would just continue to churn in the heart of our church how important it is to be a church that risks for the Gospel, the Kingdom, and for the Lord Jesus Christ. We love You for it and we thank You for it. We praise You and we honor You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. See you soon. God bless you all. Have a great day.