Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Get out of the church" or "What happens when the church leaves the building"

I am speaking tomorrow at New Covenant Bible Church and I thought I would give my blog readers the outline one day in advance. If you have any comments please let me know. I am using the Me, We, God, You, We outline method.

I came up with the title "Get out of the Church" when I was at Willow Creek's Small Group Conference because I have come to the conclusion that we have to keep reminding people that the mission of the church is to make disciples, not huddle and have Bible studies even though Bible study and fellowship with other believers is important. Here is the outline:

Luke 10:25-37

I have been the ministry full time now for almost 18 years and over those years my contact with unchurched people had become insignificant over the years.

· Ministry obligations – earning my wings
· Second job to pay off student loans and put kids in private school
· Separatist mindset

Don’t get me wrong. I engaged several of my neighbors in meaningful relationships whenever I could and even invited them to church on occasion. Then there was the dry cleaner who I had befriended. But most of the time I felt guilty for the time I DID spend with these folks.

You see, I know that I am supposed to be engaging the culture and demonstrating the love of Jesus to people. I know this as a fact, but trying to get it to happen in the real world is often difficult. What happens when the church leaves the building?

In the pursuit of life, especially in our fast paced society, it is easy to get tunnel vision and we are tempted to wall ourselves in because of the demands of life. Think about it. Our generation is consumed with consuming and providing as many opportunities for our families as we can while many of us would have difficulty giving you the names of our neighbors and what they do for a living.

When we get together with people, they are already believers and while this is good and healthy, we find that it is work to move beyond our comfortable surroundings and engage the culture around us.

If you want to measure how you are doing in this area, try to list the names of your neighbors and a couple significant details about them, like where they work or the names of their children.

Prayer Care and Share is a great idea – for everyone else! But if we are going to embrace a lifestyle of PCS we are going to have to get our hands dirty and associate with some folks people who we may not agree with. We may have to leave our “Fantasy Christian Island” and go to the mainland in order to impact our world with the truth claims of Christ.

What happens when the church leaves the building?


A Question - An expert in Jewish Law approaches Jesus and asks him a question: What must I do to inherit eternal life?
· An inquisition
· Jesus replies with a question because he knew:
· Remember, Jesus is not telling him how to earn eternal life. Eternal life is a gift.
· People who have eternal life should reflect these values found in the law.

Application – People often ask us questions in order to test us. We have to remember that questions come out of our own context and pain.

The Answer - The scribe answered Jesus right out of the Law from Deuteronomy and Leviticus proving that he truly knew the law.
· v27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”
· v27 “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

And just like in the game of Jeopardy, the appropriate dollar amount was added to the scribes board for giving the right answer! But he had a little question about this whole matter.

The Qualifier – who is my neighbor?
· v29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The scribe wanted to feel justified and if he could get Jesus to put some parameters on what it means to love your neighbor as yourself he could “feel justified.

Application – I have discovered that if I tell someone what to do based on my experience and through the lens of my paradigm. This is dangerous at best. Coaching technique.

The Real Answer

10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 10:32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 10:33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 10:34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 10:35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’

10:36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 10:37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Remember, Jesus is answering the scribe’s question “who is my neighbor?”

The players - A wounded traveler. “A man, two Jewish leaders, a Samaritan

· A wounded traveler – v30 robbers stripped him, beat him and left him for half dead. That is all we know about the traveler. What we do know is that this man is clearly in need!
· Priest – v31 Aaronic priest who had most likely been serving in the temple.
· Levite – v 32 A descendant of Levi who assisted the Aaronic priests in the temple.
Note: It is assumed that the man was a fellow Jew and the basis of the law both of these men had an obligation to stop and help their fellow countryman.
· Samaritan man – v33 The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because their mixed Jewish and Gentile ancestry.

Love your neighbor

The Samaritan took a huge risk to stop and help this wounded Jew.
· He could have been attacked by the same group of robbers.
· Someone might have seen him with a pagan!
· He loved someone who potentially hated him.
· This act of love cost him time and money.

Application - What happens when the church leaves the building? If we choose to “love our neighbor as ourselves” it could become messy. We might be required step out of our comfort zone and take the PCS gamble. I can tell you that it is not easy to mix it up with “pagans.” They might use offense language. They might reject us. They might not show up to the big band concert if we invite them. But it is the right thing to do!

The Lesson – Jesus asked the lawyer a simple question:

36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Congratulate the congregation – Flood relief tell - story of jukebox (benevolence, hands on help), Eight Days of Hope, SOS (Serve Our Schools), SWAT team, Christmas benevolence, etc.

But there are too many people to reach “corporately.” Each one of us must be about loving our neighbors!

This is really Prayer, Care and Share. This is one of the easiest concepts about the Christian life to understand, but one of the hardest to actually work out. When Jesus was asked which of the commandments were the most important he singled out two and said that they sum up all the others:

· Worship – love the Lord with all you have and worship him alone
· Fellowship – love your neighbor like you love yourself

Most of us get the worship thing. The difficulty lies in loving your neighbor. And some neighbors are harder than others!

Some little ideas
· Try little things. (hold a door, offer a smile)
· Pray that God would show you opportunities to demonstrate love.
· Keep an open heart to possible situations
· Give your waitress an enormous tip
· Send a, email, text or card

Some bigger ideas
· Snowblower ministry (slide)
· Big Screen TV ministry (slide)
· Community projects, clubs, etc.
· Find a tangible need and meet it (grass cutting)

Some huge ideas
· Start an organization like Eight Days of Hope

I want to personally challenge you to take God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself seriously and set a goal for yourself for 2009.

Take 2 minutes and write down 1-3 people you want to tangibly demonstrate the love of Christ and brainstorm ideas on how to you can do this.


What if it is true? What if the PCS concept works? What if you demonstrated love to someone and they crossed the line of faith?

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