Every Church Has a Target

book

If you were to ask most pastors, church leaders or people who attend church, who the target of their church is, this is the answer you will most likely get, “We’re trying to reach everybody.”

This sounds nice, it sounds Christian and loving, but is impossible.

No church is trying to reach everybody. 

Here’s how I know: One, it is impossible. Two, it is impractical.

Think about it like this: the way people dress at your church, the style of preaching, the length of a sermon, the style of music, if you have small groups, MC’s or sunday school classes, the age of people on stage, the look of your building, all of these things decide who will come to your church.

One of the problems churches have is they feel like it is wrong or unloving to have a target.

Churches in the New Testament had a target based on who was there and they contextualized the gospel to their culture and target (who they felt called to).

What is incredible to me is that if you ask a company (Starbucks, Old Navy, Google) who their target is, they know. If you ask a church, the organization with the life saving, life altering truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ who their target is, they don’t know.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Tim Kimberley on Should a Christian couple live together before getting married.

You are counseling a couple, who claim to be Christian, that are sleeping together and believe they are “married in their hearts”. They would like to become members of your church. Describe how would you handle this couple, including how you would address the issue of being “married in their hearts?”

Brian Dodd on 8 practices of great churches.

Are you looking to build an enduring church?  Are you looking for a level of ministry  success which can be sustained for a decade?  Are you looking to build something of lasting value?  Of course you do.

7 signs your church is making inroads with unchurched people.

Just because a church is growing doesn’t mean it’s filling up with unchurched people. How do you know you’re really making inroads with the unchurched?

Jon Acuff on Dear Church, 11 signs your burning out your staff.

I love the church and for the part I’ve played in these problems, I apologize. If you work at a church thanks for doing what you do. My kids, my marriage and my town need you.

Marci Preheim on Gospel centered sex.

If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.

What does it mean to be gospel centered?

10 Ways for your Sermon to be Clearer

Phil Cambell in the book Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word & Keep People Awake said, “Clarity comes from what you leave out. Clarity comes from focus. Usually, complexity comes from over-inclusion.”

He then gives 10 ways for your sermon to be clearer:

  1. The more you say, the less people will remember.
  2. Make the big idea shape everything you say.
  3. Choose the shortest, most ordinary words you can.
  4. Use shorter sentences.
  5. Forget everything your English teacher taught you.
  6. Repeat yourself.
  7. Translate narratives into the present tense.
  8. Illustrate.
  9. People love to hear about people.
  10. Work towards your key text.

What People Want out of a Sermon

book

Every week, if you preach, you stand before a group of people. They are all different, but they have a lot of the same needs and desires. I was asked recently what my goal of preaching is (which is another topic than this post will cover) and what I think people want out of a sermon. Whether pastors like it or not, what people want to hear is important to a sermon. You need to preach what the Bible says and what God calls you to say, but if you don’t know what people are looking for, you will struggle to communicate in a way that makes sense to them.

As I thought about it, here are some of the groups that show up at church every week and what they want out of a sermon (just a note: I’m not saying these are true or even good things, just what I see as reality):

  1. was forced to be here. You have people in your service who were dragged to church by someone. It may be a friend, parent or spouse but they are there not because they want to be but because it keeps the peace. This person wants to not be bored. They simply want to survive church. They are counting the seconds til you are done. Not necessarily listening but sitting there with their arms folded thinking, “I’m here, impress me.” To communicate to this person, don’t be boring. Know what you are talking about. Don’t have rabbit trails. Say what you are planning to say and sit down. Make sure the beginning and ending of your sermon are solid and prepped.
  2. I know I’m broken. This person may be a follower of Jesus, this person may be exploring Jesus. This person knows something in their life is broken. It could be a sin pattern, addiction, negative emotions, a broken marriage or something else. Regardless, this person wants help. They are looking for something to fix what is ailing them. This person is incredibly open to the gospel and what Jesus can do in their lives. While the focus for them is on fixing their life and not necessarily Jesus, that is openness to Jesus because it can be directed to a biblical view.
  3. The feel good Christian. I would guess that most churches have a lot of these people. They are the ones who want to be inspired. They don’t want to be challenged to change or confront things in their life. They want to check the church box off the list and go home feeling better than when they walked in. They don’t plan on reading their Bible this week. More than likely, at least according to Jesus (Matthew 7:15 – 23), many people in this category are not Christians. This person will leave a church and say, “I didn’t get fed there.” They will decide if they liked the service if they feel inspired or if they sang songs they like and know. This person needs to be confronted with the reality of their sin and need for Jesus and need to be made to feel uncomfortable about their eternal state. This person needs the Holy Spirit in their life.
  4. The agenda Christian. This person knows a lot about the bible and can come across as a mature Christian, but they usually aren’t. This person wants you to talk about a certain topic, a lot. When you talk about that topic, you have to say what they want or else you didn’t preach it correctly. You should preach on the end times, a lot. Talk about Israel, a lot. Be political in you preaching. Everything is about the kingdom of God and their interpretation of what that means. When you present the gospel, if you don’t give the 4 spiritual laws, Romans road or their rendition of the gospel, you didn’t preach the gospel. While this person can help a pastor present things clearly and biblically, they often miss the mark in how they give feedback. Most pastors give this person an audience because they tend to be a squeaky wheel. When talking to this person, you need to lovingly listen and then firmly communicate your differences. Make changes if need be. Communicate the stance of your church and how things will not change if necessary. You may even need to help this person find a new church to attend where they will line up more in their beliefs. That’s okay as well.
  5. The mature Christian. This is the person who is a leader in your church, or growing their faith, bringing people with them, involved in a missional community, giving back to God, reading their bible during the week and praying. This person prays for their pastors. This person prepares their heart to hear a sermon, asks God to speak to them through his word when it is opened during a sermon. When convicted of sin, they repent and seek to live the life God created them to live. This person wants to grow, to be challenged.

While these are generalizations and have inherent problems with them because of that. There are also a few other categories I could’ve covered, I think these are the main ones and how to communicate to them.

[Image]

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Discipleshift

book

Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples (kindle version) by Jim Putnam, Bobby Harrington, & Robert Coleman.

As you can tell from the title, this book is about discipleship and how a church creates a system where discipleship can happen. If a church is to accomplish this goal, and according to Matthew 28, it is why the church exists. The authors form this as the basis of the book: “The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”

But, what is a disciple? A disciple is a person who:

  1. is following Christ (head);
  2. is being changed by Christ (heart);
  3. is committed to the mission of Christ (hands).

For Revolution, this book lays out what our hope and goal as a church is: to make disciples who make disciples. A lot of what the authors lay out has been a part of the transition we have made over the last 2 years. For me, it was helpful to be reminded of where we have come from and get some new ideas about where we are going and how best to get there.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • One problem today is that churches are full of “Christians” but not disciples, and yes, there is a significant difference.
  • The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples. Disciples are not merely converts but also doers, learners, students, Christ followers or better yet, “apprentices of Jesus.”
  • If anyone serves Jesus, he must follow Jesus.
  • Most Christians have divorced the teachings of Jesus from the methods of Jesus, and yet they expect the results of Jesus.
  • Jesus got far more accomplished through twelve committed guys than he did with any of the large crowds he attracted.
  • A disciple grows in 4 main areas of life: his relationship with God, his relationship God’s family; the church, his home life, and his relationship to the world.
  • Proximity is essential to the learning process.
  • We present small group time as an intentional gathering led by a spiritually mature person who understands that his or her job is to help people grows as disciples of Jesus.
  • Three necessary components to the disciple-making process: the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God.
  • Small groups are biblical relational environments.
  • We cannot separate relationships from the disciple-making process.

The Five Stages of Discipleship

This diagram was found in Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples by Jim Putnam.

book.jpg

Here are some ways to know where people in your church or people you are discipling are in the process by what they say or how they live:

Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1 – 5):

  • I don’t believe there’s a God.
  • The bible is just a bunch of myths.
  • Religion is a crutch for the weak.
  • Christians are just intolerant and homophobic people.
  • There are many ways a person can get to God.
  • I don’t believe in hell.
  • I’ve been a good person, so when I die, everything will be okay.
  • There is not absolute right or wrong.

Infant (1 Peter 2:2 – 3):

  • I need to go to church regularly? I’ve never heard that before.
  • I need to pray and regularly read my Bible? I don’t know how.
  • I didn’t know the Bible said that.
  • Tithing? What’s that?
  • I don’t need anyone else. It’s just me and Jesus.
  • I need someone to regularly care for me.
  • I know Jesus is God, but isn’t karma real too?
  • I just got baptized, but still have problems in my life. I thought Jesus was supposed to take care of all my problems.

Children (1 John 2:12):

  • I don’t know if this church is meeting my needs anymore.
  • Don’t branch my missional community into two. We won’t get to be with our friends.
  • Who are all the new people coming into our church? The church is getting too big.
  • Why we have to learn new songs?
  • I didn’t like the music today.
  • No one ever says hi to me at church. No one ever calls me to see how I’m doing. No one spends time with me.
  • My missional community is not taking care of my needs like they should.
  • I wasn’t fed at all by that sermon today.
  • Why don’t we have a ministry for ____________ (women, men, singles, senior adults, divorced, widowed).
  • I’d serve, but no one has asked me.

Young Adult (1 John 2:13 – 14):

  • In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
  • I really want to go to Uganda on a mission trip this summer.
  • I love serving. I can see how God has gifted me and is using me.
  • I have 3 friends I’ve been witnessing to, and our missional community is too big for them, can we start a new one?
  • Someone missed our missional community, so I called them to see if they were okay.
  • Look at how many are at church today – it’s awesome.

Parent (2 Timothy 2:1 – 2):

  • I wonder if God is leading me to invest in Bill and help him mature in his faith.
  • I want to help this guy at work. He asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me as I spend time in the Word with him.
  • We get to baptize someone in our missional community today.
  • Our missional community is going on a mission trip. I am praying for God’s wisdom as I give each person a different responsibility to help them grow.
  • The most important discipleship is with my children.
  • I want to be conscious of the influence of my words and actions around others.
  • There is someone in my missional community I’ve been disciplining who is ready to lead their own missional community.

The amazing thing in the list is how many people in most churches are not anywhere close to mature.

Should I Get Re-Baptized?

This question comes up from time to time in our church. Whether from someone who was baptized as an infant where they don’t remember it, or from someone who was baptized as a child because they felt like they should or because they were genuinely a follower of Jesus.

Here’s a simple response from a fellow Acts 29 pastor that we have adopted:

If you were not a true Christian when you got baptized and you have (since then) trusted in Jesus alone for salvation, let’s baptize you again. But if you were a true Christian when you got baptized but just didn’t understand it fully, we would recommend that you don’t get re-baptized.

The reason we land there is because baptism will always become more significant for us as we learn and grow in the gospel. Sometimes, we don’t fully grasp our baptism until years after it happened. That fact actually highlights the beauty of Jesus saving us even when we didn’t fully understand every single detail. But thankfully there is a Sacrament for Christians to participate in even after they grow into a deeper knowledge and love for the gospel – the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is where we can continually celebrate the gospel at work in our lives.

So in essence, we see baptism as something that allows the believer to profess initial faith in Jesus (after genuine conversion), but the Lord’s Supper as something that allows the believer to continue to profess faith and celebrate the gospel.