Tag Archive | Gospel

We Can Do Better…

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Americans spend $700 billion on all Christian causes.

Of that number, $45 billion goes to any kind of work overseas.

That amounts to 6% of money that the church gives. Of that 6%, only a fraction of that money ($450 million) is sent to ministries working among those who are considered unreached. This is roughly the same amount Americans spent in 2015 on diet programs. It’s just over what we spend on Halloween costumes for our pets.

What these numbers reveal is that a staggering amount of the money we give to God ends up being spent on us. It stays within the church for the benefit of the church. It pays for pastors and buildings and programs for people who largely know and hear the Gospel. And very, very little goes towards people who have never heard of Jesus.

In fact, for every $100,000 that Christians give to the church, $1 goes to the unreached.*

Statistics, especially good ones, are our friends. They show us where our priorities are. They are like a mirror being held up to our faces so we can see what we look like.  My point in sharing these statistics is not to be critical. It’s not to say that even some of the things we’ve spent money on aren’t good.

But friends, we can do better.

If we’re going to do better, it will require all of us to say no to some of the “good” things in order to say yes to better things. It will require we take a hard look at family budgets and church budgets and say “What does this line item in the budget say about our priorities?”

What good things are you committed to? Your building? Your pastoral staff? Your worship experience? Or are you committed bringing the good news of Jesus to the ends of the Earth? As it is written “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news.

When Jesus came to the Earth, He didn’t ask for a tenth of what we had. He came and asked that we give our all to Him. This is not just a reality for individuals, but churches as well. And we have to decide if we are going to give everything to Him and let Him decide what we keep.

What would it take for giving to the unreached to move up higher in our spending priorities? What if instead of the money to the unreached being a fraction of 1% of our budget, it was 20%? What would that require you and your church to sacrifice? And would the rest of your church tolerate it? And what would everyone’s reactions say about their priorities?

We can do better. But we must change. Will you change with me?

Photo Credit: Macro Dollar by Chris Dlugosz

*Most of these statistics can be found on http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats

 

 

 

Church Planting, Redefined

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One of the things that we’ve learned over the past ten years has been that if you set out to plant a church, you may attract a lot of people, Christians may flock to what you’re doing, but you won’t necessarily make disciples.

On the flip side, if you set out to make disciples of Jesus, you will inevitably wind up with a church. I like to say it like this: Church planting is best understood as a discipleship process that leaves a church in its wake.

This is a shift from what is commonly done. Most church plants start with a core team that is selected from an existing church. The core team leaves the existing church, begins meeting in another location, and hope that unbelievers show up at the new location. This is usually accompanied by some amount of outreach to get new people to join the church.

In this model, significant amounts of time and energy are focused on creating a meeting that attracts people. And while this is usually not the intent, the kind of people that this new church attracts are often very similar to the people who start the church: Middle class, somewhat moral people. And many times this ends up being people who are dissatisfied with a previous church and are already believers.  Church planting was supposed to be “the best methodology of evangelism under the sun,” but when we primarily engage already saved believers with our methods, we give away our opportunity to be effective in reaching people for Jesus.

But church planting can be something different.

It can look more like baptizing new believers than preparing sermons.

It can be more like loving on the broken than setting up tables.

It can be meeting with newly baptized believers and teaching them the Bible than writing a doctrinal statement.

It can be teaching other believers how to share the Gospel and endure hardship instead of working on your church’s website.

It’s effective because it’s not building the church programs and expecting disciples to get made, but building disciples and expecting the church to be born.

So instead of starting a meeting with existing believers, gather two or three existing believers who are hungry to reach the lost with the love of Jesus.  Spend time with these believers talking to lost people and engaging them with the gospel. As they come to Christ, teach them to follow Jesus and obey His commands. Baptize them. Help them get into the word. Teach them to share the love of Jesus.

Eventually you will come to the command to gather with other believers and encourage each other. But prior to that, you and your small group will have practiced this several times over in trying to be obedient to the other commands.

And as two or three people come to Jesus from the lost and begin to become disciples, you will begin to see a functioning church emerge that isn’t built on meetings but is built on following Jesus and interconnected relationships.  The reward is not only a church, but a church made up entirely of people who never knew Jesus prior to their involvement.

So make disciples and churches will emerge.  As churches emerge men and women will be sent out to preach the Gospel and make more disciples. The point is that discipleship continues to go out from where you are and touches people who have not yet given their lives to Christ.  It’s a “go-ing gospel” that touches people outside the boundaries of the church.

Most importantly, when we teach people to obey Christ, it’s the seedbed for a movement that can spread far beyond you and I and touch the ends of the earth.

And that my friends, is what we really wanted from church planting, anyways, right?

Photo Credit: IMG_0507_HDR by Mars Hill Church Seattle

The Greatest of These is Love

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It’s an old Mike Bickle quote that I’ve held onto for years:

“Lovers outwork workers.”

And what Mike means is that love motivates the heart. Love motivates better than money. Better than ego. Better than just about anything.  People who fall in love, be it with people or causes or anything else, will think about the object they love more, do more, and tell more people about it simply because of their love.

People in love with Jesus don’t have to be motivated to spend time in prayer. People who love their church family don’t have to be begged to come to a meeting. People who love the gospel don’t have to be guilted into sharing it. They do it all out of love.

Maybe it’s time, instead of teaching people how to behave, we invite them into love.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
    as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
    jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    the very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.

-Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Photo Credit: Heart by seyed mostafa zamani