Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making happy Christians mad

I came across an exceptional article today and thought it was perfect for the church God has put in our hearts to build! As our church grows, we need to remember to make decisions based on who hasn’t yet come to the church, rather than those that are already attending.

Have an awesome day!


Making Happy Christians Mad

By Tony Morgan

Posted: 25 Mar 2010 11:37 AM PDT

As I was reading the Bible this morning, I stumbled upon this verse:

“I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved,” (1 Corinthians 10:33, NLT)

Fascinating perspective isn’t it? Typically, we don’t operate like that. We put personal conviction or preferences ahead of what may be best for others. Think about it…

  • It isn’t worship if the music is too loud or too fast or the wrong genre.
  • It isn’t discipleship if the content is delivered in a home or online instead of in a classroom.
  • It isn’t missions if we help a neighbor who has wealth instead of focusing on people who live in poverty.
  • The message is good if it calls out the sin of other people, but when it’s our sin, we’re offended.
  • Rather than embracing the ministries that are impacting the most people, we want the church to embrace our personal projects and passions.
  • We’re more inclined to give when we can direct how the money is used.

Crazy. You’d think we’d be intentional about living out our faith to do what’s best for others. Instead, we make ministry decisions to try to keep people happy. That’s how we end up with churches full of happy Christians. That’s why churches stop growing. We start doing church for us instead of trying to impact the lives of people around us.

The reality is that if we’re going to reach people outside the church and outside the faith, we’re going to have to be uncomfortable. And, once we figure out what’s best for others today, it’ll be different tomorrow. That will involve change. That means we’ll have to get uncomfortable again.

Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier doing ministry when our only goal is to keep people happy. Doing what’s best for others makes life and ministry messy. We have to be willing to rock the boat. We have to be willing to watch people who don’t have a “1 Corinthians 10:33″-mindset leave the church.

When I stop doing what’s best for me and focus on what’s best for others, though, that’s when real life-change happens. It’s worth making “happy Christians” mad so that many may be saved.

The role of media and the arts in the church

In my conversations with church leaders I often get the question about the role of media and the arts in the Church. Most of the time you can boil their objections down to trying to “dress up” the message of the Gospel, as if it couldn’t stand on its own. The typical argument is that some churches are trying to repackage the Gospel to make it “seeker-friendly”, and in doing so they are watering down the message.

While I have seen this done more often than I care to admit, I have also seen some churches that are accessible, yet producing both converts and disciples.

This past week we were checking out a church in Paris. While there we took the kids to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. What a beautiful church! As I was explaining to the girls about the meaning of the different stained glass pictures and the carvings, it hit me. The Early Church (and the Church of the Dark Ages) explained the message of the Gospel to an illiterate people through images and stories. And this is exactly how today’s Church will be able to explain the message of the Gospel to a biblically illiterate, media-saturated culture!

It’s all about the journey

I have been thinking about how people are treated in churches. This one thing can really make or break a church. One of the things I see in the life of Jesus is that He was willing to be interrupted. If anyone ever had an important mission, it was Him. And He was laser-focused on this mission. But He didn’t let that stop Him from noticing the people and the needs around Him.

So often we get so concerned with the goal that we lose sight of the people around us. It’s like the bookstore owner that never opened his shop because he didn’t want the floors to get dirty. He completely forgot the purpose of the bookstore.

I’ve heard it said that our “mantras” will determine our church culture. One of the mantras I want our coming church plant to have is, “It’s all about the journey!” We can’t get so bogged down in the details and so focused on our goals that we miss the core value of connecting with people.

Remember what Jesus said…

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? – Mk. 8:36

My paraphrase of this verse goes like this: “What does it profit us if we get everything on our ‘To Do List’ accomplished, but fail to connect with and minister to the precious people God sends us?” We must remember that in our push to reach our goals, we have to hold to our core values. And if Jesus put people high up on His list of core values, so should we.

The journey (who we are becoming) is much more important than destination (what we do for God)!

Men (and women) wanted for hazardous journey

Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

Small Wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and Recognition in case of Success.

-Ernest Shackelton’s recruiting poster for his legendary Antarctic expedition

This is sort of what we feel like we’re asking people to sign up for in helping us plant a church in Freiburg, Germany in October. On the one hand, we want them to know the incredible opportunity that lies before us. To quote Jesus, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) Freiburg (and Europe in general) is spiritually ripe… all they need are people willing to cooperate with God to fulfill His desire here. There are a quarter of a million unreached people in Freiburg that are counting on us!

On the other hand, this group must be willing to get out of their comfort zone and be willing to (for at least a season) walk away from their safe lives. This is why Abraham was called the Father of Faith… it says of him,

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. – Hebrew 11:8

It’s a risky proposition, but the higher the risk, the higher the return. No price, no prize!

If you’re interested in helping us launch our church, please email us. You can follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter. If nothing else, please pray for us and our team:

  • That we would “gel” together as a team
  • That we would have God’s wisdom in the style and organization of the church, and in the timing…
  • That the financial needs would be met, both for the church ($125K the first year) and for the individuals on the team
  • And that we would have favor with the people of Freiburg, especially civic leaders and those we must work with to make this happen.

Watermark Freiburg

We are planting a church in Freiburg, Germany in the Fall of 2010. It will be “a church for those that don’t do church”.  We’re excited to see what God will do in Freiburg.  We appreciate your friendship and are glad that you’re considering taking this journey of faith with us.

We’ve chosen the name "Watermark" for the church plant.

  • It carries the thought of identity/ownership, authenticity and quality.
  • It’s not “in your face”, but it's always there… even though it seems to be in the background.
  • For us it would mean that our connection with God is a part of everything we do.

Some info about our church plant:

  1. It will be highly relational.
  2. It will be a high-intensity church service, with cool, experiential music and relevant teaching.
  3. It will be active in the community.
  4. It will be a church-planting church… our focus will be on planting more churches with the same DNA all over the Freiburg area.

Some info about Freiburg, Germany:

  1. Renowned university city
  2. Many of the young adults are highly educated and artistic
  3. The greenest city in Germany