Tag Archives: faith

Worry is Lord

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“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:7-8)

Worried, Anxious, Nervous, Concerned. Fearful.

Why do we deal with such emotions?

As we walk through life there are many unknown. We don’t know about tomorrow or even the next minute. We don’t know how our children will turn out or what may happen to them. We can’t control the government or the weather.

We have influence in our lives as to their outcomes, and this little bit of influence goes to our head in the form of perceived control over the outcomes of our lives. Are we really in control?

We say Jesus is Lord, but we worry like we are.

We say we trust God, but we are nervous about whether He may or may not act.

We say the Holy Spirit is alive, but we live like He is imaginary.

When we look at the scriptures, we see that God has PROMISED to take care of us, and Jesus had PROMISED to provide for us, and the Holy Spirit has PROMISED to guide us. Do we believe this?

How can we keep from worrying so much?

First, we need to recognize that we don’t own anything – even our lives. Maybe we need to wake up each morning and speak this truth out loud: This life is Yours. These Kids are Yours. This money is Yours, This job is Yours. These hands are yours. These feet are Yours. This day is Yours. Everything is Yours.

Next we need to be willing to follow the ways of Jesus by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This will require bible reading/study and prayer. It will include wise counsel from other faithful followers of Jesus.

Finally, upon succeeding to recognize each of these concepts, we begin to actually have faith when we live out our trust for the One who gives life. We live with the understanding that everything that happens is covered by Romans 8:28 and Matthew 6:33.

We should be people of peace, but when we live under our own power and guidance, then worry about the unknown becomes a controlling force.

This isn’t easy to fix; it may take years to get better, but once you are able to focus on the Kingdom of God and His provision – taking each moment as a gift – you can find peace in His presence as you walk in life.

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You Get What You Ask For

Be careful what you pray for. You might just get it. 

When we pray, we are encouraged to pray for what we want and to be willing to follow the will of God whatever the outcome. But what if the will of God isn’t what He gives us? What if He gives us what we wanted even if that means he has to work a different outcome?

God had a plan for Israel, but they wanted a king, so he gave them one. It wasn’t exactly pleasant for the Israelites, but they got what they wanted, and eventually God worked out His will for them anyway. 

We just voted in a new president. Many churches prayed for the outcome of his election. Many Christians prayed specifically for Trump to win, but is that what the church needed? 

The American church is weak. The American church largely functions like a 40 year old bible nerd that still lives in his mom’s basement. 

Where is evangelism? Where are wonderful works of the Holy Spirit? Where are those strong in the faith who are able to speak truth without fear of their fellow man? Where are the “greater things than these” that Jesus promised we’d do?

Yes, there are preachers and some Christians who function this way, but this is not the norm. 

If the American church functions largely to put on Sunday morning bible classes and worship assemblies, then she has missed the call of the New Testament. 

The American church is full of people who claim to be Christians but don’t even know what Christ said about how to live. They look just like the world and cower at the concept of being blunt enough to tell others about the dangers of sin and the need for a savior. They don’t want to be seen as religious “nuts” and work hard to be cool according to the world’s standards. 

When has the church been strong? The church was strong under the persecution of the Jews, Pagans, and Romans in the first three centuries. The church is still strong in places where persecution is more than just a hateful glance or derogatory comment. The church is strong where there are threats of prison and death. 

Why? Because if you’re still going to choose the way of Christ in such circumstances, you’re going to have to be truly filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. There are no partial Christians in places like that. There are no “Sunday morning only” Christians in that culture. 

Perhaps what the American church needs is some persecution. Maybe she needs to lose some of her rights in this nation. Maybe her members need to be threatened in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. God has done it before. One day, He will do it again. 

I pray for President-Elect Trump and his staff. I pray for our nation. I pray especially for the church – that she begins to pray prayers more like Acts 4 – prayers of boldness and not protection; prayers of courage in the Spirit of Christ.

It’s well past time for Christians in this nation to come back to the Christ they claim with their lips but deny with their lifestyle. It’s time for the church to be a bastion of love in a world gone mad with fear and hatred. It’s time for the church to stop being “of convenience” and start being actually “of Christ”. 

What are you going to do to help the church be what Jesus calls her to be? Change starts with me, and it starts with you. 


Blind Faith Is Not Required

I was having a conversation one time with a person who was trying out “this Jesus thing” for the first time. She was going on about how hard it is to believe in God and the church and Jesus and such.  At the end of her rant, she looked at me and said with undertones of disgust, “I know. I’m just supposed to have blind faith. At least that’s what other preachers have told me.”

It broke my heart. Blind faith isn’t expected or required. It is not even a biblical concept. 

I don’t have faith in Jesus just because some preacher said I should. I don’t believe in the stories in the bible just because I was raised with these stories.

Sometimes, when preachers teach a certain concept, they come across as if to say that to believe any differently would be wrong and stupid. If a person teaches the scripture without concern for what science has proven, then they are inconsistent with the reality of creation. If there is no historical fact or evidence as a foundation for my faith, then what hope is in that faith? What makes that faith any different than believing in Transformers or Voltron?

The church is struggling to gain ground with people in the scientific community because of the inconsistencies with her teachings and the call to “blind faith”. 

But this doesn’t have to be so. 

When you read the creation account in Genesis 1-3, do you read a literal seven days or an undetermined period of time? Does it matter? The creation account in Genesis isn’t a scientific treatise on how God created the earth. In fact, it is written as poetry. It is meant to point us to the Creator and show His majesty. Could that have happened over 4 billion years ago? Sure! How about 10,000 years ago? Maybe, but that would mean God peppered the ground with lots of science that doesn’t jive with the historical timeline. That seems a bit out of character for God. 

In either case a person can still believe in the one, true, supreme God, Creator of the universe!

What about Jesus? 

Belief in Jesus is more on the historical basis. History shows He existed. The Jews and Muslims alike have laws and writings about Him. There is no question as to the historical truth of Jesus. There is not even a question as to whether or not He was crucified. 

The question is whether or not He was raised from the dead. 

Historically speaking, there were eyewitnesses of His resurrection that testified to its truth. The writings about the resurrection were circulated during the time people were still living who could have refuted the claim if it were false. 

As for the bible itself, great historians like H. G. Wells and Will Durant (who were both atheists) testify to the historical reliability of the biblical account.  

In fact, Christianity is the only religion that it would be possible to prove false. It is the only one couched in history with historically verifiable events to back up its claims. You can’t prove the concepts of Buddhism or the promises of Mohammed or even the historical claims of the Book of Mormon looking at history. 

My faith is not based on some emotional event in my life. I have had those, but my faith comes from the knowledge I have regarding science and history.  My faith comes from the experiences I’ve had and seen in others. 

I don’t have blind faith, and neither should you. God gave you a brain to use. Don’t check it at the door in the name of religion or to follow some charasmatic preacher. Even the scripture says “test everything”. 

These are only a few of the concepts that solidify my faith. If you want to know more about building a foundation of knowledge that leads to faith, feel free to contact me. I love you, and I hope you grow in your understanding of the world around you, and I hope that understanding leads you to unshakable faith. 


I Believed I Could Fly

When I was a kid I loved to climb trees. I would spend hours hanging out up in the limbs as high as I could go. Heights have never bothered me. 

I remember one period during my youth when I was convinced that if I believed something strongly enough I could make that idea a reality. My faith would create reality. I had no real example for this, but I had watched enough television and movies to know this must be the case.  

I loved being up high. I still do. But when I was younger, the trees weren’t high enough. I wanted to be like a bird and fly. I convinced myself that if I believed hard enough I could jump out of the tree and flap my arms and soar like a bird. 

So one day I spent time up in the tree meditating upon the truth that I could fly. I remembered the cartoons I had watched and how the characters would flap their arms to generate lift. I convinced myself that this would work, and I jumped. 

I think I may have postponed my inevitable landing by maybe a millisecond. But I didn’t fly. 

Faith doesn’t create reality as much as it latches onto an already proven reality that simply can’t be seen yet. 

Saul was a zealot for his religion. He was a Jew of Jews and went around persecuting anyone who claimed that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. He put people in prison and even to death because he was convinced of his right knowledge and their false allegiance. 

Was he sincere? Yes. Was he convinced he was doing he right thing? Yes. Was what he was doing in contrast to the plan of God for all mankind? Yes!

Who could’ve convinced him?  As we see in Acts, it took an encounter with Jesus to convince him of the error of his ways. 

If sincere faith was more important than the truth underlying that faith then Saul would’ve been commended for his behavior. If zeal for God was all that was needed for salvation regardless of the teachings of Jesus and discipleship in Him then Saul should have been in. But he wasn’t. 

Many people today are convinced that their sincerity will get them into heaven, but their lifestyle doesn’t look like Jesus’ plan for them. Many people feel that their religion is right because it claims Jehovah as God and refers to Jesus, but their religion doesn’t look like the church we read of in the New Testament. 

People for many years have convinced themselves or listened to other charismatic messengers who convinced them that they are following the right way, but they haven’t looked to the source of righteousness, Jesus, to see if their lifestyle truly reflects Jesus’ teachings. 

If the church tells you that some man’s word supersedes the words of Jesus then that is not a Christian church. If the church tells you that Jesus isn’t God even though Jesus himself claimed to be the God who was at the burning bush with Moses, then that is not a Christian church. To follow the teachings and practices of a man above those of Christ is idolatry, and God is a jealous God. 

It is not politically correct for me to say so, but Catholicism teaches that the church can dictate scripture, and where their mandates differ from the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, then the bible takes second place to the church (This is taught in catechism). Mormonism teaches that the Doctrines and Covenants is to be trusted above the Bible even though their teachings stand in stark contrast to the teachings of Jesus. The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even believe in the deity of Jesus though Jesus, Thomas and the rest of the New Testament writers testified to this fact. When men stand above other men to dictate a religion that doesn’t look like what Jesus came to establish then this is not from God. God is about equality among genders, races and social classes – especially in the church – not hierarchy and power and control. 

No matter how much we may “feel” something is right, we cannot hold to that understanding if it is in contrast to the teachings of the Son of God. Trying to find salvation in these religions apart from the message of Jesus is like trying to convince yourself you can fly. Trying to find salvation outside of Christ based on some feeling you have about God is the same as these false religions. 

If you’ve been in one of these religions or have been considering them, then please heed this warning and go to the Jesus of the bible to find your salvation and the way you should live. If you have been living a “good life” to try to please God yet don’t know what God says in his word concerning you, then it is time to learn. I would love to talk with you more about following Jesus apart from the teachings of man. I don’t want to give you my teachings. I want to help you see His teachings for what they are, and they’re not difficult to understand. 

Faith is based on the truth of Jesus, the Word of God. It isn’t based on some gut feeling or emotional experience. Emotions come and go, but Jesus has been consistent for thousands of years. 


What is the church of Christ?

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For over a hundred years there have been churches that refer to themselves as the Church of Christ. These churches have that sign on the door or out by the street, and many people recognize that there are certain things that make these churches unique.

However, the name that is used was never meant to be a name. It is and has always been a description of the people. The people are the church that belongs to Jesus, the Christ (Romans 16:16).

So what does the church that belongs to Jesus look like? The following is a list of ideas that Jesus presented which should be attributes of his followers. I encourage you to read this with your bible open following along with the passages referred to.

What is the church of Christ?

The church that belongs to Christ understands its need for forgiveness and is anxious to be able to extend that forgiveness to others. It is not a church that holds grudges. (Matthew 6:14-15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the Holy Spirit in the lives of each believer. They follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they live each day – not just on Sunday. This creates within them a fire, a passion, as they experience life in the presence of God who lives within them. (John 14:15-17, 26-27)

The church that belongs to Christ understands that belief in Jesus and connection with Him in baptism (immersion) are essential to salvation. They don’t try to argue this away. They accept it and are willing and eager to follow Jesus’ instructions and example in this manner. (Mark 16:15-16)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that unity with one another is essential to life in Him. They believe that this unity is key to their ability to evangelize to the world. They are not known for their division. (John 17:20-21)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that faith is essential to a person’s ability to follow Jesus. They recognize where their faith is weak and ask Jesus to strengthen their faith through the Spirit at work within them. They understand that without this faith it is impossible to please God. (Luke 17:5-6)

The church that belongs to Christ is a praying church. Prayer is seen as powerful and necessary to the connection and relationship between the church and God. They understand that it is through prayer that much of the power of Christ is released upon the world around them. They follow Jesus’ example of being constantly in prayer. (Luke 5:16; 11:1-13)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that He has called each one of us, no matter our past, to evangelism – to tell others about Him. This is not just the preacher’s job, but it is the role of each follower. A follower excited about his or her Savior cannot help but tell others about Him. (Mark 5:19)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that communion – partaking of the body and blood of Jesus – is essential to the life of the believer. They believe it is in communion with Jesus that relationship with Him is fostered as often as it is taken. (John 6:53-56)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t make it a practice to stand in judgment of others. They are accepting of all people because they recognize that all have sinned, and everyone has need for the same Savior. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the reign of God, His kingdom, in their lives each day. This is not relegated to once or twice a week in a certain building but is shown by a lifestyle devoted to following God in every decision and action daily. (Matthew 6:33)

The church that belongs to Christ is full of flawed people who haven’t got it all figured out. They are broken people who are trying their best to allow God to change them, but it is a daily process, and some days are better than others. This creates an atmosphere of equality among all people regardless of race, age, gender, or class. (Matthew 9:12-13)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to obey Him in all things. They see their obedience as part of their faith. (John 14:15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to show mercy and grace to all whom they come in contact with. They understand that they have been shown mercy and grace by Jesus and seek to reflect Him to others. (Matthew 5:7; 9:13)

The church that belongs to Christ is in the business of disciple-making. They aren’t interested in merely inviting someone to a weekend service. They want to help one another grow in their understanding and ability to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The church that belongs to Christ is compassionate. They seek to show that compassion in the world around them and seek nothing in return. (Luke 10:33-37)

The church that belongs to Christ is generous because it understands that everything it has has been given by the One who owns everything. It understands that the money and possessions it acquires are to be used to glorify God by helping others. It gives generously as an act of worship. (Mark 12:42-44)

The church that belongs to Christ focuses on what Jesus said are the most important ideas: Love God and Love your neighbor. This church is recognized by its love. The world all around knows there is something different about the church that belongs to Jesus because it loves like no other entity does – masses of followers banding together to be an example of love to everyone around them. (Matthew 22:35-40)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t worry about names on building or denominational association. This church is boundless. It has no borders. It is found in every church as people claim allegiance to the Savior who died and rose again. (John 10:16)

The church that belongs to Christ follows Jesus. No. Matter. What. (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26)

This is the church of Christ. It’s not a name on a building but a way of life. It is all people who choose to follow Jesus – his examples and his teachings. Are you a part of that church?


James vs. Paul: A contradiction?

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about faith in my sermons on Sunday mornings. We have seen that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). We have defined faith as follows:

Believing in something so much that you ACT on that belief without hesitation.

Faith isn’t merely saying you believe in something but living like you believe in that something.

As we talk about faith there are many who want us to talk about James 2. Many people have an opinion one way or the other about this passage. Many in the churches of Christ love this passage and use it to talk about the things we do as Christians. Some people dismiss this chapter because they believe in the “faith alone” passages of Romans and Galatians. Which is it? Are we saved by faith alone or do works come into play?

Paul says this:
Romans 4:1-5
​”What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

He also says this:
Galatians 2:15-16
“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

So it seems that we are saved by faith alone. This is true, but you must understand the type of works that Paul is talking about in these passages. He is not talking about the works done as a result of faith. He is talking about the works people do in order to fulfill the law – as in the Old Testament Levitical Law System.

People believed that if they followed the rules of the Old Testament to the letter they would be found righteous. The problem with this is if you break one of the laws even once you have been found unrighteous, and there is no undoing that stained record. A person cannot justify themselves by following law.

But James says this:
James 2:14-17
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

So which is it? Do you need works for Salvation? James thinks so, but he is talking about a different kind of works entirely. He is not talking about following a religion legalistically. He is talking about a life that shows its faith by what it does.

The kind of deeds James is referring to have to do with faith. Faith without action is mere words. It’s not faith at all. If we are going to claim to have faith then there needs to be evidence of it by the lifestyle we show daily. Your lifestyle, the deeds you do daily, shows whether or not you have faith.

James and Paul are not in contradiction with each other. They both believe that faith shows itself in what we do (Galatians 5:6).

So, you are not saved by proving yourself worthy. You are saved by a faith in God that expresses itself daily in a lifestyle of love for God and others and trust in the Creator to sustain and fulfill you.

So are you saved by faith? Yes! But faith cannot be defined without action. May your life reflect that saving faith, and may others see that faith in you.


Ten Phrases that Stunt Church Growth

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A healthy church is a church that is actively trying to reach out into their community and share the gospel with the world around them. Most churches say they want to grow, but are they really in the mindset to facilitate that growth?

Our words have huge implications on our actions for our words reflect the attitudes that inspire what we do. If we speak negatively it is because we are thinking negatively. Positive words come from a heart with positive motivations. A positive person is much more likely to succeed at any venture than a negative one.

As we seek to help the church grow we must remember that our words have bearing on our success. I’ve compiled a list of ten phrases that hurt a church’s ability to grow. These phrases can be said by the members, but they are especially harmful if the leadership begins to reflect these things.

#10 We don’t want to be like THEM
The head of the church should be Jesus. The guide for the church should be the scriptures. If we are scared to follow the scriptures because of it making us look like another group of Christians then that will keep us from following the truth. Worse yet, we have freedom in Christ. If we are unwilling to exercise our freedom out of fear of being associated with another denomination then that shows our lack of unity within the body of Christ. New people who see this are repelled at our lack of vision and lack of love for those who are our brothers and sisters.

Instead of allowing this phrase to control our thinking we need to follow the guidance of the Spirit. As we follow His lead, He will guide the church to follow the desires of Jesus. When that happens growth is inevitable for it is the will of Christ that everyone is reached for the sake of the gospel.

#9 Who are all these new people?
This phrase may seem counter-intuitive. I mean, if you’re having new people then aren’t you growing? Yes, a church that has new people is growing, but if the established membership isn’t taking the time to invest in relationships with these new people then they will soon be gone. People leave the church for a myriad of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that they don’t belong – there’s no way for them to get plugged in.

In our desire to grow we must close the proverbial back door. If our core group isn’t actively engaging our new members and visitors beyond just the superficial “Hey, my name is…” on Sunday morning then we are maintaining a clique.

Instead of asking who these new people are, why not go meet them? Invite them to lunch. Invite them to your house. Spend more than ten minutes visiting with them. Then see how they blossom as members.

#8 THEY tried this and it didn’t work out
It’s very common for churches to look at programming and ideas that other congregations or groups have tried. In the process of doing that we often see not just the success stories but the things that failed as well. This doesn’t mean that the program or idea won’t work with your church; it just means that it didn’t work for them. By the nature of the fact that you have different people than “they” do you will have a different outcome.

So much of our endeavors have to begin with faith. Do we believe that this is the direction God is leading us? If so, then He will help us succeed. If it is not then it will fail.

Failure doesn’t have to be a problem either. A church that is actively trying new things to reach out to the community is showing that they care for the community. If an idea fails it’s OK. The community still sees that the church is trying. What really matters is what we do with that failure. If we use it to make excuses to not try something new then we have truly failed. If we use it to start again by learning from our mistakes then the failure is actually a success.

#7 I wish SOMEONE would do ______
Fill in the blank. There are so many things to do. If you look around I’m sure you’ll see opportunities to serve, opportunities for outreach, and opportunities to help others grow. Each of these opportunities is a gift that has been given to you. God has created YOU with a vision for those needs.

When we look to someone else to fill the needs that God has shown us then we have effectively shut down God’s plan for that vision. If the people within a church are looking to the preacher or the leadership to do everything then they are crippling the potential for the church to be an active, living organism.

The apostle, Paul, wrote several times about the church being a body, and each part has a job to do. You have a purpose. There are things, needs, that only you will see. If you don’t do those things – if you don’t meet those needs – then they will probably be forgotten and never accomplished. Don’t pass the buck. Don’t procrastinate hoping someone else will do it. When the whole church is working together in a myriad of purposes and services then there is health as all the needs are being met. That is a church that will grow because everyone has a part to play. That church will grow numerically, but even more importantly, it will grow spiritually as it begins to look like the bride of the greatest servant who ever lived, Jesus.

#6 I’m not sure they’re dependable enough
As a church grows the new members will inevitably want to get involved. This is healthy and vital for the church to function as a church. It is important for those who have been around for a long time to get to know the new people. It is also important for those new people to be plugged in where they are needed and where their gifts are.

When a new person comes in it can be an awkward transitionary time within the church. The leadership wants to protect the flock and make sure it gets fed, and the new people want to get involved.

One of the greatest things anyone ever did for me was to go out on a limb and give me a responsibility that I had never taken on before. That responsibility took me out of the pew as a consumer and brought me into a ministry opportunity. I was in a sink or swim situation. The church that did that showed great faith in me. It was the beginning of my journey into ministry.

We need to be people of love, and love hopes for the best in other people. As we grow we must be willing to step out on that limb and give new people responsibility. We need to be empowering people to grow into leaders within the church. We need to have faith in the people around us.

I fail jesus daily, but he still calls me to be a minister of his gospel. I should treat others with that kind of faith in them. When I refuse to extend that faith in them I prove to them that I don’t truly love them, and that cripples a church.

#5 There’s no one to take our place
This phrase goes hand in hand with the last one and even the next one. If we don’t see the potential in others then we will not begin to shift the power and responsibility we’ve been given to the next generation of leaders. This cripples a church’s ability to move forward with fresh vision and relevant leadership.

If a leader at any level – teacher, maid, secretary, elder, deacon, preacher, volunteer, etc… – sees the potential for a vacuum if they were to quit, then they need to be actively training others to take their place. No one person needs to be irreplaceable in the church. It is not our job to make it so that the church couldn’t function without us. What we should all be doing is bringing people alongside us who see what we do and grow into being the next person to do our job. This is apprenticeship.

This requires us to have faith in others. It requires that invest into the lives of others. It requires us to not be thirsty for power or influence. Remember, you’re not the savior of your church, Jesus is.

#4 I’m tired…or…I’ve done my time
It you don’t have faith in other people, and you can’t see any potential for someone to take your place, then you probably feel tired. If you’ve taught Sunday school for twenty years you probably feel tired. But if the next generation is going to be trained to step in and give you relief then, first, you need to do one more thing – train.

We are all called to work hard as children of God to serve one another in love, but if you’re 29 or 99, and you still have breath and strength, you’re not finished with the work God has given you to do. This is why we look forward with great anticipation to the rest that God offers us in heaven. But we must not live as though we are already there. I’ve heard it said that some people are “so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”.

If you’re tired, hang in there. As you train people to take your place you’ll have a lighter load. One day you may even get to take a break, but don’t make it permanent. The church needs your talents.

Oh, and if you’re complaining that you’re tired and someone offers to take your place then give it to them. Church is not about holding on to power and authority. It’s not about position and politics. God is constantly raising up new generations of people to carry the torch that those who have come before have done so well to carry.

#3 We’ve always done it this way
Ok, first of all, no you haven’t. Everything was new at some point in time. So let’s be honest with this statement.

Second of all it is OK to like what we are doing. When what we are doing is not effective in reaching the lost for Jesus then what we are doing is NOT OK.

As new people come in to a church they are going to be trying to figure out what the unspoken traditions are of that church. For many of these new people these traditions will make no sense whatsoever. We need to be honest enough to recognize that traditions are just that – traditions. They’re not scriptural mandates.

A tradition is only good as long as it is effective. Making you feel good is not the standard to which effectiveness is measured.

Are the people growing spiritually? Is the church growing numerically? Are people being pointed to Jesus? Do the people love one another? If the answers to these questions is “yes” then great, but if they’re “no” then something has to change. Please, do not hijack the growth of the church by requiring it to never change. As the culture changes so do the ways the church needs to function in order to be able to speak to that culture. The message has to stay the same – the gospel never changes – but the methods need to be constantly evaluated for a church to continue to grow.

#2 We’ve never done that before
This phrase is similar to the last one, but it doesn’t just call out change of current traditions, it calls out new additions to programming or ideas – new traditions.

Jesus calls us to have faith. He also sent us His Spirit to be our guide. The Spirit cannot be put in a box or controlled. He guides the church as He sees need. We must be willing to try new things as the Spirit leads.

We also must remember that trying new things leads to new successes and failures. If the failures are learned from then they are successes as well. As long as the new thing doesn’t take the church away from the headship of Christ and the authority of His word then there is freedom to try new things.

A church that never tries new things is a church that is slipping further and further away from its ability to connect to people in the world today. Change is inevitable. If we don’t embrace it then the change that will eventually happen is the closing of our church doors.

#1 I’m afraid…
I saved this one for last because it is the summation of pretty much every other phrase in this list. If you think about it every other phrase is said because there is a fear of the unknown.

Jesus said multiple times, “don’t be afraid; just believe.” “Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He seems to put faith and fear as opposites of one another.

We claim to believe that God works in our lives daily. Romans 8:28 says he is working to make all things good – even our mistakes and failures. Do we believe it? If we do then we don’t have to be afraid. If we believe it then we can move forward into an unknown future with confidence that God will guide us and help us when we fail. If we have faith in Him then we remember that it is His church and not ours.

If you are functioning in fear, and you recognize that, then you may not be the best person to be in a leadership position at this time. Being careful is good, but being afraid of what may come is bad. A negative person speaking out of fear can bring the momentum of the church to a screeching halt.

Maybe you’re in a leadership role, and you’re afraid of what might come. You must be super-careful with your words. Use that fear to be thorough, but don’t allow that fear to be verbalized. Your words might catch on like wildfire and create fear in others. Remember, fear and faith are opposites.

Conclusion
Having worked in many churches over the years I’ve heard these phrases many times. This is not an exhaustive explanation of why each of these is detrimental to the church. It is just a taste. Most of you, however, can see without much effort why each of these ways of thinking is harmful.

Sure, there are dangers in the future. I absolutely believe that not everyone is trustworthy, but I want to find out who is and who is not by trusting them and allowing them to prove or disprove themselves outside my assumptions. I know we can’t do everything, and I know that some things aren’t healthy for the church, but if a church functions with an inward-focused, fear-driven mindset then it will cripple itself before it even has a chance.

I’m glad to see the church where I serve growing. Many of you are in growing churches, but I want us to be ever-mindful of just how easy it is for our minds to slip into places that will cause us to stunt the growth of the church.

Maybe you’ve thought of other phrases that show a crippling mindset in the church. Feel free to share them in the comments below. Maybe you disagree. That’s alright by me. These are just phrases I’ve heard in many places that are said by people who are unintentionally hurting the potential for growth in those places.

May the church that belongs to Jesus grow as people learn to love Him and love one another. May the church grow as it seeks new ways to engage individuals and communities. May the church grow as the faith of its members increases. And may we all grow into the image of Jesus as the Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out.


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