A Church With A ♥able Reputation

Demographers report that there are upwards of 70 million people in America that are unchurched. In my own experience, I have found that the unchurched people I have met are really dechurched people. At one time they were a part of a church community, but finding nothing of value there, they left. 

The way the first-century community responded to the Church—the historian Luke says “everyone was filled with awe and enjoying the favor of all the people”—is how people will still respond today to the extent that we resemble that first Church. 

If people are going to say “I That Church!” we have to be a able church!

Here are four qualities that I see in the first Church that gave it such a able reputation— 

  1. Internal unity

Luke uses the word fellowship (Greek: koinonia) which means an intimate, personal involvement in each other’s lives. The historical account lists phrases like devoted, breaking of bread and prayer, together, together with glad and sincere hearts, and one in heart and mind. 

  1. Sincere piety

Church for these first Christians wasn’t a place they went to on a certain day of the week; it wasn’t a set of religious rules they rigorously followed. They didn’t do church because they had to, but because they loved to! Luke says all the believers were together, and every day they continued to meet…with glad and sincere hearts.

  1. Supernatural results

Luke says wonders and miracles, signs, and great power accompanied the Church’s activity. Interestingly, the order is fellowship → awe → miracles, NOT what I would have expected, which is fellowship → miracles → awe. The awe came from the Church’s unified, sincere fellowship, and then the miracles simply confirmed God was there (cf. Mark 16:20). 

  1. Practical helps

Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” The first Christians saw people in need and they helped: they gave to anyone as he had need and they shared everything they had so that there were no needy persons among them. This is exactly what Jesus told us to do (see Matthew 25:34-40). 

People will the Church when they see real among church people! 

If we want to see dechurched people become rechurched people, we need to return to our Christian roots—we need to make sure we are lovingly unified in heart and mind, allowing God to perform the miraculous among us, and then practically meeting the needs of everyone around us. 

Join me this Sunday as we learn more lessons from this first-century Church. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live.

Come And See

Survey after survey, and personal interview after personal interview all report the same indisputable truth—the #1 reason unchurched people don’t come to church is no one has invited them!

Wow! Christians have the life-changing truth of what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can do, and they are for the most part keeping it to themselves.

The Easter season is upon us, so we have a golden opportunity to reverse this stat. There is something about Easter and Christmas where even those that don’t normally attend a church service feel like this season might be a good time to do so.

I want to present a very simple way to invite people to hear about our Risen Savior, and it’s just three simple words:

Come and See

No pressure. No promises. No gimmicks. Just this: “Come and see for yourself what a relationship with Jesus is all about.”

Over the next two Sundays we’ll be looking at some obstacles we church people may have to overcome, and some excuses many unchurched people use. But all of this will help us to simply and clearly say to our friends, “Come and see!”

Please join me in person or watch on Facebook Live.

Links & Quotes

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“Most Christians never associate joy with repentance. But repentance is actually the mother of all joy in Jesus. Without it, there can be no joy. Yet, any believer who walks in repentance will be flooded with the joy of the Lord.” —David Wilkerson

“Another way the Scriptures show us that ideas have consequences is by using the word ‘therefore’ (1,039 times in the NASB).” —John Piper

“I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.” —Victor Frankl

“Every sinner must be quickened by the same life, made obedient to the same gospel, washed in the same blood, clothed in the same righteousness, filled with the same divine energy, and eventually taken up to the same heaven, and yet in the conversion of no two sinners will you find matters precisely the same.” —Charles Spurgeon

“While there may not be spiritual oppression involved in your battle [against lust], there’ll always be opposition. The enemy is constantly near your ear. He doesn’t want you to win this fight, and he knows the lies that so often break a man’s confidence and his will to win. Expect to hear lies and plenty of them. satan’s lie: ‘You’re the only one dealing with this problem. If anyone ever finds out, you’ll be the laughingstock of the church!’ The truth: Most men deal with this problem, so no one will laugh.” —Steve Arterburn

The dangers and chaos that comes from boys being raised without a Dad.

Great article: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Give Up On Church.

[VIDEO] Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy does a masterful job in appealing to the House of Representatives to pass the bill which would outlaw abortions after the date that the pre-born baby can feel pain. The House did pass this bill! Sadly, President Obama has stated that he will veto this bill, if it ends up passing the Senate as well. Check this out…

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

[VIDEO] Greg Koukl explains Why Should I Defend My Faith?

“Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” —C.S. Lewis

Abortionists want to be applauded today, but instead we need to pray for them. It’s National Abortionist Prayer Day.

When Millennials are under-employed, unmarried, and unchurched at record levels, National Review Online asks What Could Go Wrong?

How To Earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Here’s how the Apostle Paul said it…

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? To live a life that those who are not Christians will respect:

  • Live with the right ambition. The Greek word for ambition means hard work that brings honor.
  • Mind your own business.
  • Do your own work to provide for yourself.
  • Repeat it again tomorrow.

I want to live a life that glorifies God and earns the respect of others. This seems like a pretty doable list.

What do you think?

Can We Truly Call Ourselves “Christian”?

These are eye-opening statistics from noted church researcher Thom Rainer:

  • 82% of unchurched people are likely to attend church if someone invites them.
  • 7-out-of-10 unchurched people have never been invited… in their entire lifetime!
  • That’s because only 2% of church members invite someone to come.

Friends, this ought not be!

I’m looking myself squarely in the mirror when I ask this:

Why am I not inviting more people?!?

Check out what J.C. Ryle wrote —

“We ought to feel compassion when we think of the wretched state of unconverted souls, and the misery of all men and women who live and die without Christ. No poverty like this poverty! No disease like this disease! No slavery like this slavery! No death like this…. I lay it down boldly, as a great principle, that the Christianity which does not make a person feel for the state of unconverted people is not the Christianity which came down from heaven hundreds of years ago, and is [displayed] in the New Testament. It is a mere empty name.”

I don’t want to be a Christian in name only. I want my life to embody the love and life of Christ. He loved all of humanity so much that He came to die as payment for our sins. He paid the price so we could live.

Why am I not telling more people about this incredible, life-changing news?!?

I want to make a HUGE dent in these statistics! Will you join me?

Every Sunday Is Easter

At most churches Easter Sunday is the most well-attended service of the year. Perhaps this is appropriate, since the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone event of the Christian faith. Without Christ’s resurrection, what hope would we have?!?

The first Christians were so convinced of the life-changing power of this singular event that they began to gather for worship on the first day of the week (Sunday), in honor of the resurrection. For them, every Sunday was resurrection Sunday.

What if we treated every Sunday like Easter?

Would we invite more people to church? I’m sure we would!

Of all the days of the week we could pick to gather together, why Sunday? Because Sunday reminds us of what happened 2000 years ago at a garden tomb in Jerusalem. Jesus arose from the dead!

When I look at the first followers of Jesus (see John 1:35-51), I see something amazingly simple in the lives of Andrew and Philip. It’s as simple as 1-2-3…

  1. They encountered Jesus.
  2. They immediately went to find a friend to tell them about this encounter.
  3. They invited their friend to “Come and see” Jesus for themselves.

Has Jesus changed your life? Then find a friend and say, “Come and see!” Don’t wait for Easter Sunday to invite someone to meet Jesus. Invite them to come this Sunday! (If you don’t have a church home, and you live in West Michigan, I invite you to come join me at Calvary Assembly of God.)

Another Way To Invite People To Church

I really wanted to share this video with my congregation this morning, but we simply didn’t have the space for it. So… enjoy it now with a smile!

I am so convinced that if we were just more intentional and persistent in inviting our friends, family members, and neighbors to church, we would put a HUGE dent in the unchurched/dechurched statistics.

Be persistent… invite someone to church next Sunday.

Boring Christianity?

I read a lot of reports, books, and surveys that talk about the number of unchurched people in America. Sadly, my experience is that most of these are actually dechurched people. In other words, they are folks who were involved in a church at one point in their lives, but then felt like church wasn’t doing it for them any longer.

I’m not sure that I have the answer that will cure this. Actually I’ve got a lot more questions:

  • Are pastors helping people grow in their faith?
  • Are churches engaging their community in ways that make people want to be involved?
  • Are Christians tackling the pressing needs in their society?
  • Do people in local communities even think of asking the church to help with issues in their hometown?

I think the answer might be “No” to all of these questions.

“I suspect that most Christians today are fairly satisfied with the state of their faith. They have a ‘good enough’ experience of Jesus and they’re not really thirsting for much more. But the job of pastors is to help people realize that splashing around in the mud puddle of faith is nothing compared with sailing on the ocean of God’s grace and power (as C.S. Lewis says). We must whet the appetites of our people for a greater experience of the Lord’s reviving power. When we do, they will begin to seek it more fervently.” —T.M. Moore

“We’ve given people just enough of Jesus to be bored, but not enough to be transformed.” —David Kinnaman

“The outer courts are filled with distraction. It’s hard to hear. The holy place is still. And when you get into the inner courts, all the other voices vying for our attention are silenced. I’m afraid that most of us live most of our lives in the outer courts. We’re too Christian to enjoy sin, but we’re too sinful to enjoy Christ. It’s time to press in. It’s time to press on.” —Mark Batterson

If we are truly living as disciples of Jesus Christ, Christianity should be the most exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling way to live! That’s how I want it to be for me and for my church! What about you?

How To unDo unChristian

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God, we continued our series called In It Not Of It, in which we are considering how to biblically engage our culture. In alarmingly high numbers, more and more people have thoughts that are positively unChristian toward those who call themselves Christian.

How do we undo this cultural bias? I think we have to be people of overwhelming grace.

Being grace-filled people is the only way I can see for us to unDo the unChristian mindset. (To see how Jesus did this, see His interaction with a particular woman in John 8:2-11.)

The Apostle Paul also gave us a good example of grace-filled living. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says he is indebted to all mankind, which makes him eager to preach the Gospel (Rom. 1:14-15). I love Oswald Chambers’ commentary on these verses –

Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent his life to express it. The greatest inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that same sense of indebtedness to Christ regarding EVERY unsaved soul? As a saint, my life’s spiritual honor and duty is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to these lost souls. Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.

…Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. This is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine IN REAL LIFE.

I am committed to living a life of overwhelming grace poured out for EVERY unsaved soul. And I am SO BLESSED to be able to pastor a church that feels and acts the same way! We’re not going to be passive reactionaries to the unChristian cultural bias … we’re going to live IN REAL LIFE as proactive, grace-filled people, so that we can unDo unChristian!

Wanna join us?

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