Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Church is a Hospital

I'm still EXCITED about the salvation's we've witnessed these past few weeks!  It's as if the flood gates of salvation have been opened up and we're reaping the harvest we've been praying for and sowing for so long!


In the past two weeks, 17 people stood and said, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!" 

In one of my recent posts I asked the question...."Is our church too big?"  I was trying to PROVOKE us to think about the question..."Does God REALLY want the church to grow?"

Peter was just one of 120 gathered in Jerusalem when the HOLY SPIRIT fell upon the church!  On that day, Peter preached about JESUS and quoted SCRIPTURE (Joel).  As a result, the Bible says 3,000 people were ADDED to the church! (Acts 2:41)

I wonder who did the counting that day?  I mean...who showed up with a calculator?  Someone had to have COUNTED for us to have RECORD of the number of people who were converted that day.

When NEW PEOPLE come to our church do we get upset at the growth?  Look at the Day of Pentecost for a minute...do we see people in the "original group" of 120 saying, "Well, I guess we won't be able to hang out with Peter and John like we used too!"  Do you see people saying, "It's too big - we don't know everybody?"

The answer is NO.

Here's why....the early church was FOCUSED on the WORK of JESUS!  They were more concerned about getting those who did not KNOW Christ INTO the Kingdom rather than hanging out in their small circles of friends, gossiping about whether or not a person had on appropriate attire.

Whoever did the counting that day didn't stop counting!  They counted again in Acts 4:4...in fact there is a reference to counting 12 more times in the book of Acts.

A few years ago a man who had visited our church told me that he really liked our church, enjoyed the preaching and loved the worship experience but he didn't want to join because we were "too big" and he was used to a smaller church.

Honestly, that mentality is so archaic it makes me shake my head in disbelief.  How can reaching people for Christ and seeing people added to the Kingdom of God cause a man to have that kind of perspective?

We must always be in a state of GROWTH.  I know what it's like to struggle.  I remember gathering with 22 people and sharing my vision for our church only to see most of those folks leave within a year.  I'm acquainted with struggle...but I REFUSE to be a pastor of a church that is INWARD FOCUSED while people in our city are dying and going to HELL!

INWARD FOCUSED PEOPLE are more interested in dress code, laws, rules, regulations, position and appearance than...SOULS! 

Let me be clear on something...we've been bringing people into our fellowship for a while who come from backgrounds that are FAR from the CHURCH LIFE some of us grew up in - here in the Bible Belt...but I REFUSE to turn any of them away just because they don't have the "attire" we think they should have on to come to church.

Oh...I know both sides of the coin.  I've been "in this thing" all my life.  But here's what I'm learning of the Lord...PEOPLE NEED JESUS...and they're going to find Him regardless of  dress code or economics. 

The church is a HOSPITAL for the sin sick soul!  Jesus didn't come to call the righteous...He came to call the sinner!  Those who are WHOLE need not a physician!   (Matthew 9:12)

Our GOAL is to get them TO THE CROSS!  Once that happens, THE HOLY SPIRIT will perform His office and lead them in a personal relationship.  The church will be there to GUIDE, TEACH, INSTRUCT & ADMONISH - not MAKE FUN of folks and belittle them cause they don't live up to our preferencial standards.

I believe we MUST have a standard...guidelines...and common sense.  This will come to each of us as we continue our love relationship with Jesus.

Let me ask you a question...ARE YOU A VOLUNTEER at our church?

Here's what I'm learning...PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEER RARELY COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING...and when they do we always listen because we KNOW they are committed to God's work through this church.

Usually, the people who complain are the ones who are too lazy to volunteer OR think their spiritual gift is sitting on their back side!

When you TEAM UP with people on Sunday...you feel like you are PART of the TEAM!
I conclude with this thought about being "too big!"  What if we used that excuse in other areas of our lives?

What if I called our stock broker and said, "Hey...stop making me money...my 401k is TOO BIG!  He would think I was CRAZY!!!  We want our money to grow because it is valuable to us...and God wants the church to GROW because it is VALUABLE to HIM!

What if we treated an NFL football game like that?  What if we had to "know" everyone before we would attend?  If that was the case, you'd never go!  Seriously, no one ever says, "I was so offended - Peyton Manning didn't personally come and talk to me AND ask my opinion on the plays he should run!"

NO - we GO TO THE GAME - we experience something with people we DON'T KNOW - and one common thread holds us together...FOOTBALL!  But then some of those same people want to go to their church and say, "I want us to remain a small church!" 

Why is it that we want to BUILD our FOOTBALL stadiums and bank buildings larger and our churches SMALLER and SMALLER?

I believe we should look at numbers because God is into them as well!  NUMBERS represent SOULS and SOULS represent people who have been REACHED beacuse they are people who care about others!

Let's keep BUILDING!

There are souls to be won!
There are churches to be planted!
There are leaders to be raised!