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A pastor was visiting a family one day. He knocked on the door but no one answered it. He knocked again and again, but still no answer. He thought he heard someone inside but they just wouldn’t answer the door. Finally he wrote a note and slipped it under the door. It was Rev.3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.” Four days later he received a note in the mail and it was Genesis 3:10: “I heard the sound of thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.”
Sermon Central Staff
A DYING CHURCH
An artist was once asked to put on canvas what he considered to be the picture best symbolizing a decaying and dying church. After several months, he returned and reported that he had finished the task. The hour finally arrived when the painting was to be unveiled. Several people standing around the easel had already given their description of what they thought the church would look like. Some had said it would be a rundown building in great need of repair and paint. Weeds would be growing in the church yard, and there would be some broken window panes. Everyone in the group seemed to have a similar picture in mind.
However, when the cloth was removed, a hush fell over the group. Everyone was stunned. Before their eyes was an absolutely beautiful church building. The grounds were well kept and the exterior of the building was in excellent condition. After a few minutes, one person stepped forward and said to the artist, "I thought we asked you to paint a dying church?"
The artist smiled and invited everyone to step closer to the painting. He pointed through the windows to the empty pews and to the collection plate on the table. There was nothing in the plate but cobwebs.
The church that has cobwebs in its collection plate is a church that is decaying and dying. Without the giver, there is no giving. Without the giving, ministries cannot be conducted by the church. Without ministries being conducted, the mission of the church cannot be carried out. If the mission of the church is not carried out, the church is purposeless and dead.
(From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, Igniting a Lifeless Church Service, 2/7/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
PASTORAL SEARCH COMMITTEE OF THE FIRST LUKEWARM CHURCH
I was recently contacted by a pulpit committee that was interested in my ministry. I met with Chairman of the Disenchanted, Bro Tepid. He described his church; First Lukewarm Church of the Apathetic. ďNothing too boring, nothing too exciting. We want it to fit into our American Culture Christianity. No songs too slow, no songs too fast. Nothing from the ancient songs and nothing after the 70ís.Ē Nothing ever challenging. We want encouragement and comfort.Ē
He sang to me the Churches Theme Song.
ďSitting on the premises of Christ our friend.
Through eternal ages let the service end.
Glutted to the highest we will moan and sing.
Sitting on the premises and dead.
Sitting on the premises, sitting on the premises,
Sitting on the premises of Christ our servant.
Sitting on the premises, sitting on the premises,
Weíre sitting on the premises and dead.Ē
He proudly described the Church as irresolute and uncommitted. He introduced to me the other committee members; Bobby Bored, Connie Cool. He described the great teachings the women received who participated in the Churchís The Womenís Indifference Society. There seemed to be great growth in one class; The Mellow Sunday School Class. They were excited about an upcoming event; The Menís Worldly and Wise Conference. An upcoming revival was going to be led by The Reverend Marvin Mundane. The church had started the Spiritless Seniors group who were going to focus on traveling to entertainment locations like Branson Missouri and Las Vegas. This would bring the Church back into balance because of the growing the Unresponsive Youth Program.
They were looking for a pastor who could scratch their ears, stir their emotions, help their self-esteem, complement their current spiritual condition and validate their unchanging ministries and priorities. On the bright side, they were going to pay well and the benefits were killer.
The problem? That pig wonít swim.
(From a sermon by Tim White, When Pigs Canít Swim, 8/22/2011)
Calvin Miller teaches in Birmingham, Alabama, at the Beeson Divinity School. He recently wrote a provocative article entitled, "Rethinking Suburban Evangelism," on the challenge taking the gospel to people who sense no need: "Suburbia: the push-button Zion of those who have made it and therefore have it made. There, amid the water sprinkling systems and lava rock landscapes, rises the new Eden with little need for God: Paradise Found, where churches ulcerate themselves trying to sell self-denial to the pampered."
Reading Calvin Miller reminded me of what Jesus says in Revelation 3.17-18: "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame o...
GETTING CAUGHT ASLEEP
Just in case your boss catches you asleep at your desk, be ready to blurt out one of these excuses:
"They told me at the blood bank that this might happen."
"This is just a 15-minute power nap like they raved about in that time management course you sent me to."
"I was working smarter - not harder."
"Whew! I must have left the top off the whiteout."
"I wasnít sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!"
"This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!"
"I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance."
"Iím in the management training program."
"Iím actually doing a Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan (SLEEP). I learned at the last mandatory seminar you made me attend."
"This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work!"
"Darn! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem."
"The coffee machine is broken..."
"Someone must have put decaf in the wrong pot."
"Boy, that cold medicine I took last night just wonít wear off."
"Ah, the unique and unpredictable circadian rhythms of the workaholic!"
"I wasnít sleeping. I was trying to pick up my contact lens without my hands."
"The mail courier flipped out and pulled a gun, so I was playing dead to avoid getting shot."
"Gosh, I thought you (the boss) were gone for the day."
(From a sermon by Jason Jones, "Why Not to Sleep in Church" 1/29/2009)
"I AM HIS!"
President Theodore Roosevelt, was a charismatic figure who made quite an impression on people. One journalist, William Allen White, wrote of his first meeting with Roosevelt in 1897:
"He sounded in my heart the first trumpet call of the new time that was to be... I had never known such a man as he, and never shall again. He overcame me. And in the hour or two we spent that day at lunch, he poured into my heart such vision, such ideals, such hopes, such a new attitude toward life and patriotism and the meaning of things, as I had never dreamed men had... After that, I was his man."
If a mere man can have such an impact on a person, how much more our Lord Jesus Christ? Spend time with Him and let Him pour into your heart a new vision, a new hope, and a new attitude towards life. Then afterwards, you will say with thankfulness, "I am His!"
Source: Mark Galli, managing editor, Christianity Today; Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Pageant, ninth edition, D.C. Heath, 1991, p. 676. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009
Sermon Central Staff
Marks of a Healthy Church
Walt Disney was a dreamer. His crowning vision was EPCOT; Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. He envisioned the perfect city of 20,000 using all of the most modern advances technology. One problem, Walt Disney died before his cream was ever realized. His dream was so big and complex and outside the box that no one else in the Disney company ever caught the dream and had no idea what to do after Walt was gone. What Walt Disney intended as a living breathing perfect city turned out only to be a entertainment center. Disneyís world would only become a place to visit.
Jesus left a blueprint for His church so vast, so marvelous, and so innovative. A living breathing expanding organism that would permeate and transform the whole world.
The problem is, that as time went on, His followers lost the vision and couldnít wrap their minds around such a magnificent plan. Rather than a community of loving, passionate follower of Christ dedicated to demonstrating the power of the Christ-transformed life in a dark world, they began to do what they knew best, build buildings and run organizations and develop entertainment centers that would hopefully draw the crowds to hear the story but miss the transforming power of Christ.
(From a sermon by David Welch, Life Signs of a Healthy Church, 10/19/2009)
$3 WORTH OF GOD
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I donít want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant,
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not n...
Sermon Central Staff
WHY DON'T THEY LET HIM IN?
A picture of the Lord Jesus knocking at the door of a heart was taken one day by a parish visitor to a house where a father and mother lived with their small son. Some impulse made the mother pin the picture up in their little kitchen, and when the small boy came in from school, he was very interested in it.
His mother was too busy with the dinner to answer his questions, but presently Father came in from work. "Who is the Man, Daddy, and why is He knocking at the door?" the little fellow asked again and again. The father tried to ignore the question, but it was asked again and again with great persistence, and at last he replied that it was the Lord Jesus Christ knocking at a door. "Then why don't they let Him in?" asked the little boy, wonderingly.
Dinner came just then, and the father managed to change the subject, but again and again during the days which followed the little lad asked the same question: "Why don't they let Him in?" The question began ringing in the father's ears, until at last one day he fell on his knees and cried: "Lord Jesus, it's the door of my heart at which You are knocking. Please forgive me for keeping You waiting so many years. The door is open -- oh, come right in and take possession!"
(Gospel Herald. From a sermon by Bill Butsko, God's Infinite Love, 12/25/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
THE CHURCH WITHOUT OUTREACH
Fred Craddock tells the story of his first church. It was a beautiful little white church on a hill in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The church was beautifully maintained. The pews had been hand-hewn from giant poplar trees that had grown nearby. Little kerosene lamps on the walls provided light inside the church. This little church was 112 years old, and most of the charter members were still living and active in the church. The church had a pump organ, and Miss Mary, the organist played it just as slow as possible. Needless to say, the Spirit seldom moved.
One day, somewhere in the Pentagon in Washington, someone in their wisdom decided to put a nuclear power plant in this scenic, ideal little town. People began showing up with license plates from such places as Pennsylvania, Washington, New York, Oklahoma and yes, God help us all, Texas. In every hill and holler there were to be seen travel trailers and even motorcycles. It was clearly a satanic invasion.
The pastor called the elders together ... you know what elders are?... just like deacons except they are more spiritual. He suggested that they begin an outreach program to reach all of these new people in town.
The elders were appalled. What if these people were allowed to stay in town, why they might intermarry with our people. Surely we donít want them coming into our church. They probably donít sing our songs. After more discussion it got quiet. Finally, everyone got hungry and decided to go home and resume the conversation next Sunday.
After church the next Sunday, Fred called the elders together a second time. Before he had a chance to say anything, the number one leader in the church said, "I move that we change the locks on the church and nobody can have a key who does not own property in this county!" And somebody else said, "Amen! I second the motion!" They voted it in unanimously except for the preacher, and they told him his vote didnít count anyway. He became a little nervous since he lived in the pastoreum and didnít own property in the county.
Years later, Fred and his wife were driving through that part of the country. He said to his wife, "Letís go by and see the old church." He said they had a hard time finding it because interstates had been built and things had changed a lot.
But they kept driving around and stopping at stores to ask for directions. They finally found where the church was. It was still on a secondary road. So they drove to the top of the hill, and there is was .... a beautiful little church, gleaming white on the hillside.
But there was a difference. The parking lot was full of cars, trucks, RVs, and motorcycles. People were going in and out of the building. Fred and his wife were thrilled. When they finally found a parking place and began to walk toward the entrance, they finally found the sign. It read, "Oak Ridge Barbecue."
Fred considered the people who were present at the tables and thought of what the elders had decided so long ago. He said to his wife, "You know, itís a good thing this place is not a church now because these people couldnít come here."
As the church, we can model the love of Jesus as we love and accept people. Or we can be exclusive in our love and forfeit our calling to be an authentic church.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Rooted in Love, 1/2/2011)