Summary: Inspired by a message from Andy Stanley at the 2010 SBC Pastors conference, this message helps us examine the state of the church in AMERICA today.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Deut. 1:19-46 / Acts 15
* Most all of us remember the story of the Children of Israel and their Exodus from Egyptian Captivity. We recall that God had ‘given’ them a land flowing with milk and honey. Additionally, we know that because of unbelief, disobedience, and employing the democratic process, the trip that should have taken the Israelites 4 weeks took 40 years and cost them the lives of 1.2 million people. Many are the lessons we can learn from this group of people.
* Turn with me to Deuteronomy 1. As the book opens we read Moses recapping much of the trek of the Children of Israel. It does us good to remember and reflect on our history. Let’s begin reading in verse 19.
* (AFTER READING & APPLYING) On Monday night of the Pastor’s Conference, I heard Andy Stanley give a message which I believe was aimed for me and by extension ‘US.’ While I’m not much on preaching other people’s sermons, when God stirs my heart, I will take the info, pray through it, and personalize it for us. While already I’ve begun tonight differently than he did, without hesitation or reservation I will tell you that the large part of what we will discuss God gave to me through Andy’s message. For me, tonight is not a “SERMON”, it is simply a Biblical talk which, I believe, holds some practical truth for our church family.
* Let’s begin with the very reason we must regularly review, reflect, refocus, and renew ourselves to the task of the gospel. Here it is in a simple statement; “Everyone lives throughout eternity, somewhere.” How long has it been since you meditated on that truth and thought about your family and friends in light of this fact. Then Jesus says this, “I am the only way to a home in heaven.” If this is the truth (and it is), then the call to us, as followers of Him and keeper of this mystery, is to make sure as many as possible make it to the right place. This means we do more than ‘get up on Sunday mornings and attend our corporate meetings, that we do more than ‘take care of our own,’ and that we possess the land which the Lord has given us. By the way, when Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, the implication is that the church is on the spiritual move attempting to rescue people who are outside of Christ and inside the gates of hell to bring them outside the gates of hell and inside of Christ.
* Here is my plan for the night. We are going to look at 3 quotes (2 from business people & one from the Bible) & then consider the implications.
Back to the Basics – Pg 2
1. Most of us are familiar with Chick Filet and the founder, Truett Cathey. In the early 1990’s Chick Fillet experienced their first real competition. It was from the chain that we know today as “Boston Market.” In Truett’s leadership team were many young men who began to talk about expansion (making themselves bigger). As I understand it, Chick Filet was debt free and now this team began debate about going into debt and expanding so that they would not lose their customers. The entire debate came down to a type of executive meeting where the young men were sitting around the table passionately discussing the future of the company and the need to expand and get bigger. I mean, after all, isn’t this the same call for many churches today? At the head of the conference table sat Truett Cathey listening (as he often did) to the debate. Finally (and uncharacteristically), Mr. Cathey began pounding on the table and said, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about our need to get bigger.” Here is the payoff; “If we get better our customers will demand we get bigger.” Let that thought burn into your spirit. What he said was this, “we will make what we do on the inside so appealing, excellent, and first rate that customer will see the how we treat them and will flock to the store. Whether in a business or church setting the principles are the same. There are 2 things which are required; evaluation and clarification. Sadly, most Baptists see the concept of evaluation as the time to point fingers at leaders, when in truth; evaluation should point fingers at problems. Much of the time the problem is not a person, a person becomes a scapegoat. Evaluation is that needed part of a structure which tells us how we are doing against an established standard. Bill Hybels, founder of Willowcreek Community Church in South Barington, Illinois, began that church with the concept of getting rid of all the non-essential things which have plagued the church for many years. He began with 7 people in his living room and today, 30 years later, they are one of the largest church fellowships in the nation worshipping with over 20,000 people each weekend. His focus was to do everything he could to make the unchurched people feel welcomed. Now, he didn’t do everything right, but he had a ‘standard’ to evaluate. About 2 years ago, they did an evaluation and found they were ‘missing the mark’ for spiritual growth. Instead of burying the truth, they wrote a book to help other churches see what they had done wrong. They evaluated & then clarified what they wanted to do which was ‘reach the lost’ & ‘develop the saved.’ The eval is ‘where’s the win?” The clarification is ‘did it fill our goal?”