Summary: A study on the 7 model churches as described by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Learn why the church is so important, and your part in what He’s up to in these last days.
How to Be and Externally Focused Church
Series: Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?
In the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the Church as Jesus comes to her and gives her an evaluation. As we’ve seen, there’s a difference between what Jesus died for His church to be and what most of us have commonly experienced. It’s really been a study in contrasts….
· In Ephesus, it was the difference between “The Busy Church” and the “Loving Church”
· In Smyrna… Persecuted Church vs. the Accepted Church
· Pergamum… the Compromising Church vs. the Faithful Church
· Thyatira… the Tolerating Church vs. Loyal Church
· Sardis… the Healthy Church vs. the DEAD Church.
This morning as Jesus speaks to the Church at Philadelphia, (and our Church in Oakley), he wants us to see the contrast between the Internally Focused Church and the Externally Focused Church. Because there’s a huge difference.
As we’ve been studying the churches of Revelation, I’ve been amazed at how well Jesus knows His church. He knows it better than we know ourselves! Unlike in the messages to the 5 other churches, Jesus’ message to the Philly Church didn’t have one complaint or correction. Unlike the other churches, Jesus’ doesn’t use the phrase…”but, I have this against you!” That’s because
· they hadn’t lost their 1st love,
· they hadn’t caved in under pressure,
· or tolerated a message that contradicted what the bible said…
· and they certainly couldn’t be considered DEAD!
Instead, Jesus heaps on the praise… the whole tone of his message is upbeat and positive! He says, in vs. 3:8 (READ)… “I know your deeds. You have kept my Word, and not denied my name”
The reason Jesus was pleased with them is because they had obeyed his words and carried out His mission. His main message is simply this… “LOOK! I have placed before you an open door!”.-Rev.3:8a
I want an usher to go over to those doors this morning and open them. Would everyone turn around and look? Jesus says, “LOOK! What do you see? Neighborhoods, people, businesses, … people going about their business…” and Jesus is telling us this morning… “THAT’S where I want my church to be! Out there! That’s where the action is! That’s where I want you focus to be! Come in here to get refreshed and refueled, but only so you can get back out there, where people are dying to meet me!” They need to hear how I not only want to love them, and heal them, but I want to make immediate and eternal difference in their lives!” So… I give you an open door! I give you an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the 1000’s of people who make up your community.” In otherwords, Jesus wants us to be an Externally Focused Church.
Now when it comes to churches, the Externally Focused Church believes, thinks and acts radically different from the Internally Focused Church… (take a look in your notes at chart)
The Internally Focused Church…
1. Believes and Thinks… I have CHOICES… I’m a CONSUMER
You know, we’re kind of used to choices. For example, there was a time not too long ago (I know some of you may not remember it), when ordering a cup of coffee was pretty simple. The waitress would ask you, “Regular or decaf?”. That’s it!
Now if you go to “Starbucks” you’re literally provided with 20,000 mutations of coffee! Because of the iPod revolution… you don’t have to buy a whole CD (or in my teen years a record)… NO!
Now you have instant access to millions of songs that you can download to make your own individually personalized ‘playlist’ of thousands of songs. This drive for ‘personal choices’ has infected the church. “Welcome to iChurch”! Where the goal is to provide ‘religious consumers’ with as many individualized choices as possible. Now, at many churches, you can choose the worship setting that fits your personal taste…(traditional, contemporary, country, or gothic). Simultaneously, Grandma can sing her hymns, Mom and Dad can enjoy coffee and bagels in the worship café… while the teens lose their hearing in a Rock venue. In ‘consumer Christianity”, the Pastor is turned into some kind of a “Spiritual Barista”, passing out spiritual goods for people to choose from based on their preferences. “You don’t like this message? Well, maybe you can skip a few weeks until you find one that fits your needs!” In an internally focused church, you’re not as concerned with whether people growing or not, as you are that they’re satisfied! After-all “the customer is king”, right? Every pastor knows that an ‘unhappy customer’ will go to another church if they don’t get what they want.
Well, in a EXTERNALLY Focused Church… The customer isn’t king… Christ is still King! And people don’t believe “I have choices”, they believe, “I have commitments”. Taking on the character of Christ isn’t something you pick and choose. Instead, we surrender control and allow God to teach us the things He wants us to know. As a result of this belief system, we become contributors not consumers. We’re not continually asking… “What about MY needs?”… instead we’re asking, “What’s the best way to serve and meet others needs?” The Consumer driven, internally focused church exists to meet felt needs. I’ve been taught that