Summary: This is the second in a series of 8 sermons that focus on Natural Church Development’s "8 Quality Characteristics" of Healthy churches. This is on the characteristic: "Need-Oriented Evangelism". We focus on building the quality, God provides the growth.
Love Your Neighbor, Tell Your Story
John 9:25 and context
Some titles just make you want to read the book:
They Like Jesus ... Not the Church
It is a book that delves into the attitudes and perceptions of 20-30 year olds about the church (US!!!)
1) The Church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
o More interested in building bigger buildings raising money for the poor
2) The Church is judgmental and negative.
o Why is it that we in the Church focus on the negatives? Why do people on the outside know us only for what we stand against?
o Important to remember that how we express our beliefs is at least as critical as “what” we express.
3) The Church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
4) The Church is homophobic.
o This is said by people who both don’t think homosexuality is wrong, AND they have formed an impression that the church is uncaring, if not downright hostile toward them.
o Sometimes I think they are right.
o Is it possible to communicate tangible love, while maintaining homosexuality is a sin?
5) The Church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
6) The Church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
(I Like Jesus ... Not the Church—Outreach Magazine article by Dan Kimball, based on his book, They like Jesus but Not the Church)
The point today, is NOT to debate whether these views are right or wrong. But I ask you this:
Are these perceptions of the church (+)positive or (-)negative? How does their perception of the church compare with that of the Jews in the early days of the church: [They enjoyed] the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily.
o Notice how little Jesus mentions "hell" as a motivation for people to change? Instead, he offers people . . .
• rivers of living water
• my words are "spirit and life"
• he who feeds on me will live . . .
• His harshest words are for religious people who think they know God, but reject Jesus
It seems to me that many “unchurched” view “us church people” as controlling or angry isolationists. We stick to ourselves, except when we are sticking our nose and egos into other people’s business.
If that is true, that is not a principle of a healthy, growing church.
A healthy church does not bash people into the kingdom. That is not to say we won’t need to be bold, or at times confront. But the consistent Biblical approach to evangelizing—and one that a healthy church needs to follow is the principle (Condition) called:
Put simply: it is taking care of people’s needs to open the door for them to believe in Jesus.
Warning: We are NOT JUST to “be nice” so they will believe in Jesus. We need to love them from our heart, as Jesus did. And yet, as we love people in real ways, they are often more receptive to hearing how Jesus loves them.
We are going to focus today on the observation that:
Big Idea: We are more effective in reaching people with the good news of Jesus when we love them according to their needs.
We communicate need-oriented evangelism when we are SHOWING the good news of God’s love as well as SHARING it.
(SHOW CARTOON of man teaching “original sin” to babies in a nursery)
o As this cartoon depicts, we often have no clue what the needs of people are, and we push our own agenda. We may be right, but clueless.
This isn’t cool!
One way to employ “need-oriented evangelism” is to “Love Your Neighbor and Tell Your Story.” (L.Y.N.T.Y.S.—thanks to Dr. Troy Bush, a good friend of my former mentor, Doug Kostowski in Miami)
Let’s take a look at a man in the book of John, 9:25
25 He replied . . . One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
His story, and other examples in the book of John will open our eyes to the Biblical example of “LYNTYS!”
Transition: rather than launching into trying to “save souls” by quoting scripture or warning of hell, we can open ears to the good news by learning to first . . .
1. Love Your Neighbor!
It is like reaching out with our hands and saying: “how can I help you?”
The first thing we notice in this man’s story is that LYN
requires us to go!
Now what happened to that man?
o John 9:1 As he went along. . .
It is hard to love your neighbor unless you go out among your neighbors! For years people have talked about how we live in “cocoons”, hunkered down in our homes with TV and internet and private lives, hardly knowing our neighbors next door.