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Summary: This is a "State of the Church" address encouraging listeners to attend church often and be a "culture carrier."

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INTRO:

* 2007 has been an event-filled year

* Technology continues to improve -- with the iphone

* Home foreclosures are at an all time high

* Global warming has gotten more attention

o As Al Gore got his place in the spotlight again

* Problems in the middle east continue to cause stress & unrest

* Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton prove fame and fortune don't equal peace and happiness

* Gas prices hit an all-time high

* Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's all time home run record

* While we've heard more about steroids than we would ever want to know

* We've seen referees, coaches and athletes caught cheating

* Again, we've witnessed shootings in malls and campuses.

* Some high profile Christians died - like

o James Kennedy

o Rex Humbard

o Jerry Falwell

o Ruth Bell Graham

o Tammy Faye Bakker

* And the Hubbard's moved to Washington

* But that was then and this is now

As we enter the year 2008

-I want it to be the "BEST ONE EVER"

-If it's going to be

* We must Get Into The Zone

-When you are in the Zone

...you're hitting on all cylinders

...The zone is where you're at your best

 Sports

 Business

 Ministry

 Etc.

-Being IN The Zone generates positive momentum

-It happens on the:

 Golf Course

 Board Room

 Money

 Marriage

 Relationships

 Spiritually

-The Zone is what you're focused in

-You're scoring points

-Life is at its BEST!

-The opposite is also true

When you are NOT In The Zone

It seems everything goes wrong.

 Relationships struggle

 Vision is blurred

 Life is a chore

 No fruit -- No success

-I want us as a church to Get In The Zone!

-2 Primary ways:

1) Be a Culture Carrier

1. Forward Thinking

2. Supernatural Without Weirdness

3. Promptness

4. Acceptance/Not Always Agreement

5. Participation

6. Order

7. Increase With Integrity

8. Generationally Minded

9. Identifiable Leadership

10. Generosity

11. The Method Isn't Sacred/The Message Is

12. Grace

2) Throw away ALL excuses

TEXT: Luke 14:16-22

16. Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, `Come, for everything is now ready.' 18. "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, `I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' 19. "Another said, `I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' 20. "Still another said, `I just got married, so I can't come.' 21. "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22. "`Sir,' the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'

An Insurance company published a list of the most abused excuses used in reporting auto accidents...

1. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.

2. The other car collided with mine without warning me of its intention.

3. I had been driving my car for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had the accident.

4. As I reached an intersection, a hedge sprang up, obscuring my vision.

5. I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.

6. The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.

7. The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.

8. The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

9. The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

-I'm tempted to have a -- NO EXCUSE SUNDAY -- to invite everybody to have our biggest attendance -- No Excuse Sunday

-We'll send out a mailing -- a no excuse Sunday mail-out

-To make it possible for everyone to attend church next Sunday

-Beds will be placed in the fellowship hall for those who say -- Sunday is my only day to sleep

-Eye drops will be provided for those with tired eyes from watching TV too late on Saturday night

-Steel helmets will be available for those who say -- the roof will cave in if I ever go to church

-Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold

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