Summary: Creating a "come as you are" culture in the church with A Contagious Allowance, A Contagious Attitude, and A Contagious Artwork.
We’re in the series "BE CONTAGIOUS!" We’re talking about what it takes to BE CONTAGIOUS with God’s love. Today we want to talk about creating a "come as you are" culture in the church.
The title for this message comes from John Burke’s book but the content is based on Ephesians 2:8-10.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
Burke’s book, "No Perfect People Allowed" echoes what this passage of Scripture is saying. No one is a member of the body of Christ, the Church, because they deserve to be. None of us got God’s attention by our perfection because none of us is faultless. If you believe you’re perfect please don’t congregate with the rest of us because we’re sinners. We’re sinners saved by the grace of God and we’re very grateful for that - but we’re still not flawless.
It’s been said, "The church is the only organization in the world where the only qualification for membership is to be unqualified. The church is not a place for people who are ’together’, obedient, and spiritual. If you really think this, then you were conned. The church is actually a place for people who are needy, afraid, confused, and quite sinful. But even more important than that, the church is a place for people who have been loved, and have no idea why. Each congregation is, as it were, a local chapter of ’Sinners Anonymous.’" (Steve Brown)
So why do I bring this fact up as the second sermon in the series, "Be Contagious?"
Because this is one of the most contagious principles the church has going for her! Nothing is more contagious to the unchurched than to find out there is a place where they can come and not be intimidated by the false notion that the people around them think they already have it all together.
If you’ve ever been around a bunch of spiritually snooty people you know what I’m talking about. No one can be more unapproachable than a group of Christ followers who have forgotten how they received God’s grace. Nothing is more repulsive than a bunch of conceited religious people.
On the other hand, nothing is more contagious than a flock of humble sinners saved by the grace of God praising God for His love!
The honest admission of Christ followers that, "Yes, sometimes we struggle," is very attractive to the unchurched. It’s refreshing for them to hear us admit that sometimes we wrestle with doing the will of God.
Our Savior is perfect but we’re still in the molding process, the process whereby He’s making us more like Him. Many of us have matured in the faith to the place that we live with consistency - but the truth is - even the most mature among us still struggle with some things. We have general success facing our anxieties and temptations but we still have them. We’ve made progress but we haven’t arrived at perfection yet.
Even the great Apostle Paul admitted this.
"I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect...All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude." Philippians 3:12a & 15a (GNT)
Every spiritually mature person should have an attitude of humility, an attitude of appreciation to God for His forgiveness, for the pardon that is not based on our level of accomplishment but rather based on His grace!
How can the church utilize this principle to her greatest advantage - this principle of NO PERFECT PEOPLE ALLOWED? How can we create a "come as you are" culture in the church?
There are three SCRIPTURAL & SIMPLE PLANKS REQUIRED TO BUILD A BRIDGE to a "come as you are" culture in the church - three ways we can create a NO PERFECT PEOPLE ALLOWED church.
These are the things we need to concern ourselves with even when we’re having a conversation out in the entrance hall that might be overheard by one of our guests. These are the things we need to emphasize in our small groups and in our fellowships. These things need to permeate every part of our church activity.
The first one is...
1. A CONTAGIOUS ALLOWANCE. (Eph. 2:8) [Creating a culture of dialogue.]
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God." Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)
When we exhibit grace toward others - we are following the pattern set by God toward us.