Summary: To refocus the church on our primary job: taking the Water of Life to a world without Jesus.
Offer them water
Purpose: To refocus the church on our purpose: "Go into all the world, preaching the Gospel."
1. (Hold up an ordinary glass of water) Let’s talk about water for a minute. A regular lukewarm glass of water isn’t very appealing. It doesn’t sound very good, does it? But run 4 or 5 miles and it sounds pretty good. What about those lost at sea, surrounded by salt water, but without fresh water? This glass would be worth its weight in gold. If you were trekking through the desert, with all your resources spent, a glass of lukewarm water would be the most beautiful sight in the world.
2. You can live quite a while without food. Did you know that? You can go days, weeks, even more than a month without food. It’s true (because of your size some of you could go a lot longer than others). But without water, a person will die within a week; most likely within 4 days. The body needs about a gallon of water a day to operate efficiently. Now most of us don’t drink that much a day. A lot of it comes in the foods we eat. But water makes our bodies work properly. It helps break up and soften the food we eat. The blood, which is 90 percent water, carries nutrients to the cells. As a cooling agent, water regulates our temperature through perspiration. And without water’s lubricating properties, our joints and muscles would grind and creak like unused parts of some old rusty Plymouth. We must have water to live. (water information source unknown)
3. Jesus compared himself to water in John 4:4-14. (Read)
4. What is it that we do here in church every week? We offer water. We offer the Water of Life. The Living Water. Those of us who know Jesus know that we couldn’t live a week without him. We know that life without Jesus will result in death … in this life and the next.
5. Who do we offer this water to? To the lost. Those who don’t know Jesus.
6. Here’s where churches get into trouble, though. What if they don’t want it? What then? What if we can’t convince them that they want our water? They just don’t seem to care. What then?
7. (Bring out different bottles, filling each with the water from a large pitcher. I used a coffee mug, a sports water bottle, a baby bottle, a sippy cup, etc.) We offer them water in different containers.
· The water fills the shape of each container.
· Our focus: keep the water pure and share the water with all who would have it. The message (water) never changes, but the method (each container) changes with every generation and with every need.
· Every generation (and every person) needs a container that fits its own hand.
· Churches struggle because they don’t trust the Gospel to fill containers they may not like. (Repeat)
8. Some people are drawn to church through music, through friendships, through "felt needs" (such as Al-Anon, Divorce Care, Financial Peace, etc.), through softball, through children’s activities, etc.
· Some scoff at that. "We didn’t have to have softball in my day. People came to church for the water. We didn’t have to trick people to get ’em here."
· How are we supposed to respond to that? "Fine. We’re in here with water. They’re out there without water. We’ll let them die because they don’t want the glass we’re offering."
9. How crazy can you go with this idea of changing containers? Look at what Paul wrote in I Cor. 9:19-23, 10:33.
· 9:22-23 Paul gives several important principles for ministry: (1) find common ground with those you contact; (2) avoid a know-it-all attitude; (3) make others feel accepted; (4) be sensitive to their needs and concerns; and (5) look for opportunities to tell them about Christ. These principles are just as valid for us as they were for Paul. (Life Application Bible note)
· 10:33 Paul’s criterion for all his actions was not what he liked best, but what was best for those around him. In this age of “me first” and “looking out for number one,” Paul’s startling statement is a good standard. If we make the good of others one of our primary goals, we will develop a serving attitude that pleases God. (Life Application Bible note)
10. You want to know what kind of churches are growing? Churches that focus more on the water than on the containers. Churches that have a passion for people without water. Churches that are creative in their ministries. Churches with people who come up to the pastor and say, "I’ve got this idea. It might sound crazy. But what if we had a Biker Sunday? What if we walked through town on the hottest day of the year, giving people bottles of water and telling them that it was from Jesus? What if we made a skate park for all of those scary teenagers that think they have no where else to go? What if we started a ministry to shut-ins? What if we stood outside the liquor store and invited people to church?"