Summary: This is the initial message in the On-Star sermon series. Teaching Christian to navigate the difficult issues that face us in the 21st Century. This series explores; Immigration; MySpace.com; the Marriage Ammendment and more...
“ON-STAR” – PART ONE
Teaching Christians to Navigate in this Culture
John 10:10 - ©Dr. Larry L. Thompson (2006)
Some time ago a member from another church said, "Our church looking for a really great year…and it appears the year we’re looking for is 1961. If it ever comes back, we’re going to be ready to take this culture by storm." His reason for saying this was that 1961 was a "golden age" in church attendance. Church attendance was at an all-time high that year. As Southern Baptist we had a goal that carried this slogan, “A million more in ’64.” Going to church was considered the right thing to do; the patriotic thing to do; the family would wake up on Sunday morning, pile into the station wagon, and attend church together. Even parents who didn’t attend church were urged to send their children. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, urged American parents, "Send your children to Sunday School so they won’t end up in reform school!"
While statistics tell us that in the past 45 years since that "golden age", our national average for church attendance has been on the decline. This is surprising, since there is every indication that interest in spiritual things is at an all-time high. There are 78 million unchurched Americans today. That means about 33% of the American people don’t go to church at all, yet more than 87% of the American people say they believe in prayer, and more than 50% pray on a daily basis. These numbers tell us that there are millions of people in this country who are interested in knowing God, but not interested in Church.
Why aren’t they? Andy Stanley, Atlanta pastor said, "People don’t go to church because they’ve been to church and they can’t find what they’re looking for." That statement may seem harsh, and while it may be true in many churches I am thankful that while we aren’t perfect, we do have a commitment to allowing the truth of God’s word to be proclaimed to meet the needs of this culture in which we live. The overwhelming majority of people in this country ARE LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE AND APPARENTLY MANY HAVE NOT FOUND IT IN THEIR LOCAL CHURCH. ONE OF OUR CORE VALUES FOCUS ON THE TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE WITH AN UNDERSTANDING THAT GOD HAS PROVIDED THE DIRECTION WE NEED FOR THIS DAY IN WHICH WE LIVE. TODAY WE BEGIN A NEW SERIES ENTITLED, “ON STAR” FINDING ANSWERS TO LIFE’S DIFFICULT QUESTIONS.
I came across a survey from the Barna Research Group tells us the three main reasons why Americans are not going to church today. I want us to look at those reasons and then examine our own lives and ministry and insure that we are on target to continue to provide a meaningful ministry for the next hundred years: The three main reasons people don’t go to church:
1. The Services are Boring
2. The Sermons are Irrelevant and not meeting the needs in my life
3. The People are not Friendly
Time magazine quoted a young adult saying: "It’s not that our generation doesn’t believe in God. We just don’t believe in the church because they don’t have the answers." Sadly, that is a lie from Hell. God’s word is the guidance you need in your life today, directed by His Spirit and living according to His perfect will for your life. Sadly, we live in a generation that has bought into the lie that the church is not speaking to the real issues of the day. However, we do have something to say, we do have the answers and we have a book that can help you navigate through every question or need you have in life. Do you that Jesus gave you this promise… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV) FINDING THE GUIDANCE THAT LEADS US TO THE PLACE OF LIVING IN THE FULLNESS OF LIFE IS OUR GOAL.
In order to have that fullness of life you must understand what God’s word
Instead of proclaiming this wonderful message of hope our world by-and-large perceives the church as not a place to discover answers but instead a place of judgment. Dr. John Bisagno warned my generation of pastors, “We’ve been judging the world and talking to ourselves, when we should be judging ourselves and talking to the world!”
How can we do that? How can we speak to the world? How can we insure that our church remains "user-friendly" in reaching people for Jesus Christ and providing answers for the difficult questions they face? There are three truths that I am going to recommend as we begin this ON STAR SERIES. These are the Three Truths we will continue to employ as provide biblical navigation to a desperately lost culture.