Summary: If our church vanished tomorrow, would our community notice…or even care? This question is a question we need to ask ourselves!
1. Joke/Story/Multiple choice question (powerpoint)
a. I would like you to raise your hand if you think this is the primary purpose of our church. You can vote more than once.
i. Our church‟s purpose is conduct worship services that help our people experience God.
ii. Our church‟s purpose is to teach and take care of our members.
iii. Our church‟s purpose is to attract the lost so that they can get saved and become active church members.
iv. Our church‟s purpose is to make such difference in our community.
b. All of these are legitimate purposes for the church, just so long as they are not by themselves the ONLY purpose for the church. But, that IS the problem.
2. Introduction – “Turning our church inside out.”
a. Over the past few months, God has been speaking to my heart about the way I view church.
b. It all started when Bill Hill came to the deacons and told us that he felt the Lord‟s leading that we should try to minister to folks in the poorer areas of our community.
c. I began to wonder…who does our church exist for?
i. For its members?
ii. Or for its own sake and survival?
1. Are the church‟s activities designed to “keep the church in business” by trying to attract more people so that we can pay our budget to attract more people to pay our budget so that we can attract more people to pay our budget?
d. We certainly aren‟t doing a very good job at surviving, much less thriving!
i. I read a statistic this week that said in the last 15 years, the church in America has spent 500 billion dollars on programming, buildings and salaries without any statistical influence in church attendance or conversions.
ii. In America it takes the combined effort of 85 Christians working an entire year to produce on believer for Christ.
iii. Over the next year in the US, 1300 churches will be started and 3750 churches will close.
e. Another question began gnawing at me. “If our church vanished tomorrow, would our community notice…or even care?”
i. Very frankly, I had to answer this second question with, “I doubt it.”
1. The only people who might miss this church are the people who come here.
ii. Do you know why?
1. Because we have not made a significant difference in our community.
2. Yes, we have done some outreach activities and camps.
3. But we have not given our lives as a church family to the point that the community would care, much less notice if we ceased to exist.
4. Oh, sure, some of you make a difference in your private lives through volunteering and personal ministry through your workplace.
5. But on the average, on the whole, the focal point of our church‟s ministry and attention has been on us and our needs.
6. Even our outreach has been “about us,” and about how to grow “our church.”
iii. Sadly, for many churches in America, the story is the same.
1. I know of churches who are nationally recognized among Christians but are literally strangers in their own community.
2. Every statistic that studies have done have demonstrated that the church in America today is becoming less and less influential and relevant.
iv. This week a pastor complained to me that he had presented an opportunity to his church leaders to minister to a needy area of a local town and to make a difference in the lives of people there. His board of deacons replied, “But pastor, that is a waste of time and money, we‟ll never get anything out of it. They‟ll never come to our church.”
1. Do you see it? “What‟s in it for us?” That is the sin of the church.
3. Attractional versus Missional.
a. Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
b. Most renderings of this reading group verses 8 and 9 together but leave verse ten off, as if it were “disconnected” from the rest.
i. Verses 8 and 9 deal with the inner life of the Christian, with the inner change that God has done in our lives through grace.
1. This can even be applied to the inner work that the church must do to and for its members…teaching and leading them to understand the work of grace that God has done in their lives.
ii. Verse 10, however, deals with the WHY we were saved. Do you see it?