Summary: Faith, like life, requires risk. Sometimes, the greatest risk of all is to do nothing. God wants you to take the risk do His thing, not your thing or nothing.
At-Risk series, Message #3, Discover Church
February 3, 2008
I hurt my toe 4 years ago, and –because I didn’t want to pay the money, or stop my running routine, I didn’t do anything about it. Ignored it, hoped it would go away. Well it didn’t, it deteriorated, and I eventually had to have surgery to fix it. I learned a valuable lesson: doing nothing is risky, and –had I waited another year or two it could not have been fixed at all.
The definition of risk is to act or fail to act in such a way to bring about the possibility of (an unpleasant or unwelcome event). (Oxford American Dictionary)
It’s been said that “When we choose to avoid risk in one area of life, we automatically engage in an opposite action of risk by default.” Michael DiMarco, All In: Gambling in Life, Love, and Faith This reality that risk is unavoidable, and that inactivity is as risky as new activity has been a rude awakening. When I first followed Jesus, I was a risk-taker for the right reasons: to obey God and pursue God’s purposes for my life. What about you: are you basically a risk-taker or risk-avoider?
I see in my life what I know to be true about people, about you: the older we get, the more risk-averse we can become. Here are some signs I’ve noticed that, as we age, we become reactionary instead of visionary, conservators rather than innovators, preservationists instead of producers, resistors of change rather than initiators of change. Life’s a lot like a football game: you fight and take risks to get ahead, and the temptation is to adopt a prevent defense –sit on your lead, avoid getting burned big, but you play less aggressively and often give up a lot of ground in little bits with that strategy. On offense you resort to grinding it out on the ground to eat up the clock, avoid coughing up the ball or getting sacked, and finishing the game of life just a little bit ahead. The reality is: you don’t win big in football, in life or faith with that strategy.
When you’re ahead of the game Doing nothing can put you at-risk! Let me give you three examples:
A. The American Auto Industry: One stat says it all: domestic share dropped to just 47.1% on 02/01/08 [http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/news-blog/domestic-automakers-market-share-slips-to-471/] A prevent defense hasn’t worked.
B. The American Economy: In S.E. MI: 1948 340K manufacturing jobs; 2008: less than 40K;
C. The American Church: Here are some Surprising facts about the American Church from Dave Olson, a religious researcher [www.theamericanchurch.org; author: A Church In Crisis, Zondervan].
• Actual church attendance is half of what pollsters report: 17.3% nationwide, 19.5% in MI 2006,
• Church attendance has been declining for 45 years, was flat in the 90s, and resumed declining in the 21st century and (5.4% in MI) continues to slow down
• 91+ million more Americans arrived during this same period of time.
• New churches can only accommodate one fourth of these new Americans. When factoring in churches closing: only one ninth.
• Based on current projections, less than 15% of Americans will attend church regularly by 2020.
The reality is that the “Big 3 as–usual, Economy as-usual, church-as-usual has left us at-risk, and they show what I shared on January 13th: if you don’t change, you’ll self-destruct, and you’ll never achieve your potential. Life-as-usual can leave you at-risk. To live life fully, and avoid stagnation and self-destruction, you must take risks. That’s what Tom Watson, American entrepreneur and founder of IBM believed. He said: “In a changing world, the risk of doing nothing is unacceptable… Solve it. Solve it quickly, solve it right or wrong. If you solve it wrong, it will come back and slap you in the face, and then you can solve it right. Lying dead in the water and doing nothing is a comfortable alternative because it is without risk, but it is an absolutely fatal way to manage a business.”
Change is risky, but so is stagnation. Let me ask you: Is water or air that does nothing harmless? No, it becomes stagnant; it‘s not part of any flow or current of movement; it not only contains no fresh, renewing activity, it’s the breeding ground for germs or disease like Giardia, Salmonella, Typhoid, and a host of others. doing nothing is resisting and avoiding the natural flow of life, because it’s not the nature or design of the human being to be inert. (John Marks Templeton Discovering the Laws of Life ).
God did not create you to avoid risk, be inert, or become stagnant. When his son, Jesus came to earth he challenged the stagnant religious system and the people it produced, to change radically, and I know he’d do the same thing today. EARLY SERV ONLY: He’s been challenging Discover church through the words that you members have been impressed to share with us on Sundays this year: launch into the deep, get into the river of God, become God’s miracle-working hands and feet. You’ve confirmed some things God has said to me last year: Go. Go for broke. Wade into the harvest. Focus on the front door. That’s how Jesus approached life & faith.