I have a profound stirring in my heart to have fewer meetings at church and more ministry away from church. I’m not against the big assembly—I just think that weekly assembly is going to be much more dynamic if it is filled with new believers who were mined like diamonds out of the community around the church building. That is only going to happen when we get out of our pews and out of our huddles into the homes and coffee shops where the unconvinced and unconverted live. We will have to be embedded among them not isolated from them.
Bible Christians or Bible-Belt Christians?
Francis Chan was speaking at Liberty University, talking about living a life in the world—engaging the world like they did in the Bible. He pointed out that is too easy to stay in comfortable huddles of Christians and not ever mix it up with people who are far from God. He said that he wants to live a life like they did in the Bible he reads. He said, “I want my life to look like I stepped out of the Bible—not like I stepped out of the Bible-Belt.”
I was eating breakfast last week and reading Tim Steven’s new book on leadership, Fairness is Overrated. One of the leadership principles he emphasized is the importance of ministry outside meetings in the church building. Here is what he wrote:
“God does not live at your church. (I hear gasps of disbelief.) It’s true. Some of the most unspiritual people I’ve met are those who spend the greatest amounts of time at church. They attend every Bible study and every prayer gathering, and sign up for every event and team, but still they manage to avoid become godly, or even nice to be around. If you had to choose between cutting off your leg and spending more time with those people—be honest—it would take a few minutes to decide. Church attendance and involvement are poor substitutes for genuine spiritual growth.”
Much ministry happens in the church buildings, but more and more in our time the people who most need Jesus are not going to come to our buildings. We are going to need to go to them. That is my burden and by God’s grace I am going to do everything I can to inspire people more and more people to experience the exciting adventure of connecting with people who are not yet convinced and converted.
Red-Faced and Crying All the Time
I have two younger brothers. Both of them are pastors here in Michigan. Kevin is the older of the two. He is a pastor in Mt. Pleasant. His birthday was last week and I wrote him a little note. It went something like this:
“Hey! Little brother. I am one of the very small handful of people who were there and distinctly remember the sunny March day you can home from the hospital to the little house on Francis Street near Garfield Park in Grand Rapids. I was really disappointed when I saw you. You were so little and red and just cried all the time. I had no idea that you would grow up to be such a blessing to so many and such a dear and useful brother. I love you and cherish you …and I’m glad you finally got a little color in your cheeks and stopped crying all the time and made yourself useful.”
We need to lead useful lives, not just be red in the face about what’s happening in our culture and crying all the time. Jesus did not shed his blood and lay down his life to inspire us to populate endless meetings. We don’t know how much time we have. We don’t know when Jesus will return. We don’t know when our lives will end. We don’t know how long we will have our neighbors and loved ones with us. We don’t know when our windows of opportunity for spiritual influence will close. We need to make ourselves useful while we can.
At Bethel we have developed a strategy to do this. The strategy is simple and organic and it can be adopted by any person or family or church. There are four elements in this powerful strategy. If you write me I will share them with you.
Until then—make yourself useful. Start by learning the name of someone who is unconverted and unconvinced.
Here is a video that captures the basic idea I am trying to express here:
March 16, 2015