Externally & Others Focused! (Part 1)
Since the early days of restarting Eagle Pointe Church 5 years ago – we have worked hard to avoid falling into the trap that so many churches do. Too many churches, without even realizing it, have a very self centered & internally focused approach to church and ministry. They very gradually move in the direction of having a “bunker” mentality, build fortified walls around their church/sanctuary to keep the “evil” world away, and foster an us against “them” mindset among the people of their church. Again, most do so unintentionally. It’s a very gradual thing that begins to creep into their churches & let’s face it – we live in a messy and scary world.
However, “unBiblical” does not even begin to describe a Christian or a church having this type of mindset. Jesus faced the wrath of the pharisees because he dared to “hang out” with sinners, tax collectors, drunkards, prostitutes, and the like. Too many people are very grateful that Jesus reached out to them when they were far from God and mired in the muck of their sinful lifestyles – but now that they have been washed, cleaned, redeemed, and are themselves a part of God’s frozen chosen – it is now time to build the fortified walls to keep those “other” sinners out.
Well, let me just say in no uncertain terms – I love sinners – I love messed up people – I love people who are still carrying the baggage of years of bad choices with them – I love people whose lives are in complete disarray – and we gladly welcome them into our church. A while back a local pastor of a much more traditional church than ours recognized me and very indignantly began to tell me – “I’ve heard horrible things about your church! I’ve heard that you collect sinners & screw ups there and that you allow divorced people, and people who struggle with alcohol and drugs into your church! I’ve heard it’s just a mess! You should be ashamed of yourself!”
I took a moment to silently pray asking God to help me not just blast this guy – then I smiled & said – “Sir, it is obvious that you and I are not going to agree on church & how it should be done – but let me tell you something – I want the screw ups – I want the the people whose lives are a mess – people who are wounded and beaten up by this life! I want to charge the gates of hell with squirt guns and pull people back who still have smoke coming off of them. Those are the people God has called me to reach!” This pastor looked at me with complete disbelief – he just stood there speechless – then he stormed off in the other direction.
Here are some great thoughts – I will elaborate more on these in subsequent blogs…
1) Ministry is messy & ministry is constant!
2) You can’t reach people for Jesus – unless you’re spending time with people who need Jesus.
3) It is impossible for a church to fulfill its God given purpose – without getting outside of the walls of their church building.
I am leaving right after speaking at Eagle Pointe this Sunday and heading to south Florida with the familia. This will be somewhat of a vacation – catching up with friends and family – I will definitely find a day to hit the beach – but this will also be a work trip – working on details for upcoming mission trip to Cuba. I will be back in time to teach at Eagle Pointe next Sunday. So, please pray for us as we travel & and I will continue writing on this topic when I get back.