Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

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.

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5 responses

  1. Tim

    First off, I’m glad you love people who are messed up because then I know your love for me is real… 

    But it’s just a wonderfully refreshing reminder what this ministry is all about. It Challenges us to truly step out of our comfort zones and do what needs to be done in order to accomplish God’s will. We have to bring in those who are sick and show them their worth in God and allow them to do the same for others. With all efforts put forth by this amazing body of people in Eaglepointe, it’s amazingly frustrating to know other churches show just how un-Christian they’ve become. Without apology or any sense of remorse.
    They apparently forgot that Jesus wasn’t interested in incorporating Christianity, all he said was “ follow me.” Too bad they’re forgetting how to follow because if you can’t do that right, how in the world can they expect to lead?

    June 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm

  2. Rocio

    It’s sad that the hypocresy have reach such levels in churches, we are all messed up people in the world. Our level of imperfection have taken us to wars and suffering across the globe, we are no different from our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. We are human beings all created equal. So for churches to believe that they are different because they are hiding themselves inside their “sacred” buildings or holding their sins so deep inside that they can’t show them is just plain hypocrit. We are all children of God, the difference is that by accepting and loving each other at Eagle Pointe we are making a difference by taking our love and acceptance outside everywhere. Those churches are just scratching their heads because they cannot believe how a big church can exist in such a small building!

    June 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm

  3. Kevin

    Thanks Howard for reminding us of what a church should be. EPC is an amazing group pf people. It is mind boggling how we accomplish what is set out for us to do.
    We are a threat to the traditional church model. How do you reach out reach a community if you dont go out into the community.
    Last evening I was up at the childrens home. Some of the kids recognized me from FIA – the kids hugged and thanked me for what we did. The kids – we touched and impacted their lives!!! I could not have done sitting in a church listening to sermon. Thank you EPC leaders.

    June 8, 2009 at 4:42 pm

  4. Hurting

    “I love people whose lives are in complete disarray – and we gladly welcome them into our church”

    Sure am glad to see this. My husband and I have been visiting off and on. We truly need people who love Jesus and love His people in our lives. We have been experiencing some very hard times and I’m not sure if those hard times are over or not. If not, we will need people to show Jesus’ unconditional love.

    Thank you for your transparency.

    June 8, 2009 at 7:46 pm

  5. Dahna

    Go God!

    June 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

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