Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Evidently We’re Not A “Real Church” – Part 1

Yet again — I was stopped by a pastor in our area who wanted to let me know how he felt about our church — how we weren’t a “real” church, how we let ANYONE come through our doors, & about what he called – “gimmicks” – that we use to “put butts in the seats”. He was appalled & said “I was leading people astray with a false doctrine”. I asked if he had ever been to 1 of our services, listened online, etc??? He said “No” but that he had heard & “knew” enough about us.

It’s a sad truth – but I get this fairly regularly from the MANY more traditional churches in our area. About 2 years ago I had another local pastor corner me at a nearby Publix. He said, “I’ve heard HORRIBLE things about your church…” I tried to correct him & let him know that it wasn’t my church – it was Jesus’ church – but he was on a roll! He said, “I’ve heard that you’ll let anyone in there, that you’ve got divorced people, alcoholics, drug addicts, just a bunch of screw-ups. You all collect the ‘dregs of our society’.” He went on to say, “We don’t have many people coming to our church – but the ones we have are ‘gettin’ there’.” (Whatever that means!)

As I usually do when I’m being admonished by 1 of these pastors – I respectfully listened & waited until he was finished. THEN I responded — I said, “Mr. ________ (name withheld), you & I are NEVER going to see eye-to-eye on our ministry approach & philosophy. But let me tell you something — I WANT THE SCREW-UPS! I want the people who are wounded, hurting, & beaten up by the hardships of life! I want the people who have been wounded & turned off to Jesus – by Christians & churches. I want to yank people back from the gates of hell with smoke still coming off of them! And I make no apologies for that!” This pastor stormed away huffing & puffing!

Pastors/Church Leaders – if you have a passion to reach people who are disconnected from God & His church — AND you begin to do that very thing with ANY amount of success then believe me — other pastors (who are not reaching ANYONE) are going to accuse you & your church of using gimmicks & “watering down” the Gospel. If people’s lives are being changed then you MUST NOT BE PREACHING the Gospel, right? 🙂

(By the way – the pastors in your community that ARE reaching people for Christ will not criticize or condemn you — because they are so stinkin’ busy that they do not have the time to do so!!!)

SO — let me share with you today some things we do at Eagle Pointe & how we “water down” the Gospel 🙂 …

#1 – We Talk About Jesus All Of The Time!

HE is the reason for the church; in fact, He said in Matthew 16:18 that it is HIS CHURCH! So we decided since the beginning that in our church — He would be THE MAIN FOCUS! He is alive & IS changing lives!

Let me be clear – we talk about Jesus A LOT. We do not talk about the lottery, politics, how all Christians should watch FOX news, etc. We DO acknowledge that we live in a messed up world – however we do not think that the world is messed up because bad people keep making bad decisions — but rather the world is messed up because people don’t know JESUS!

Churches can choose their soapboxes and issues all day long – our issue is & always will be Jesus — He changes lives!

#2 – We Use The Bible

Some people think that if you preach from the Bible then people will not come – NOTHING could be further from the truth. In each & every service we teach the Bible in an unapologetic way.

Sometimes people say, “They don’t use the Bible at Eagle Pointe. That’s why people are going to that church.” When a person makes that statement they are simply showing their stupidity — because there has never been a service in the history of this church where the Bible wasn’t taught.

#3 – We Teach The Bible In A Way People Can Understand

Once in a while I hear from people who say, “Howard, I wish at times we could ‘go deeper’.” Let me translate that for you – what this person is usually saying is, “I wish at times you would confuse the heck out of me, give me a new idea/concept that I can WOW other people with, & that there would be no application point/action step — that way I can walk away feeling smarter – better than others – puffed up – & also not feeling like I need to DO ANYTHING with what I’ve just learned.”

My goal when putting messages together is — What does God want them to know or be reminded of? AND What does God want us TO DO in response? Umm – look at Jesus’ teachings — that’s the example He gave us! I truly believe that God is not impressed by how much knowledge we have – but by how much knowledge we put into action! People don’t need another history/theology/philosophy lesson – they need practical help with their lives & they need to learn how to follow Jesus with reckless abandon!

I love to study theology – Piper, Spurgeon, & many others but I do that on my own time – & I’m not so insecure that I feel the need to impress others. I’d rather teach people about God & His owners manual for our lives (aka. the Bible) in a way they can understand & that helps them on Monday thru Saturday – not just on Sunday.

That’s enough for now – BE SURE TO CHECK OUT PART 2 OF THIS POST


12 responses

  1. Kristin Brænne

    April 6, 2011 at 6:42 am

  2. Howard, it’s those churches that don’t allow the “dregs of society” that are completely cutting of the ministry before it has a chance to start. It’s the lost sheep that should be chased. It’s the lost coin that needs searched for. It’s the lost son that we yearn to see come home. If that isn’t the goal of those other churches, then {personally} I think THEY are not a “real” church.

    April 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

  3. Brad Bates

    LOVE IT!!! The other “pastor” and those that need to go “deeper” have completely missed the purpose of the entire ministry of Jesus who came for those that “pastor” #2 was so disgusted by! No wonder so many are reluctant.

    April 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

  4. Ginger Steele

    I am one of those people that was told Eagle Pointe does not use the Bible. I was also told it was a feel good church with no purpose. I have been in church all of my life and I have struggled the past couple of years trying to find a church. Well I have found it! From the first time we walked through the doors. I felt love, joy, understanding & acceptance. I felt the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus and I heard the word taught straight from the Bible with no apologies.
    I am excited to get up and go to church. When someone says to me oh that’s the feel good church my response….I’ll pick you up at 10:00 you can sit with me and decide for yourself. It works! Anyway can’t wait for church on Sunday and I’m excited to start the starting point series that’s coming up. See you at church!

    April 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    • Thanks for sharing Ginger. SO glad you’re a part of our family!

      April 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  5. Garland

    Thanks for what you are doing to reach people who like “the women at the well” simply need Jesus. I will stand with my friend Howard any day and in any situation. This is a man who loves God and loves others. I think that is listed as two of the important things in the New Testament.
    I am honored to call this man my friend and proud of what he is doing to reach others for Christ.

    April 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

  6. Tim

    Makes you wonder what bible they are reading :-/

    April 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm

  7. Tracy Melton

    Chill bumps!! Thank You Jesus that you and EPC loved this “dreg”…who knows where I’d be.

    April 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm

  8. Michae Sutton

    Howard these are the things were dealng with trying to find a church to go to here in rome. As soon as we walk though the door the fake smile and hand shake begin as well as the judgeing and the stares because of all my tattoos. I really miss being at our church (Eagle Pointe). Not really sure well find aother like Eagle Pointe.

    April 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

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