July 23, 2011

Looking In to Reach Out: Inside Looking Out

Part 4 of my "Looking In to Reach Out" sermon series.

"Looking In to Reach Out: Inside Looking Out"

"Setting the Table" - Part 1
"1st Time Eyes" - Part 2
"Messengers" - Part 3

Recently Google released something called Google+, which some have called “Google’s version of Facebook." Inside Google+ individuals have the ability to place people in various circles depending on the nature of the relationship.

Think of the various relationship circles you have and how they were formed. Some are the result of time, expertise, blood (family), commitments, etc. and we do things to protect and maintain these circles don't we? Not unlike the religious leaders of Jesus’ day...

Sometimes when I read the Bible, I end up with more questions than answers and sometimes when I write a sermon, I find myself asking lots of questions. This is one of those times. Please feel free to join the conversation here or at www.Facebook.com/RenovateCUMC.

Luke 11:37-46

Do we get caught up in the "hoops?"
-The Pharisees created "hoops" people had to jump through to be considered religious. Is the Church guilty of the same thing?

What happens when people don’t know or follow the “rules?"
-The Pharisees made up rules people had to follow to be welcomed in the church. God's command to “keep the Sabbath holy” turned into: don’t walk more than a certain distance, don’t carry more than a certain weight, don’t tie a certain kind of knot...

Does our church only look welcoming/inviting from the outside?

Do we use our “perks” to invite in or keep out?

Do we create burdens or carry them?
-Are we making it easier or harder for others to connect with Jesus?

*Bring on the answers!

Looking In to Reach Out: Messengers

Part 3 of my "Looking In to Reach Out" sermon series.

"Looking In to Reach Out: Messengers"

“Setting the Table” – Part 1
“1st Time Eyes” – Part2

Think of all the ways you communicate...phone, text, Facebook, Twitter, instant message, email, face-to-face, etc. Now, think of all the messages you encounter on a daily basis and how many of them you simply ignore because they are not worth your time?

Acts 1:1-8

Know the message
-Luke clarifies the foundation of the message, Jesus is alive and believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit
-“many convincing proofs” = it was undeniable that Jesus was who he said he was and in fact had risen from the dead (vs. 3)
-The message is one of: victory over evil (Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 3:22), forgiveness and holiness for sinners (Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 9:11-12; 10:10), participation in the Kingdom (Matt. 19:24-26; John 3:3), and salvation through repentance and trust in Christ (Matt. 4:17; John 14:6; Acts 8:12)
-Help people recognize the message you have to share is worth hearing

Be able to share the message
-1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be prepared" to explain our reason for hope
-People aren’t simply looking for answers, they are looking for authenticity
-Your story is your best bet

Find those who want/need to hear the message
-Matthew 28:16-20
-We can’t passively wait for people to come to us
-Start near, go far…like ripples in a pond (Jesus mentions Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria (hostile land), and then the ends of the earth). There are surely people you know who are just waiting to hear this message.

Looking In to Reach Out: 1st Time Eyes

Part 2 of my "Looking In to Reach Out" sermon series.

"Looking In to Reach Out: 1st Time Eyes"
John 9:1-12

Can you imagine what it would be like to see things for the very first time? My 7 month old is reminding me what that must have been like. Here we read a story of Jesus healing a man blind from birth, giving him the opportunity to see the world through "1st time eyes."

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the Church for the very first time? Imagine walking into your church and seeing the space and the people for the very first time...

The Story (a few things we can pull from the biblical story)
-The cause of the man's blindness is not the main focus
-Jesus heals physical needs as well as spiritual needs
-The man was physically blind as well as spiritually blind
-Jesus, as the Light of the world, is able to heal both physical and spiritual blindness

For Us (what some of this means for us today)
-We consistently have new visitors choosing to worship with us
-This means people are consistently seeing us & our church as something they have never seen or experienced before with "1st time eyes."
-People have baggage. The baggage people bring with them to church doesn’t matter because people have baggage, which includes you and me.
-Christ invites us to “bring sight to the blind” along with him. Not because we're anything special but because he is.
-Some people are responding to the need to be in church, and can't really explain it, so don't make them. Whatever reason brings people to church is second to the fact they are there and must be welcomed.

Looking In to Reach Out: Setting the Table

This is the first sermon in a series I have been preaching over the past few weeks. The purpose of the series is to spend some time taking a look inward as the Church in order that we might make a concerted effort to reach out in the Fall.

"Looking In to Reach Out: Setting the Table"

Most of us like being invited to parties, most of us like going to parties, and some of us even like hosting parties.

Think of the last time you entertained someone in your home…

And all of the things you did to prepare for your guests to come over…

Why did you do all of this?

We want to make sure people feel welcome, comfortable and at ease when they come over, right? If we don’t have things to accomplish this, we go and get it…food, drinks, furniture, etc.

Matthew 25:35-40

Preparation leads to hospitality
-Preparation provides us with something to give
-Preparation provides freedom

Inside and outside
-Hospitality on the street leads to hospitality in the home
-If I’m not nice to you ‘out in the world’ why would you want to come to my house for dinner?
-Christians must demonstrate hospitality outside the church if we hope to invite others in

We’ve all been there
-Don’t forget (Deut. 10:19)
-As disciples, hospitality happens without even recognizing it

July 1, 2011

The Theology of K-LOVE

I like music, sort of a lot. I especially like live music and going to shows. I also like to think I have a decent ear for good music and that is partly why I have never been a big fan of contemporary Christian music.

So, over the past few weeks I have been making a concerted effort to listen to more Christian music, which has meant a considerable amount of time with the nationally syndicated station known as K-LOVE (WKLU 101.9 FM in my area). Overall the music has been fine, at times I might even say good but my biggest struggle has been the seemingly shallow theological message that is being communicated.

I understand K-LOVE's message of being "positive and encouraging" but it seems as though this station, with its millions of listeners, has the potential (and arguably responsibility) to establish deeper theological roots. Of course individuals can find encouragement from the message of the Gospel but to fail to mention the call of discipleship to service, suffering, and sacrifice does not convey the whole message. Without a proper understanding of these components of a relationship with Christ, the message teeters on the 'prosperity gospel' cliff.

*If you or someone you know works for K-LOVE or has some connection with the station and believe I could help in any way or want to talk more, feel free to contact me.