Please find below my notes for the teaching on May 4/5 Weekend at Grace Community Church.
Hey GCCers, you are certainly NOT tame or innocuous and GCC is NOT a SAFE CHURCH! What do I mean by that?
A TAME/SAFE CHURCH:
- Anchored to tradition to keep members happy!
- Avoids controversial issues to keep things nice and clean!
- Always cautious to keep the status quo intact!
Is that what you really want? Are those things how we live life to the fullest, have the greatest impact, and make the biggest difference?
No one who ever did anything of any significance in the Bible was a tame or didn’t take some risks: Noah built and Ark! David faced a giant! Shadrach, Meshack, and Adendigo went into a fiery furnace! Peter went to jail! Paul was stoned and went right back into the same city! Jesus was crucified!!
There was nothing tame or safe about the NT Church!
- It was radical– rejecting religion to pursue a relationship with Jesus!
- It was revolutionary– affecting transformation by living out the teaching of Jesus!
- It was risky– choosing fearless faith to fulfill Jesus’ mission!
Acts 2:38-41 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles[a]—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
These were dangerous and risky people! They prayed for miracles, saw people healed, wouldn’t be ignored or go away. The “old church”- the Pharisees were scared to death of this new church. The government tried to destroy it. And when persecution came, did they quit, did they fold up?? No, the Church grew!!
Fast forward 2000 years- The Church today is a comfortable Church, a safe church for the most part, and has very little if any influence on our culture! We’re just NOT dangerous or risky at all!!
But what makes the difference? We follow Jesus!! And that’s dangerous and risky because he isn’t conventional and he’s all about loving and reaching people and that gets messy! He has a dangerous/risky mission- calls people to forsake all and follow him!
Will GCC be a safe church or a dangerous/risky church? Do we keep it nice and clean or do we get messy? What does it require to be A RISKY CHURCH?
A RISKY CHURCH HAS AN UNCONVENTIONAL APPROACH
Remember the forerunner of Jesus- John the Baptist? This guy was weird! He was an outcast, running around in the wilderness in a crazy outfit eating locusts and honey! He was uncivilized!
Matt. 3:1-6 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” …4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. 6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
Pretend John would walk into church today!! Would we let him teach or lead a Life Group? Greet at the front door? No way! We would reject his uncivilized approach!
But the NT Church is filled with people with an uncivilized approach! Jesus- makes a mud ball, smears on a blind man’s eyes and he is healed! Imagine if I did that today?? You’d freak out and run me out of here!! The disciples were uncivilized dudes! And look at the people Jesus hung out with on a regular basis- prostitutes, drunks, outcasts… uncivilized people!!
Think about it… we really don’t want to fit into “regular” church, do we?? Being conventional/safe won’t change anything or anyone! Are we willing to become uncivilized for Christ? Not wacko, crazy, standing on the corner screaming at people that everyone is going to hell- like the guy after a Bronco’s game…
I’m an uncivilized pastor!! Started doing a “Biker Sunday” and riding a Harley with some pretty freaky dudes!! By doing that it has birthed a Biker church plant!! Taking unsaved dudes on bear hunts!!
Sometimes the “civilized” approach just doesn’t work! College student on airplane criticizing the church about equality. I could have been civilized and gave her some Bible verses and got all “churchy” on her. But I AGREED with her and it blew her mind!! Start agreeing with some people about the church not being all it should be, being hypocritical, etc. and watch what happens!!
Imagine what uncivilized looks like?? Jo Ann and I would go into bars with Volleyball Club parents to hang out with them at a time when the church we pastored considered just going in there to be a sin!!
Hey, Jesus got uncivilized!! Matt. 21:12-13 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
Imagine what he did?? He THREW OVER TABLES!! How did he act?? He acted powerfully and passionately!!
When was the last time you had an unconventional experience with God? What is God calling you to do that may be unconventional?
A RISKY CHURCH HAS A DIVINE BOLDNESS
Acts 4:29-31 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.
What did they pray for?? More boldness!! Sadly today it is more popular to be politically correct than to live by the principles of the Bible. My opinion doesn’t change anyone’s life- only the truth sets people free and transforms lives!!
A risky church only cares about what God thinks BUT also knows that both truth and grace must be applied in every situation!
Truth AND love/grace is risky business!! It’s messy, it’s dangerous, it’s getting involved, caring, helping people to grow and move forward into what’s better and best for their lives. Listen to Jesus as he deals with “church people” who demand condemnation and a woman caught in a sinful act– “I don’t condemn you but go and sin no more!”
A risky church has a divine boldness to speak the truth in love! Because that’s when God shows up!! God shows up where his word is spoken and truth is applied because we love as he loves!
But seriously, we don’t own God’s Word, we didn’t author the Gospel or pay the price for it to be real; so we don’t get to change any of it! Sure, the truth isn’t always convenient, but it’s the truth and when we take a stand for it, in the right spirit and heart of love and grace, it brings freedom, burdens are lifted, baggage disappears, a new life is revealed!
When was the last time you took a bold stand for Christ? How do you need to take a bolder stand for Christ?
A RISKY CHURCH HAS A RISK-TAKING FAITH
Heb. 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Bottom line- you cannot play it safe and please God!! Cannot just keep it comfortable or convenient and please God!
Jesus didn’t die to make us safe!! When you come to God it INCREASES the risk, the danger! Jesus died so we can surrender and die to self!!
Matt. 16:25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Jesus says “Go and infiltrate the world with truth and love” and yes, it get’s real messy, but it also makes the biggest difference!! And yes, it’s always risky!! Look at this…
Acts 15:25-26 So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These dudes risked their lives! Think about it?? Risking your life? Or greeting at the door on Sunday? Just doesn’t seem to be the same!
Risky faith in India!! First time in my life I ever felt that I was actually in danger for being a follower of Jesus! But man did that experience take me to a new level of living for God!!
Talk about risk-taking faith!! Having a church of 1100 people… but realizing how safe and sanitary we were! Deciding to go after the people nobody wanted! Deciding to shut down ineffective, been-doing-it-this-way-for-40 years church programs. Deciding that we had 1100 people but few who were really interested in reaching others for Christ!! Deciding to raise, resource, and release young leaders, plant churches…
Deciding to have 3 network churches within 5 miles of each other in a city of only 40,000 people… and being told it won’t work!! But it did!! RISK TAKING FAITH!!
What about GCC? What will risk taking faith look like here? What are the faith risks that God is calling us to? Calling you to??
I know we will be one church in multiple locations around this city… it may take a year or two, but God is in invested in this church and we just can’t sit on what He’s resourcing and readying us for!!
Here’s the question: CAN YOU PLAY IT SAFE AND PLEASE GOD??
I know I’ve been playing it a little safe around here. And I’ve not necessarily challenged you to deepen your commitment to Christ. Yes, I’ve encouraged you to connect to Life Groups, etc. but I’ve been too safe about challenging you, challenging us to a deeper commitment to follow Christ!
When was the last time you/we took a faith -risk? What is God challenging you/us to do that will require a faith-risk? We need to process and pray about some things today:
Are you playing it safe for God? Are you too civilized in your faith? Do you need risk taking faith?