Tag Archives: hillary

Why Last Week’s Election Should Spark Church Reform

Nov 16, 16
JMorgan
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3 comments

Los Angeles, United States - November 12, 2016: Thousands of Angelenos marched through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles in protest of president-elect Donald Trump.

Part 1 (of 2)

When I first started thinking of writing this post, I was assuming a Hillary Clinton victory, which in the eyes of most Christians likely would have brought with it at best a continuation of a less church-friendly environment, and at worst an acceleration of current trends.  However, watching the aftermath of a surprising Trump win last Tuesday, I’m not so sure that another Clinton administration would have presented churches and Christians with a greater challenge than what confronts the Church today with Trump in office:

  • A nation split right down the middle, with the line defined by the media and secular society as those who care about the rights of others and those who don’t
  • Churches and Christians seen by many on the other side of the line as the most radical element among those who do not care about the rights of others

How did followers of Jesus Christ come to be known as one of the most judgmental and least compassionate factions in America?  The answer lies in the central theme of this blog over the last year and a half – that churches have abdicated (and/or government has usurped) the lead role in serving the hungry, hurting, helpless and hopeless.  However, they’ve clung to the lead role in speaking out for Biblical values – a noble endeavor but destined to fall on deaf ears as a result of largely abandoning their other role.  As Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Yes, Jesus rarely said who He was before healing and feeding.  He knew even His perfect words wouldn’t be enough to get their attention.  He chose to demonstrate His love first.  Since we certainly can’t “outpreach” Jesus, we should lead with compassion as well.

The Danger of Basking in the Status Quo

Trump’s win brings two countervailing propositions into play, the same ones Jesus dealt with in Matthew 23:23:

  • More legislation and policies that land on the “Christian” side of the social divide, but also
  • Closer scrutiny of the Church’s response to the perceived “reprieve” it has been issued by this election.

Society is watching intently to see:

  • Will Christians double down to take advantage of the opportunity to push a moral agenda on non-believers, or will they humbly serve and share the Gospel as Jesus did?
  • Will churches further turn their focus internally, looking out for their own interests, or will they turn their attention to the interests of others?
  • Will the Church galvanize its stance on morality in American with this newfound support from the political establishment, or will it step out of its comfort zone for the sake of those who feel disenfranchised?

Simply wielding a louder megaphone to share the same messages without showing its love for those who feel marginalized will only solidify the court of public opinion and the media in opposition to Christian ideals.

If history is a guide, four years of relative comfort and peace for churches may not be such a good thing.  Over the past few decades, many conservatives and/or Christians have occupied the White House, but they weren’t successful in reversing the Church’s slow drift away from service and evangelism.  Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush even attempted to reform welfare programs while instituting a “Thousand Points of Light” to shift focus back in large part to the Christian community to care for the poor.  Unfortunately, those initiatives were short-lived.  There’s little evidence to suggest that churches will become more compassionate and evangelistic under a Republican president.

In fact, the opposite may be true.  It’s human nature to grow complacent in times of peace and prosperity, only to awaken out of our slumber when that sense of security is threatened.  For example, the “Me Generation” of the 90s was rudely interrupted by 9/11.  Suddenly, we banded together in unity as a nation and it was hard to find a seat in church, at least for a few weeks.  Likewise churches, in the absence of sufficiently “disruptive events”, have gradually pulled away from deep discipleship and local missions, no longer considering the Great Commission of utmost importance.

Yes, a Hillary Clinton administration may have eventually led to that “disruptive event (or moment)” that finally forced the Church’s hand.  A continuation of Obama’s policies would have shifted the balance dramatically in favor of those on the other side of the line that has been drawn in our nation’s sand.  The nearly even divide evident in last week’s election probably wouldn’t have been so even in four or eight more years.  The ranks of those hostile to Christianity would have continued to swell, further silencing the Church’s voice and compelling it to rethink its definition of itself and its intended “customers”.  Compassion was Jesus’ calling card.  Maybe it would have been worth enduring whatever mounting obstacles a Hillary Clinton presidency entailed if they induced churches to abandon the status quo and…

  • Move away from prevailing growth models like “Invite, Involve and Invest” which define “church” as an institution and members as “customers” to attract and retain
  • Vigorously pursue and serve the “lost” in their local communities, which churches treated as their target “customers” for over 1900 years
  • Equip members for ministry, resuming intensive discipleship efforts that challenge and prepare them to BE the living, breathing church between Sundays

Instead, with fewer credible threats under Trump, churches will likely maintain the current course.  As a result, we should we expect a continued decline in the Church’s growth, impact, influence and perception over the next four years.  If churches don’t return to making disciples who live Prayer, Care, Share lifestyles, society will continue to move away from God.  If churches follow Trump’s lead and become even more outspoken (words alone) rather than following Jesus’ lead and becoming more compassionate (action, then words), the next presidential election will turn out quite differently.

Next week in Part 2, we’ll discuss examples of where persecution has stimulated more church growth than religious liberty, and reasons why a “disruptive event” is likely necessary to overcome the tremendous resistance to change in the American Church today.

It’s Your Turn

Meet The Need is reaching out to you during this Christmas season to be the personification of Church to those in your circles of influence.  We’ve just launched #GiveAnEternalGift to encourage 1 million Christians just like you to pray for, serve and share the gospel with at least 1 person by December 25th Together we can show the love of Jesus to those who doubt that Christians care about the rights and welfare of those who don’t share our belief system.

#GiveAnEternalGift before Christmas Day by:

  • Performing an act of kindness for a neighbor, coworker or complete stranger and watch it open the door to sharing the gospel.
  • Posting a pic and tell your story on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GiveAnEternalGift to inspire others.
  • Challenging 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

Introducing #GiveAnEternalGift!

Nov 09, 16
JMorgan
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2 comments

This is a photo of a young boy opening a Christmas present.

Last night, we watched the election results pour in and considered how the results would impact the state of our nation.  No doubt this divisive presidential election and the split of the popular vote down the middle has heightened and highlighted our differences: conservatives versus liberals; Christians versus non-believers.  That’s why Christians need to continue to #CastAnEternalVote even though the election is now over.  In fact, demonstrating Jesus’ love to others and telling them who He is now becomes more important than ever.

We’ve all seen how Christians and our ideals have been vilified in the media during this election cycle.  We’ve watched over the years as Christian influence has largely been removed from government, courts and schools – even though our nation was founded on Biblical principles.  On the heels of Election Day, Christians now transition directly to another glaring example of where society annually attempts to erase Jesus from the picture – the Christmas season.  We’ll step into that next battleground at the first mention of the words “Happy Holidays” in a store ad or greeting card.

Christians hardly have a chance to breathe, already preparing to defend our faith against the secularization of Jesus’ birth.  We’ll soon start hearing “Merry X-mas” – and we’ll bristle.  We’ll see more about Santa Claus than our Savior as Christmas approaches.  Right after watching America try to take Christ out of politics, we’ll watch them try to take Christ out of Christmas.

That’s why Meet The Need is launching #GiveAnEternalGift – to combat the commercialization of Christmas with service and evangelism as our chosen weapons.

Combating the Commercialization of Christmas

“You can’t serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)  Clearly, when it comes to the Christmas season, most retailers have made their choices.  It’s a Christian holiday but in an effort to maximize profits, under the guise of political correctness, companies will ignore its origins and meaning.

Unfortunately, their efforts to get American consumers more focused on BUYING than BELIEVING has worked.  Even Christians feel the pressure to purchase.  Do you ever get stressed out during the Christmas season?  Our OBLIGATIONS to shop, spend, attend parties and see family often redirect our attention away from our OPPORTUNITY to worship, serve and share the Gospel.

We cannot let consumerism overtake compassion within our churches and social circles. We can’t get SUCKED IN (by all those stressers) with little time left over to GO OUT (to be a light to those helpless and hopeless).  If we do, we’re complicit with retailers in helping take Christ out of Christmas.

The best stress reliever is always taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on those less fortunate.  The remedy for consumerism is to get out of our own “stuff” and turn our attention from OUR SAVINGS to OUR SAVIOR, making our desire to see OTHERS SAVED.

Boycotting stores or electing a Christian president aren’t the best ways to “put Christ back in Christmas”.  Falling victim to consumerism won’t help either – splurging on our friends and families only strengthens the resolve of retailers by feeding their coffers.  Instead, as our theme verse for #GiveAnEternalGift says, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  It’s no coincidence that verse is John 12:25 (& 26) – 12:25 is Christmas Day!  Only serving Jesus by regularly serving the “least of these” and sharing His message, two lost arts for most Christians, will remind our consumer culture of the real “reason for the season”.

Yes, the stand we should take for our faith this Christmas is one of action and not just words.  We should demonstrate our FAITH to a world that’s increasingly unattracted to our FAITH because they hear our voices but aren’t seeing our love.

For all those frustrated with the commercialization of Christmas, #GiveAnEternalGift is an inspired solution that will have an ETERNAL impact.

Your Christmas Gifts are Temporal – His is Eternal

You’ve seen kids (the target of most holiday ads) rip open presents Christmas morning, only to stop playing with those toys or break them a couple days later.  In contrast, Jesus gave us a gift that lasts forever – Himself.  When we serve others in His name, we’re passing along that eternal gift to others.  Normally, re-gifting is frowned upon, but not in this case.  Leading someone toward Christ in the way that He modeled, by first demonstrating His love for them and then telling them why we care so much, is the most enduring gift we can give.

Instead of putting all our energies into finding that “perfect” gift that only lasts a short while, let’s give THE perfect gift.  Instead of rushing to the mall looking for gifts to BUY, let’s consider “Where Would Jesus Be” (WWJB), areas of need right in our back yard, and look for ways to GIVE eternal gifts.

It’s Your Turn

No matter how the election turned out from your perspective and how much farther society moves away from the true Christmas message, you can still have an impact.   Control what you can control.  Do what you can do to bring our nation back toward Jesus.

#GiveAnEternalGift is encouraging 1 million Christians just like you to pray for, serve and share the gospel with at least 1 person by December 25th.  BE the church personified between Sundays.  Make an eternal difference in the lives of those around you by living out Jesus’ calling on your life – the Great Commission.  You can #GiveAnEternalGift before Christmas Day by…

  • Performing an act of kindness for a neighbor, coworker or complete stranger and watch it open the door to sharing the gospel.
  • Posting a pic and tell your story on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GiveAnEternalGift to inspire others.
  • Challenging 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

Oh, I almost forgot – tell other Christ-followers you know about #GiveAnEternalGift!

And PASTORS – direct your small groups and congregation to our web site to see how they can #GiveAnEternalGift this Christmas season!

P.S.  Why MTN is Launching #GiveAnEternalGift

If you know Meet The Need, then you know our mission is about more than providing solutions and software to churches and ministries – enabling them to bring more help and hope to struggling families.  We’re about changing lives – which involves deep, personal relationships.  That’s why we’re launching #GiveAnEternalGift.  Our goal is to encourage caring, compassionate people all around the country who love the Lord to #GiveAnEternalGift.

#CastAnEternalVote Before Election Day!

Nov 02, 16
JMorgan
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one comments

Blog Post 73 - Cast An Eternal Vote

Election Day is almost upon us.  Before we vote for president, let’s #CastAnEternalVote – a simple act of service for someone in Jesus’ name that will have an impact lasting far longer than just the next four years.

That message has reached 700,000 people so far on social media.  Tens of thousands have expressed their support for Vote for Eternity 20:16.  What a blessing to see so many frustrated Christian voters encouraged by this initiative and inspired to #CastAnEternalVote!

Why We Started Vote for Eternity 20:16

Frankly, we understand their frustration – both with the state of our nation and with the options before us on November 8th No presidential candidate stands solidly in the Christian camp on the issues most of us hold dear.  That’s left many of us wondering about the future of our country – yet feeling powerless to do much about it.  You only get one vote for president next Tuesday and there’s a good chance the outcome is not going to end up in your favor.

However, Christians have more of a say in who winds up in God’s house than in the White House – and that’s what really matters.  “Vote for Trump 2016” or “Vote for Hillary 2016″ are not your only options.  YOU can “Vote for Eternity 20:16” by following Matthew 20:16 (“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”)

And YOU can keep casting those eternal votes, even after the election.  As Matthew 20:25-26 says: “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.'”  It’s the perfect verse to express our need as Christians to worry a little less about rulers and authorities and be servants instead.  That mandate applies both now and when Donald or Hillary sits in the Oval Office.

During this final week before the election, Vote for Eternity 20:16 continues to remind us that God is in control.  Politicians battle for supremacy in this nation, but Jesus remains Lord of all.  The winds of political and moral change are blowing – no doubt Christians face stiff headwinds.  Our task is to engage in the culture war – but the most powerful weapon at our disposal is the love of Jesus Christ.

Why This Message is So Critical RIGHT NOW

Christians are on the losing end of nearly every battle in today’s culture war:

  • “Human life” has been redefined, no longer applying to unborn infants.
  • “Marriage” has been redefined, no longer only between a man and woman.
  • “Civil liberties” have been redefined, no longer defending free speech for Christians.

Yes, the Church and Christianity have largely lost their influence in America.  The reason is not complicated but very poorly understood:

  • “Church” has been redefined, no longer viewed as the members but as a place they go on Sundays.
  • The Church’s “customer” has been redefined, retaining and catering to members rather than challenging and equipping them to pursue the lost in the community.
  • “Outreach” has been redefined, now meaning church marketing rather than caring for the helpless and hopeless.
  • “Ministry” has been redefined, now meaning “chores” inside the church rather than sharing the Gospel with those outside the church.

It’s no wonder churches and Christianity are diminishing in growth, impact, influence and public perception.  If believers would redefine those terms to align with Biblical principles, America would be more inclined to revert to the Biblical definitions of the terms it has redefined.

Those failing to understand history are doomed to repeat it.  Jesus rarely said who He was before He had demonstrated His love and compassion.  Jesus didn’t send His disciples out just to preach but also to heal in His name.  Churches were the food bank and homeless shelter for 1900 years.  As Churches pulled away from society, society has pulled away from them.  When churches turned their attention from building disciples to building institutions, they waived the white flag on the culture war.

This blog, particularly over the past few weeks as we’ve written about Vote for Eternity 20:16, provides a clear path to reversing those trends – simply imitate Jesus:

How We Plan to Continue to Encourage Christians

Our work is not going to stop next Tuesday.  That message is too important.  First of all, you can still #CastAnEternalVote long after the election.  In addition, Meet The Need is going to launch #GiveAnEternalGift, which will run until Christmas.

Like #CastAnEternalVote, #GiveAnEternalGift is an “ice bucket challenge” for service and evangelism.  We hope it will be as successful in encouraging Christians to BE the living, breathing church to those around them.  Christmas gifts are temporary – but not the eternal gift of leading someone toward Jesus Christ.

It’s Your Turn

You can make an eternal difference in someone’s life.  Before Election Day November 8th, #CastAnEternalVote that will last far longer then the next 4 years

  • Perform an act of kindness for a neighbor, coworker or complete stranger and watch it open the door to sharing the Gospel.
  • Tell your story on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote to inspire others.
  • Challenge 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

And don’t stop there!  Get ready to #GiveAnEternalGift after Election Day!

Is Jesus a Liberal or a Conservative?

Oct 26, 16
JMorgan
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43 comments

Bilbao, Spain - February 17, 2015: Someone wearing red sneakers chooses between democrats and republicans. The United States presidential election of 2016 are scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

As Christians, have you ever considered how Jesus would vote in a presidential election or what party He would join, if any?  I have – and those thoughts haunt me every four years.  The last thing I want to do is cast a vote that doesn’t align with His will.

Jesus wouldn’t just vote along party lines or based on a single issue, as so many Christians do today.  It’s not that simple.  A close study of the life of Jesus reveals that His views don’t confine Him or conform to one party or issue.  To illustrate the point, it’s necessary to break the issues into the two that typically drive our allegiance to parties or candidates – Economics and Social Norms.  Each of us is either deeply concerned about the economic direction or moral direction of our nation, and we tend to vote accordingly.

NOTE: There are several political parties and ideologies in America today, but for purposes of this discussion let’s focus on the primary two.

Economics

  • Democrats think of themselves as = More Compassionate (more heart)
  • Republicans think of Democrats as = More Controlling (more rules)

Social Issues

  • Republicans think of themselves as = More Moral (more rules)
  • Democrats think of Republicans as = More Judgmental (less heart)

Democrats are generally considered “economically legalistic” (or “liberal) meaning they entrust government with greater liberty to invoke regulations, programs and taxes.  Republicans are considered “morally legalistic” (or “conservative”) meaning they cling to traditional social norms and oppose attempts to redefine them, whereas social “liberals” impose fewer rules or standards for right and wrong.

It’s possible to be an economic conservative and social liberal – with fewer rules on both fronts; in other words, smaller government and looser moral standards.  It’s also possible to be an economic liberal and a social conservative – with more rules on both fronts; in other words, bigger government yet upholding a more strict moral standard.  However, it seems few fall Americans fall into either of those combinations.  Today, most Democrats are both economic and social liberals – giving government more liberty to act and citizens more latitude to live according to their own moral compasses.  Republicans today are typically both economic and social conservatives – with greater restrictions on governments and citizens to act however they wish.

However, what if we define “economic liberal” not as asking the government to care for the poor, but as asking churches and Christians to do so?  Suddenly we begin to get a glimpse of where Christ would likely land – an economic liberal and social conservative.

Was Jesus a Liberal?

Yes, but only in terms of economics – generously serving and caring for those in need of help and hope. (Matthew 20:28)

Clearly, Jesus was more about heart than rules.  Jesus was first and foremost a servant.  He led with compassion, healing and feeding everywhere He went.  Jesus expected His followers to do the same, and the Church did for the better part of 1900 years.

However, the government has usurped (and/or churches abdicated) the front-line compassion role in America over the past century.  Jesus warned us of the potential abuses when political leaders wield too much power, assuming responsibilities that His Church was intended to have.  The government cannot provide hope, only help.  At the same time, Jesus did not deny the authority of government in society.  In fact, Jesus went so far as to subject himself to the legal system  and pay taxes, because He is the One who put those rulers in place (John 19:11, Romans 13:1).   Even when political leaders forget their intended roles as public servants, Jesus calls His followers to persist in serving others (Matthew 20:25-26).  However, the perception prevails today that Democrats are more inclined than Republicans, churches or Christians to help struggling families.

Was Jesus a Conservative?

Yes, but only in terms of social norms – holding His followers to a standard of behavior consistent with His intentions and will for our lives.

However, again here, Jesus was more about heart than rules.  Even the rules themselves were about heart for Him.  In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Love (heart) is the driver of the rules.

Jesus also spent his time with “sinners” because they were most in need of the “great Physician” (Mark 2:17).  He didn’t condemn those “sinners”, but instead rebuked those who condemned them.  In fact, Jesus was so much about heart that He felt it necessary to emphasize that He did not come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus was vocal about sin, but waited until He had demonstrated His love and compassion first before speaking out about it.  That’s the proper sequence Jesus modeled for us.  He knew society wouldn’t listen to what He had to say about morality unless they understood that He cared about them.

Fallout from Christians not Following Jesus’ Lead

The conclusion we’re drawing is that Jesus wouldn’t affiliate with a political party because he wasn’t fully liberal or conservative.  He was socially conservative yet economically liberal.

Society largely associates Christians with the Republican party (and vice versa) and the prevailing view of churches and Christians is that they’re judgmental and not compassionate – more about rules than heart.  Therefore, the Republican party is deemed “guilty” by association.  The reason the Republican party is struggling so severely today is that “social conservative” side of the party came to dominate the “economic liberal” side.  Christians and churches have talked too much and not done enough, choosing words over actions.  Failing to follow Jesus’ example has cost the Republican party and Christians dearly.

Churches were the food bank and homeless shelter during the first roughly 150 years of U.S. history, and society generally thought that Christians cared.  As churches and Christians have pulled away from compassion and focused more on moral issues, they’ve gravitated to the Republican party and shifted the party toward moral legalism.  Many have become single issue voters, whether it’s economic (welfare) or social (gay marriage).  Jesus wouldn’t vote for one party or one issue so why are Christians doing that?

Ironically, the more Christians have become disenfranchised (because of their failure to act before speaking), the louder they’ve yelled about where the country is headed.  However, rather than turning up the volume on the megaphone, Christians and the Republican party should be fighting the culture war using love (heart) as the chosen weapon – i.e. a “ground war” of compassion.  Continuing to drop verbal bombs, fighting an “air war” (rules) will only cause fewer and fewer to listen.

Further, why would Christians expect those who don’t believe in Christ to obey Christian laws?  A post-Christian nation isn’t going to subject itself to Biblical rules.  Therefore, our first task as Christians is to show we care, then society will care what we know.

Now, all this doesn’t necessarily mean Republicans actually have less “heart” than Democrats.  Democrats legislate more government assistance to poor families but studies are mixed about whether Republicans or Democrats donate more personally to charitable causes that help those less fortunate.  Republicans give a higher overall percentage of their income to non-profits, but that includes donations to churches (and we shouldn’t include tithes and offerings in measuring “heart” since the average church today spends less than 2% of its budget helping those outside its own “4 walls”).

Should Christians be Liberals or Conservatives?

Disciples of Jesus Christ are Christians – not Republicans or Democrats.  What’s important is that we each examine ourselves and make sure we’re not more about rules than heart.  Are we morally legalistic or genuinely driven by concern for the eternal fate of non-believers?  Let’s ask ourselves how we feel about “sinners”.  Is our concern for whether others obey Christian rules based in love and concern for their salvation, or in self-righteousness?  I’m sure most of us believe our political stances are grounded in love, yet somehow that’s not the message coming across to society today.

If churches and Christians want America to return to being socially conservative, they must return to being economic liberals, not leaving the responsibility for caring for poor, helpless, lost and hopeless to the government.   Until then, the socially liberal agenda of Democrats will continue to prevail because society aligns more closely with the economically liberal agenda of Democrats – associating them with compassion.  Being socially conservative is a good thing, but Republicans and Christians must dispel the notion that’s what they’re all about.  Christians must prove they truly love the sinner and only hate the sin.

It’s Your Turn

It’s not about what party we join.  It’s not about what we say.  It’s about what we do.  Will you #CastAnEternalVote during this final week before the election?

By the way, check out the latest Press Release about Vote for Eternity 20:16 and listen to our Interview on Faith Radio.

Why Is Humility Sorely Lacking in this Election?

Oct 19, 16
JMorgan
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one comments

Blog Post 71 - Donald and Hillary

What’s the first word that springs to mind when you hear Hillary Clinton’s name or watch her during the debates?  What about Donald Trump?  I guessing in both cases that word isn’t…“humble”.

Many Christians find it hard to vote for candidates so hungry for power, fame and fortune.  Frankly we should be reluctant to support anyone ostensibly willing to do and say anything to occupy the White House, possibly the most influential political position in the world today.

We’re rightly conflicted because we understand that humility is the very essence of Christianity.  We’ve placed our faith in the most powerful, yet humble leader the world has ever known – Jesus.  We understand that God Himself performed the most humble act in world history.  Despite His omnipotence and righteousness “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

Despite their arrogance and ambition, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the only choices we have in the presidential election.  However, they’re not the only choices we as Christians have during this election season.  We can choose to:

  • Swallow our pride and strong opinions about what’s right and wrong with America and the two candidates, realizing our own actions speak louder than our words.
  • Humble ourselves before almighty God and accept that He is in control, realizing He can use evil for good, even if our worst fears are realized in this election.
  • Stand in stark contrast to the two presidential candidates by demonstrating humility to a world that increasingly views Christians as dogmatic, arrogant and judgmental.
  • Stoop to the level of a humble servant and #CastAnEternalVote for our coworkers, neighbors or total strangers in Jesus’ name.

The Crux of Christianity – Humility

No, “humble” isn’t the first word you’d use to describe Hillary or Donald, but it is the first word the Lord uses to describe His followers.  The Sermon on the Mount begins with a long list of those who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven – opening with those who are “humble”. (Matthew 5:3)

It’s the first prerequisite for accepting God’s grace and starting down the path to becoming a disciple.  Without humility, we won’t confess our sins, repent and exchange our old lives for new lives in Christ. (Galations 2:20, Galations 5:24)

It’s the first and only means to live out God’s plan for our lives – the Great Commandment.  We can’t love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds or love our neighbors as ourselves unless we humble ourselves before God and our fellow man. (Matthew 22:35-40)

Yes, it’s the first who will be last and the last who will be first. (Matthew 20:16)

For our nation, humility is also the first stipulation for us to receive God’s blessings: “And all of you serve each other with humble spirits, for God gives special blessings to those who are humble, but sets himself against those who are proud.” (1 Peter 5:5)

It’s also the first step America must take to avoid God’s judgment: “Then if my people will humble themselves and pray, and search for me, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

How Can You Help our Country Receive Blessings and Avoid Judgment?

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.’” (Matthew 20:25-26)

This is an important election.  You should vote.  However, as U.S. citizens we only get one vote and it can only possibly impact which Gentile “ruler” sits in the White House for the next four years.  But as citizens of God’s Kingdom, we can cast many “votes” that will help influence who winds up in God’s heavenly house – eternally.

Look again at 1 Peter 5:5 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 – God is waiting for us to humble ourselves.  Donald and Hillary don’t appear to be leading us in that direction.  Our nation has sinned against the Lord.  America not only isn’t turning from its wicked ways, it is spiraling downward as we speak.  Christians are vocal in their criticism of where the country is heading, but our words are having little effect on non-believers.  Name a moral issue that Christians haven’t lost in court already or find themselves on the verge of losing.

It’s time for us to become humble servants, acting in love.  Words aren’t winning people over.  In the absence of compassion, our voices aren’t being heard.  Jesus understood the proper sequencing of Prayer, Care and Share – acting, then speaking.  He knew even His perfect words wouldn’t sink in unless He demonstrated His love first.

The uphill battle Christians are facing today in America is this: Christianity is not an “attractive” religion to a proud, self-absorbed people.  Words alone won’t work because Christianity puts forward some notions that our culture finds hard to swallow:

  • We’re sinners in dire need of a Savior
  • We’re unable to control our fate through our own efforts
  • Hard work and discipline won’t allow us to achieve our (eternal) dreams
  • The pursuit of happiness isn’t our purpose in this (short) life
  • Following Jesus means dying to our selfish desires and plans
  • There is such a thing as absolute truth, whereas relativism prevails today
  • We are accountable for our actions versus “I’m ok, you’re ok”

Other religions teach, “You can control your eternal destiny by looking within yourself or doing certain things”.  Those are much more enticing messages to non-Christians in America, as is the stance of the ever-expanding “Nones” who don’t subscribe to any religious philosophy.

If Christians and churches in America don’t humble themselves, exchanging angry words for humble kindness, then our impact and influence will continue to dissipate.  If the immorality and arrogance of our nation’s leaders and culture continues to increase, God’s judgment awaits: 

  • Imagine God’s disappointment with people who think they have it all under control and don’t need God in their lives, when it was God who gave them life itself and all of their abilities and possessions.
  • Imagine how offended God must be when people don’t think they need a Savior; that they can be “good” enough to earn their way into His presence; that somehow the Lord overestimated the cost required for humans to be reconciled with Him when He sent His Son to die for us.
  • Imagine His anger at those who don’t even acknowledge His existence.  How must God feel when His creation completely ignores the Creator?

It’s Your Turn…

Show your neighbors and coworkers how Jesus’ leadership style is far more humble than these presidential candidates.  Demonstrate your humility as a Christian.  Before election day, NOVEMBER 8th, #CastAnEternalVote by:

  • Performing a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus.
  • Sharing your story on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote.
  • Challenging 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

Photo credit (Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton): Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Where Would Jesus Be (WWJB)?

Oct 12, 16
JMorgan
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15 comments

Blog Post 70 - Jesus Feet (with WWJB words)1

Last week, we talked about how a disciple of Jesus takes on His attributes – and that He was first and foremost a servant.

In Jesus’ time, disciples of a rabbi were called Talmudine.  It was considered a great honor to be asked by a rabbi to “come follow me”.  It meant they were deemed worthy, with potential to become exactly like their rabbi one day.  To attain that goal, disciples imitated who they followed in every respect – literally every step of the way.  In fact, a common blessing in Jesus’ day was, “May the dust of your rabbi be upon you.”

Then as now, disciples of Jesus Christ are called not only to…

Do what He does (WWJD)

…but also to

Go where He goes (WWJB)

Where was Jesus then?

On earth, Jesus spent nearly all of his time:

  • Healing the sick – surrounded by the lame and lepers
  • Preaching the gospel – on hillsides, boats, lakeshores and in homes
  • Hanging out with those in greatest need of a “physician” – like prostitutes and tax collectors
  • Not criticizing and opposing those “sinners” – but the “religious” who were judging them
  • Resisting fame – withdrawing from crowds to spend time with the Father in prayer
  • Not trying to build a huge following – but preaching the most difficult messages at the height of his popularity
  • Instead, deeply discipling a small group of close friends
  • Finding those first disciples among poor, uneducated fishermen
  • Gravitating toward children – not pushing them away
  • Frequenting churches – but typically to straighten out and clean up His house

Jesus didn’t kowtow to the religious establishment – and it made them furious.  The Pharisees enjoyed the acclaim their position brought and expected deferential treatment.  They loved rules and money – and made lots of both.  They were served, not servants.  They would have thought the Messiah would align Himself and hang out with them.  However, Jesus did the opposite.  He ran straight to the “lowest of the low” – the most destitute, ill, ignorant and objectionable. On top of that, despite their bottom-rung social status and Christ’s elevated position above even the Pharisees, Jesus did the unthinkable – He actually served them.

“Where Would Jesus Be (WWJB)” now?

Where Jesus was then is exactly where He is today.  For examples of where Jesus can be found right this moment, check out our Facebook page for Vote for Eternity 20:16 (#CastAnEternalVote).  See how far out of their way Christ-followers are going to walk in the footsteps of our Rabbi:

  • Hospitals – visiting and helping those sick and suffering (Luke 7:22)
  • Red-light districts – the worst side of town with notorious “sinners” (Mark 2:17)
  • Remote towns – traveling while preaching, healing and feeding along the way (Mark 1:38)
  • Across the tracks – in the most impoverished areas of the city (Matthew 4:18)
  • Orphanages – showing His great love for helpless, humble children (Matthew 19:14)
  • Assisted Living Facilities – visiting widows in their distress (James 1:27)
  • Homeless shelters – Jesus had no place to lay His head either (Luke 9:58)
  • Homes of friends and acquaintances – teaching and building relationships (Luke 10:38-42)
  • Natural disasters – helping families get back on their feet
  • Schools – serving kids with special needs
  • Laundromats – holding church there on Sunday mornings and putting coins in the machines

All the while, Jesus would be preaching the gospel to any who would listen.  And they would listen because they’d be overwhelmed by His kindness and overcome by His outpouring of love.

Where He wouldn’t be hanging out (because He didn’t then):

  • Wealthy suburbs
  • Inside the 4 walls of big churches, except to remind them that members, not just leaders, are His body
  • Hobnobbing with today’s most “successful” pastors
  • Comfort of his own home

What does that mean for you?

If you’re looking for a deeper relationship with the Lord, then get covered in the dust of the Rabbi.  “Where Would Jesus Be?” is a challenge that involves more risk and discomfort than most Christians are willing to endure: 

  • Where Jesus would be isn’t safe. (Luke 10:3)
  • There are some bad people there. (Matthew 9:10)
  • You’ll need a thorough knowledge and careful study of the scriptures (John 8:31).
  • Real progress will necessitate a lot of prayer (Luke 5:16)
  • The Great Commission doesn’t afford you the luxury of criticizing culture from afar (Matthew 28:19)
  • The journey doesn’t need to be to a foreign land, it can be right there in your city, leaving no excuse for not going. (Matthew 9:35)
  • True discipleship requires a servant’s heart, knowing people don’t care what you know until they know you care. (Mark 10:45)
  • You’ll need to redefine what church is – it’s YOU!  (Acts 2:42-47)

Jesus is kicking up dust right now.  Will you follow Him down this unpaved, rocky road?

It’s your turn…

WWJB?  Now that you know, will you go?  Between now and Election Day NOVEMBER 8th, where can you go to serve and share your faith with those Jesus spent His time pursuing?  Be a part of Vote for Eternity 20:16 and #CastAnEternalVote!

Are You a “Disciple”?…a Surefire Litmus Test

Oct 05, 16
JMorgan
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2 comments

Jesus with a jug of water and a towell

Last week we showed how Powerful Christians aren’t private, passive or pensive.  They don’t rail against all that is wrong with the world, nor are they quiet about what they believe.  They aren’t “pew potatoes” that check the proverbial boxes, showing up on Sundays and doing a few “church chores”.  They see compassion and evangelism as their personal responsibilities, and don’t leave it to the “professionals.”  Powerful Christians recognize that sitting on the sidelines isn’t an option when the consequences facing non-believers are so dire.

Another word for a “Powerful Christian” is a “disciple”.  So…what is a modern-day disciple of Jesus Christ?

Different people give different answers: a fully committed follower; a follower who reproduces more followers; a devoted student; an avid adherent.  All of those are true to a large extent.

There is (at least) one reliable litmus test…how well do our lives align with the attributes of Jesus?

In other words, are we…

  • not able to walk by those hurting and hopeless without helping them?
  • brokenhearted for the lost and bold in pursuing them?
  • selfless to the point of stepping far outside our comfort zones for Jesus?
  • wholly dependent on the Father, living and giving by faith?
  • willing to risk and sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel?

If you examine the lives of most Christians – for example, those who attend your church – do they look a lot like that?  How could their lives not be transformed if they truly get who Jesus is and what He did for us?  Yet many go to church on Sundays, then look like the rest of the world all week.  Many pray in the morning, then essentially forget about God the rest of the day.  Too many believers stop short of surrender.  They either don’t fully realize what Jesus is like or don’t try hard enough to imitate Him.

Jesus’ Foremost Attribute

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we should take on His greatest attribute – that of a humble servant.  In Jesus’ own words, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus consistently modeled and stated (as did His disciples) that caring for the helpless and hopeless was the first step toward proving and living out our faith as Christians.  For example:

When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he still lacked after obeying the commandments, Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Matthew 19:21)

When John’s disciples asked Jesus if He was the Christ, the evidence He provided was how He had served others: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the deal is raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5)

When Paul and Peter went their separate ways, Paul said “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” (Galations 2:10)

James 2:15-16:  “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is that?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James 1:27:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

Our faith is dead without action?  The only flawless religion is caring for orphans and widows? 

Seriously?  Yes.

Jesus showed His compassion first, so people listened to His words.  He demonstrated His love before telling people who He is – and many believed.  As we said last week, Powerful Christians are those who do likewise – Act and then Speak.

Why aren’t more churches and Christians making service and evangelism to the helpless and hopeless their first priority?  How are they not getting that message when the Bible conveys it so clearly?  Look at the Facebook pages and websites of the average church in America – it’s all about Sunday services, classes, new campuses and sermons with little or no mention of serving struggling families in the community.  Churches are no longer the local food bank or the homeless shelter as they were for the better part of 1900 years.

Your Great Commission

Jesus’ disciples acted like Him.  Jesus was loving, selfless and compassionate.  As a result, He attracted a large following – and so did they.

Disciples make disciples.  Christians who aren’t disciples can’t make disciples.

That’s why Jesus spent most of his time discipling 12 men.  Through those first disciples, the Christian faith spread like wildfire.

Nothing has changed.  Disciples are still the key to growing the Kingdom and your church.

Discipleship is the means by which Jesus intends for people to come to Him and get to know Him.  It’s the most critical function of Christians and His Church.  Jesus made that clear in the Great Commission, His final words before His ascension.

Jesus made disciples by serving and teaching.  How can you know if you’re a disciple?  The same barometer applies to you:

  • Living a prayer, care and share lifestyle
  • Always looking for opportunities to serve others
  • Intentional in forming and building relationships that lead people toward Christ
  • Radically changed by what Jesus did for you, and thereby changing those around you
  • Possessing an infectious faith, leading to acts of compassion that catch others off guard
  • Can’t possibly hold the gospel in – just as you talk about the things you love, you love Jesus most
  • Concerned but not worried about where our nation is heading, knowing God is in control
  • Realizing that loving action, not just words, is the best weapon to fight the culture war

Is this you? 

If not, we encourage you to pray for the courage to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Courage is required because discipleship is:

  • Hard Work – Much more time consuming than attending Sunday services or small groups
  • Costly – Luke 9 points out how much hardship being a disciple of Jesus entails
  • Risky – “Go and make disciples” may take you far from a predictable, secure existence

A Great Next Step…

Consider participating in Vote for Eternity 20:16.  We’re asking 1 million Christians to follow Jesus’ model of leading with compassion and then telling people who He is by Election Day, NOVEMBER 8th:

  • Perform a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus.
  • Share your story on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote or #VoteForEternity2016.
  • Challenge 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

Which of These 4 Christian Voters are You?

Sep 28, 16
JMorgan
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3 comments

Blog Post 67 - White House vs God's House

In this Presidential election, it’s hard for Christians to rally around either candidate.  Neither stands solidly in the Christian camp on the issues most of us hold dear.  And even if you do like Trump or Clinton, you can only cast one vote.  However, we can cast countless Eternal Votes, which will last far longer than just the next 4 years. 

You can have a much greater impact on who ends up in God’s House than on who winds up in the White House!

We’ve launched Vote for Eternity 20:16 to encourage 1,000,000 Christians to perform a simple act of kindness in the name of Jesus for a neighbor, coworker or a complete stranger by Election Day, NOVEMBER 8th.  Then share your stories on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote, and challenge 3 Christians you know to “pay it forward”!

Jesus didn’t intend for His followers to be complacent or content, attending church on Sunday then doing little to serve the Lord Monday through Saturday.  How many churchgoers realize they’ve stepped into the mission field the second they get back in their cars in the church parking lot?  How many try each and every week to win people to Christ and invest time in making disciples?  Why do so few possess an acute sense of urgency to seek and save the lost?  Why do so many live comfortably while doing little to serve the helpless and hopeless?

Unfortunately, many have come to view church as a “safe” place to worship and fellowship, yet lack the courage to act and speak openly in the light of day.  However, we’re called to live boldly in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to our faith.  Ironically, it is likely our lack of impetus and preparation to be the hands and feet of Christ that have largely precipitated and fueled the attacks on Christianity that are occurring in our nation.

We’ve identified 4 types of Christian “voters” in this Presidential election.  Which one are you?

1.  Passive Christians

DON’T SPEAK OR ACT

Bill hardly misses a Sunday at church.  He volunteers as a greeter one weekend a month, gives regularly and hosted a small group last year.  By all accounts, Bill’s an active church member.  Considering how busy he is with career and young kids, he does his fair share.  There’s not much time left in his schedule for charity work, nor is that something Bill thinks much about – and it’s not a big emphasis at his church.  However, his pastor does mention inviting people to church pretty frequently and Bill loves his church, so he’s done that a few times.  When it comes to evangelism, that’s about as far as Bill typically goes.  He doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his faith and rarely broaches the topic of “religion” with coworkers or friends.

2.  Pensive Christians

SPEAK BUT DON’T ACT

Rusty is concerned about where America is headed.  Unlike Bill, Rusty is not afraid to talk about religion or politics.  As a Christian since the early 1980s he’s watched the country go downhill, increasingly upset as our moral foundation crumbles under the weight of every secular, liberal court decision.  Rusty’s church recently held a ministry fair inviting members to express interest in local causes like hunger relief, the homeless or foster care.  However, what caught Rusty’s eye was the Christian conservative radio ministry asking for support to continue fighting for the values that made our nation great.  Rusty signs up and notices that over 150 others had done so as well, whereas none of the other compassion ministries had more than 20 on their lists.

3.  Private Christians

ACT BUT DON’T SPEAK

Stephanie is one of the nicest, most compassionate people at her church.  She’s always there for anyone who’s going through a tough time – a family at church, a friend or even someone she barely knows.  In fact, Stephanie is so caring that she would never want to offend anyone.  If she’s sure that person is a Christian, she’ll talk about her faith and offer to pray for them.  Otherwise, she keeps her personal beliefs to herself because they’re just that – personal.  Her husband, Jeff, is just as kind-hearted, frequently donating money to local charities, but equally reluctant to impose his ideals on others.

4.  Powerful Christians

ACT AND THEN SPEAK

Unlike Bill, Rusty, Stephanie and Jeff, Tamara isn’t passive, pensive or private – she’s both personable and public.  She’s a disciple, following Jesus’ model of meeting felt needs to open the door to sharing who He is.  Tamara never misses an opportunity to do both, seeing wherever she happens to be at the time as her designated mission field.  She understands she IS the church between Sundays.  Tamara is deeply concerned not only with each person’s welfare in this life but also their assurance of eternal life.  She knows the Great Commission doesn’t stop at a single good deed or the planting of a “seed” – it’s about investing in longer-term relationships.

Powerful Christians are a rare breed these days, not often sighted in churches that:

  • cater to members, hesitant to challenge them with the reality of what it truly means to live out the Great Commission
  • emphasize serving inside the church continually but offer few chances to reach out to the poor and lost in the community
  • focus more on building an institution than building disciples that “take ground” outside the four walls

Joining a church alone doesn’t make someone a Powerful Christian any more than simply joining a gym makes someone a powerful weightlifter.  Both require hard work and endurance.  Only intensive and extended training will dramatically change their lives.  That’s why a large or growing church isn’t necessarily a healthy church.  Showing up, serving and giving doesn’t mean a churchgoer will make a difference for Christ between Sundays.  Active church members are not necessarily disciples.  Disciples would never stop at being passive, pensive or private.  Disciples are healthy, impactful, forever changed – in other words, powerful.

Cast a Vote for Christ Today!

How much longer can most Christians remain passive, pensive or private?  The road is about to become much more rocky for followers of Jesus Christ.  Only Powerful Christians will be ready for what’s coming next.  We must be willing to take a stand.

YOU CAN MAKE AN ETERNAL DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONE’S LIFE.  CAST A VOTE THAT WILL LAST FAR LONGER THAN THE NEXT 4 YEARS.  BY ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER 8th

  • Perform a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus.
  • Share your story on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote.
  • Challenge 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

The More Important Election Few Are Talking About

Sep 21, 16
JMorgan
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one comments

Sign at Boston Immigration rally

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.’” (Matthew 20:25-26)

Our high officials occupying and seeking the White House are Gentiles – non-believers.  As Christians, our job is not to imitate them.  Nor should we worry about what they’ve done – or will do.  We can only control what we do.  We are called to action.  Our energy should be directed more toward who ends up in God’s House than in the White House.  Jesus asks us to follow His example – that of a humble servant.  “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

How can you become that kind of servant?  How can you show that your home is not on Earth but in Heaven?  How can you cast a vote that will last far longer than the next 4 years?

By election day, NOVEMBER 8th

  • Perform a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus.
  • Share your story on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote or #VoteForEternity2016.
  • Directly challenge 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.

YOU are the Church

The Church is the living, breathing body of Christ.  The congregation comprises that body.  Each of us is an important body part.

Church is not a “what” – a place.  It’s a “who” – yes, YOU.  The Church’s power is in the vast number and diverse giftings in the body – fueled by the Holy Spirit.  For centuries, those countless parts of Christ’s body recognized their individual roles in expanding the Kingdom – and created an unstoppable, irresistible movement.

So why isn’t Christianity growing in America today?  The explanation we’ve put forward in this blog series is that most members and attenders no longer see…

  • …themselves as the Church personified.
  • …how they weaken the overall body if they don’t carry out their intended functions.
  • …the need to carefully evaluate their giftings and apply them to ministry outside of their church.
  • …their position in their church as important as the pastor’s.
  • …the community as their “customer”, as Jesus did.
  • …a sense of urgency around their role in bringing the lost to Christ.
  • …the Great Commission as an obligation rather than an option.

Because the individual parts aren’t fulfilling their respective roles in the body, the Church today isn’t healthy.  Your toe may be a small fraction of your total mass, but when it breaks your whole body suffers.  In the case of the Church, few parts are functioning as well as they should at their most urgent responsibility between Sundays – the Great Commission.

Imagine if the early Church hadn’t aggressively “gone out” and made disciples?  What if Christ-followers had relied primarily on pastors to evangelize and educate new believers?  Yet that’s where most of us stop today – at extending invitations to church.  What if the early churchgoers had stayed among themselves – rarely venturing out into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to pursue non-believers?  What if they hadn’t followed Jesus’ model of demonstrating His love and compassion before telling them who He is?  The fact that believers took the Great Commission so seriously was a major reason behind the Church’s explosive growth during its first 1900 years.

How few would be in Heaven if Christians throughout history had seen Church as a place, not as themselves?  Yet my fear is that’s how most churchgoers view Church today.

All Hands on Deck

Jesus, His disciples, and churches for centuries treated the community as its target audience – its “customer”.   For us, the collective Church, to function effectively all parts must work together to pursue our intended “customer”.

In management consulting, we saw countless examples of departments not working in a company’s best interests:

  • Sales – not adequately motivated to convert new customers
  • Marketing – targeting the wrong (i.e. least profitable) customers
  • Operations – processes designed around the needs of internal departments and not of customers
  • R&D – product innovation not keeping up with evolving customer needs
  • Finance – not investing adequately in the optimal customers or products

No company can succeed unless all the departments are adequately staffed and aligned around the interests of its best customers.  What the Bible says about churches is no different.  An entire church – pastors, staff, members, elders, deacons, facilities, etc. – should work together seamlessly to prepare and equip everyone to reach “customers” – those outside its 4 walls.  In this analogy, members are essentially employees, not “customers”.  They are “insiders”, not “outsiders”.

So, how should each part of the body be utilized in this “members ARE the Church, NOT the customer” framework?

  • Members/Regular Attenders – Like Sales, evangelize and serve their true target “customers”, not simply invite them to Sunday morning services.
  • Deacons/Elders – Like Marketing, lead everyone in the church into a deeper relationship with Christ so they can have a greater impact in their spheres of influence.
  • Staff/Administration – Like Operations, yet geared toward equipping and sending disciples, not on keeping the “machine” running.
  • Pastors – Like R&D, cast vision for how to leverage the body to reach more people for Christ.
  • Finance/Facilities – Allocate limited resources to the uses that maximize return on investment – which in Kingdom terms is the # of people who come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

What Body Parts have Atrophied?

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (TLB); “All of you together are the one body of Christ, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.  Here is a list of some of the parts He has placed in His Church, which is His body:

  • Apostles,
  • Prophets—those who preach God’s Word,
  • Teachers,
  • Those who do miracles,
  • Those who have the gift of healing,
  • Those who can help others,
  • Those who can get others to work together,
  • Those who speak in languages they have never learned.”

As for those first three, it’s clear that pastors occupy the lead role within a church.  However, the remaining parts of the body listed could be any one of us – while inside or outside the building.  We are the hands and feet of Christ, yet too few of us are stretching and working out our muscles – so they’ve atrophied.  Unless we exercise the body part we represent, both in how we serve others within our church and out in the community, the overall body becomes weaker.  Unless pastors are willing to risk rocking the boat by challenging members to be stronger body parts, churches will continue to atrophy in size, impact and influence.

What body parts are underutilized today?  Are there any we are overusing?  Have we invented some parts that God did not even intend for churches to have?

How Can You Rebuild Those Muscles?

Come to the stark realization that you are the embodiment of Church!  Understand just how critical of a role you play once you leave the church building.  To be most effective as the Church personified, follow Jesus’ model of demonstrating His love to people and then telling them who He is.

We are asking 1 million Christians across the nation to Cast An Eternal Vote (#CastAnEternalVote) before Election Day, November 8th.  Please share your stories with us!  And don’t forget to challenge 3 Christ-followers you know to “pay it forward” and Vote For Eternity 20:16 (#VoteforEternity2016)!

3 Keys to Winning the Culture War

Sep 14, 16
JMorgan
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2 comments

Iowa City, United States- February 1, 2016: Heavy turnout for the 2016 Democratic Iowa Caucus in Precinct 14 at Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City, Iowa with relatively mild for a January Iowa night.

This is not our home.  We should be concerned about the here and now, but not worried.  The Lord has a plan and Hillary nor Donald have any power to alter it.  You and I can’t change God’s will either, but what we can do is help bring as many people as possible with us to our eternal home – in heaven.

Many participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge because they knew someone with ALS.  Others are doing 22 pushups today because they know a veteran with PTSD.  Every one of us has a neighbor, coworker, friend or family member who doesn’t know Jesus.  Isn’t the plight of those lost without Christ far worse than those who suffer from ALS or PTSD?

We only get one vote for President but we can cast countless eternal votes for those we encounter each and every day.  We have far greater ability to impact who’s in God’s House than who’s in the White House.

When you live out Matthew 20:16-28, serving others in Jesus’ name, you’re casting a vote that will endure forever – not just the next 4 years.

To #CastAnEternalVote by election day, November 8th:

  • Perform a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus
  • Tell us your story on our Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote or #VoteForEternity2016
  • Directly challenge 3 of your friends on social media to “pay it forward”

Why You Shouldn’t Abstain from Voting

I recently attended my third gathering of Christian leaders from across the U.S. to strategize about ways to reverse the course in America away from Biblical values.  Once again the overwhelming consensus was that the answer lies in Christians recapturing control of the 7 Mountains (government, media, religion, education, entertainment, family and business)In other words, they believe a louder megaphone is the answer to winning the “culture war”.  They are deeply concerned that another 4 years without a Christian in the White House will further undermine the Christian values our nation once held dear. 

Christians have bemoaned, campaigned and lobbied vigorously over recent decades – often in tones that come across as angry.  Yet the louder Christians have yelled, the less we’ve been heard.  We’ve lost our voice in America.  The reason is that we haven’t followed Jesus’ model.  We’ve essentially try to “outpreach” Jesus when we espouse our beliefs without demonstrating His love and compassion – something Jesus rarely did.  Being so often heard yet rarely seen has cost Christianity dearly.  The principle is simple – people don’t care what you know until they know we care.  Turning up the volume will only drive the prevailing view of Christians and churches deeper into the ditch.

Just because a Christian occupies a powerful position at the peak of the governmental mountain top will not necessarily amplify our voice.  If not accompanied by a grass-roots movement of mercy, justice and compassion, more decibels may just solidify the opposition’s resistance to our position on social issues.

Are Christians winning the culture war today?  Name a moral issue that the church and Christians haven’t already lost, or appear likely to lose soon.

A Better Weapon to Fight the Culture War

The air war has failed.  Christianity has suffered tremendous collateral damage from years of dropping verbal bombs.

Jesus waged a ground war first of love and service to non-believers, then swooped in to fight an air war with the gospel message once the ground war had sufficiently weakened their resistance.  A ground war requires the right army – prepared, trained and properly motivated for battle – in other words, Powerful Christians.  Passive, Pensive and Private Christians are unfit for active duty.  Only disciples are ready and willing to head to the front lines – of praying, caring and, only then, sharing.

We’re all called to strap on our boots and sling a rifle over our shoulders, ready to get our hands dirty in the ground war of loving service.  People need to know what Christians are for, not what we’re against.  The more we dig our heels in, the less we can connect with them – and the less they can identify with us.

What Will the Battleground Look Like?

Christians and churches face mounting obstacles in the years to come.  Generating meaningful impact, material influence and positive perception will be more difficult as the following trends further unfold:

  • Considering any reference to Biblical perspectives that run counter to what is viewed as socially acceptable to be hate-speak
  • Inability to mention the name of Jesus in public settings, effectively eliminating His name from the “free speech” lexicon (“Jesus“ is the one word I’ve been specifically asked not to mention during a speech I’m giving later today at a public high school)
  • Preventing pastors from expressing opinions from the pulpit that go against court decisions or liberal views on moral issues
  • Requiring Christians to comply with laws that defy Biblical principles
  • “Coming out of the closet” becoming far more applicable to Christians, particularly for kids in schools, requiring courage in the face of the stigma that label now carries with it
  • Shaming of Christians in the media
  • Companies refusing to hire those who do not disavow Biblical views on particular hot-button issues
  • Even physical persecution of Christians will one day occur in America because Muslim population growth and conversion rates will continue to outstrip Christian birth and conversion rates, eventually giving them popular majorities in localities, cities and states

In essence Christians and churches face relegation to a corner, rarely visible in the mainstream, in the not-too-distant future.  Lest you view that as impossible here in the U.S., look at Western Europe where similar internal-focus on the part of churches and social trends led to that same inevitable outcome.

How Can We Win the Culture War?

Christ’s church will prevail.  With increased persecution will likely come greater resolve.  Churches will begin to produce more Powerful Christians.  Lukewarm, on the fence churchgoers won’t persevere when challenges come their way.  Those conditioned for comfort and “consumption” will have some tough decisions to make.  Many passive, pensive and private Christians will run and hide – too afraid to speak or act.  Only true disciples of Jesus Christ will endure the trials by fire – willing to take a stand, refusing to back down when threats to their faith increase.  Only those whose lives are changed can change lives.  The good news is it took just a few disciples of Jesus to reverse the course of history.

Winning the culture war will require:

  1. Redefining “Church” – Seeing ourselves as the church personified and no longer relying on pastors as the “professionals” responsible for bringing non-believers to Christ
  2. Following Jesus’ model – Realizing the importance of linking actions with words
  3. Taking Ground – Masses of Christians infiltrating their spheres of influence with the love and good news of Jesus Christ

A fully trained and effective army that cares and shares could turn the tide of how Christians are viewed in America.  If society begins to see the love of Jesus through the compassion of Christians, a new generation of believers will emerge from the ground up to one day occupy those mountain-top positions.  However, continued efforts to take over the 7 mountains from the top down will further diminish the influence and perception of the church and Christianity, paving the way for the mounting challenges to our faith.

It’s Your Turn…

Cast your eternal vote before Election Day, November 8th and challenge 3 Christ-followers you know to “pay it forward” and Vote For Eternity 20:16!