July 24, 2010

Axiom: Found People Find People (Part 3)

If you've followed along with my blog posts earlier this week (Part 1 and Part 2), then I can imagine what some of you are thinking:
Ok, I get it already! I can see that Andrew, Phillip, and the woman at the well all invited someone to come experience time with Jesus. I also get that Jesus is a center of any church, the main dish of the meal, the driving reason behind our love of God and others….
Sidenote: If Jesus isn’t the center of your church…you may want to change locations! Seriously...

So you can put 2 + 2 together and understand that


OK…. But I also know many people think, "This is the real world, over 2000 years after those guys first met Jesus. It's not THAT easy!"

People have lots of reasons for why they can’t share what they have experienced with Jesus, why they have a hard time telling others, why it's difficult to invite people to church. Two of the reasons I hear often are:
  1. "I don't know who to invite!"
  2. "I don't know what to say!"
Ok, well lets look at these stories from the book of John a little further.

In John 1:35-42, Andrew finds his brother Peter and invites him to meet Jesus.

In John 1: 43-49, Phillip finds his friend Nathaniel and, even after receiving some push back, invited Nathaniel to “come and see” Jesus for himself.

And in John 4:7-42, the woman at the well invites a bunch of people from the town.

Even though they invited different people - a brother, a friend, and a bunch of people from the town - they all had something in common.

They each knew people who were searching for something missing in their lives. People looking for something important. Something like hope, freedom, healing, direction, leadership, prosperity, inclusivity, or something else missing from their lives. People, that through previous conversations, it was understood were looking for same type of things that they were looking for.

Who do you invite?
So, who are the first people we should invite? Those we are closest to and share a lot in common, like family, or friends that are so close they are like family.

Then next people we should invite? Someone we know somewhat but we share some things in common, like friend or neighbor or co-worker.

Then next, we should invite someone we have a few things in common with, like those in our neighborhood, those whose kids attend the same school as our own, people who are in the same clubs or civic organizations with us, etc.

Now, what do you say?
In each one of the stories, the person only told what they experienced and found out for themselves when they spent time with Jesus.

When inviting people to church, don’t tell them what other people experienced. Tell what you personally experienced. “I saw this…” “I heard this….” “I did this….” “I learned this…” “I felt like this….”

Basically tell what you understand to date. Even if you have only been there a short time. Because people don’t want to go to a place you suggest, if you haven’t tried it yourself.

Found people find people.

Oh, and one last thing. Make a personal VERBAL invitation and then offer to bring them with you…

Try it and see for yourself.

July 22, 2010

Axiom: Found People Find People (Part 2)

I love the out doors, especially early in the morning or late in the afternoon. (And you’d know why I said those times of the day if you’ve ever lived in south Georgia for even one summer!)

Earlier this spring, Jodi and I decided to put in some new flowers and plants in to help make our backyard more colorful. Off to Lowe's Home and Garden Center we went. Knowing how tight our finances were, we decided to get some things now and then the rest after our next payday.

DUDE! …flowers and plants are EXPENSIVE!

All I wanted was some nice flowers to plant, some colorful hanging baskets, and a few other plants to brighten up the place WITHOUT having to mortgage two of my children, and sell one of my kidneys.

So we picked up a FEW things, and headed home. After our “STICKER SHOCK” we decided it might take several months to do what we wanted in the back yard.

Later that week, though, we came across a fresh seafood business in town that had expanded their business to include, get this, local grown plants and flowers. That’s right; fresh seafood for your grill and fresh flowers and plants for your backyard! (Crazy combinations of product lines seem to do well here in Georgia.)

And get this, the plants were twice as large and more healthy than the plants we had just bought at Lowe's! Oh, and the nail in the coffin… about 35% cheaper. Oh, yeah, we have found our new place to buy ANY plants and flowers from now on! Larger, healthier plants, at two-thirds of the cost!

EVERYBODY wants to save money, right! EVERYBODY wants to get more for what money they do spend RIGHT!

And you know what, I have been sharing this story to anyone who I meet who is about to do some backyard beautification. I mean when you find the answer to a problem or dilemma (over priced, unhealthy plants) that others are looking for too, don’t you want to “help” them out and give them the “inside scoop” on how they can save to?

In the stories I mentioned earlier this week, Andrew, Phillip, and the woman at the well were all looking for something.

Andrew was looking for the Messiah (even following John the Baptist around to learn more about the Messiah that was coming). Phillip was looking for the Messiah written about by Moses and the prophets. The woman was looking for where the right place to worship was- a place where all people could worship in spirit and truth.

In other words, they were looking for what the Messiah, the Christ, represented to each of them! Acceptance, Hope, Forgiveness, Love, Purpose, Freedom, answers to hard questions, and many other things...

Whatever they were looking for, they felt they had FOUND in Jesus, that Jesus was the answer to what they were looking for. And they knew others who were looking for the same thing… so off they go to share with others this great find, this answer to what they had been searching for.

Because found people find people.

Imagine finding larger, healthier, and inexpensive plants for sale at a Fresh Seafood Market??? But I did. I found the answer to what I was looking for in my quest for flowers.

Think about your church. No mater the shape, size, or music style, can people meet Jesus there? I hope so, because I'm SURE He's the answer to what people are looking for! How much greater is the world's need for a Savior than flowers? Isn't that something worth telling others about?!? Isn't that something worth inviting people too?

July 20, 2010

Axiom: Found People Find People (Part 1)

In this past week’s sermon, we began our new message series AXIOM, where we’re looking at five unmistakable signs of a growing relationship with Jesus.

I began this message series by sharing the first axiom we’ll look at…

I think this AXIOM is too often ignored by churches today - and I mean the people who make up the church.

What I am talking about is simply INVITATION!

Invitation to a worship service, invitation to small groups, invitation to volunteer, invitation to a meal, invitation to return again, or an invitation to BE A PART of the body of Jesus Christ, which we call THE CHURCH!

It is ridiculous how people who have encountered Jesus and chose to follow him are reluctant to invite others to experience Jesus too.

I hope you'll take a minute (OK - a FEW minutes) to read three short stories where the Bible emphasizes this axiom - FOUND PEOPLE FIND PEOPLE.

  • John 1:35-42 The story of Andrew , meeting Jesus firsthand, then finding his brother Peter and inviting him to come and meet Jesus, too.
    Key verses are John 1:41-42 “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah’(that is, the Christ) and he brought him to Jesus.”
  • John 1: 43-49 The story of Phillip, meeting Jesus 1st hand, then finding his friend Nathaniel and even after inviting him to meet Jesus and receiving some push back, persisted for Nathaniel to “come and see” for himself.
    Key verses are John 1:45-46 “Phillip found Nathaniel and told him ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’ ”
  • John 4:7-42 The story of the Samaritan Woman meeting Jesus at the well and running back to town to invite all the towns people to “come and see” Jesus .
    Key verses are John 4:28-29 “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ “

What each story has in common is that each person (Andrew, Phillip, & the woman) only encountered Jesus for a VERY brief period of time before they knew they HAD to tell SOMEBODY what they had found for themselves!

Whether it was a conversation at a well, or spending the afternoon talking together, all of these stories show that each person only had a short time with Jesus. Yet this time, as brief as it may have been, had tremendous impact on each one. Nothing replaces a personal, face to face encounter with someone. It’s different than an email, a letter, or even a phone call. You can hear the tone of their voice, watch the body posture and hand gestures as they talk, you can see it in their eyes…what’s that old quote, “the eyes are the windows to the soul”. WOW! Imagine hearing Jesus speak as you are looking him in the eyes. He listens intently as you ask the questions you have been struggling with, as you share with Him about your doubts, fears, dreams, hopes.

Never underestimate the power or change that can occur when a person has an encounter - a personal experience - with Jesus. No mater how long that encounter is, it’s important.

Jesus found these very diverse people, their paths crossed, and Jesus invited them to meet and spend some time with Him. Then they found others.

I was found by Jesus, and that makes me a found person… and it started with an invitation.

Found People Find People

July 7, 2010


Recently, Perry Noble’s blog post "It’s Not the Product… It’s the Service, Part Two of Two" caught my attention. I wrote my thoughts about the INSIDE of the church view. Today, I’m going to speak to the “outside of the church” view, giving my commentary on what he had to say.

OUTSIDE of the Church View
“Nope…it’s not enough to just come to church and then go home…what we do outside the walls of the church in many ways is way more important that what happens on the inside. Saying that here are some ways we can take it to the next level in regards to making Matthew 5:14-16 become a reality.
  • Teach people to read their Bibles…to discover the reality of Hebrews 4:12, the LIVING/ACTIVE Word of God. A person who learns to hear the voice of God through the lens of Scripture is UNSTOPPABLE!
In order to teach people to read their Bibles the LEADERSHIP of the church need to be reading it themselves...REGULARLY…and I don’t mean reading the Bible for information…but TRANSFORMATION!
  • Challenge the church to take care of “one another” instead of hiring professionals to do it all!
  • Treat people outside of the church like they have a heart and soul…for example, being incredible kind to the server at the restaurant, DESPITE the “service” that they give. They might have had the roughest day of their life…and the last thing they need is someone wearing a Christian t-shirt and has a fish on their car being a complete butthole to them because their water glass wasn’t filled!
We teach that we should all be living out EXTRAVAGANT GENEROCITY
  • SERVE the world we live in rather than screaming at it. (The stupidity of some people in the church who believe lost people should act like Christians still blows my mind!)
Plain and simple: saved people serve people!
  • Stop looking down on others who commit “those sins” and realize that, were it not for the grace of God that we would be the very people we criticize!
  • Repent of our own sins before we call out the sins in others! (It blows my mind how an obese person can look at a drunkard and try to point out their sin without addressing their own! Whew…that was tense because FOOD has become the idol in the American church that many pastors are afraid to address.)
Ok, Perry got me with this one! But the truth is the truth.
  • STOP trying to isolate ourselves from the world that God was so desperate for that He sent His Son to LIVE HERE for 33 years and then gave His life for it!
  • Stop trying to win God’s approval through legalistic effort and walk in the incredible grace that HE gives us in Christ.
    The world can try to deny Christ and Christianity all day long…but when a church gets on fire because the people are on fire and we actually do and become what Jesus has called us to do and become…I believe we’ll see an outpouring of God’s favor and anointing like NEVER before.
I'll close with a quote from John Wesley…."Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergyman or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.”

At LifeSpring Church, we’re trying to love, serve, teach, and develop the “one hundred” men and woman that John Wesley speaks of… disciples of Jesus Christ… are you one of the “one hundred”?

July 1, 2010


In my last post I referenced Perry Noble, the pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, and his comments in “It's Not the Product… It’s the Service, Part One of Two.” In a later post on the same subject ("It's Not the Product… It’s the Service, Part Two of Two"), Perry brought up some interesting perspectives on the church, that I AGREE WITH and I wanted to share with you.

The two perspectives or views that are mentioned are:
  1. The “inside of the church” view.
  2. The “outside of the church” view.
Today, I want to focus on what He had to say about the "inside of the church" perspective. Here are a few of my thoughts on what Perry had to say...
The way many church services are conducted many would conclude that Jesus never rose from the grave!
We do not serve a God who is lifeless, boring and dull…thus our church services should not be either. I DO believe in reverence…yet many have concluded that term with rigor mortis!
This isn’t a “Traditional” vs. “Contemporary” service debate here… it’s a cry for MORE PASSION in worship. This week I was at a worship service for the pastors, spouses, and administrative assistants (That sounds like an odd gathering, doesn’t it?) of the churches of the United Methodist Statesboro District prior to our yearly setup and planning meeting. Dr. Ben Martin, Statesboro District Superintendent, gave an inspirational message on effectiveness in growing the Kingdom of God by our “sharpening our tools” and not “grinding an axe”. Prior to his message, Brandi Womack Harvey, sang Mercy Me’s song “Word of God Speak”.

There was no “big band” playing back up for her; just her and the piano. No production team, lights, cameras, projector screens, no choir robes, pipe organ, hymn book… just the piano, Brandi’s voice, and most importantly Brandi’s PASSIONATE HEART of LOVE for Jesus Christ!

From the first note that she sang, Brandi’s love of Jesus penetrated every heart in the room! This was no performance to her. It was an outward expression of her love for Jesus through this song…

Where is the PASSIONATE HEART OF LOVE FOR JESUS in the church today?

Back to Perry’s comments…
The following are some personal convictions that I really do believe that, if applied, CAN make a difference.
  • When people show up they should be greeted by people who smile, say hello and are actually GLAD that they are there (and not worried about whether or not “those new people” are going to get the seat they’ve had for 20 years!)
  • If we actually believe what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8 instead of claiming the extremely unbiblical line that “we aren’t one of those church who like to reach people… we just want to love one another.”
  • Jesus did not save us for our glory… He saved us for HIS!
  • If, when people showed up the music was actually good instead of letting the deacons niece sing, which always causes people’s ears to bleed and makes people pray for Jesus to come back at that moment!
  • Actually taking time to PLAN the worship experience (with open hands of course) instead of letting a bunch of really bad things happen in consecutive order and then blaming the entire thing on the Holy Spirit.
  • Begging God for HIS unbelievable power to be demonstrated among us!
  • (BTW…some people say plan, others say pray…I believe the Bible says DO BOTH!!!)
  • Use language that people can actually understand! (I’m all about the blood of Jesus…but if I am an unchurched person and you ask me if I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb… I am peeing my pants and then running like a bat out of Hades away from you!)
I could go on and on… what I’m really trying to say is that if we spent more time in our church services actually caring about reaching people rather than keeping people… I really do believe we could make a dent in the number of lost and unchurched people on the planet.
I look forward to hearing your comments on this. Later this week, I will be sharing about the “outside of the church” view!