Just add some Jesus!
In our society, if it takes more than 1 second for a webpage to load we get angry. We are far too spoiled! We want quick and instant results. This mindset has infiltrated the church and followers of Christ by storm. We think that if we just “add a dash of Jesus” we will get everything we ever wanted or desired. If that doesn’t happen we feel like God doesn’t love us or that we are being cheated because we deserve the “good life.”
Wow! This is really where many of us are. We want instant results from following Jesus and we want God to do everything we dictate in prayer. We expect our churches to explode with growth because of the latest gadgets and technology, because the sermons are entertaining and catchy or our plan has been proven by other mega-churches to produce spiritual fruit. Whatever happened to loving Jesus, following Him and allowing Him to grow His Church? Whatever happened to simply working hard and praying hard? Whatever happened to loving God and loving people? Where are those things in our agendas, church planting movements and training seminars? Churches may be filled (and even filled to overflowing) but I would submit that many of the people filling our churches are still empty!
We have boiled following Jesus down to a science; a 6-week course in living like Christ. People buy into it and they buy the materials and then everyone’s happy, right? That’s all we really want right…shiny happy people?
“Adding” Jesus may actually diminish your church growth!
Jesus wanted disciples not people who were “event” driven. Jesus wanted people to understand the cost of following Him. At the peak of His popularity Jesus isolated Himself with a polarizing declaration that He was the Bread of Life and no one could come to God but through Him. These people had come to Jesus because they had eaten some great bread and had a wonderful experience but they were not ready to follow Him into the hardship of discipleship. Many of them left Him that day.
Peter, one of the 12 that remained with Jesus, said:
68 “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!” John 6:68-69
Peter exacts 2 things in this statement: we believe and we know.
Examine what you do and you will know what you believe.
As much as we are all about Jesus we are all about “church growth” at the same time. Sure our motives are somewhat right but let’s be honest; we all love to feel good about adding to our numbers. It becomes a pride thing. Don’t get me wrong! I am all for people coming into God’s Kingdom and loving Jesus. However, there is an old saying I would like to remind us of:
“Whatever you catch them with is what you have to keep them with.”
If we become about entertainment, glitz and “church-biz”, then we have to do a “show” every weekend. Is this what we are to do, put on a show? I understand the delicate balance that is required in being professional and creating an atmosphere of worship. Yet, I find that at times I have to fight back the drive to compete for people’s attention, to have our ministry be “desirable” for others and to make it “cool” to attend. Is this what Jesus would have done? I get it that we are dealing with people who have short attention spans and who have so much competing for their affection and thoughts but is this what we are supposed to do? Are we fighting for attention and not fighting for souls? I wonder even for myself how much different the results would be if we didn’t do all the flashy stuff? What would it be like if we didn’t use technology all the time? What would it be like if we spent as much time praying as planning and preparing the “show”?
Examine Who you know and let that transform how you live.
Peter and the disciples were faced with a compelling group of people walking away from Jesus, yet they decided to stay for this one reason: “You have the words of life!” People may not come in droves to our churches for the word of life but it’s the only thing that will keep people close to Jesus. If we truly believe that Jesus has the words of life, why don’t we think preaching and living it out would be enough? Why is it that we feel like it has to be in a pretty little package, presented in Media Shout or Pro Presenter? Again, it’s not that I am against technology, but we often get too focused on the wrapping and show!
I don’t know why God sent His Son wrapped in the flesh of a man other than to demonstrate that it wasn’t about the flashes of thunder, the voice from the sky, or the incredible acts of God! Surely God uses all of those things! However, Jesus came as a man, with no show, no fancy home, no fabulous ride, and no super platform from which to speak and somehow managed to change the course of humanity! Jesus, along with His disciples, proved that it’s about Who we know and allowing that to transform our lives.
We do a disservice to the people who seek Christ when all we do is gather together and enjoy a well-thought out service. We can easily misguide people into thinking that it’s all about enjoyment and entertainment. We end up selling a bag of chips that seems completely full and yet half is air. We need to make sure that we give people Jesus – All of Him! May we not get caught up in our wonderful worlds of technology and ignore the fact that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit must draw people to Himself.
Peter and the others made a decision to stay with Jesus not because they didn’t know what the world had to offer, not because Jesus promised them a good and easy life. They didn’t stay with Him because of all the cool miracles.
They stayed with Him because they knew Him! They knew His heart. They knew His love. They knew His life!
I believe people will join your church and the Kingdom of God if they know our hearts for Jesus. If they sense we really care about them. If they really deep down see our relationship with Christ shaping and forming our lives, they will want to follow Jesus too! We can’t just add “some” Jesus. Jesus has to be everything!
20And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
22Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as student minister at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA