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Why Not Just Give Them Jesus?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023


Only Jesus

This post may upset you, and maybe that's good, but maybe it's not. I want you to know that what I'm writing here is not a criticism of any specific person or any church; but a criticism of myself and the poor job I have done to step out in faith and do what is right regardless of what others do. It is recognition that I have left my first love and replaced it with the church of my making.


Typically, when I write a blog post, I think through some ideas and write about the ones I believe God leads me to write. This post comes after several days of agitation, praying continually, and listening to God's response to my questions. I believe the subject of this post comes directly from God to me, but perhaps he is speaking to you, too, or to the American church in general.


Being a member of a new denomination of Methodism and having a new position as an associate pastor in a church that worships 300 people, in person and online, each Sunday but has a prayer team of only six people, I've started to wonder if we are doing church in the best way possible.


When Christ established his church on the rock known as Peter, he promised that it would be strong enough that, "...all the powers of hell will not conquer it." Matt. 16:17b. And in those early days it was, the apostles and others in the years following Christ's resurrection were willing to die for the gospel. Today I don't always speak up with the truth for fear I will lose a friend or anger a church member.


The early church had no buildings, no New Testament, no praise team, no comittees, they had nothing but the gospel and that was enough. The church experienced daily persecution, ridicule, and even death, yet still stood strong and spread like wildfire. Those who feared for their lives in Jerusalem, left the city, but didn't stop sharing the gospel.


It didn't matter to them that the Jewish leadship forbade them to speak of Christ under threat of imprisonment and death; John and Peter continued to preach, they told the Jewish hierarchy, "Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling everything we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19


They loved Christ so much and were so grateful for what Christ did for them, even while they cowered behind locked doors or denied him in his presence. They were so attuned to Christ that they experienced heaven in their souls each day as they praised God and told others about the gospel. The heaven they experienced was too overwhelming to keep to themselves.


This is what has been churning in my very being this past week, leaving me feeling discombobulated. I don't know if that is a word, but that is the only way I can explain the restlessness that has had me walking the halls of the church and struggling to accomplish my daily work. Something was not right, something had to change. But I couldn't put my finger on it.


That is, until I picked up Pastor Jim Cymbala's latest book, Fan the Flame. Once again Pastor Cymbala has reminded me what is important. He writes, "...the church is a supernatural, spiritual organism created through the gospel and power of God as a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. To redefine the Christian church is a terrible thing in God's sight." pg. 15


Being a pastor is not about getting people to like us. It' not about people pleasing worship to get butts in the pews. It's about following the leading of the Holy Spirit and allowing his power to work in the people. When was the last time that you were in a sanctuary that was stripped down so that the only thing you could focus us on was the Holy Spirit. When was the last time you were at a worship service where everything centered on Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.


As a pastor I have led a lot of worship services and can count only 2 or 3 that was more about God than us. My work since I began pastoral ministry, has rarely been about sharing Jesus, leading others to know him, and focusing on multiplying the Kingdom. It's always been about committees, meetings, paperwork, and maintaining a building. Budgets are almost entirely made up of building maintenance and salary.


I don't believe Jesus ever envisioned this kind of church. I know John Wesley didn't, he told his pastors, "You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work." How many times have you told or been told that your job is to save souls. I have never had a church person remind me of that directive.


I'm expected to spend my time taking care of the congregation. What about those who don't know Jesus? The most we will do for them is give them free food, or money to pay their bills. And frankly, that is really all they expect of us. I think about the story of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate who was so excited when he got Peter and John's attention, expecting that they would give him money. But they didn't, they gave him something better. Peter said to him,"I don't have any gold or silver for you. But I give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!" Acts 3:6


The better thing that Peter offered him was Jesus, who healed him physically and spiritually. That is what I believe God is telling me to do. I need to give Jesus to everyone I meet, in church and out. All the money in the world will not prepare people for eternity only Christ can do that. And unfortunately, we are sadly shortchanging those who are depending on us.


I answered God's call on my life to share the gospel with my churches and the communities around them and I have failed significantly in that. This resulted in a restlessness that led me to seek peace in my Savior and to finally hear God's clear call not to perpetuate the church we have created but to build a church that "all the powers of hell will not conquer".


I don't know where this will lead me, but I do know that Christ will go before me. I'm also pretty sure it will be messy, thrilling, heart swelling, and the best ride of my life.

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