MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.6

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.6
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: I would like to tell you something that would sound a little bit like bragging, but it’s not.

Back in 1985, I was the pastor of the Grace United Methodist Church in Quincy, Illinois. A church that is now closed. We were the poor church in the city of 40 thousand that was Quincy. We were the church for the poor white people.

And I said to myself, “What is it that we want to say to people out there so that they’ll want to come to church?” And I thought to myself, “I know what makes the difference.” The first thing is open hearts, and then it’s open minds. And people who understand that understand about open doors. So I put on our stationary, and on the bulletin and everything: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

Now, a couple years later, totally unrelated to this, a church (I believe it was up in Muscatine, Iowa) started putting a motto on their bulletins called “Open doors, open hearts, open minds.” Not related at all. They had no idea what I was doing down in Quincy.

But think about the difference between those phrases. If you first have a contact with somebody’s open heart, that starts a caring relationship. As you have a conversation with each other, you find that they have an open mind. Once you know that they have a caring heart and an open mind then you want to find out which door is open because that’s why people want to come to church. When you turn it around to where the doors are open first, what it kind of says is we will only love the people who come through the doors.

But I want to tell you, I was in that church for nine years, and after four years, we had people come to the church just because of that slogan. And you know something I found? They came through those open doors. Couple years later they went right back out those open doors because they had not made a relationship with anybody in the church except me. And the relationship with me was not enough to hold them in place. And so I decided I need a better model.

This was before the– oh, I forgot to tell you. The whole Methodist church adopted “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” The whole denomination. And it’s a wonderful thing that the doors are open, but people come in and out and still don’t know anybody in the church at all.

And so I thought to myself, “What would really express what it means to be this sort of caring church?” And I came up with this phrase, “We are a functional family of God.” Now, by the way, that’s a hope because we’re not yet completely functional. We’re all a little dysfunctional. And sometimes maybe we don’t feel like a family but the goal is for us to be a functional family of God with good emotional and spiritual and mental health. Because if we’re like a family, babies happen. And if you and I are a healthy family as a church, baby Christians happen. So I thought to myself, “That’s the most important thing. We are a functional family of God,” and then I thought, “What else is important? Okay. Jesus needs to be Lord and if Jesus is Lord, then people will grow. I’ll be a better person next year than I am this year.”

And psychologists will tell you if you’re a part of a family that cares for each other, that is a place where people get better. They get healthier. We are a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord and people grow. And Jesus has the cure for this epidemic of loneliness, and really, everything else. It’s called church. Especially if it’s a church like this motto describes. But if we’re going to have a church like that, we have to focus and be intentional about loving people and on relationships that are healthy. And I think, personally,  as a church, we are pretty healthy.

What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

The image is from Pixabay.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …


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