Archive for February, 2011

THE GREAT EXPERIMENT

February 27, 2011

On Sunday, February 27, I called the church I lead,  Snellville United Methodist, to participate in a GREAT EXPERIMENT. This was inspired by David Platt’s  similar call in his book, Radical. An experiment is an exercise to test a claim. We say we love God. We say we are committed to following Jesus and want to be more like him. So, I dare you to do this experiment and test the claim you and I made when we promised to follow Jesus Christ and to be his church. This challenge is for ONE YEAR. I dare you over the next year to:

1.         PRAY FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD (Matthew 9: 35-39)

4.5 billion people do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Over 50% of the people in our county do not follow Jesus Christ.

Over 1 billion people worldwide are on the edge of starvation.

There are 6500 homeless people in Gwinnett, 3000 are children!

Pray for the church, here and across the globe, for believers to radically follow Jesus Christ. When Jesus looked at the hurting and wandering crowd, his primary concern was not that they would not come to faith in God. His main concern was that his followers would not GO to them. Prayer can lead to effects far beyond what we can imagine. Intentionally, specifically and audaciously pray for more workers!

2.   READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE BIBLE in one year.

Here’s a reading plan we can all follow. Day 1 is March 15, 2011.

http://www.radicalexperiment.org/contribute/Radical_ReadThruTheBible.pdf

3.   SACRIFICE YOUR TIME & MONEY FOR KINGDOM WORK

Jesus does not ask us to give, he calls us to sacrifice.

We are called first to service, to sacrifice our time and energy to do the work Jesus calls his followers to in Matthew 10.

What is using up your time and talents – what is your “energy waster?” It may be good, but is it beneficial for the Kingdom of God?

4.   SPEND TIME IN A CONTEXT BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Be Radical in your GOING. (Matthew 28: 18-20 ) You need to do this in the coming year to fully enter into the agenda God has for your life. Go to the Mission web page at www.snellvilleumc.org for a list of local, national and international mission projects you can connect to. This is a command from Christ to GO into the world. I challenge you to dedicate 2% of your time. This is about one week (or 7 days) per year.

5.   COMMIT YOUR LIFE TO A MULTIPYING COMMUNITY

(A church that has a passion for making disciples where you can grow and serve.)

This is where the four challenges converge. God has created us for community with one another. And that community is called the church. The church is not a building, we are the body of Christ and we need fellowship with other followers in order to complete this Great Experiment. We cannot do it alone and Christ does not call us to go alone – get connected to other believers so you can grow in faith and serve Christ.

What will our church look like when Radical Compassion becomes the new normal around here? I am excited to see it unfold and happen. We will see God’s hand at work through us, we will see transformed lives, the sick made well, new converts, baptisms, more candidates for the ministry and a surplus of folks going on mission locally and beyond. Yes, God is ready to do a great work through us and among us. Let me know how the Great Experiment is changing and blessing you!

A Radical or a Bland Church?

February 22, 2011

Jon Stewart recently made the following comment: “Being a Methodist is easy. It’s like the University of Phoenix of religions: you just send them 50 bucks and click ‘I agree’ and you are saved.” This generated a number of responses by various Methodists, of which many recognized the painful truth behind Stewart’s satire.

Robin Russell, Managing Editor of the United Methodist Reporter, wrote an editorial entitled “Too bland for our own good?” in which she addresses the image problem for UM churches: “You know what I mean. The place where you and your spouse from another denomination can find ‘neutral’ ground.’ The place where no one tells you what to believe. The place where the Christian journey is self-paced, and where questions are better than answers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say. But if you are seriously seeking Christian faith development and an engaged, authentic community, some of our United Methodist churches would undoubtedly fall short (as would any number of churches in any denomination–but this is about us).” I agree with Russell when she goes on to say: “This sense of spiritual mushiness is a far cry from John Wesley’s approach when he launched the Methodist revival movement in the mid-18th century. There was no mistaking Wesley’s take on the importance of the spiritual disciplines–fasting, prayer, Bible study, Communion, worship and small group accountability–and reaching out to those outside the faith..” (Source: http://www.examiner.com/methodist-in-national/jon-stewart-calls-methodism-university-of-phoenix-of-religions)

Stewart’s and Russell’s comments caused me to stop, pray and assess where we are. This month my message series is on living a RADICAL faith. The verbal feedback has been very positive. The real feedback will be seen in how our people answer the call of this series to grow in our faith through study and prayer, to give up our comforts and pride to care for the poor and the broken of the world, and take the risk to share our faith in Christ with people who do not know the love of Jesus.

The mission of Snellville UMC is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our focus is to Shape New Generations to know Jesus, serve in his name, and live a radical, purposeful life that glorifies God. John Wesley started our faith movement for this reason. Are you committed to being a radical follower of Jesus or a bland imitation? The world looks at us and sees who we really are. Most of all, Jesus Christ knows our hearts. Decide today who you will be: radically for him or bland. There is no fence left to sit on.