Wednesday, August 31, 2016
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A pastor friend of mine wrote recently and caught my attention with these words: "I'm thankful that the Lord has a sense of humor." He went on to tell about a Sunday some 55 years ago. He was in child care during the Sunday morning worship service with a friend of his, and they decided they wanted to find out what the "grownups" were doing in the sanctuary. So they devised an elaborate escape plan. They waited until the adult child care workers weren't looking and they made their break. (Man, does this sound like something I could have done!) At an opportune moment, they darted out of the kindergarten room, determined to see what went on in that morning worship service. Unfortunately, one boy got caught at the last minute, but he yelled to my friend, "Keep going, Paul! They got me!"
With adults in hot pursuit, my friend entered the first door he found into the sanctuary and found himself on the platform with the entire church looking at him. (You're busted!) He had come in during the offering and both pastors were seated, doing nothing. To five-year-old eyes, it looked as if nothing was happening. The little explorer thought, "Is this all church is?" It was about that time his grandmother motioned to him to come down from the platform to her pew. In his words, "I was summarily grabbed, placed down next to her and told that I was in more trouble than I could ever imagine." Here's a fun footnote: for the past 25 years, the little boy who invaded that service? Yeah, he's been the pastor of that church!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Church With a Pulse."
A little boy checks out what's happening in church and finds what appears to be little or nothing going on. There probably are some churches where that's actually the case. It was never meant to be that way. Jesus announced the birth of His Church with these amazing words: "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18).
That's the plan, that the church of Jesus Christ be a winner, not a loser! His church, which is visibly represented on earth by Bible-based congregations all over the world, is His face in the world, His voice in the world, His hands and feet to do His work in the world.
But sometimes a church settles into a rut where it just kind of keeps that religious machine cranking, the most vocal saints happy and comfy, and it pretty much exists just to keep itself going. What a tragic detour from the Master's plan! If you want to see what Jesus has in mind for any church that bears His Name, take a look at our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 2, beginning with verse 42. You'll find at least five passions of church as it was meant to be.
The Bible says: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." First passion: a powerful appetite for the Lord. Healthy believers can't get enough of His Word, of prayer, or of being with His people. Acts goes on to say "...everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." Second passion: expecting God to do the supernatural. This passage goes on to say they "...had everything in common...they gave to anyone as he had need." Third passion of a church with a pulse: looking for and taking care of people's needs.
Acts then says, "Every day they continued to meet together...they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts." There's that fourth passion: being totally committed to each other. Then, "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." One final passion that drove them: talking up Jesus. That's the only way people could be getting saved every day!
That's the standard to measure your church by. Is there a powerful appetite for the Lord? Are you expecting God to do the supernatural? Are you looking for and taking care of people's needs? Are you totally committed to each other? Are you talking up Jesus? If it's not that way, be a thermostat that helps set that temperature, not just a thermometer that reflects the chilly reading. Jesus loves His church. Jesus is counting on His church.
Let's do all we can to help the church be the church – a church with a pulse!