Thursday, April 23, 2015

Questions from Non-Attenders

For most of us receiving and reading Freshly Bru’d each week, we feel very comfortable in church. It’s been such a part of our weekly routine and custom that it’s easy to conclude that everybody else feels as comfortable as we do in the church environment. But that is not true for those who didn’t grow up in the church environment. There is an incredible anxiety most of them feel as they walk through the church doors. The more we become an outward focused church and introduce people to Jesus, we need to enter into their anxiety about church.

Those who are far from God but are searching for the answer to life feel like a fish out of water. Brian Moss, a pastor of Oak Ridge Church in Salisbury, MD shares some of the questions going through their minds.

1. Am I going to get struck by lightning? This grows out of their feelings that their current lifestyle doesn’t match what God wants for them. Since they have no background to spiritual things they often believe God is probably ticked at them.

2. Is anyone going to acknowledge me? Not in an “all eyes on me” way, but just recognize that their guests/visitors are just like them.

3. Are my kids going to be safe? They are being asked to trust people they don’t know with their children. In a day of growing pedophiles, this is just scary.

4. Is the message going to be boring or confusing? Those with no church background (those are the people we want to reach) believe the Bible is an outdated, irrelevant book.

5. Am I going to be dressed right? We can understand this one because we all have attended an event either overdressed or underdressed.

6. Will I know where to go? Clear signage and ushers/greeters escorting them can be a life saver.

7. Who can I ask a question? Have you noticed the information counters are now called “Just Ask” counters?

8. Are they going to do anything weird? Someone who has no church context feels like they are visiting a foreign country. Not knowing what is going to happen can be terrifying.

9. Am I going to have to have sing or clap? How many environments does the average American go to that they’re asked to sing out loud and clap along with? It’s funny that we like to measure worship by crowd participation, but then we neglect to measure our outreach effectiveness by the lack of crowd participation.

10. Is there any hope? They are hoping that God can fix their broken hearts, homes and lives.

Since we are wanting to reach the unchurched of Lincoln, let’s be aware of their questions and strive to ease their anxiety.


P.S. Ever feel like a phony? A fake? Do you fear what people would think about you if they knew the real you? Authenticity is one of the skills we need to develop if we hope to untangle our relationships with others and experience relational health. Join us this week at 9:15 and 11:00 as we peel off our masks. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Have you ever been asked questions about your spiritual life? Questions like “Are you growing and maturing in your spiritual walk?” “Have you ever been discipled to help you with your spiritual development?” Or “What do you think you need to help develop yourself spiritually?”

If you have never been asked these kind of questions, consider them now. How would you answer them? Let me share a couple of principles relating to growing or maturing spiritually.

First, spiritual growth is not accidental. You must intend to grow. You must make a choice to grow. Now the church can come alongside of you and assist, but you have to own this one and yield to the Holy Spirit to help you grow.

Second, spiritual growth is incremental. We grow physically through developmental stages. It is no different spiritually.

Third, spiritual growth is personal. The word disciple means “learner.” Since we are all different, we all learn differently. Find your best way to grow and develop it.

Forth, spiritual growth is practical. What I mean is in the end, we will become whatever we habitually do. Reading God’s Truth takes practice, praying is a spiritual habit. Giving and attending a life group are other practical ways to develop spiritually.

Fifth, spiritual growth is relational. There are 50 “one anothers” in the Bible. God created us to relate with others. Take a minute and read Hebrews 10:24-25 to reinforce this principle in your mind.

Sixth, spiritual growth is seasonal. You will relieve a lot of guilt when we understand this. Nobody grows at a constant pace all the time. Plants, trees, shrubs, grow in spring and summer and then are dormant in the fall and winter. The same is true in your life. Ever said “I just don’t feel like I’m growing much right now, even though I’m doing the right things to grow.”  That’s ok. Maybe it’s winter for you, but spring is around the corner.

Spiritual growth is incarnational. It is not about what you accomplish, rather, it’s about the person of Jesus living in you. (Galatians 2:20) Our goal is to be like Jesus. (Romans 8:29)

So, how are you doing spiritually? Are you growing?


P.S. This Sunday at 9:15am and 11:00am we continue our series Untangled. We are examining your three most important relationships and the most important unifying skill needed to enhance them.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The World Changes; The Word of God Doesn't. What does that mean for church?

I have talked about this a number of times but it is one of those principles we need to hear over and over again. Here it is: The world changes but the Word of God doesn’t. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly adapted to reach each new generation.

For First Free to be effective to our mission (introducing people to a relationship with Jesus, equipping them to be fully devoted followers of Jesus and equipping them to reach their city and world with the message of Jesus) we must learn to live with the tension between these two. The changing world and the unchanging truth.

What would be some changes in our methodology (not the message) that would enhance our effectiveness in reaching the current culture of Lincoln?

1. Learning to communicate the truth in ways that the non-believer understands.

2. Realizing that what is contemporary (the word literally means temporariness) is never meant to last forever. Whatever is in style now will inevitably be out of style soon and the cycles of change are getting shorter and shorter. New styles and preferences, like fashion, are always emerging.

3. Staying relevant to the times. (Acts 13:36) This means we are anchored to the unchanging truth of the Word of God and His eternal purposes but are willing to continually adapt how you communicate those truths and purposes. This is not watering down the Gospel, but it’s communicating it in ways the non-believer understands.

4. Requiring mature believers to unselfishly limit their own preferences of what they think a church should look like in order to reach lost people for Christ. (Luke 5:38)

5. Looking at the church as a family not an institution.

I’m a baby boomer. Boomers tend to see the church as an organization but the emerging generations are looking for community. That is why we promote and encourage life groups at First Free. Boomers focus exclusively on intellect, but the upcoming generations are focused on the experiential. We not only want people to know God but to encounter God.

My prayer for First Free is that we be sensitive to those seeking like Jesus was, willing to meet them on their own turf and speak to them in ways they understand and provide for them a clear, practical looking and timeless message in a contemporary fashion.


P.S. Struggling with a relationship? Husband, wife, boss, co-worker, sister, brother, friend, neighbor, mom, dad, teacher, classmate, daughter, teammate… Relationships can become a tangled web of confusion. In this new series we will be learning some significant skills to help us keep our sanity and health in our relational world. Join us Sundays at 9:15am and 11:00am.