If you have read my blogs at all, I am sure you realize that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. You might not know, that I am not only the son of a Southern Baptist minister, but my grandfather was a minister, and now my oldest son, Ryan, is an ordained minister. It breaks my heart to tell you some troubling news. The church, as I know the church, is suffering and quite possibly dying. I do not want to bore you with the statistics, I want to ask you, if you attended a church growing up, to describe that church now. How many people between the ages of 21 and 35 attended this church? Use one word to describe the church of your childhood.
I love Jesus. I love the church. Change must happen if we want to connect to culture around us. I am reading an informative book, They Like Jesus, But Not The Church, by Dan Kimball. This man is a pastor, and one of the things he did was to get out of the church office. Now you must understand that his church allowed him to do this, but would you? He began to get his hair cut in a different area of town, prepare his sermons at the local coffee shop, and began to get out of the Christian bubble. As he talked to people, he found out that they respect and like Jesus, but they don't like the church.
So why am I calling this Shorty's sermon? We have an aerobic septic system and have a maintenance agreement. This last summer Shorty came out to work on our system. Chris and I visited with him and he shared how he was attending a cowboy church. We had a great conversation. Little did we know what the next few months would hold for either of us.
This past fall, I was diagnosed with cancer. During the same season, God called Shorty to start a church outside of Sulphur Springs. He started this church with 2 families. They now have 70-80 in attendance each Sunday. They have purchased an abandoned Methodist church building and he said that each Sunday he waits to see who will attend and what they will be wearing. He said he's even attended dressed in overalls to let the people know it's not what's on the outside that's important. His last sermon series was on refusing to judge the world around us, just to LOVE. I truly believe his heart matches Jesus' heart. People are drawn to Jesus.
As Shorty shared his story, Chris and I were captivated. I can't share everything he told us, but this part tells enough. According to Shorty, one Saturday night he was invited to a cookout and country singing. Of course, he said that most of the group was getting drunk, but he said he stayed anyway. He realized that some of the group didn't have tables at which to eat, so he said if someone would help him, he would get tables from his church. One of the men volunteered to go with him. Shorty said the man asked how he had keys to a church, to which Shorty replied, "I am the pastor." The man remarked, "If I ever went to a church, the ceiling would cave in!" When Shorty and his new friend arrived at the church, and the man got out with beer in hand. Shorty said that he turned around because the man had paused outside the door. He asked Shorty, "Aren't you going to tell me to leave this longneck outside?" Pastor Shorty replied, "That's between you and God." Needless to say, the man left his drink on the steps. This man and his family are the most recent new members at Cross Timber Cowboy Church. Shorty finished this account by adding, "His wife and kids are believers and strong, but God's Spirit will fix the man soon."
We must learn the lesson of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict. Our job is simply to love. We must reach out to the world around us, not hiding behind a tract or telling them to meet our pastor. Get to know people, connect to them and love them! Be to others what Jesus has been to you. On Sunday, we should gather and worship Jesus together as His body of believers. On Monday, we should head back to the world ready to love without judgement.
And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:11 (NKJV)
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' Matt 9:11-13