I don’t want to lead a “church”.  That probably sounds weird since I’m a pastor of a church.    By saying that, I mean “church” as most in America probably would define the term.         (BTW, I LOVE leading MJLife!)

Most would define “church” as something you go to on Sundays.  I’ve been guilty of slipping into the mindset at times too.  Living for each Sunday. Concentrating on how to “inspire” the masses that come to church on Sunday.

While MJLife certainly assembles on Sunday and we think it is HIGHLY important to be committed to coming EVERY Sunday if you are a part of our fellowship, our goal and mission is NOT to get people to come to “church” on Sundays.

Our goal is to “help people move from where they are to where God wants them to be.”

I believe if we’re successful at that, “church” becomes more than just getting the numbers up on Sundays for an hour long meeting.  It’s about a movement that happens between the Sundays.  Sundays would be a time that those in the movement would get together to encourage each other, learn a bit, continue worshipping God, and get ready to keep the movement going for the next week.

The movement that I’m pushing looks like this:

  • Families praying with their kids and sharing their ministries with them.
  • People seeing difficult people with God’s eyes and responding the way He wants them to respond.
  • Releasing people to minister where GOD leads them to serve in the community.
  • Believers keeping an eye out for evidence of God at work and running to join Him, no matter how inconvenient it is at them moment.
  • People rearranging their entire lives to get in line with living how God wants them to live.
  • Those labeled “sinners” by the religious (as if we all aren’t sinners) being loved on with no strings attached.
  • People radically sold out to the message to love that Jesus talked about.

MJLife now has a building, but that’s not the church.  We’re the church and we’re part of a movement.  God is moving.  We need to join Him and work with Him.

Around us at work, in the neighborhood, and in the grocery store are people that are hurting.  They may or may not look like us, but they are filled with broken dreams and disappointments.  Their dream marriages have broken up.  Kids have rebelled.  Some are attracted to the opposite sex.  Bank accounts are empty.  Some have lost their jobs.

People matter to Him, even if they aren’t very religious.  Jesus loved the unlovable.  MJLife is not and well NEVER be the perfect “church” but we have the perfect Savior who forgives us.  He loves people.  He accepts everyone as they are.  He encourages them to take their next steps.   He started a movement.  We just want to keep it going everyday of the week and do our part here in our area.  If He leads outside of the area, we want to be ready to follow Him there too.

We want to help people, no matter where they are in their journey, to go from where they are to where God wants them to be….  And we’re moving to get there ourselves at the same time.

I was at the gym this week and it was pretty packed.  I was working hard and sweating.  (You didn’t think I keep looking like this by sitting on the couch, did you?)  Anyway, as the sweat was totally dripping off of my face I noticed a guy all the way across the gym.  He was waving.  I didn’t recognize him.  I didn’t know if he was waving at me or waving at one of the many people behind me.

At this point, I had a choice to make…

*Do I wave back at him and risk looking like a dork if he was waving at one of the many people behind me?

*Do I ignore him, when I am obviously looking in that direction, and look like a jerk.  Maybe he visited the church, recognized me, and got out the door before I met him.

*Do I turn around and look behind me to see if it is me or someone behind me that he is waving at?

*Do I give the “head nod,” smile, and say a “hey”.

That’s the one I chose.  I still don’t know if it was me but hopefully I got all of the bases covered with my decision.

The problem in this situation was that I didn’t know what my relationship was to this guy.  I didn’t know if he was a stranger, work out partner, old high school friend that looked older so I didn’t recognize him. I wasn’t sure about our relationship.

Sometimes in relationships where there are two single people of the opposite sex that spend alot of time together, one begins to feel strongly about the other.  One thinks they are just friends while the other one is madly in love.  As things start to get goofy and the relationship is misunderstood, a DTR needs to take place.  (Define The Relationship)  Are we still just friends or are we more than that now?

Jesus gave the disciples a DTR as to how believers should be treating each other.  Here it is from John 13:34-35

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Did you get that last part?  “Your love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples”

People need to know that we’re different and that needs to start WITHIN THE WALLS of the church.  We should be encouraging each other, lifting each other up, and loving each other.  The love should be so thick INSIDE the church that it bleeds OUTSIDE the doors.

Believers should be loving each other by:

  • Caring for the sick
  • Keeping each other’s kids
  • Taking meals during pregnancies, hospital stays, and funerals
  • Visiting hospitals and funerals when people from the church are involved
  • Keeping an eye open for opportunities to bless each other

This doesn’t just include people in the church that we like.  Let’s go ahead and admit it.  There are people that are harder to love than others in the body of Christ.  Here’s what the Word says about that:

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  -Matthew 5:46

Anybody can love the easy to love.  Love each other INSIDE the walls and those OUTSIDE the walls will notice a difference!

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  -John 13:35

Here’s my yearly list of local fall festivals around Mt. Juliet:

October 27th

Victory Baptist Church, 1777 Tate Lane, Mt. Juliet  Festival is from 3:30-7:30

Cloyds Cumberland Presbyterian, 595 West Division, Mt Juliet, Trunk or Treat, 5:00-7:00

Cooks United Methodist Church, 7919 Lebanon Rd., Mt. Juliet  Trunk or Treat starts at 5:30

October 28th

Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, 3475 Lebanon Rd., Hermitage, TN  Festival starts at 3:00

Fellowship at Two Rivers, 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN  Festival is from 5:00-7:00

October 31

Green Hill Church, 13251 Lebanon Rd., Mt. Juliet, TN Festival starts at 6:30

New Hope Baptist Church, 6010 S. New Hope, Hermitage, TN Trunk or Treat is from 6:00-8:00

First Baptist-Donelson, 2526 Lebanon Rd., Nashville, TN 6:00-8:00

First Baptist Church-Mt. Juliet, 735 N Mt Juliet Rd., Mt Juliet, TN Trunk or Treat from 5:30-7:30

The River Church, 224 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Nashville, TN Trunk or Treat starts at 6:30 p.m.

Tulip Grove Baptist Church, 563 Shute Lane, Old Hickory  Trunk or Treat from 6:00-8:00

If you know of others in the area close to Mt. Juliet, let us know!

“Burned” By Church?

October 8, 2012

A lot of people today have a bad taste in their mouth for church.  As I serve as pastor, I run across people from time to time that say they have been burned by church and that’s why they quit going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.  I’ve seen “spiritual abuse” in several situations where it does seem like the church “turned their back” on people going through tough times.  Maybe a couple goes through a divorce and the church mistreats both the husband and wife.  I’ve seen a family ostracized because they had a child who was out of control.  Cases like these are sad.  That certainly doesn’t illustrate God’s love to those who need it most.

On the flip side, I’ve seen people that are in direct conflict with what they know to be God’s will and direction.  Their new sin begins to affect their wife, kids and church.  When a fellow believer cares enough to talk to them in love about their path, they totally cry “foul” and say the church has turned their back on them.

In reality, they are still very loved and the loving thing to do is to mention the issue with the friend.  I’ve seen those who have cried “foul” run away from those who love them and then blame the church.

One thing that cracked me up recently was hearing a former Sunday School teacher who had multiple affairs, even after being caught, proclaim, “I can’t stand fake Christians.”

He said that he felt “burned” by the church and fake Christians.  (I also know that men reached out to him in love during his failures and he refused to let them in.)  I would not call him or anyone else a “fake” Christian, but  I certainly don’t see that he would have rights to call others “fake”  just because they didn’t accept his sin or called him on his hypocrisy.

I think sometimes we “punch ourselves in the face” by our actions and then we blame God and the church when it is painful.  I know the church has a lot to learn about grace but I also believe that the church often gets a bum rap.

It’s a thin line to walk between helping each other move towards holiness, yet showing grace.  The church is filled with imperfect people, including this pastor.  I believe it’s important to accept everyone where they are and encourage them to go where God wants them to go.  The church is complained about because of “hypocrites”, yet complained about when they attempt to call people to repentance.  Thin line, indeed!

Those who claim to be teachers in Christ should be held to a higher level.  (See James 3:1)  If you’re a leader, you know better, and you shouldn’t be “burned” when you fail but you also should be repentant.  (That means stop the sin.)

What are your thoughts about this?