A while back I wrote about few of the sentimental reasons I like Ada especially in the fall. I love Ada in the fall! But then last week I was struck by a few other reasons I love this town!
Where else can I get BBQ and Donuts at the same drive-thru?
Where else can I get a flat fixed, go bowling and if the time is right hear a live band all under the same roof?
Where else can I get my boots resoled and hit a bucket of golf balls?
I love this town – some may call these combinations odd, but I call it efficiency!
Otherwise I would have to make two stops in the mornings, one for the donuts holes my kids like for breakfast and another stop for the ribs I like for breakfast.
Otherwise I would have had to drop off my truck to have the flat fixed then walked to the bowling alley, but cut my game short so I could hoof it across town to hear some live music before having to go back and pay for my tire.
Otherwise I would have had to…oh man, I got nothing for a driving range boot shop other than I love that place!
Now you think I’m poking fun, but I’m serious. I love and have patroned all of these places. I love the spirit and ingenuity of the American business person. I love the ability of Americans to diversify and overcome and given the right combination Americans will flock to it because we are a society waiting the next big thing!
This is great! This is America! I love it!
That is until we drag our consumer mindedness into our churches. Then we don’t know when to stop because we don’t know when enough is enough.
Churches should be more than a cafeteria where you pick and chose and take what you want. The church was meant to be a cafeteria but it was also meant to be a hospital, a school and a home. Sometimes literally, but I’m talking figuratively. Cafeteria to be spiritually fed, a hospital to receive spiritual healing, a school to hear God speak and learn from it, and home to feel like you’re among family while you are there.
But how can this happen?
I'll tell you how it can't. It CANNOT happen solely from a catchy message/sermon or good song!! And it can’t happen if all of us show up wanting something week in and week out. And it can’t happen if we think church is just two days out of the week.
And it can't happen without you!
All these places in Ada I mentioned before that I love are all places we are taking something from. And that’s very different from how church SHOULD BE. But in reality, American church is very much made up of people only there for something and I'm not talking about money.
At church we should be giving.
Giving our praises.
Giving our time.
Giving our teaching.
Giving our listening ear.
Giving our shoulder.
Giving our prayers.
Don’t believe me? Here's what the very first church ever did it and it EXPLODED from a handful to thousands in days. (A summary of scripture from the book of Acts chapters 2 & 4…)
Devoted themselves teaching
Devoted themselves to fellowship
Devoted to sharing meals together with great joy
Devoted themselves to prayer
No needy among them because they gave to those in need…even if it meant selling their own possessions
United in heart and mind
Testified powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus
Enjoyed the goodwill of all people
All while praising God
…and God’s great blessing was upon them all!
WOW! It’s so simple its mind blowing!
Someone right now is saying, “Well what about someone who has never gone to church or the dechurched that show up looking for help? Don’t they need something? They can’t just show up on day one and start giving?”
Yes, this is the place for them and no, they can’t be expected to give on day one and that’s awesome! Because if we have recreated an environment like the first church did then they will come into our cafeteria/hospital/school/home desperately in need and they will meet Jesus through us and they will leave transformed. And at the very least they will show up on day two giving praises to a merciful God that put them in contact with such a loving and generous group of people that they will quickly call family.
And at our VERY least that is exactly what we can give; our praise to God! Our praises for a life filled with blessing and opportunities and stuff that we don’t deserve. He is worthy of praise!!
1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
The formula here is not, give with the intention of getting!
The formula is giving out of response to an overwhelming love for Jesus because he gave the ultimate for us and even though we abuse him everyday he still loves us. Give for that reason and the natural byproduct of giving of love is you will get…God’s great blessing was upon them all (Acts 4:33b).
If you want something more from your church, start with giving!
If you want to revolutionize your church, start with giving!
I don’t have to venture to guess, I KNOW that the church across America would EXPLODE instantly if we would show up this week and every week asking a single question…
What can I give?
“God, I praise you because You are You and you still love me; what else can I give so people will meet your son?”
“Pastor, what can I give to help fulfill the vision that God has laid on your heart for this church?”
“Elder, deacon or board, what can I give to help you make things happen at this church?”
“Children’s minister who is overwhelmed, what can I give to help create an environment that kids will love to come to?”
“Friend who I know is hurting, what can I give to ease your pain?”
“Person I’ve just seen for the first time, what can I give to help you feel comfortable in this place?”
This so easy! JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!
In case you missed that, He is the reason for church, He invented church, He referred to the church as his bride, that's a big stinkin’ deal and JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!!
Jesus ALWAYS GAVE!
What can I give to my church starting this week?