Posted by: JennyRain | August 19, 2006

Reality Church

“In about 30 minutes, you will begin to see drug addicts come through those doors. They are typically followed by pregnant mothers who may be coming off a crack-high from the night before. Old men stumble in, often with a fifth in their pocket, smelling like alcohol and usually half-drunk by the time service starts. If you have a problem ministering to these people, then please do not let the doorknob hit your butt on the way out because we do not need you here. We need people who are willing to be Jesus with skin on for our congregation. Other churches do not want the people we minister to, but we do. Other churches have rejected them, but we will not. It is our belief that everyone deserves to know the love of Jesus, and it is our job to show it to them. God has created each one of the downtrodden that we will be serving today, remember that. Any questions?”  


That was the orientation sermon preached by a pastor in South East DC who runs a homeless and addiction-recovery center. My small group and I had gone down for a ‘Saturday-service-call’ with several other churches from the affluent McLean, Virginia area. We thought it was to be our good-deed for the week. Little did any of us know that it would re-define our understanding of what “Real Church” was supposed to look like.      

The Hypocrite.

Hypocrite: One who wears a mask.

 

 

 

Hypocrites are overpopulating our churches. Hypocrites are professionals at saying one thing and doing another. Thanks to hypocrites, our churches now lack an essential piece of what made Jesus’ ministry so transformative… that element? Integrity.

Jesus walked the talk that he talked. Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute. He never wavered, and eventually, His Holy Spirit empowered his disciples to show integrity in their ministries as well. Integrity has left our churches. Who God really is, and who the church paints Him to be are two vastly different pictures.

All across America we are painting a picture of a God who… 


  • Demands perfection in speech, dress, and behavior
  • Molests young children
  • Is unaccepting, critical, and harsh but allows church leaders ‘behavioral-immunity”
  • Hates certain sub-populations (the gay community, divorcees, and single-mothers and fathers) 

 

How we act toward an unsaved world will paint a much clearer picture of who God is than sharing 54 of your favorite bible verses with them. I have to keep reminding myself of this fact daily because I can wear a mask with the best of them.

 

Church Un-Masked.       

 

 

“Do you want to carpool to church today?” says Mary
“That would be great!” says Sue “I don’t have transportation since the accident, so it would be a blessing to catch a ride with you.”
“Ok, well, what church do you go to?” says Mary.
“ABC church” says Sue.
“Oh, well, then sorry – I go to DEF church so you’ll have to find alternative transportation. But I love you with the love of Jesus, Praise God!”
  

 

Psst… if you are screaming at that dialogue, keep screaming… because it is a real-life story. Just heard it last week.

 

 

NextGen… The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Churches
     

“I know you wanna leave me, But I refuse to let you go
If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy, I don’t mind coz’ ya mean that much to me
Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darling, Please don’t leave me girl, don’t you go
Ain’t to proud to plead, baby, baby, Please don’t leave me, girl, don’t you go”
(Temptations… Ain’t to Proud to Beg)
   

 

Begging will not get more of the NextGen population into your churches, but I can tell you what will. Authenticity. 

You can pretty much determine the “authenticity-level” in your church by looking around your congregation. Got any Gen Xers sitting in the pews? What about the Millenials – do you see any of them? More than any other generation before, the “NextGen’ers” need to see authenticity. Authenticity in the struggle, authenticity in relationships, authenticity in life. GenXers and Millenials do not need you to be perfect, they need you to be real. And they need you to accept their ‘realness’ too, no matter how ugly it gets.

Pastor Jim Supp of McLean Bible Church preached a sermon 5 years ago that was called “Jesus with Skin On”. Rumor has it this sermon has touched continents and people-groups all around the world. In this sermon, Pastor Supp provided 7 habits that could revolutionize the church… if we are willing to practice them. They are:

1 – Be willing to notice the need (Luke 10)
2 – Be willing to practice service (Galatians 6:7)
3 – Be willing to be inconvenienced (Luke 10)
4 – Be willing to pay a personal price (Luke 10:34-35)
5 – Be willing to be wronged or taken advantage of (1 Corinthians 6:7-8)
6 – Be willing to be anonymous (Matthew 6:1-4)
7 – Be willing to put others first (Philippians 2:3-4)

Want to reach the NextGen population? Heck, if you want to reach any un-reached group for that matter… then put on the right skin and take off the mask. You might just have a few reluctant Boomers come back to church too.

All Photos located at: http://www.bybee.com/index.html

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Responses

  1. Hi, got “directed” to your blog through Melanie. This is SO true! Your writing is wonderful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your gift!


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