A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

Sermons

March 16, 2019

 

“LOOK TO JESUS”

 

SERMON #1 in a sermon series on Henry Blackaby’s, Experiencing God

 

John 17:3

This is the way to have eternal life.  It is to know you,

the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

 

In this verse, eternal life is a life characterized by experience with God AND knowing Jesus.  Jesus also said: 

 

John 10:10b

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 

‘Eternal’ describes life in terms of quantity (forever) AND in terms of quality (abundant); that is, in terms of length AND in terms of depth.

 

We experience God when we are saved, but if that is the sum total of your experience with God, you are missing out on the abundant aspect of eternal life.  God desires wonderful things in life for each of His children!

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to

prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”

 

So, how can we experience God in the fullest sense of what he desires for us?  We look to Jesus!

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.  And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.  2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.

 

As we look to Jesus, in seeking to know how we can experience God (in our daily lives), there are two points for us to keep in mind.

 

1. Jesus is our Way

 

John 14:6

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one can come to the Father except through me.”

 

Jesus doesn’t just give us directions on how to live, and then leave us alone to figure out how to follow the directions . . . he is with us on the journey to guide us along the way!  There is a huge difference between just receiving directions and personally traveling with the director himself!

 

In thinking about walking with God, many of us say, “God, what do you want me do?  When?  Where? How?  With whom?  And please . . . tell me the outcome in advance!”

 

What we should say, instead, is, “God, tell me what to do, one step at a time, and I will do it as I follow you.” 

 

That’s what (Abram) Abraham did . . .

 

Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV)

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you2 I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

 

Note that when Abram started, he did not know his final destination (v. 1), but God got him there anyway (v. 5).  How?  Abram simply focused on walking with God and the Lord led him one step at a time.

 

In our walk with God, we often want to know the end from the beginning.  But God will share with us what we need to know - when we need to know it!

 

Notice the ‘I wills’ of God in verses 1-3 . . .

 

Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV)

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.  2 I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

 

God was basically saying, “I will bring to pass what needs to happen in your life - at the time it needs to happen - and in the way it needs to happen.  All you need to do is follow (experience) me.”

 

Several times in the story of Abraham (in Genesis), Abraham’s tent and Abraham’s altar are mentioned. Warren Wiersbe notes something quite interesting: 

 

When Abraham’s tent is mentioned, it speaks of his attitude toward the world - Abraham is just passing through, because this world is not his home.  When Abraham’s altar is mentioned, it speaks of his attitude toward God - the focus of Abraham’s life is his relationship and walk with (experiencing) God.

AND, any time in his life where Abraham stepped outside of God’s will, his tent and his altar are not mentioned at all!  Why?  Because every time he stepped outside of God’s will it was because his primary concern was no longer on walking with (experiencing) God . . . Abraham’s focus and primary concern had become things related to this world!

 

The same thing is true of us, also!  Every time we get outside of God’s will for our lives it’s because our primary concern is no longer on walking with (experiencing) God, but on things within this world.

 

The early New Testament Church saw Jesus as their way to experience God.  That’s why they were called “followers of the Way” in Acts 9:2.  If we want to experience God the way the early church did (in the book of Acts), then we, too, must look to Jesus as the way . . . OUR WAY! 

 

We must look to Jesus if we are going to know and do God’s will . . . and experience God in the fullest sense of what he desires for us!

 

As we look to Jesus, in seeking to know how we can experience God (in our daily lives), there are two points for us to keep in mind.

 

 

1. Jesus is our Way

 

2. Jesus is our Example

 

John 5:17; 19-20

17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.”

 

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.  Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

 

Four things for us to note about the example of Jesus in his walk with the Father:

 

A. Jesus’ awareness of things - (v. 17)

 

Jesus lived with the awareness that the Father was at work all around him, and that God daily called him to the opportunity to join (experience) him.

 

Ephesians 5:15-16 (AMP)

15 Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.

 

As Jesus lived EVERY day in communion with the Father, we must seek to live every single day in communion with Jesus . . . so that we’ll recognize the opportunities given us to partner in his work.  Then, we experience fully the eternal nature of life that is ours through faith in him.  Jesus promised:

 

John 16:13-15 (NIV)

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  15 All that belongs to the Father is mine.  That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.

 

Four things for us to note about the example of Jesus in his walk with the Father:

 

A. Jesus’ awareness of things - (v. 17)

B. Jesus’ attitude toward things - (v. 19a)

 

John 5:19

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 

 

What Jesus says here reminds me of what he said about us in John 15:5.   Remember, he told us that if we abide in him (focus on experiencing him), we will be fruitful; but on our own, we can do nothing!

 

Two patients of the same Psychiatrist had become friends, through their meeting with the same doctor.  One day they saw each other at their doctor’s office and one asked the other, “Are you coming or going?”  The other one responded, “If I knew that I wouldn’t be here!”

 

Unless we daily experience Jesus, we cannot know whether we are coming or going.  We can do nothing apart from him!  Someone once said, “He who guides himself has a fool for a follower.”

 

Four things for us to note about the example of Jesus in his walk with the Father:

 

A. Jesus’ awareness of things - (v. 17)

B. Jesus’ attitude toward things - (v. 19a)

C. Jesus’ approach to things - (v. 19b)

 

John 5:19

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 

 

The Bible tells us that, “We are laborers together with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

 

I remember when I was a kid and we’d have old fashioned Sunday School picnics.  They announced, “We’ll meet at Glenn Miller Park, at noon, on Saturday.  You bring your own lunch and the church will furnish the tea.”

 

Inevitably, someone would pack their lunch with the only things they could find in their frig - one half dried out piece of baloney with just enough mustard to yellow two stale pieces of bread!  They’d put their baloney sandwich in a well-used brown paper bag and go to the picnic.

 

When it came time to eat, the preacher prayed a prayer of thanks and everyone sat down to eat.  The person with only a baloney sandwich would always sit at the end of a table. 

 

One time, a family of 4 sat around that person.  The mom was a great cook, and she had been cooking all day!  She fried chicken, made baked beans & potato salad, homemade rolls, and she’d sliced tomatoes, and pickles, and olives, and celery.  AND, she topped it all off with two big homemade chocolate pies!

 

They spread it all out on the table, alongside the person with the baloney sandwich.  AND they said, “Why don’t we put it all together?” 

 

No, I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t even think of it,” baloney sandwich guy replied. 

 

Oh, come on, there’s plenty of chicken and plenty of pie, and plenty of everything - and we just love baloney sandwiches!  Let’s just put it all together.”

 

And, so, they did.  And sandwich guy sat there, eating a feast . . . when he had come to the picnic with just scraps of food!

 

That memory got me thinking.  I think about me sharing with God.  When I think of how little I bring to the table and how much God brings, and that he invites me to share with him, I just want to cry!

 

How about you?  I know you don’t have enough love, or faith, or grace, or mercy or wisdom.  There’s just not enough for you. 

 

But, God has enough!  He has all those things, in abundance, and he says, “Let’s just put it all together!”

 

Four things for us to note about the example of Jesus in his walk with the Father:

 

A. Jesus’ awareness of things - (v. 17)

B. Jesus’ attitude toward things - (v. 19a)

C. Jesus’ approach to things - (v. 19b)

D. Jesus’ appreciation of things - (v. 20)

 

John 5:20

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.

Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

 

Jesus knew that everything the Father wanted to do through him was centered around a relationship of love (Experiencing God).  The same is true for us!

 

 

John 14:21 (AMP)

The person who has my commands and keeps them is the one who (really) loves me; and whoever (really) loves me will be loved by my Father, and I (too) will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) myself to him.  (I will let myself be clearly seen by him and make myself real to him.)

 

As you focus on your love relationship with Jesus, you will come to see him more clearly.  And, as you see him more clearly, you will know how and where to walk with him.  And, as you walk and work with him - in obedience to his call - your love relationship with him will grow . . . ever deeper!

 

The question is not, “What does God want me to do for him?”  The question is, “What does God want me to do with Him?” 

 

Your prayer should NOT be, “God, please bless what I am doing.”  Your prayer should be, “God, please help me to do what you are blessing!”

 

Don’t you want to live A life of continually experiencing God?

 

I DO!

 

 

March 9, 2019

 

“Church Growth . . . God’s Way”

(Part 2)

 

Last week we learned that “The Church” is God’s plan, and Jesus is the head of the Church.  Since God designed the plans for his Church, HE is the Master Architect!   WE MUST FOLLOW GOD’S PLANS (as revealed in the Bible) AS WE SEEK TO GROW THE CHURCH!

 

Today, we continue this message, and we begin with some important defining moments.

 

Defining “CHURCH”

 

Many misunderstandings and disagreements happen because people do not define their terms.  If terms are not defined, there is almost no way that an issue will ever be understood.

 

Anyone who has children knows just what I mean!  When a parent says to their 16-year-old, “Don’t stay out late,” the difference between what the parents mean by “late” and what the teenager understands as being “late” is about . . . oh . . . FIVE hours! 

 

Similarly, when a married man says, “I understand my wife” - what he means when he says he understands his wife is completely different than what she thinks he means when he says he understands her . . . if you understand what I mean!  And even in our theology, what one person means by “sanctification” may be completely different than what someone else might understand.

 

So, to avoid as much confusion as possible, let’s begin by defining what we mean by Church Growth.  And, we need to take these two words separately.  Before we can look at how the church grows, we need to agree on what the “church” is.  I won’t do all the study for you, but as you do it on your own, you will discover that according to the Bible . . . the church is not a building.

 

Instead,

 

Ephesians 5:23b (NIV)

. . . Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

 

Definition of “THE CHURCH”

 

THE church IS A body . . . and the church body consists of the gathering of believers, under the leadership of Jesus Christ, who meet regularly and purposefully to worship God, to edify one another, and to evangelize the world.

 

Although this definition is somewhat involved, as we continue to look at God’s blueprints for Church growth, THIS is the definition we will keep in mind.  Just understand: This is the Biblical definition of the church!

 

Let’s look now at a Biblical definition of “growth.”

Defining “Church Growth”

 

Ask the average person in church what a growing church looks like, and the answer would be a variation of “The Three B’s”:  lots of Bodies, lots of Bucks, and lots of Bricks.  They’d say a church is “growing” when it gets a bigger membership roll, a bigger building, and a bigger budget.  To put it another way, more people, more money, and more structures! 

 

I have been to lots of different kinds of pastor’s conferences over the years.  Do you know what the number one question is, among most pastors at these conferences?  The question that eventually is asked, is: So, how big is your church?” 

 

People today tend to judge a church by its size.  And many people think that bigger is better.  So naturally, when they pick a church, they pick one that has lots of people, a really large budget, and a BIG building . . . that’s bodies, bucks and bricks.

 

But guess what?  Nowhere in the Bible are we told that bodies, bucks and bricks are how you measure church growth . . . or even church health. 

 

That’s how you measure just about any business!  But, according to the Bible, the church is not a business, it is a BODY (or a family).  And when you talk about a body, or a family, there is a completely different set of questions to ask to determine growth and health.

 

For example, if you come from a family that had lots of children, people say, “Wow!  How did your parents manage it?”  As a parent of 4 children myself, I honestly don’t know how Donna and I are still sane.  (Of course, if you talk with my wife privately, she probably will have a different opinion about that whole sanity deal in me!) 

 

In amazement, I’ve seen families with 6 or more children!  Does that make the really large family somehow inherently better than the family you came from, simply because it’s larger?

 

To judge the health of a family, based on its size, is foolish!  Nobody says that large families are better off than small ones!  The health of any family is measured by the spiritual, physical, relational and emotional qualities shown within that family.  Many families choose to have just one or two children - just so they can be healthy!

 

It’s the same with our bodies.

 

Nobody thinks that people who have more pounds are naturally healthier than people who have less.   In fact, diets are crazy popular today, because people realize that in some cases, less is better. 

 

The church is just like a family.  The church is just like a body.  The church is NOT just like a business.  When determining church growth and church health, numbers ARE NOT the bottom line!  Think about it.  If healthy churches are only those that have 10,000 or more people in worship each week, then 99.9% of all the churches in the world are VERY sick.  But church growth is not - and never should be - solely about numbers.  This is because the church is not made up of numbers. 

 

What is our definition of church?

 

The church body consists of the gathering of believers, under the leadership of Jesus, who meet regularly and purposefully to exalt God, to edify one another, and to evangelize the world.

 

The first part of the definition of a church is that it is made up of believersThe church consists of all those who believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life!

 

Therefore, church growth happens, NOT when numbers increase, but when believers mature in their faith.  Church growth is about growing people!  Church growth is teaching & training the people who are in the church to become what God wants them to be - so they can do what God wants them to do.

 

DEFINITION OF “CHURCH GROWTH”

 

Simply stated:  church growth happens as Christians are maturing spiritually. 

 

The amazing thing about this kind of growth is that every church can accomplish this - no matter how large or small the church is!  If the church has ten people, and one year, the pastor is doing all of the ministry . . . but a year later, it is the pastor and one other person that is doing all of the ministry, that church has experienced 100% church growth - even if there are still only 10 people!  If another year passes, and two more people get involved in the ministries of the church, that church has just doubled again - even if there are still only 10 people in church. 

 

This is legitimate and Biblical church growth!  It’s about maturity and ministry involvement.  Growth is not just adding numbers to your church, it is helping those who come to the church become more like Jesus and live more obediently to him.

 

 

For sure, this kind of growth is more relative and subjective than numerical growth.  But just as any kind of growth is measurable, we can measure this kind of growth as well.  If we, as a church, really want to know if our church is growing, here are some questions we should ask:

 

Do I love God more today than I did last year? (1 Corinthians 8:1; Philippians 1:9)

 

Am I more faith-full toward God this year than last? (2 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:3)

 

Am I growing in love and grace toward others, and am I willing to serve people - BOTH in and out of the church more often? (Ephesians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Peter 3:18) 

 

Am I growing in the knowledge of God?(Colossians 1:10; 2 Peter 3:18)

 

Have I learned more about God, his Word and his ways?  Am I more obedient to what I have learned? (James 1:22-23) 

 

Do I have an increasing desire to study AND to apply God’s Word in my life? (2 Timothy 2:15)

 

Am I praying more and building others up through prayer? (Jude 20)

 

Am I bringing Christ into my home and workplace more? (Colossians 1:6) 

 

These questions can be applied to any church - whether there are 20 or 20,000 members.  Even a church that is decreasing in attendance can “grow” under these guidelines!  Do not misunderstand.  When these things happen, when a church grows according to this definition, often numerical growth does result.  Sometimes the finances (budget) do increase, and the number of ministries happening may multiply.  These things may very well happen when a church is growing, but they are not in any way indicators of Biblical growth or the lack thereof.

 

This concept of church growth is a bit revolutionary!  The number one motive, in most church growth strategies today, is more people.  We must fill the seats, the parking lot, and the offering plate. 

 

And we sit around in committees and small groups, and brainstorm our best ways to do this.  Here’s what we come up with:  The ways or church can grow is to have COFFEE; MORE COFFEE; and BETTER COFFEE!!!

 

More people as a motive for church growth, is not a Biblical motive.  YES, we are to go into all the world.  And YES, we do see the church in Acts adding 3,000 members to their church in one day . . .     but this was never the motive.  This was never the goal.  The goal in church growth is always to be making disciples! (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

Disciples are NOT made simply by getting more of them.  Sometimes, disciple making is best when there are fewer to work with.  Jesus took thousands of potential followers and narrowed them down to just twelve (his disciples).  And among the twelve, Jesus laser focused on three (Peter, James, and John).  AND, of those three, only one was “The Beloved Disciple” (John).  Jesus could have had a following of 20,000. 

 

Instead, he focused on growth.  He knew it was better to fill a person’s soul and mind and heart with the truth of Scripture than to fill the hillsides with followers.

 

He knew it was better to help a few fulfil their God given purpose, than try to get thousands to simply understand what their purpose was.  Jesus knew it was easier and more effective to model servant leadership to twelve, than it was to 12,000.

 

Do you know what this means?  A church can grow, even if it is shrinking in size!  I don’t know if Jesus would pastor a large church today or not.  If he did, he would hand pick a few individuals to invest his time in.  But, if he didn’t have a large church, I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t be trying to get one!  Jesus, if he were pastoring today, would do the same thing he did 2,000 years ago.  Wherever he was, he used God given opportunities to invest in the lives of the few people who were with him.  This is true growth!  And, in today’s world, this sort of church growth is revolutionary.

 

True Church Growth is Liberating!

 

This idea of True Church Growth is liberating.  It is a relief to hear that we don’t have to worry if attendance is up or down.  We don’t have to try to please all people, in order to keep them coming to church.  The only ONE we have to please is God, and if he sees the people in our church growing, we can expect to hear from him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

 

We will receive praise from the Master for growing his church as he wants it to grow!  While men and women of this world may be impressed with size, God is not.  God wants to see faithfulness and obedience.  He wants to see us serve where he has placed us.

 

God the Architect has given us a blueprint in his Word (the Bible) so that his Church - the worldwide body of believers gathered in local congregations - CAN grow into spiritual maturity.  When God’s blueprints for church growth are followed, every church can be a success!

 

In our upcoming study, of Experiencing God, we’ll discover how to accomplish this kind of church growth.  Just as most churches don’t understand what true church growth is . . . most churches don’t know how to accomplish Biblical church growth!

 

If you ask the average Christian how to accomplish church growth, the response would consist of a variation of the following “P’s”:  You need a . . .

 

Prominent location, Powerful leadership, Preaching, Professional presentations, People skills, Programs, Paperwork, Publicity, Psychology, Politics . . . and (almost as a p.s.) . . . and Prayer & Powerful moving of the Holy Spirit!  Now, people won’t always use these exact words, but this is the general consensus. 

 

But, God’s Word not only tells us what the Church is, and what true growth is, but also how this growth is accomplished.

 

It is first and foremost accomplished by God (for his glory), and through Jesus Christ.  Remember what he said in Matthew 16:18 - “I will build my church.”

 

It is Jesus who causes the growth of the body (the Church).  But you and I have a part also. THAT is what we will be looking at in Experiencing God.

 

Ephesians 4:15-16 (NLT)

15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.  As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

 

Our church-wide study of Experiencing God will invite the Master Architect to speak directly into each one of us daily!  Through our commitment together in this journey, we will pour a foundation AND begin to build upon that foundation - using God’s design.

 

PLEASE, GET READY TODAY TO JOIN US ON THIS MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY OF YOUR LIFE!

 

 

March 2, 2019

 

“Church Growth . . . God’s Way”

(Part 1)

 

Colossians 1:15-19 (CEV)

15 Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen.  He is the first-born Son, superior to all creation.  16 Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities.  All things were created by God’s Son, and everything was made for him.  17 God’s Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.  18 He is the head of his body, which is the church.  He is the very beginning, the first to be raised from death, so that he would be above all others.  19 God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son.

 

An architect was once showing his friend plans he was working on for a huge building in the area.  It was a multi-million-dollar project.  The plans, all by themselves, were impressive . . . hundreds of hours spent just on the construction documents, which were over 100 full-size pages! 

 

They’d carefully thought out everything: capacity limits, weight loads, seating plans, roof plans, exterior and interior elevations, wall types, center line diagrams, code exiting plans, door and window schedules, and a host of other terms . . . which I don’t understand!  One thing was obvious.  The building would be huge!

 

The architects friend asked how the addition was going.  “Fine,” he said, “but let me show you something.”  He then pulled out his copy of the blueprints and turned to one of the pages - which to me would have looked just like all the other pages.  He pointed to a couple of blue lines.  “You see this wall here?”  (If I had been the friend, I would nonchalantly have said, “Yes.”  But, I’d really be thinking, “Oh . . . that line’s a wall?!?” )

 

Anyway, the architect said, “I was down at the site today, and I noticed that this wall didn’t look quite right.  So, I got out the blueprints, and compared them with the wall.  The blueprints show how thick a wall should be, what it’s to be made of (concrete), what texture the wall should have and so on.” 

 

The architect showed how the blueprints revealed all of this, then he said, “The wall they were building was NOT according to the blueprints.  It was way too thin; the design wasn’t right; and the texture was wrong.”

 

His friend asked, “Can they fix it?”

 

The architect smiled at his friend and said, “You bet they can.  I told the contractor to knock it down and make a new one!”  (Isn’t it amazing that a person can have THAT much power!?)

 

The friend asked, “Won’t that slow things down and cost a lot of money?”

 

Yes, it will,” said the architect.  “But, that’s the contractor’s problem.  If he had just followed the blueprints as they were designed, he wouldn’t be in this mess.”

(The architect then went on to explain WHY the wall needed to be the certain thickness he had designed, and WHY it needed to be that certain design, and texture, and so on.  WOW!  Right?)

 

One of my frustrations, as a pastor, is people who come to me for counsel - after their life is a mess.  I want to tell those people who come to me (but never have), “You wouldn’t be in this mess if you had just followed what God says in his Word!”

 

In counseling situations like that, I sometimes feel like a dad who’s supposed to fix a child’s mangled bike . . . after it’s been run over by mom’s mini-van!  If people would just follow God’s directions, they wouldn’t keep getting the negative consequences that they keep getting.

 

Whatever vocation you are in, or were in before you retired, I bet you can understand these feelings! 

 

Doctors have to feel this way about the endless flow of patients that come through their doors.

 

Mechanics wonder how a person doesn’t know to check their oil level and tire pressure.

 

Dentists are amazed at some people (like me) who fail to floss regularly.  OK . . . ever.

 

School teachers send notes of information home for parents every week, but then get complaints that the parents never know what’s going on!  Of course, the teacher then discovers that the parents never got (or read) the notes. 

 

Every profession has these sorts of frustrations - people who don’t follow directions, and, only come in for help after the situation is almost beyond help.

 

I wonder if this is how God feels about the way we handle his Church? 

 

I mean, we ignore God’s most detailed instructions on how to design, run and grow his church.  Then, only after a congregation is messed up, do we come to God for help.  But by then, the correction process so is painful and slow and extremely costly.  And, it may even involve some walls having to be knocked down . . . causing setbacks in our ministry dreams. 

 

Whether a church is correcting a problem, or starting from scratch - if we want the church to be built right, it needs to be done according to the Master Architect’s Plans!  It’s these plans that we will be looking at in our study of Experiencing God.  And, we will apply them to our individual lives as well as to our church.  If we truly want our personal spiritual life (and A&D Biker Ministries) to grow, we MUST do things God’s way!

 

I’ve read a lot of books on church growth.  Many of those books contain good ideas and principles.  Most of them tell the story and principles that led to huge numerical growth in a specific church.  It is inferred, in all of the books, that, if other churches will copy the principles - they too will experience this kind of growth.  One of the main problems with this is that no two churches are identical.  While some principles from these “successful” churches might be applicable / adaptable in our congregation, what works in one church might fail miserably in another.  And, none of these strategies work in every church of every size or in all locations.

 

Obviously, all the strategies worked somewhere - or else we wouldn’t be reading about them!  However, experience tells us that not one of the strategies works everywhere.  So, most pastors today who want to grow their church either randomly pick one of the strategies, or they try a blended approach from several different strategies, and hope it works.

 

All too often, the end result is frustration and failure.  As a pastor, I’ve watched many other pastors struggle through program after program, book after book, with little or no “results.”  We have to ask, “Did they just do it wrong, or were the ones who wrote the books just lucky?”

 

What do you think?

 

I read about a pastor who got a book contract because he doubled the size of his church in just a few years.  His book gained him popularity, so he was asked to become the president of a Bible college.  However, just a few years after he left his former church, it just fell apart! 

 

The elders, the Pastor / Bible College President, and church growth experts were soon asking, What did the new pastor do to destroy the church?” 

 

The ‘experts’ went on and find out what happened!  At the time of the church’s explosive growth, two other large churches in the same area went through some congregational struggles.  Eventually, each suffered a church split.

 

The “growing church” happened to be on the receiving end of most of the disgruntled and recycled members from the other churches!  It was nothing that the first pastor did that grew the church; and it was nothing the pastor who followed him did that destroyed the church.  Hmmm . . .

 

When a church grows by gaining members from the problems of other churches, it is just a matter of time before the growing church will have similar problems as well! 

 

Neither pastor in this story did anything special or anything wrong.  The first just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and didn’t stick around long enough for the sky to fall.  Instead, he got a book deal and a position as a College President!  The second pastor, although he thought he was getting a healthy and thriving church, was set up for failure from the start. 

What he inherited was a broken church.  And yet, the pastor-turned-college-president’s book, on how he grew his church (and you can too!), is still available for purchase.   [SIGH]

 

So, who are we to believe?  Who do we trust?  Do we try one method after another until one of them clicks with our church?  Do we go from idea to idea, hoping that we find something that works - before our congregation gets burned out?  There must be another way!  There must be some way to know what will work!

 

Well, my friends, there is!  While reading a lot of books on church growth, over the last 15 years or so, I have come across one book which lays it all out clearly and simply!  In my opinion, it is THE best book on Church Growth!

 

This BOOK fully explains the church’s origin, purpose, durability, function, and Architect.  Plus, this book challenges nearly everything the modern church growth movement encourages and promotes!  Instead of telling people what they want to hear, this book tells us to teach people what God wants them to hear.  Instead of being program oriented, this book tells us that God’s church needs to be people oriented and ministry oriented.  It’s THE BIBLE, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God!

 

Very few church growth books on the market today actually base their principles on the Word of God.  Most of them are experiences, opinions, surveys, marketing techniques, and stuff like that. 

 

That will NOT work for us! 

 

The first core value of A&D Biker Ministries 7 Core Values is:

 

1.  THE BIBLE 

 

     Along with Jesus Christ, the Bible is central in all of our ministries.

 

     We are committed to the Holy Word of God as the final authority for our lives.

 

     (Psalm 119:2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; 2 Peter 1:20-21)  

 

Now, if we are going to grow God’s Church in God’s way, we must do things according to God’s Word!  He is the Architect of the Church, and he’s laid out clear plans for how the Church is to grow.  All of us, I hope, would agree that we can fully trust and rely on the principles laid out for us in the Bible.

 

If scripture gives us principles for church growth, shouldn’t we try THEM before we turn anywhere else?  Other principles may work in certain areas, and with certain pastors who lead certain churches.  But, the scriptural principles of God will work in upper class suburban churches, in poor inner city churches, in rural farm churches, and even churches that intentionally reach out to Bikers and other marginalized people! 

 

These principles (God’s Word) will work in rich countries and third world countries. 

 

They will work in areas where there is a Western mindset, and where there is an Eastern mindset.  They will work in large churches, in medium sized churches, and in small churches.  They will work in thriving communities and dying communities. 

 

And . . . these principles WILL work in A&D Biker Ministries!

 

Before we look at the blueprint in God’s Word / God’s principles for church growth (which, again, is our church-wide study of Experiencing God), we must do a little more work in preparation. 

 

Lord willing, this will be our point of continuation next week:  We need to define, and understand, “CHURCH” and “CHURCH GROWTH.”

 

February 23, 2019

 

“4 Reasons Churches Don’t Grow Like They Should”

 

Matthew 25:14-30 (NLT)

14 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip.  He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.  15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last - dividing it in proportion to their abilities.  He then left on his trip.  16 The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.  17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.  18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.     19 After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.  20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, “Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.”  21 The master was full of praise.  “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together!”  22 The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, “Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.”  23 The master said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together!”  24 Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth.  Look, here is your money back.”  26 But the master replied, “You wicked and lazy servant!  If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank?  At least I could have gotten some interest on it.”  28 Then he ordered, “Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.  29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance.  But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

This week, I want to share with you some thoughts by Pastor Chad Missildine, from Fort Worth, Texas.  He is gifted in developing and growing both churches and leaders.  I want to share with you 4 reasons he gives as to why churches don’t grow like they should.  And, I’ll sprinkle on top of his points some “tips” that apply . . . especially to A&D Biker Ministries.

 

We are about to enter a new season of ministry and life and growth in our congregation.  I am so glad that you are a part our journey! 

 

I’m no church growth expert.  I don’t have a magic wand.  My last name isn’t Warren, or Hybels, or Osteen.  I’m Pastor of A&D Biker Ministries in Racine, Wisconsin.  I am DOC (Disciple Of Christ) and I serve God with a group of weird people - who are passionate about seeing life transformation.

 

OK, so I don’t have all the answers!  But the good news is that we serve a Savior who does.  And, he’s anxious to share his truth with us!  SO, LET’S GO . . .

 

4 Reasons Churches Don’t Grow Like They Should

 

1. They don’t know Their sweet spot

 

We are not the church down the road.  We aren’t Grace Church or Great Lakes Church.  We are A&D Biker Ministries.  God has called me, Pastor A, to lead Church B, with people C through Y (that’s you), to influence Community Z (that’s Greater Racine).  I

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