What are you doing with your resources?

(Please note, this post is not meant to single out any one church or organization my area. If you are a local pastor or leader, it is not a direct attack on you, but on the American church as a collective group)

What I want to talk about today is a question we as Christians will be faced with then we stand before God. It is a question what we should all be keeping in mind as we go about our lives.

“What have you done with the tools I have given you to advance My Kingdom?”

For a lot of people this is a scary question. Because when we look at how we use our time and resources, I think we can all agree that we are not using them to the best of God’s Kingdom. Most of us prefer to sit back and complain about what it happening around us instead of stepping up and trying to make a change.

I live in an area of the country that is just ravaged by drugs, heroin in particular (last stat I saw had my area as the #3 per capita in heroin us in the entire country). This drug brings with it prostitution (sex slavery) as well as rampant alcoholism.  Yet most churches in my area simply sit back and watch this epidemic spread more and more without want to take any action. Yes, it is on every prayer list (and do not mistake me, prayer SHOULD be the first step in any decision we make) but normally that is as far as it goes.

It comes down to this simple fact: most churches today have an inside out model instead of an outside in model. They want to cater to everyone inside their church walls, and not worry about those outside the walls.  Yes this stings to hear if you are a church leader, but seriously examine how much sincere and true outreach do you do?  What is the ratio of resources your devote to discipleship in the church versus outreach beyond your walls.

And I am not talking about missionaries outside of your area. I am speaking about right in your community.  Once again, do not misunderstand me, I am in no way saying local churches should not support overseas missions. But we should not be doing so at the expense of outreach right outside our front door.  “What did you do with the resources I gave you?” This should be the question on your mind as you go about making decisions on where to put your time and money. It is not about YOU or your church getting praise and glory. It is about bringing people to Christ through any means you have at your disposal.

The battle of traditional versus contemporary, praise and worship versus hymns, chairs versus pews  and all the other mundane arguments that occur in the modern church today take away from the most important function of the church: to bring people into God’s family.  And this goes to any organization who profess to have a mission of bringing people closer to God. As soon as you start putting limitations on how you are going to deliver God’s Word, you instantly lose your stated goal.

Jesus did not say “go out and preach only the King James bible using only hymns and piano”.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)

Notice there is no mention at all of the teaching method. It simply says go and teach. People learn and people come to Christ in different ways, and we need to stop focusing on the “how” they are coming to know The Lord and instead begin focusing on the “if” they are coming to know God. Just because you might not like a certain type of music, or a certain style of preaching, does not mean the person who is sitting next to you who is not saved will not be able to connect with it.

We live in a society so worried about offending people that we have let this attitude invade our churches. No longer are different styles of worship allowed. We have put a dividing line in place, saying this is how we worship in this building and if you don’t like it, there is the door.  We have shut our minds off to any possibility that someone may be drawn to Christ in a different way than we are teaching, so we keep on doing the same things over and over and over, and then complain that it is not working.

I have heard people say “well, people will be drawn through the doors of a church when God calls them”. Well if that is the case, why even do any form of outreach at all? Why bother witnessing to anyone?  This statement always makes me laugh. Our job as Christians is to lead a life that helps people see Christ through us, and then make every effort to lead those around us to Christ. This does not mean only those we are comfortable with. This does not mean only those who walk through our church doors.

We are to get outside of our church walls, into our communities, and let me people know about the love of Christ. We are NOT to simply sit on our churches and wait for them to come to us.

The biggest and most valuable resource we all have the equal supply of is our time.  It costs no money to lead a Jesus led life. It cost no money to tell someone about God’s plan for salvation. It costs no money for any of us to go out into the world and tell others about Jesus.

What is does cost us is time. Time away from Netflix, Facebook and Instagram. It makes us focus on what is important, and causes us to make to difficult decisions in how we best allocate the resource of time. If you were to stand before God right now, and have to answer “Did you do your best with the resources I provided you”, how would you answer?

Where is the church in a community?

I was talking with a friend yesterday and mentioned my home church was used as a precinct on election day. He made the comment “it’s nice to see a church get involved in the community.” I did not think anything of it at the time, but later in the evening, a thought struck me: at what point did churches STOP being involved in the community.

I began looking into some statistics, and came across this, which I think is telling.

us christians

You may say, well a 5% drop is not so bad. But let’s put real numbers to it. As of today, the population of America is 323,783,811. Using this number, it would mean that 16,189,190 citizens no longer identify as Christian. Now you do have to take into account babies and youth who are not of the age of understanding, so let’s make it an even 15 million people. That is the number in just 8 years that has gone from saying they identify as Christian to not. To take it even further back, that 75% of today was over 90% in 1960.

So that is the bad news, and that is where we can certainly see how the church in America become less and less involved in the community. But there is another aspect. When you take into account the population, and the number who do not identify as Christian, you are still left with slightly over 300 million people. Now let’s take out 10 million for being too young to be at the age of understanding, and let’s say that half of what is left are not truly Christian, that would still leave close to 145 million people in this country who profess to be a follower of Christ (yes, I get these numbers are not scientific put for my purposes they will work).

The latest figures from Gallup indicate approximately 37% of the population in America attends church. So let us just work off the 145 million figure as opposed to the entire population figure. This would mean that approximately 53.5 million people attend church on a weekly basis in this country.

Now I know that was a lot of numbers, but I did it for a reason. Go back to what I asked in the opening paragraph: When did churches stop being involved in community? The answer is in that 53.5 million number. That is the number of people who have stopped standing up to the immoral river that has flooded this nation. That is the number of people who have said it is easier to just sit in a pew (or on those nice chairs the contemporary churches have) and sing the cool songs (or old hymns) and then just go home and ignore what is happening around them. That is the number of people who would rather sit back and become indifferent to the nation falling apart than to stand up for what they know to be right.

Imagine if you will that those 53.5 million actually started doing what we are called to do in the bible. Imagine if we all became like the disciples, going out and spreading God’s Word, but also letting people know about their sin. Imagine if instead of the imaginary boycott you hear about when a corporation goes against God’s Word, we 53.5 million actually just stopped shopping at the store, or stopped buying the product, or stopped watching that movie or tv show.

You see, we as Christians are not holding up our end when it comes to community. We are not leaving our church walls and being involved in our community. I am not talking about the once a year bake sale and pancake dinner. I am talking about getting active and involved in the issues which effect the salvation of those in your local community.

This is not a national problem, this is a local problem. This is problem when churches of an area will not work together for the improvement of that area. It is an issue of churches not properly prioritizing the issues of their area, instead going for the hip, cool, politically correct thing to get behind instead of the thing which truly needs dealt with.

I read a story the other day about a bible study that started meeting in a strip club, and they would minister to the girls of the club. This is how you combat an issue in your community. Not by hiding you head in the sand and pretending it is not there, but instead sacrificing everything you can to make a difference in the eternal lives of those of your area.

How far are you willing to go to make your community Godly once more?