STOP IT! —  December 3, 2012

Here is the link for the Power Point.

Here are some of the main points from my sermon notes:

Stop it!

Four things you must stop doing, so your church can start growing.

1.  Stop saying Jesus is not enough.

          I heard it when I was a local church pastor. I hear it often still today. It’s expressed by a group of people, that although well intentioned, one has to wonder if they have stopped to think about the implications. The rational goes like this.

Jesus is best left to the baptists. We must preach present truth.

Jesus is milk. Prophecy is meat.

Jesus is elementary. Prophecy is deep.

Jesus is basic. There is something more advanced.

Jesus is an opening act. The headliner comes later.

Jesus is an appetizer. An introduction. A prelude.

You can go anywhere to hear about Jesus. You can only hear about prophecy here.

There is an attempt to divorce Jesus from prophecy, and extract and separate doctrine from our Christology.

And I wonder. Where did we get that from? Where did we arrive at a conclusion that there is anything superior, deeper, or more important than Jesus?

It wasn’t from Ellen White. Either.

“Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting CHRIST before the world.” Ellen G. White, Gospel workers, p.156

“There need to be far more lessons in the ministry of the Word of true conversion than of the arguments of the doctrines. For it is far easier and more natural for the heart that is not under the control of the Spirit of Christ to choose doctrinal subjects rather than the practical. There are many Christless discourses given no more acceptable to God than was the offering of Cain. They are not in harmony with God.”{VSS – The Voice in Speech and Song pg 342.3}

I would want us to analyze 2 consequences of a Christ-less Religion:

1. First Consequence- Knowledge without power.

A. Knowledge without power is frustrating. You never feel secure, because you never know when you have done enough. Should you pray one or two hours? Maybe an all-nighter would be even better. You work towards victory instead of from victory. There is never a finish line. It’s the race where the dog can never reach the rabbit right in front of him. It’s like the song says “Forever running, but losing the race…” One of the most vivid memories of growing up is having a constant feeling of guilt. I knew what was right, yet I couldn’t do it. That was very frustrating. It happens to plenty of Christians every day. Think about it for a moment.

b. Knowledge without power is dangerous.

It can make you feel superior, and act superior. It can make you think that all you need to convert someone is to share information with them. I had no problem reciting the eschatological timeline. I could produce all the texts that proved why we were the correct church and Catholics were not.  This is dangerous, not because prophetic information is not good, it is, but because when conversion has not happened, knowledge can be used as a billy club, even if in your own private life you are struggling with secret sin.

c. Knowledge without power makes secondaryissues, primary.  The greatest battles in the church I went to growing up were secondary issues. Hair length for guys. Movie theater attendance. Whether jeans were appropriate for church. Long battles. Lively discussions. Always followed by more rules and less freedom.  When we make everything a sin, eventually nothingbecomes a sin. It seemed to me that the greatest questions of life, were left unattended, especially the most important one, how to develop a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It wasn’t until I was a junior in college that I understood that concept, and the knowledge of a loving Savior traveled the hardest 18 inches in the world, from my head to my heart.


2. Second Consequence- Compliance without conversion.

There is a danger, especially for those in our churches that have strong self-control, to comply with rules instead of being converted by the redeemer. External compliance is not the objective here. 80% don’t read their bibles. It’s a routine.

a.     A legalistic lifestyle is not sustainable.You can comply for a while. You can fool people, with your words and public actions. But the inner man is still disconnected. The inner man is still “far off”. 


b.    Compliance can deteriorate into competition or comparison– since all you have to measure success are the works you produce, its easy to feel better about your progress comparing with others

c.     Compliance uses less than ideal methods to achieve, compliance. Fear. Control. Discipline. Coercion. All outside influencers to have people look a certain way, eat a certain thing. 
Emphasizing Christ, does not mean we stay away from the tough subjects, from encouraging our congregation to holy living or to just tell everyone they are OK. What is does mean, is that Jesus is center.


2. Stop appeasing the few. Start reaching the lost.

I believe the greatest challenge of the modern church: to be other-centered.                              

Galatians 1:10  Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.


*Have announcements that last 30 minutes? PEOPLE DON’T COME FOR THE INFO ON CAR WASH

*Have guests stand? About us.

*Maintain tradition over functionality? About us.

*We first make people change their diet, dress. Then we make them Adventist. Then we make them Christians. Then we make them our friends.

Two Principles

1.    You can’t negotiate with terrorists. You can’t appease them.

2. Have hard conversations early.

Decide that you will rather be healthy than liked.

3. Stop hating and imitating. Start innovating.

Keep your eyes on the prize not on another pastor.

TWO EXTREMES- We criticize it or we imitate it. Both are dangerous.

It starts with us, pastors! Why do we?

*Tear up the previous pastor when we get to a district? It’s about me.

*Upset and defensive? It’s about me.

*Want to run everything by you?

*Afraid that people will leave your church?
*Tell people where you found the church, and where it’s now?

Greatest enemy of future success is past success, you found something that works.

Two extra principles:


Painful     Necessary         Requires leadership.

A Whack on the Side of the Head, says, “Almost every advance in art, cooking, medicine, agriculture, engineering, marketing, politics, education, and design has occurred when someone challenged the rules and tried another approach.”

Price Pritchett entitled, You2.

“Your skepticism, which you presume is based on rational thinking and an objective assessment of factual data about yourself, is rooted in mental junk. Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but habitual thinking. Years ago you accepted flawed conclusions as correct, began to live your life as if those warped ideas about your potential were true, and ceased the bold experiment in living that brought you many breakthrough behaviors as a child. Now it’s time for you to find that faith you had in yourself before.”

Maxwell, John C. (2012-10-02). The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential (p. 230). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order to learn how to do it.” —Pablo Picasso

4. Stop hogging the ball. Start passing the baton.

Why do we need to pass the baton?

*1,000 churches with no youth and young adults. That’s why.

*6% of population are young adults, only 3% of SDA

Imagine a 400 meters relay race. But the runner that runs the first 400 never passes it. He can’t by rule, run the next 400. He must pass it.

Six points of disconnection

1.    Overprotective- helicopter parents. Perceive church as demonizing everything that does not have the “Christian” label. Afraid of the world. See a false separation. Church does not want to deal with complex issues. 

2.    Shallow- They see a church that has no connection to real life. “What happens in church stays in church”. 47% have no deep connections with a member in church. No real opportunity to lead.
3.    Anti-science- See reason and faith as enemies. Science and religion as incompatible. Church not willing to address the tough questions.

4.    Repressive- three views on sex.

a.     Traditionalism- shame strategy. Just say no. Sex is for procreation. Not spoken of in church.

b.    Individualism- it’s about me. We emphasize benefits- no diseases, better family, emotional stability, it’s still about me.

c.     Selflessness- sex is good, and it’s about us, with God’s blessing. Thriving relationships not sexual repression.

5.    Exclusive- We live in a multicultural society. Less than ½ are white. 50 years ago, 4/5 were white. They are the “Great agreement generation.” Four following approaches.  

a.     Agreement vs disagreement

b.    Peer responsibility vs. individualism

c.     Fairness vs. rightness

d.    Participation vs. exclusion

6.    Doubtless- “doubt is the ants in the pants of faith” Frederich Buchner. Three types of doubt:

a.     Intellectual

b.    Institutional doubt

c.     Unexpressed doubt.

To do:

1. God speaks to young people too.

2. Give them real power.

3. Protect them.

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One response to STOP IT!

  1. wow ! Iam sharing this with my leaders at church . This is so true . This is so practical but has been forgotten . Time to get back to the real message and teachings of Jesus , thanks for sharing !