Archives For people

Quotable Tuesday

Jason Petermann  —  June 1, 2010 — 1 Comment

Today’s quote comes from Rob Bell out of his book titled, “Velvet Elvis.”

“We reclaim the church as a blessing machine not only because that is what Jesus intended from the beginning but also because serving people is the only way their perceptions of church are ever going to change. This is why it is so toxic for the gospel when Christians picket and boycott and complain about how bad the world is. This behavior doesn’t help. It makes it worse. It isn’t the kind of voice Jesus wants his followers to have in the world. Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”
– Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

The last part of that quote is especially powerful: “Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”  It is easy to sit back and criticize those outside of Christ for actions and thoughts and for living life in a way that is natural to them. It is easy to get a group of people together to take a stand against a particular vice or sin.  It is harder to be the light that we ought to be so that people will see Christ in us and we can point them to a heavenly Father that loves them.  People matter to God, and if they matter to God, then they should matter to us. If we would spend more time being light where God has strategically placed us, and less time picking people apart for actions that they have no power to overcome on their own, maybe, just maybe we would make a bit of difference for the Kingdom.

So, let your light shine!

Just saying…

Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

A couple of months ago I was at Granger Community Church for a couple days of workshops that they were holding.  I took Mark Waltz’s classes both days, and a statement he made in that class has stuck with me and keeps replaying itself in my head (Yes, I hear voices! – JK).  That statement was this, “We are responsible ‘to’ people, we are not responsible ‘for’ people.”

As I have mulled that over in my head for the last couple of months, and used it as a lens in which to do ministry, it has helped to to focus on what I need to do for others, and leave the rest up to God.  As I was reading in Acts this morning, I came across Paul’s goodbye to the church in Ephesus.  As he writes to them, he says in verse 26I tell you today that I am no longer responsible for any of you!” A few verses later (32) he says, “I now place you in God’s care.” He says that after he tells them all of the things he has done to help them take their next steps and after he tells them, “Ok, now it is up to you to go on from here.”  Paul knew he had come to the end of what he could do, and that the rest was up to the work that God wold have to do in their lives.

Many people in churches today have this idea that we must push people along the same route, and that it all takes the same amount of time for everyone to get to the next step.  They treat the journey in Christ like it has a cookie cutter design to it that everyone should follow.  That breeds image rather than true spiritual growth.  It breeds Pharisees rather than disciples.  But that is what happens when we think we are responsible for people rather than to them.

Being responsible for people brings a pressure and responsibility that God never designed into a person’s life.  If someone does not take their next step, then I feel like I have failed.  Being responsible to people means that I am sharing what I have to share, leading people to the table, but they have to make the decision to eat, I cannot force them. That is up to them to decide and for God to work.

Mark illustrated it so well.  Let me just cut and paste here:

  • If we understand that are are responsible to people, then I understand they have a choice… if I feel responsible for people, I think I should choose for them.
  • If we understand that are are responsible to people, then I know they must figure out their next step… if I feel responsible for people, I think I should tell them what there next step is.
  • If we understand that are are responsible to people, then I understand they must bear the consequences of their actions… if I feel responsible for people, I assume the guilt, or worse yet the shame for them.
  • If we understand that are are responsible to people, then I share their journeys, offering encouragement and teaching… if I feel responsible for people, I try to direct their journeys, never allowing them to wrestle or mess up.
  • If we understand that are are responsible to people, then I talk to God a lot on their behalf… if I feel responsible for people, I tend to talk to people a lot on God’s behalf.
  • “If Jesus trusts the Holy Spirit, maybe we should too!”
  • “It is God that does the growing, we just get in the way.”

So, how do you do ministry?  Do you feel responsible for people or to people?  What do you think about the difference?


As we continue on from yesterday’s post, we will look at a couple more saying of immature Christians…

3. “There is no where for me to get involved” – This is usually a statement that is made by those people who are looking for a high profile “position”     rather than a ministry in a church.  This is many times also said by those who do not get their way.  It is an excuse to leave.  We want people to serve where they are gifted, but many times people want to serve where there is high praise or instant recognition.  It takes all kids of people to do ministry.  Some people are out-in-front type people, some are behind the scenes.  What is the bottom line?  The bottom line is that both are just as important.  I have never in 20 years of ministry been in a position where I had a waiting line to get involved in ministry.  There has always been something to do.  I have had people either quit a team (or the church) because I would not put them out in front as much as what they wanted
4. “We can’t find any friends” or “This church is full of clicks” – Now, I cannot that there are no clicks in a church.  Certainly there can be.  no matter how hard a church tries at not having them, they are bound to show up in some way.  But most of the time I have had people say this, it is because they have not gotten involved in anything. (See #3 above).  I mean, how in the heck do you expect to get to know people when you come to church late, leave during the invitation and never get involved in a ministry.  Most clicks are made up of people that are faithful members that are serving together.  If you are not part of the “click,” what does that tell you?  My advice?  Get off your butt and do something for God and for someone else. (This goes for #3 as well!)  Once you do that, it will be hard for you to say that you are not fitting in or meeting people.

5. “_________________ is why we are leaving the church.” (You fill in the blank).  My mentor in the ministry told me very early on that “the reason people say they are leaving the church is NEVER the real reason why they are leaving the church. Most of the time it is something they are struggling with, but it is easier to blame it on the church or the pastors of the church.”  Quite honestly, I have never really been affected too much by people leaving the church.  It is not that I like it when people leave.  I leave that in God’s hands. I think he purges and moves people for reasons that we many times may not know.  Sometimes it is for their benefit, sometimes it is for the benefit of the church.  Either way, if I am more focused on keeping people than reaching people, I am in trouble already.

I know this is not an exhaustive list… what are some other statements you have heard immature Christians make?

kids1Most people that read this blog (all three of you) know that I have 5 kids.  It is exciting and rewarding, as well as tiring and challenging at times.  One of the great things about kids, is that they say some pretty crazy things at times.  They will use words that do not make sense in the way they are using them, or they will make up a word to describe something.  “Out of the mouths of babes” refers to a truth that a kid will say, and they usually have no idea what they are saying!

This same thing happens in our spiritual lives as well.  I have run across many spiritually immature people that will say things that make me want to smack them in the name of Jesus!  I know, that is not a very “spiritual” response either.  I do not smack them, I just want to!  (That is great progress for me!)  The statements that are made are an indicator o just how mature they are as Christ followers.  Now, before you think I am picking on new Christians that just do not know any better, I just want to let you know that I am not talking about new Christians.  They usually are not the ones that make these statements.  It is usually people that have been “Christians” for a long time.  You see, many years as a Christ follower do not mean maturity. Ok, let me get to a couple of the statements:

  1. “I am not being fed.” – News flash: It is your job to feed yourself!  Come on, you have been a Christ follower for 20 years and you do not know how to pick up the fork (Bible) and eat?  All five of my kids needed help to learn how to eat.  They had the desire to eat, but they did not have the ability to feed themselves at first.  by the time they reached their first birthday, my kids knew how to pick up the food placed in front of them and do something with it!  And now they get up and pretty much find their own food and fill themselves up.  Many times immature Christians say this, but what they really mean is that the message is not entertaining enough, it does not “tickle” their ears. Other times, there is a spiritual sickness that zaps your appetite.  If you are not being fed, is it because of lack of desire?  Is it because of sickness?  I have never met a mature Christian that has a problem with being fed.  They know how to pick up the Word and be fed.  That is our responsibility.
  2. “What does this church have for me.” – As I read the Scriptures, I never once see where the church is to worry about having things for people.  I do see that the church is all about putting people together that have gifts to use for the good of the body.  In other words, we ought to turn the question around and ask people, “What do you have for our church.”  After all, the gifts that are given to each believer are there to edify the church.  Having great ministries  is not a bad thing, but it is to be a by-product of people serving and using their gifts for the good of the church.

We will continue this tomorrow!

“The more I am around ‘Christians,’ the less I want to be one.” I have heard that statement many times coming from those who are not Christ followers. There are many reasons given.  Many times it is a general characterization of everyone who claims to be a Christ follower and is certainly not true of everyone who is.  That is kind of like a “throwing the baby out with the bath water” thing.  There are many times where there is a legitimate reason.  Jesus Himself had more critical words for the “religious” crowd of the day than he did for the “publicans and sinners.”  My friend Jeff Miller said in his blog post todaypharisee2, “The longer I live, I’m less and less surprised by the fact that non-believers live and act like non-believers.”  I feel the same way. Non-believers are suppose to act the way they do.  They have no spiritual truth in which to guide them, so it should not surprise us at all.  But many churches act more like the Pharisees, who wanted people to become just like them before they accepted them.  They placed high priority on ritual rather than a relationship.  They valued conformity rather than confession and image over integrity.  They dealt with matters of the outward while Jesus concentrated on the inward.

I think many Christians (and churches) have fallen into this as well.  We come to church, sing a few songs to make us feel good, tip God when the offering plate is passed, try to stay awake during the talk (which is another blog post in itself) and then go out and have very little concern for people around us.  Nothing that happens inside the church affects how we live outside the church.  If that last statement is true, why do we even go to church?  Why do we even call ourselves Christians?

God expects more from us.  He expects us to live like our relationship with Him makes a difference… because it does.  That is not to say that we will not have times of failure in the way we treat people, we will.  But that will be an exception, not the rule.   A pastor that I once worked for used to say “your beliefs affect your behavior.”  If that is the case (and I believe it is), there are not many people that call themselves Christians that do not believe very much about what Jesus taught.

And before you ask me if I am perfect, no, I am not.  I struggle every day being the man God wants me to be.  But at least I am struggling with it, many are not.

Anyone else feel like this?  Maybe I am being to tough?  What do you think?