How To Love Your Church

by Phil Baker

Imagine you arrive at a dinner party and everyone is talking about a certain someone that you must meet. You know who they’re talking about because a crowd has formed around him in the center of the room. You make your way over to hear some of the anecdotes and commentaries he is sharing with the other guests. Later in the evening, you get to meet him and he lives up to the hype. He is magnetic, entertaining and very gracious. Then you meet his wife and you think “Does she have some dirt on him?” She is homely, boring and self-possessed. How did these two end up together? As much as you like talking to him, you’re not sure if you can stand being around her.

 

This is how many view Jesus and church. They like Jesus but have given up on church. But being part of a local body of believers is important and essential to your Christian walk. In my last post, I talked about how it can seem easier to cut-n-run when you feel your church has lost its luster. Can you find your love for church again? I think so. And here’s a few ways how.

 

Show up.

Your church is so much more than Sunday morning services. Most churches have several ministry opportunities throughout the week that allow you to practice servant evangelism and put feet to your faith. Sometimes just showing up is all that is required of you. For example, our annual Movies by Moonlight event has become an easy event to put on. All the set-up and tear-down is done by just a few people. But what makes it a successful event is when we have as many bodies on our lawn as possible, mingling and talking with others. This gives visitors a sense of community – something that they are probably looking for in a church. And it can give you the same thing – something you’ve probably lost.

 

“Here I am.” vs “There you are!”

Many visitors have told us that they haven’t returned to our church because no one really reached out to them or that they didn’t feel “connected.” Upon closer investigation, we often learn these people came with a “Here I am” attitude. In other words, they came already closed off and defensive. Anyone that might have talked to them only got one word answers or had to pull information out of them like pulling teeth. We all can have “Here I am” days and that’s okay. But we must try instead to come to church with a “There you are!” attitude. This shifts the focus off yourself and onto others. You seek out others and through talking to and about them you are also sharing more about you (and your church). Sure, you may be an introvert. But there are times when you have to get out of your comfort zone. Church is one of those times. See it as a weekly exercise in coming out of your shell.

 

Mend it. Don’t end it.

This is advice many give to troubled marriages. And, in keeping with my metaphor, it applies to your relationship with church. When you have a dispute or are unhappy with something, try to mend it. Reach out in a loving, humble and teachable way so that you can work together to fix it. Notice I included “teachable” with my adjectives. This indicates there may be some demands you may have to compromise on, or some things you may have to rethink. This is all part of being part of a larger body. The same way you have to pick your battles in marriage. Find the common ground that brought you to your church and rediscover your love for her. With apologies to Joshua Harris, date your church! Just as you would have a “date night” with your spouse, reawaken what attracted you to your church in the first place.

 

Look, no church is perfect. No person is perfect. So there’s no avoiding flaws in a flawed world. Church is a place we can bring our flaws and focus on a perfect God. The church is Christ’s bride. Let’s try to be worthy of him.

Ephesians 5

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Student Life Camp 2016

Student Life Camp 2016

by Kyle Hope

As a student leader, summer camps are the most exciting, yet stressful events of the year. There is much planning involved beforehand, and the responsibility of other people’s kids on the other side of the country can be very pressure-packed. But just like every other year, God reminds me of why the hard work and chaos is worth it.

This year, we loaded up 14 teenagers and 4 adults and headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a Student Life Camp. We had the privilege of hearing Afshin Ziafat preach in the mornings, Matt Chandler preach in the evenings, and powerful times of music by Rush of Fools. The Lord moved mightily through our times of worship, and the truth of the gospel made a lasting impact on our student’s lives. Commitments were made to follow Christ, and our group was united in the same mind, eager to do the will of God. This was by far the best student summer camp I have ever been apart of. I was blown away by the way God worked in our group. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it, I have asked 3 students in our group to write about what they learned at camp and how they’ve been changed because of the gospel.

Ava Welton, one of Revive’s students, talked about her expectations before and after camp, and points out how God truly brought us closer to Himself individually and as a student group.

“When I found out I was going to beach camp I was stoked. I was excited because all of my friends would be going, (and didn’t even think twice about how this camp would affect my faith in God) not because I would get to work on my personal relationship with God. Being there surrounded by believers 24/7 was life changing. My relationship with everyone around me grew but my relationship with God grew 10X more. I’m so happy to have God in my life and to be able to praise him everyday.”

A consistent theme throughout the messages was the role of God as a Father to his children. Those who are saved are children of God, and can rejoice because their Father is always on their side. Pastor Matt made a comment on how God rejoices in our steps as babies, and does not hold our stumbles against us. He loves us regardless of our actions because we are his children, He just wants to know us and love us. One of our students, Lauren Breeden, reflected on that love and relationship with God,

“Even though I’m not perfect God still wants me and loves me. God wants me to come to him about everything and just have conversations with him because I have a relationship with him it’s not this one way conversation talking to a wall. I’m having a conversation with a wonderful counselor who’s going to give me amazing advise but it’s my choice to listen to him and that I can’t just take in the word of God but I need to act it out and spread it because it would be selfish of me to keep the love of the Lord to myself.”

Another student, Kate Welton, was impacted in a similar way by God’s amazing grace for His children and said,

“No matter how much you sin, God will always forgive and love you. And when you come across a hard task in life, come to Jesus and don’t turn away.”

These “hard task” in life are only just beginning for these young followers of Christ, but they are committed to following Him through thick and thin because they realize the depth of what Jesus did on the cross. While camp was an amazing experience for everyone involved, they have now been sent out to share Christ in our dark world. New fires that have been ignited for Christ, but the enemy will seek to put them out and tear them down. There will be persecution, temptation, and broken relationships because of these commitments to Christ, so continue to keep these girls and the rest of our student ministry in your prayers. Christ has called us to a sold-out life for his sake, and I pray that everyone reading this would be inspired to follow Christ with the passion that our students have.

Life Matters

by Brock Benson

It was 2:30am this morning when Cassie half waking me up out of sleep asked me a strange question. “Did you hear what happened in Dallas?” My reply “no what? ” Five officers shot and killed last night during a protest.” I picked up my phone and began scrolling through my twitter feed and became unsettled as I read the countless number of tweets documenting everything that had happened. The first words I could muster out where “My God.” Most likely because in these kind of moments it’s really difficult for me to see any sense in God’s plan.

 

Earlier that evening Cassie and I had been discussing the latest social media data taking place in wake of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings. We both were expressing how we felt a lot of condemnation from our particular evangelical tribal leaders, and how that might be fueling the fire more than helping. Then to hear this had taken place where Cassie and I used to live just 5 short years ago made it difficult to go back to sleep. So I laid in bed and asked God what he wanted me to say or if he wanted me to say anything at all?

 

Having welcomed in a new born baby boy into my home for just over a week now “life” is in a little bit clearer focus for me. I once again afresh and anew sincerely understand the precious commodity it is. Garner James depends on Cassie and I for everything he needs to survive. He doesn’t understand what is happening yet in the world. But one day he will and he will be shaped by the opinions and understandings of his parents. How do I explain a week like this to him? Life matters.

 

Life is a precious gift from God and it is to be valued. Life as an inclusive ideology includes black lives, white lives, blue lives, unborn lives, Hispanic lives, Islamic lives and anyone else whom God has granted air to breathe. Life must be protected it must be stood up for, and it must not be taken unjustly. Whether that be by a cop or an inconvenienced female.

 

In a year of political chess, evangelical bickering about issues and candidates maybe, just maybe God knew it would take a week like this to wake us up. Until in our own nation  the central point of agreement can be that life matters death is going to continue to win. Jesus gave up his life because he believed that life matters. The question we must answer is do we believe that too? If we do then action must take place.

 

Revive Church as your pastor I urge us to pray earnestly for revival and the return of King Jesus.

Disposable Church

Disposable Church

by Phil Baker

The advent of the affordable automobile in the 1940’s led to the ability for families to live in suburbs and commute into the city for work and school. This also created a challenge for churches. Now people didn’t have to attend the church nearest them. They could drive as far as they wanted to attend any church they wanted. And this continues today.

I myself pass probably half-a-dozen churches of my preferred denomination on the way to my “church home”. Why? Because I have friends there. I’m connected there. Circumstance, life and God has lead me there. But most of all because I’ve made a commitment to that church.

It appears most people don’t see church as a commitment these days. We see it as an option, an opportunity or even an obligation. But not as a commitment. At least not the same way we view marriage as a commitment. And the Bible very often draws a comparison between the church and marriage, it being the “bride of Christ”. Attack the “sanctity of marriage” and you’ll have a riot on your hands. But talk bad about the “sanctity of church membership” and…meh.

This is evident in lackadaisical attendance and church hopping. People get discontent with their church so they just go to another. They start to dislike the pastor. They see or hear of a scandal in a deacons meeting. And so they go to a new church thinking it will be different. We treat our church membership like a box of tissues – use this one until it gets dirty, throw it away and pull out another one. If some people who joined a church by letter had to have an actual “letter”, it would probably look like a faded, wrinkled dollar bill no vending machine would take.

Why is this? Why does the “paradox of choice” affect so many churches? It is because we don’t love the local church. Think of church like your marriage. You love your spouse. But you don’t always like your spouse. There are days when he/she gets on your nerves or when one of you is sick. You may not like having to take care of them or doing the extra work, but you do it because you’ve made a commitment and because you love that person. Did your mother love you? Of course she did! But do you think she liked getting up at 4AM to feed you? Do you think she liked changing your diapers? No. But she did it because she loved you.

We have to love our local church. We have to commit to her like we commit to our spouse and our children. There will be times when we don’t like it. But marriage is hard. Parenthood is hard. Churchgoing is hard. So don’t treat your commitment to your church like a disposable paper towel. Treat it like you would your bride.