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August 14, 2021 2:00 am
I'm a churchman. I freely confess that. Yet I'm also painfully aware that the culture around me incessantly asks the above question when it comes to the church: Who needs it? Why should I belong to something so archaic and so narrow? In the next several weeks, I'd like to take a fresh look at us--the church of Christ--and answer this question. Today, as we begin our series, let's jump right in and deal with this question head on: Who needs the church and why?
This teaching is from the series Church? Who Needs It.Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
For every one person was raised with out God eventually came into the church. There are three people raised in the church who will leave it everyone coming in three going out one observer said in the United States we are closing churches. We were the same thing that's who needs it. Why should I join that I should I belong to church who needs is only the title for new series here and correct your division is also a serious topic that people struggle with is the modern world. Still, the church is not to become God's people will find some answers to these important questions of his new series before we begin today, here's what's happening. It would correctly Skip resource Center this month as times you hear a sermon that really speaks to you. It's almost as if the pastor knows what you personally going through and he teaches a message like you're the only one listening. Well it's not that the pastor knows you personally. It's that God knows you personally hear skip.
I think in nearly 40 years of expository teaching. I still love hearing that one of my messages spoke to someone person that referred them on to know God better or become more like but that's not because of me that's just the power of the word of God doing the work of God in the hearts of the people get to know the God who knows you with pastor Skip pics a collection of some of pastor skip's most memorable teachings including is the rapture real and overcoming an anxious mind this for DVD collection is our thanks for your gift of $25 or more to help keep this ministry connecting more people to Jesus. Call now to request your copy of pastor Skip pics 800-922-1888 working online securely connectwithskip.com/offer will explore some versions of exchequer wanted to today hearing correctly Skip weekend division. So open your Bibles. Let's join Skip project fishing talks about our current employment you know we belong to the greatest company on earth. First of all, we have a product that works universally the gospel didn't matter if you are from Rio de Janeiro or Rio Rancho hear from India or Indio or China or Chula Vista than matter it works in every life that's receptive so our product works universally something else about our company that makes it really cool. We have a great benefits package. We have forgiveness from the past we have meaning and purpose for the present we have peace of mind for our future something else about our company. We have offices worldwide. You can go anywhere on the face of the earth and even in the most persecuted of countries. You will find some form of church. Some group of God's people that meet everywhere on earth. And finally we have the best retirement package going on is after it's all over with.
We have face-to-face fellowship with God, eternal rewards that don't quit the best company in the world. The church I have spent a couple weeks traveling to three different countries, and principally I was with different churches, different expressions of the church. Some of them very alive in other countries. A bit more static and in some places the church is all but dead in each of these places and for that matter, in all places around the world.
Each church is its own expression, marked by cultural differences or traditional variations, but they're all unique and different example. In India you going to most churches in that country. It is customary that you take your shoes off before entering the building, just a sign of respect which I was all over that. I love that I get to preach. Barefoot it was so cool. That's just part of the cultural differences of that country and in Europe there got their own traditions and styles, and in America we have so many different variations and expressions. I was given this some time back says you know that your church is a redneck church. If ready if people ask when they learned that Jesus fed the 5000. Whether the two fish were bass or catfish and what bait was used to catch them.
You know that your church is a redneck church when the pastor says I like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering, and five guys and two women stand up, you know that your church is a redneck church.
If opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday. You know that your church is a redneck church. If a member of the church request to be buried in his four-wheel-drive truck because it ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of. I've known people like that you know your church is a redneck church. If the congregation of 500 members. There are only seven last names in the church directory.
You know your church is a redneck church at the baptismal font is a number two galvanized washtub and you know that your church is a redneck church of the choir robes were donated by and embroidered with the logo from Billy Bob barbecue and you know your church is a redneck church. If the collection plates are really hubcaps from a 55 Chevy well all of that is probably fine for that group of people, but by and large, that would no doubt turn a lot of people off.
Moreover, I've discovered that most outsiders would evaluate most churches and think were a lot like that the we lack that kind of sophistication were that backward were that awkward.
That's how they would think about us, I found something very fascinating this last week that for every one person who was raised without God, who eventually came into the church. There are three people raised in the church who will leave it everyone coming in three going out one observer said in the United States we are closing 60 churches a week. What are they saying or saying that's who needs it. Why should I join that. Why should I belong to it are Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago did a survey their own service door to door survey they knock on doors in a disaster, people this question if you don't go to church. What are the reasons for five reasons. Reason number one it's boring. Reason number two people said church is irrelevant. Reason number three. They said they're always asking for money.
Reason number four people said I'm I'm too busy already in reason number five is I feel awkward when I come to church so what is this outfit. This company was it supposed to look like what's it supposed to be like what are its defining characteristics.
So that anyone would need it. Why should any person join it. How relevant is the church in modern or should we say the postmodern era. I've I've asked you to turn to acts chapter 1 because I want to begin with this question. That is our series questioned the church who needs it and I simply today Wanda as an introduction look at the question and the answer to that, in part, just as the kickoff. This is an introductory. It is a good question.
It is a recurring question. It's a question that is been asked a long time ago. The question that is still asked today. It was asked from the very beginning of the church in the book of acts by the onlooking world in acts chapter 1, we see how it all started verse 12. They returned to Jerusalem, they being the disciples from the mount called Olivet. They had just watched the takeoff Jesus ascended into heaven which is near Jerusalem, the Sabbath day's journey. Whenever had entered. They went up into the upper room where they were staying, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus Simon the zealot and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples.
Altogether the number of names was about 120. So that's the first church group about 120. In some buildings somewhere in Jerusalem. Meeting chapter 2 verse one says when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. You know what happened, they were filled with the spirit.
They spoke in different dialects, people who were in Jerusalem visiting saw and heard this and here's their reaction. Verse seven. They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another look, are not all these who speak Galileans that the text doesn't reveal the subtlety of that statement, but Galileans were considered the redneck church. They were the Hicks the unsophisticated group, especially to those high-class Jerusalem lights. Listen to these Galileans they know more than one language.
How is it that we hear, each in our own language which we were born Parthians and Medes Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt parts of Libya adjoining styrene visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes Cretans and Arabs we hear them speaking in our own language or tongues the wonderful works of God so they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another. Whatever could this mean others mocked and said they're drunk or they're full of new wine. They got the good stuff.
So here it essentially is a group of outsiders observing the church saying who needs at this. These people are crazy now that is the very beginning of this question and this idea and it continues as the pages of the book of acts are turned to find the same sentiment occurring with one Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle, but while he was Saul of Tarsus in chapter 9 verse one and two. Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if you found any who are of the way. Notice that is the description of the first church.
They were called the way, not first Baptist on Calvary not met. That is just the way whether men or women, he might bring them down to Jerusalem. Why because he was saying who needs the church, we don't. They've upset our religion. We don't want them next chapter 12 verse one, the reigning political leader agreed Herod the great Herod the king at that time. Verse one.
Now, about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church who needs the church, we don't we don't have room in our political agenda for those crazy right wing believers and that is the story throughout the book of acts as it spreads through Galatia and Antioch of the city and I Coni him the same sentiment by unbelievers by outsiders by religious people toward the church. This is chapter 14 verse two. They stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren is what I want you to see the Jewish religious world reacted to the church by ostracism. The Roman political world reacted to the church by persecution and the Greek philosophical world responded to the church by arrogance and indifference.
We didn't read acts 17 but when Paul goes to Athens they call him up babbler the coma babbler and they start mocking him and his message. So what I'm driving at is this all of the various voices of the world showing in unison to say the church who needs it. It's always been the case, we are far from the moral majority.
We are the minority and that is typically what people ask. Let's fast forward from ancient times to the modern era.
This culture this country, our world, especially those of us who live in the West there is a dramatic dis-interest today in all things church, and I do confess something to you for years, I used to quote different pollsters who would say that real Americans are very religious. They all believe in God, 96% say they believe in God are 87% say they're very spiritual and I have come to find out that that is not quite as accurate as I wanted to believe that it's some very skewed and their statistical reporting and inaccurate and far from being an increasing majority.
The church in this country is a quickly declining minority I read a book on my way to India. You know when you're on a plane for 16.5 hours from Chicago to New Delhi.
You got time so I was reading a book was written by Dean Merrill, the vice president of the International Bible Society. The name of his book really a clever title sinners in the hands of an angry church is the name of the book and he said on any given weekend. About 37% of Americans show up in church. The other 63% are reading the paper, drinking coffee, sleeping in playing golf or engaging in some other form of recreation.
Now I will grant you that church attendance is not most accurate gauge of a person's heart, but it's a good place to start instead of looking at the pollsters who are saying no. 87% or 96% of Americans are very spiritual believe in God, says Dean Merrill, the same author.
If they can't be bothered even to attend church there spiritual sentiments must not run very deep. Here's my point is 37% of Americans are showing up at church that means 63% of Americans are saying every Sunday. Who needs it. Who needs it. Why should I do that not match this question. Of that 37% of people that regularly attend church on any given weekend in the United States of America. How many of that 37% would you say are extremely devoted to the cause of Christ.
When you can answer that it's impossible to judge that. I suppose if we were to simply take the parable that Jesus gave of the sower and the seed, the percentage of people that are bearing fruit who are exposed to the same truths so only 25% and that parable, we don't know.
I can't predict I can't say, but it does make sense that people would attend for a variety of motivations right some people no doubt attend church out of guilt.
Some people attend church out of their background and other cultural expectation.
I grew up going to church thus I go to church. Other people we could say go to church because there pressured into it by a spouse or bio parent or by a child.
They want to please them is probably safe to say that some want to go to church to be a good example to their children.
They were attending church before, but now they have children and they say that he need something a moral underpinning, though I would never do it on my own now that I'm part of the family unit. Let's go to church that's possible. Others may attend church to call business contacts. After all, they might rationalize that it's better to do business with honest people that you would typically find a church, then dishonest people. Still others might attend church for a potential date. Husband wife boyfriend girlfriend. I don't know.
I will quote this to you, though, George Gallup, one of those pollsters wrote a book called saints among us, he said, though many Americans are religious in a loose sense. The core population says Gallup living deeply spiritual lives is 13%.
That's after all of his polling those living deeply spiritual lives in our country, not 86 not 94 not 96% third teen percent. Now we are basically following where Europe and England has preceded us, and last estimate since 1980.
Since 1974. Every year in England 85 churches shut their doors.
They close 85 year speed business over in England to sell off church furnishings get this christening font for baptismal font look really cool in your garden and people are taking the old furnishings and selling them and people are making them birdbaths in their gardens or buying pews and they become seats in one's garden big business and that part of the world now.
I will confess I'm only painting so far.
A picture of the West. This is a picture of what's going on in Western culture in our country and in developed countries like Europe and England elsewhere.
You want to know this is not the case in other parts of the world.
It's exactly the opposite in countries like China and India. There church growth is out of control.
It's exponentially gone bonkers hard to keep track of it so much in sub-Saharan Africa. Church growth is estimated at 20,000 conversions a day in Latin America. The conversion rate is 10,000 people per day. What I want you to keep in mind is these are parts of the world where persecution is the highest parts of the world where political affiliations and political agendas are far from Christian and in a place where disease is rampant and the highest incidences of the AIDS virus is out of control. And yet the church is flourishing in that part of the world. Leith Anderson and author for Minneapolis on societal change rights.
This we read the book of acts and we celebrate the fact that on the day of Pentecost 3000 people came to Christ. But today, if you combine mainland China sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. There is nearly a Pentecost every hour. Meanwhile, in the United States we are closing 60 churches a week. Will the real issue at stake here is that the church is going to survive the real issue is what happens to our nation if the church doesn't survive the Bible in world history suggest we do what were the answer that question will talk more about the state of the church of the 21st century, when we resume our new series next time here and correctly Skip weekend edition now for a copy of his teaching simply call 1-800-922-1888. You can also order online and correctly skip.com CD copies are only six dollars plus shipping and come back Ms. Skip continues to lay the groundwork for new series church here and correctly Skip weekend edition presentation of connection so connecting you guys never changing and ever-changing time