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Gospel makes a difference

 

I was glad to see the article “Stained Glass and Starbucks” in a recent edition of The Christian Index, but I’m afraid the message presented may be missing the “fruit” for the trees.

Buried deep within the paragraphs and stories was a simple pair of sentences from Rev. Dean Haun at FBC Jonesboro – “We now have our own medical clinic and have seen 328 professions of faith in the past year. We built a Recreation Outreach Center that has two fullsize gyms and walking tracks and has been the scene of 400 professions of faith.”

Wow!! One church reaching over 700 people for Christ in a short period of time – over 300 in a single year. Yet, notice where this fruit came from (or did not come from). It did not come from an alternative worship format that puts a focus on appealing to non-Christians.

It did not come from the development of a second or third Sunday service to meet the preferences of divided church members. And it did not come from spending millions on a new high-tech building (that will be out of date in just a few years).

No, the greatest amount of evangelistic fruit revealed in these articles was at its essence simple and practical local ministry. The fruit was produced by playing basketball with the neighborhood kids, getting to know them, letting them see the difference in those who know Christ, and then speaking the Gospel. It was seeing the needs of the poor in the community, meeting those needs, being different, and then speaking the Gospel.

Unfortunately, the great emphasis of most of the churches presented in the article was not to be different from the world, which is the clear model presented in the New Testament, but to be acceptable to the world.

Surely most agree the so-called “traditional” church will be killed by the culture in a matter of years. But, I’m afraid we don’t see that the so-called “emerging” church will end up killing itself in an effort to keep up with the times (and the Jones’ for that matter).

Maybe, instead of our convention goal being to baptize a million people in the next year, our goal should be to fulfill the call of Matthew 25 by ministering to a million homeless, or visiting a million in prison, or even giving medical care to a million who are sick. Remember that what we do “for the least of these” we do for Christ – and when our goal becomes Christ, instead of the culture, then truly amazing things will happen.