Archive for February, 2010
Posted on February 17, 2010 - by admin
Everyday I receive in my mail another article or promo for a book or conference entitled “What the unchurched are thinking” or “How to connect to the unchurched”. I’ve finally decided to address these “studies”. Reason? Because I have a lifetime of experience in this area. Please keep reading. I’ve never read a book or went to a conference to “learn techniques” about unchurched people. I know them. It’s no surprise to me, as it was to Dr. Elmer Towns when he visited here and asked a crowd of 3500 people “how many of you never attended a church in your life before coming here?” and 80% responded that was their testimony. He was shocked, I wasn’t.
You see, I was raised in a non-Christian home far from the influence of religion until I met Jesus Christ at age 18. I know that world. When Jesus convicted me of my sins, chose me and called me, I discovered that befriending unchurched people was the most natural thing a Christian does. This trend of surveys, articles, and books on “connecting to the unchurched” is foreign to me. It’s also strange to all of my unchurched friends and they tell me so. What I’ve discovered is that when those raised in church set out to define the unchurched, they often miss the mark. First, they fail to clarify that there are two separate groups of “non-churched’. Often they are really referring to the “formerly churched” so they begin with faulty assumptions that have no relevance to the unchurched I live among. They make a mission of going after those who know church lingo, jargon, music, customs, and the rest. That group can spout off the names of preachers, religious books, and so on. They can tell you “what’s wrong with churches, pastors, religion and so on”. Church planters today go after them zealously and print invites like, “Are you tired of church, been turned off by church, try a different kind of church.” Its obvious that they after the “already reached before and strayed from church” to fill their seats.
The people I personally know have never been churched at all. They couldn’t name 3 preachers if offered a million dollar reward. They know of Billy Graham and Mother Teresa. Period. I know, because I’ve asked them over the past 2 years. 60 or more of them and besides me, that’s all they know. Now I’m talking about both successful, wealthy, educated, white collar friends along with struggling, blue collar workers all with one thing in common. They have zero experience with church. I do almost every breakfast, lunch, or trip with one or more of these. In time hundreds have come to Christ. I fished for 14 years with one Doctor before he came, I traveled the states for over 10 years with another. Some came over months, but not all.
As is well known, for years I leased a hunting preserve each season for 15 people and the only requirment to hunt on it was that the other 14 people had to have never been in a church in their entire life. Never! I connect better with these people than church people. For years I chartered a fishing boat and took strangers who had never been in a church in their lifetime in groups to fish. That’s how I can say I know these people. Now for the interviews. Over the past 2 years, I’ve asked each of these what keeps them from the Christian faith? The number one (#1) reason they don’t have faith in Christianity or go to church in every single case was exactly what Jesus it would be in John 17. They (my friends) see Christians as divided and judgmental (not of the world, but of other Christians).
To them, God can’t be the answer since His people are fragmented. WOW! Let me get specific. They ask simple but direct questions like, “Why didn’t Christians get behind Mike Huckabee when he ran for President? If we’re so “focused on the family” as we say, why do we throw our support to the least family focused candidate instead of Huckabee? Wow again! Or why do your book sections in Barnes & Nobles or other chains offer books with contrasting arguments of election, church styles of worship, and so on, if our faith is really “ONE”. Or why does a new hip employee disrespectfully call baptism “the God plunge” in an attempt to be cool, when their college history class says people actually were killed for being baptised. What’s wrong with the word “baptism” they ask. (This was from a college professor) You see, my friends are real and real relates to real. They aren’t looking for perfection, they look for agreement in the Christian world among Christians and they find little to none. We are a divided team in their eyes. Christians slandering larger churches, Church planters wasting hours at Starbucks sitting around tables with other Christians instead of working or dining with unchurched people, Christians criticising “t.v. evangelist”. And they ask “what’s with all these conferences”? Everytime they turn around another employee wants to go to another conference. In their world of business, they attend one a year and if really necessary two, but Christians are always in their huddles.
They despise the attacking of TBN from other Christians, the slander of Pat Robertson, the hatred spewed at the late Jerry Falwell from other “Christians”, and a host of other things all in that arena and they say it’s a turn off to them. They expect the world to attack Christians, they just can’t grasp why Christians bite and devour each other. In fact one tells me of his well meaning assistant giving him a popular Christian author’s book for Christmas. The writer was outstanding he says until he came to a disrespectful paragraph on the “pink haired” lady on televison. He said he actually tossed the book into his fireplace on Christmas eve at that moment. They’re tired of hearing us bash each other. They’re sick of the elbowing our way through Gods’ Kingdom over each other. In their worst moments they don’t attack and slander their competitors like “Christians” do. We take it to levels the devil himself is surprised of. When they go to a Superbowl event or something of like kind, they support the toothless guy in bad clothing holding a sign rooting for their team even if his style of support is different than theirs. They don’t criticize their own. Yet we “Christians” take every opportunity to tear down our own in the eyes of the “unchurched” world. One gentleman tells me that after losing a $53 million dollar deal that he and his office team were at a resturant and the competetor and his team walked in. He said, “I shook their hand and we knew it was just business. It hurt, but we don’t attack them. You “Christians” slander, judge and critique proudly without so much as a care about how little or petty it is”.
What did Jesus say? “Father make them one as we are one, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” He says this 3 times in this chapter. What He knows is exactly what my friends tell me. If we can’t tolerate each other, how can we expect the world to believe Jesus is God’s answer. These are the answers my friends gave, hope it helps as we do our mission.
Posted on February 8, 2010 - by admin
One lesson I taught my sons in their teenage years was a home-spun one I made up called, “The Lesson of the Tick & the Dog”. It’s about people types. Learning to discern and navigate your life properly without being hindered by those with wrong motives or lazy habits. Here’s the lesson…
As you go through life you’ll meet many people. Some add value to you, bring an example that inspires you, sharpen you at some phase of life or they will latch on, drag down, mooch off of, and drain your energy. Like “Ticks & Dogs”, people can be one or the other.
Now remember this; Ticks need a dog. Dogs don’t need ticks. Got that? Ticks NEED dogs, Dogs DON’T NEED ticks! That observation alone will decide who should be in your life and why some people are where they are in life. Tick types ride the coattail of the influence of others. They can’t produce anything worthwhile themselves, so they “hitch-hike” off the back of “dogs” that can produce. The only way a tick can go far is on the back of a dog that goes far. The only way a tick gets off the ground is on the back of a dog. Ticks are known for waiting on a blade of grass until a dog comes by. Once contact is made, the tick jumps on board.
You will find people like that all throughout life. They have no influence of their own, they need yours. They cannot produce anything on their own, they have to be attached to a dog that does. So look around and ask, “When left to no one but myself, do I do well or fail miserably” If you do very well, it’s probably because you are a dog. You can make it anywhere. If not, make a serious change, and not for another dog. I’ve had people on my coattail in life who just changed dogs at times. That’s hilarious. There’s something refreshing about being with other dogs. They want you, but don’t need you. They have a life and ambition of their own. I want them, but know I can make it without them, so our relationship is healthier.
Many times over the years, I watched my sons make good choices with friends and they’d say, “The Lesson of the Tick & the Dog” helped decide how close or distant they needed to be in their choice. Maybe it will do the same for you.