"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." Apple's "Think Different" commercial 1997. (After Apple commercial) Do you think different and like it because you do? How crazy are you? How crazy am I? Have you ever felt like a round peg in a square hole, a misfit, a rebel, a trouble maker? Do you find sometimes you don't follow the rules? Are you crazy enough to think you can change things and make a difference? If so, then you are at the right place and in the correct church.
Today, I want to talk about thinking differently, think of "Re-Imagining Church." This year, I want to re-think church. Henry Ford said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it." Will you engage with me today and this year to re-imagine church? If we will, we will be part of something that will change things.
It's okay to think and it's okay to "think different" about church. Your attending Life Gate Church already says you "think different." You are a free thinker. We "think different" here. Actually, you must be able to "think different" for Jesus to use you the way he wants. Jesus, talking to the twelve asked them how people were thinking about him concerning who he was. "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets," most of the disciples answered.
Matthew 16:15 "BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
But what about you? How do you think? What about us? What is our thinking about Jesus and about church?
Matthew 16:16-18 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.
Jesus was already re-imagining worship. He would call what he was re-imagining "my church," but it would require being built upon a different thinking. Jesus said, "Peter, I like how you think. I can build something upon your thinking that hell itself cannot stop." I believe we at Life Gate Church are people Jesus can build an even greater church upon than we've yet experienced, but it will require us to think different and re-imagine church. Are you up for it?
This year, I want to challenge you and myself to re-think and re-imagine church. What would a church greater than anything we've ever experienced look like? What would attending it be like? How would the greatest church this area has ever seen look? Take a moment and think about that.
It's always been my desire to help Jesus build and create a great local church that will outlive me. I believe you are that way too. Certainly you want to be a member and part of a church that remains after your gone. Let's build and be a part of a church that outlives us and outlives generations to come.
We all experience our rollercoaster rides through life. Sometimes family is a rollercoaster. Marriage has its ups and downs. Business can be a rollercoaster. It's that way with church too. Life Gate Church has had its rollercoaster rides. We've been up and we've been down. However, no matter how hell attempted to stop us, it hasn't. That alone tells us Jesus is building. We've had very productive years, but I believe our most productive years for Life Gate can be ahead, not behind, but it's time to re-imagine church?
I think back about Life Gate Church. We were the first successful non-denominational charismatic type church in our area. We were the first to focus our praise and worship on the way the Bible teaches with the singing of choruses, playing all types of instruments, dancing before the Lord, etc. It's popular today in every church, but it wasn't when we began and we were greatly criticized. We were the first to use projectors and screens to help us with praise and teaching. Again, it's common today, but it wasn't when we began. We were the first to challenge traditional teachings and false doctrines concerning the kingdom of God. We declared Jesus was King now. I remember a float we put into a Christmas parade depicting "He's not a baby anymore." We did another float called "Joy to the World the Lord HAS COME." We've thought different and it's brought us to where we are.
However, we need to realize and re-think something. What got us here won't get us there. What got us here was good and even great, but I want to go "there." In our personal lives we use our talents and abilities to get us "here." A time comes when we bog down. We stop advancing. It's not that what got you "here" was bad, but now what got you "here" won't allow you to go further. We either settle for where we've gotten, or re-imagine, re-think, make the adjustments, and move on.
I believe it's this way at Life Gate. We've been phenomenal, but will what got us here take us there?
Another thought in re-imagining church and our lives is we all desperately want to know what "to do" in life and in church to take us "there." Just as important as knowing what "to do" is, knowing what "to stop" doing is as well. I talk to a lot of people about why their lives are not getting better. I've learned it's often people don't need to learn something else to start doing. They need to learn what to stop doing, i.e. stop spending, stop being lazy, stop drinking so much, stop doing drugs, and stop eating so much. Think about your life. Is the thing stopping you from going "there" dependant upon your learning something to start doing, or learning what you need to stop doing? These are flip sides of the same coin. It's that way in church also. So, is there something we should stop doing when we re-imagine church? Along with what we need to learn to do, think about what we need to stop doing.
What does it mean if we re-imagine church? "Re" - to do again, repetition, regenerate. "Imagine" - from image, to form a mental picture, something not present to the senses." If you "re-imagined" church what would a re-imagined church look like? What new mental image do you see not yet present to your senses?
When a computer needs to be re-imaged something isn't working correctly, or working period. A virus got in. It's gotten malware - malicious software. The registry's corrupt. The system and hard drive is fragmented. Re-imaging the computer will re-move the problems and re-place what is necessary. The computer now operates at full potential.
This is sort of what I want to do when I say "re-imagining church." What do we need to do so Life Gate will operate at full potential? What do we need to start doing and what do we need to stop doing?
The apostles took the Old Testament and re-imagined it into the New Testament. Jesus taught them to take the Law of Moses and the laws and legalisms of Judaism and re-imagine the church and Christianity. The old worship system was cluttered with the virus of false religion, the malware of false doctrines and fragmented caused by the Pharisees, Sadducees, PhD's, and religious sects. Jesus told people they were taught to think one way, but he wanted them to re-imagine and think different.
Matthew 5:21-22 "YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' BUT I TELL YOU that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
Matthew 5:27-28 "YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID, 'Do not commit adultery.' BUT I TELL YOU that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:43-44 "YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' BUT I TELL YOU: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Jesus taught us to think different. He re-imaged the Old and came out with the New. He re-imagined synagogue worship and saw church. What do we see?
Sometimes we don't know exactly how and what something should be. The reason frequently is what something should be doesn't yet exist. Its referenced Henry Ford said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Do we need a faster church? No. We do church at the speed of light now. Henry Ford wanted to take people out of a horse drawn wagon and put people into automobiles. He took them from "here" to "there." I want to take us from "here" to "there" because I believe Jesus wants us to go there. How about you? Do you believe he wants a church like this area has never experienced before?
Let's begin putting some legs and face on what we've said. There's a commercial on television saying, "If it has our name on it, you have our word on it." (Hunt's Nissan) I like it. They're saying if our name is on it, it's going to be a quality product done with excellence. If you purchase from us, you will have a quality experience. That's how Judy and I feel, and have always felt, about church. If it has Life Gate Church on it, it has all our names on it and it should be a quality experience from the time I drive in the parking lot until I leave and I want to be encouraged by that experience during the week. When I attend church, I want quality child care and quality student ministries. I expect quality worship. I expect quality preaching and teaching. I'm attempting to re-imagine my preaching and teaching. I ask myself what I can start doing to make it better. What do I need to stop doing? How does Delbert Young's preaching and teaching re-imagined look to you? I'm serious. Tell me. Take time. Give it some thought then write me a letter. Send me an email.
Re-imagining church is a huge thought to get our heads around, so let's make it a little more practical. I've asked every leader to re-imagine what they do and lead. What do they need to begin doing and what do they need to stop doing. I've told them no thought is too expensive. It doesn't cost money to think and I've learned, if it's God, he will pay for it. I'm asking you to help us think. Re-imagine church with us. Think in terms of teams and areas. How does a church that thinks different look in that specific area? Tell me. Tell us.
Following up this thought some people see things that could be better and their way of making it better is by complaining. I know no one here would do that, but just in case someone who does read or hear this sermon online, etc, I'll say this for them. If you re-imagine something to be better and what you see would help take us "there," jump in and help make it happen. Don't complain. Help us make it happen. Sometimes people doing absolutely nothing attempt to tell others doing all they can do, what to do. Sometimes what they say is very good, but never happens. Be constructive by becoming a part of the team doing what you're imagining. I was looking for the "faster horses" quote by Henry Ford online and found many quotes by him. Among them is this one, "Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." I want success. How about you? So, when you re-imagine and see something, and you probably already have, help do something about it.
Let me give you some areas you could help us think different and re-imagine in.
Giving - There were weeks and months this past year we did not meet budget and Judy and I adjusted to that so our church could meet our financial obligations. It's a tough economic time on us all. Of course, your giving enables us to do outreach and benevolence. Without your giving, nothing can happen. Perhaps you can't tithe, but you can give something. Re-imagine your giving.
Greeting - Pastor Don Dowda oversees our Greeting Ministry. Could you get here 30 minutes early a few times a month with a smile to greet our guests and members? Help us re-imagine how we can do that well.
Nursery - We provide a very good safe nursery. We are blessed with great nursery workers, but could you help us there maybe once a month? Joyce King takes care of that for us. Tell her you'll help us re-imagine that.
Children's Ministries - Joyce King also makes certain someone is there for your children and your children are in a safe place. Angie Williamson and Pastor Paula Lytle serve back there and are extremely creative, but perhaps you are too and you could help. This year, they are planning to "show off" our children several times. Help us re-imagine your children's ministries.
Praise and Worship - Terry Williamson takes care of praise and worship, but perhaps you play an instrument, or can sing well. Talk to him. Help us re-imagine praise and worship.
Media - All these screens, images, projectors, etc don't just happen. Kevin and Gailynn Robinson make sure it does. Perhaps you're interested in that sort of thing. Help us re-imagine our media.
Life Groups - Life Groups are our evening services. Several homes host groups where personal ministry is given through the gifts of the Spirit. These groups are deeply relational and encourage one another. Tell Pastor Doug Eaker you would like to be involved and help us re-imagine Life Groups.
Student Ministries - Jason and Christy Booth provide teaching and fellowship for students. They find a way to get your children to camps and minister to and love them. Perhaps that's an area you would enjoy and could help us re-imagine Student Ministries.
Missions - From time to time our church will do something overseas. A few years ago, a group went to Haiti. Pastor Steve Lytle has a burden for missions. Steve is thinking different and planning some overseas trips. Perhaps you would like to participate in something like that. Talk to Steve and help us re-imagine our missions.
Imagine something. Create something that will take us there from here. One of be best examples I can give is our women's ministry. Angela Attardo and Susan Elliot have created an astounding women's ministry done with excellence. It has our name on it.
Women's Ministry - Basically two churches have come together (that's defragging) to study God's word through the Beth Moore Proverbs study. That's thinking different! They are crazy enough to think they can make a difference. This year, they will continue the Beth Moore Proverbs study, have a Lady's Luncheon in April or May, have prophetic ministry come in, create a food drive to help the local Food Pantry, participate October in the "Race for the Cure" supporting breast cancer survivors, collect items for the Women's Shelter, and host a basket auction to raise money to do all they want to do. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. Listen, I've got personal money to support that.
These are a few areas we can focus our re-imagining upon. There are other areas as well and I believe areas not yet imagined. But, I want to ask each of us a question. If you put a percentage upon your personal contribution towards helping build a church superior to anything this area has experienced, what percentage would that be?
So, as Jesus asked, "But, what about you?" How do you think about church? Can we "think different," be crazy enough to think we can change things, be misfits, rebels, trouble makers? Is our thinking something Jesus can build his church upon this year? What do we need to start doing and what do we need to stop doing? What would a church look like in our area yet to be experienced?
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