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Screens are an incredible tool and it is amazing what we can do with them. But with all tools, it always depends on how we use them. God always uses technological advances to spread His Word and the love of Jesus. He has orchestrated technology so we could get His message out all over the world.
Aaron Brockett • Screen Time • Romans 12:1-2
Series: Screen Time
Message: Digital Disciples
Pastor: Aaron Brockett
Study Guide (PDF)
January 26, 2020 | Transcript
Screen Time | Digital Disciples
Aaron Brockett | Romans 12:1-2
Thank you all so much. I love our team here. Our elders, our staff, all of our volunteers—none of this would be possible without all of you, so thank you for being who you are and following after Jesus as passionately as you do. So thank you so so much. It’s been a thrill of my life to serve the last 12 years here at Traders Point and I can’t wait for the future and all God is going to do. So thank you for that.
I want to look in the camera and say hello to everyone across all of our campuses, especially our brand-new Midtown campus. Can we give it up for our Midtown campus? If this is your first time to be with us, we launched our newest campus in Broad Ripple last week. They had just under 600 people last weekend at the grand opening.
Campus pastor, Kyle Riley, and that whole team, staff and volunteers, you guys are doing an amazing job. It was one of the colder Sundays we’ve had in a while last week and they were up early setting up tearing down outside with smiling faces. Can’t wait to hear how week number two goes for them.
We are wrapping up a series of messages that we’ve been in the last few weeks called Screen Time. And I just want to publicly thank the record numbers of people who have felt obligated to hold me accountable for my screen time. I have been in the grocery store several times over the last couple of weeks and I’ll be in an aisle and I’ll be on my screen, because (I just want to clarify this) I’m reading the grocery list my wife texted to me being the dutiful, loving, compassionate husband that I am.
And somebody that I don’t know just walked up behind me and in a very kind of creepy whisper said, “Better watch your screen time, pastor.” But that’s alright. I’ve got it coming. If I can dish it, I certainly better be able to take it.
I have heard from a number of you, all joking aside, you’ve just kind of expressed to me how the content of this series has been landing on you. And so much of it has been good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s been easy. And actually I think that is a really good message series, when it’s been good, when it’s been hopeful, when it’s been helpful—but it’s not necessarily been easy.
It’s been convicting. It’s been challenging. And I think that many of us, we know that our mental and emotional energy is getting wrapped up in our screens. We’re aware of it, but many of us, I think, just haven’t been sure what to do about it.
We have been careful not to glamorize screens, nor do we want to demonize them. I don’t think the answer is either one of those things. This has certainly not been a three-week Ted talk on technology. Nor has it been a three-week guilt trip for having a smart phone.
Last week I said that a screen, whether that’s your phone or your iPad or your computer of some kind, it’s a tool. And tools, in and of themselves, aren’t necessarily bad or good, it’s what you do with them that makes them bad or good. A good tool can make your life more productive and it can help you stay connected, but if you use it in a wrong way, especially like a screen, then it can be really challenging.
You look at screens and it’s remarkable what they provide for us. Who would have thought 100 years ago that you could actually talk to someone on the other side of the world as clearly and as plainly as if they were standing right there in front of you and you could do it via a screen? In fact, 100 years ago you couldn’t even have thought of it.
Who would have thought 75 years ago that we would have as much access to information as quickly as we can get it all the way from who won the 1980 World Series to the best recipe for Pad Thai to the common symptoms of lockjaw? All of this information… That’s what I googled this last week. Don’t judge. So all of this information is right at our fingertips—that quickly.
Who would have thought that the iPhone in your pocket right now has 100,000 times more processing power than the first computer that NASA used to send a man to the moon 50 years ago?
See, when it comes to screens a lot has changed and a lot has changed quickly. They are tools that can be used for good, but if we are not careful, used the wrong way, they can be a drain on our time, they can isolate us, they can leave us feeling emptier and more depressed and anxious than ever.
Many have expressed to me, sort of like a love/hate relationship with their screens. And they say, “You know, I love what it can do for me, but I’m not quite sure what it’s doing to me.” And oftentimes, after a significant amount of time on a screen, we walk away wondering, “Do I really want to give it that much time?” And it’s not like we meant for any of this to happen. I think that for most of us, it just sort of happened. And the technology came up on us so quickly that it sort of left us a bit flat footed, not really knowing how to manage it.
So, what we’ve just been wanting to do here at the beginning of a brand-new year is to just stop for a minute and re-evaluate our screen time and ask, “What is this doing to me emotionally and spiritually and relationally?” Because, we don’t want to be distracted from the voice of God in our lives.
God has promised that he is speaking by his word and by his Spirit. The questions is: Am I listening? And I think that most of us want to listen, it’s just that oftentimes we’ve got these other things competing for his voice and his presence.
We don’t want to be disconnected from the people we love and care about, because life goes so quickly. We don’t want to be detached from what is going on in our own heads and our own hearts. We want to be just like the leaders that we read about on week one of this series from 2 Chronicles. Do you remember that passage? We said that they understood the times in which they lived, therefore they knew the way to go.
So as we wrap this up and kind of put a bow on this series together, I just want to remind you that the primary purpose for these past three weeks is that we want to be more intentional with how we use and interact with screens.
If I could just kind of help you think about it, help you pause a little bit, give you some practical tools for applying this, then I’ve done my job. And as we wrap up today, I want to talk a little bit more about really what’s at stake when it comes to thinking about this. But I want to end on a positive note as well. I want to talk about some of the incredible opportunities that screens are giving us for our own personal and spiritual growth as well as to advance the kingdom of God and make the name of Jesus as widely known as possible.
So, here’s this maybe in the form of a question:
How can we be disciples in a digital age?
That’s really the question. Now, if you’re not familiar with that word, disciple, or if you heard it before but you’re not exactly sure what that means, a disciple is not someone who just merely believes in God. A disciple is not someone who just attends church regularly. A disciple isn’t even anybody who’s become a Christian. No, a disciple is an imperfect person who invites Jesus into every area of his life.
Instead of saying, “Hey, Jesus. In this area of my life where I’ve got the yellow, no trespassing tape, I’m going to take that tape down now and I’m going to invite you in. And, Jesus, I’m going to welcome you in my thought life, I’m going to welcome you into our marriage, I’m going to welcome you into my finances and in my job and on my screens. I want to follow you in every area of my life.”
And some of us have trusted Jesus to be the Savior of our eternal souls, but we’ve not yet made him Lord of our everyday lives. And that’s just simply what we want to do, we want to trust him, “Jesus, if I trust you to be my Savior, I trust you know what is best for me to be my Lord.”
So, I want to wrap up by looking one more time at the anchor passage for this whole series, Romans, 12, verses 1 and 2. So if you want to go ahead and turn there, or turn on your screen and get to Romans 12, I want to remind you one more time that Paul is writing this as encouragement to a group of people who were living in Rome during the first century.
Here’s what I want you to know about these people. Most of them were first-generation Christ followers, meaning that they hadn’t grown up in a Christian home, like maybe many of you. They hadn’t grown up with this modeled in a healthy way, maybe like some of you. They didn’t know what they were doing and so Paul is helping them to follow Jesus in every area of their lives.
Maybe for you, you’re exactly in that spot. You’re like, “You know what? I’m an adult. I didn’t grow up in church.” Or maybe you grew up in church, but you didn’t grow up in Christ—there’s a difference you know? Or maybe you grew up religious, but you didn’t really understand the gospel. So maybe you’re trying to feel your way through this—what does it mean to follow Jesus? And Paul’s words of encouragement can help us.
So, once again, starting off in verse 1 he says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,” here’s the statement, “but let God transform you into a new person,” how? “…by changing the way you think.” That’s where it always begins. “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
So, really what is at the heart of this entire passage is an encouragement for you and me to really pay attention to what is going on, primarily in our heads, and how that then affects our hearts, and then how that influences the way that we live. It’s what we choose to think about and then how those thoughts begin to influence our mood and our disposition and our overall emotions. That’s going to influence the kind of life that you live and the quality of your relationships.
Let me say it this way:
The life that you live is a direct reflection of the thoughts that you think.
I think that most of us probably know that. Maybe we’ve heard that in a sermon one time. Maybe we read it in a book. It’s nice. It makes sense, but maybe it’s not necessarily enough to change you. Or maybe you’re like, “Well, I don’t really know how to actually apply that.”
It’s very similar to that statement that I had said to me all the time when I was growing up, “Aaron, you are what you eat.” My mom would say that to me. My teachers would say that to me. And I understood it. I believed it, but it wasn’t enough to change my eating behavior.
Like, “You are what you eat.”
“I know that, but the Twinkie is really good.”
“Aaron, are you really going to eat those two barbecue Hot Pockets right before bed?”
“Yes. Yes, I am, because they are crunchy and tasty and tangy, and the carbs help me sleep. Stop judging.”
So I think that most of us know that you are what you eat.
We hear this: Your life is going to be determined by your thoughts. But, it’s not necessarily enough to change us. Here’s the objection. Maybe you’ve already thought it, “Well, I can’t control my thoughts. Like, stuff just runs into my head. I didn’t ask it to. I feel like I’m sort of at the mercy of my thoughts.”
I think that what Paul is driving at, maybe here’s a little bit better way to understand it, he says: Listen. Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts—always. And this is really what is at stake when it comes to our screen time.
So, if it’s true that your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts, then your strongest thoughts will always be influenced by what you are exposed to the most. And that’s where screens come in, because for many of us, what we are exposed to the most throughout the day is something on a screen. And we can do something about that.
In 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 5 it urges us (I love this), “Take every thought captive,” it’s this idea that these thoughts are going to run into your mind and you take them captive, you go Jason Bourne on them. You go after (that wasn’t even in my notes, I didn’t even do that first hour—that’s good) you take every thought captive, “making them obedient to Christ.”
So when a thought comes into your mind that shouldn’t be there, you just turn into Jason Bourne—that’s enough to motivate me. Let’s do it. Let’s go after the thought, let’s tackle it to the ground. Just because a thought runs into your mind doesn’t mean that it needs to stay there. Just because a thought is there doesn’t mean that you continue to harbor it.
I got invited to go out to a great ministry in Montana last June. A friend of mine runs it. It’s a ministry called The Refuge. It’s out in the middle of Montana and it’s beautiful. And he said, “Hey, I’ve got a friend of mine who is a rancher and today he is branding and tagging hundreds and hundreds of calves.” And he said, “It’s a sight to see. It’s an amazing operation. You want to go check it out?” And I didn’t want to be rude. I didn’t really, but I was like, “Okay, sweet. That would be awesome.”
So we go and I’m glad I went, because I’ve never seen anything like that before. There was a helicopter in the sky; there were more cattle than I’ve ever been able to see all at once in my entire life.
There were all of these calves that, by the way, did not want to be tagged or branded. They didn’t volunteer for it. They weren’t like filing up in a single file line. They weren’t cooperating. No, it was crazy. They were trying to get away. In fact, a few of them did. And they’ve got these ranchers on horses with ropes, they looked like John Wayne right out of one of those old westerns.
And I watched as they would let a few calves go and then they would rope them and wrangle them to the ground, and I thought about 2 Corinthians 10:5. These thoughts run out and you’re like, “You know what? I’m going to rope them down and I’m going to submit them to the Lordship of Christ. Just because they popped into my mind doesn’t mean that they stay there.”
Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8 says, “Fix your thoughts,” In other words, be intentional, “on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Proverbs tells us that whatever is in our hearts will eventually show us what we’ve become. So it’s this simple equation: Change your thinking, change your life. Great. How do you do that? Change your inputs, change your thinking. This is really what is at stake when it comes to screens and social media.
I encourage you to get on a daily Bible reading plan. It is not that you would spend an hour reading through large chunks of Scripture, it is that maybe you would expose yourself to 10 or 15 verses and fill your heart and mind with God’s word so that he can help you take every thought captive throughout your day.
See, we oftentimes think that it’s the big decisions that we make occasionally that change our lives, but it’s not. It’s the small decisions that we make consistently that changes the direction of our lives.
Social science is just backing up what God’s word has been telling us for centuries. There was this study from McCombs School of Business that found that simply having a smart phone within reach, even if it’s switched off or placed face down, reduces cognitive capacity.
In other words, I have a cell phone in my back pocket right now. Studies say that this sermon is dumber just because I have it in my hand. Maybe you’re like, “Well, this sermon is okay.” Well, you’re probably right. I need to get rid of my phone for it to get better, alright?
However—it gets better—however, putting your smart phone in a different room can give your brain a boost, even if you consider yourself not to be highly dependent upon it. They believe that periods of separation from smart phones, and I say in quote, “May allow people to perform better, not just by reducing interruptions, but also by increasing available cognitive capacity.”
Another study showed that the more you use Facebook, the lower your mental health and life satisfaction, which we didn’t need a study for that, we already know. Just read the comment section and we go, “Yep.” I won’t say that. I filtered it. When they interact with real people, when they get off Facebook and they interact with people face to face, it improves.
One study of adults who stayed off of Facebook for one week showed that they were happier, less lonely, less angry, less worried, less depressed than those who were on it. If the only thing you take away from this message is: Get off of Facebook. That’s probably good enough. Your life will get better, the studies just show.
It gets even crazier. Randall Brown is a doctor who studied neuroscience before co-founding something called the Dopamine Labs. Listen to what he says. This is eye opening. He said, “A computer programmer now adays understands how the brain works so they know how to write code that will get your brain to do certain things. They know that your mind is stimulated to get a neurological response. So they are trying to get you to come back to this screen as often as possible. What people don’t realize is that you are a Guinee pig on the screen pushing the buttons and sometimes getting the likes.”
What he says next is scary. “Sometimes, we hold back the likes on Instagram and then give them to you in a burst to maximize the dopamine. We have algorithms we use for this. We’re doing this to keep you on there.”
So this leads me to the question that I’m asking of myself and my family and our whole church family:
Is my screen using me or will I use it?
We talked about some of the challenges, but I also believe that there are some incredible opportunities that we can lean into when it comes to technology, because throughout history one of things that we’ve seen is that God often leverages technological advances in order to get the word out about his love and his grace that is made available to anyone and everyone through Jesus.
In fact, there is this somewhat random verse in 3 John 1:13. It’s at the very end of this series of letters that John writes and he concludes by saying this. He says, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.”
Do you hear what he is saying there? He says: Listen, I would much rather meet up and talk to you in person, because that is always the more effective means of communication. I think we would all agree with him, right?
How many of you have ever sent an email to someone and they misinterpreted it and they got offended? Anyone? Yeah, me either. Occasionally. How many of you have had somebody send you a long—like a four or five paragraph text message? And you are like, “I don’t have time for that.” So you respond back with just a single emoji. And they get offended.
So digital communication, what it’s given to us, is we can communicate to more people at greater distances way faster, but what it’s taken from us is better communication, because most of communication is not audible, most of it is non-verbal. It’s eye contact and it’s body language and it’s tone.
So John says: Hey, listen. I would much rather come to you with this message in person because I think it’s going to be way more effective. However, the urgency of this message requires me to rely upon the cutting technology of the day, which happen to be a scroll, papyrus and ink 2.0. And he said: Listen. I’m trying to get this message to you as fast as I can. And we see that God is always using technological advances to get the message out to as many people as possible, because of what is at stake.
So if you go back to between the Old and the New Testaments, many of you know this. This is called the intertestamental period. There were 300 years of silence between the last book in the Old Testament and the first book in the New Testament, Malachi and Matthew.
And it appeared for those years that God wasn’t saying anything that God wasn’t doing anything and people began to wonder, like: We’ve been hearing about this prophecy of the coming Messiah for so long but it’s been 300 years [see footnote], is he really going to come?
But actually, if you look back at what was happening around the world, you begin to see that God was actually leaning into some of the technological advances to prepare for the message of the Messiah’s birth.
So we see that the very first highway system ever created in the history of the world came about during that period of time. The Romans built the first highway system. It was once said that all roads lead to Rome. And because of that people could travel more freely and to different nations and interact with people who they normally couldn’t interact with.
People began to speak a common language. It was said at the time that everybody spoke a little Greek.
And then there was this time of world peace. It was forced world peace, but it was still world peace called the Pax Romana, which actually just brought kind of a settling around the world and people could travel and speak more clearly.
Imagine that for a minute. There was world peace. All of those poor girls in those beauty pageants had nothing to say when it came to what they would wish for, because there was already world peace.
And you look at that and you’re going, man 300 years [see footnote] God where are you? And what we see is that he was leveraging technology so that when the Messiah would be born news could spread quickly and globally that a Messiah had been born in Bethlehem.
I’m not one of the guys that are like 20 reasons why God is coming back in 2020. I’m not one of those guys, but I do believe that we always need to be ready. And I believe that God is doing the same thing. I believe that he is orchestrating technology today so that the message of his hope and his grace, that can only come through Jesus, could be spread to as many people as possible around the globe. So, you’ve got the invention of the printing press. And you’ve got the invention of radio and television and the internet—all of this to advance the kingdom of God.
So I just want to tie a bow on this series by just talking about some of the things that God is doing with technology and how we, as a church, want to be a part of that. In fact, our friends at Life Church have developed a Bible app called YouVersion. I know that many of you are on it.
I’m actually on a year-long Bible reading plan through YouVersion. And since it’s inception in July of 2008 (so 12 years ago) they’ve made the Bible digital and it’s gotten out to so many people around the globe. In fact, the Bible has been downloaded and installed on 350 million unique devices in every country around the globe. In 2018 alone, there were 950 million Bible plans completed, 27.2 billion chapters read, 409 million verses shared.
If you go on YouVersion’s kind of like annual report on their website, they’ve got this really cool feature where you can click on a country and it will show you the most read, highlighted, shared Bible verse for that country.
So, if you were to click on the nation of China, the most read, highlighted, shared verse in China right now—there’s stuff going on in China, have you heard? Here’s the verse: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s amazing that we can just know what people are reading in the Bible in China.
If you were to click on Russia, Psalm 12:7, “You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked.”
If you were to click on Mexico it’s Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.”
And I’m amazed and I’m humbled how God can use technology in these ways to get the message out of the hope and the grace that can only come through Jesus.
The average churchgoer only physically attends a campus about 1.7 times a month, because life happens. Maybe you’re travelling for work. Maybe you’ve got sick kids at home. Maybe you’re on vacation.
I remember when I was growing up, if you missed church you missed it. There was no podcasting. There was no going back and live streaming, getting the message. But now, we’ve made it available for you to still be engaged even when you can’t be here. Now, it’s not meant to replace your physical engagement or your relationships, because you can’t necessarily get that online, you can’t necessarily get Kids’ Ministry online—but man, if you’re gone it’s a great way to stay engaged. Or, if you’re just checking things out for the first time, it’s a safe way to just sort of check it out.
And the goal for us is engagement. We want to get the message out to as many people as possible. Of course, I would prefer to meet with you face to face, but I’ll lean into the technology of the day, because the message is too urgent.
In the last quarter of 2019, here in our church we had between six and 10 thousand people on average who engaged online each weekend. That’s roughly the same number who showed up physically every weekend.
On January 5th, 2020, we had Brian and Jennea Welch here for an interview. Many of you were here. We had 12,500 physically on the campuses. We had 42,000 people engage online.
In 2019, we had people tuning in from 340 cities in our state Indiana alone, over 2,100 cities in United States, 49 states plus 60 countries—Facebook Live and Traderspoint.tv at Christmas we had 41,815 people engage in that.
So, if you look at our state, we’ve actually got a map that shows where people around our state are tuning in from every weekend. You can widen it out a little bit and go to our country and you see all of the states that people are tuning in from. I really like this next one. It’s just the world. And you look at it and I just don’t know—like I see a little dot in Iceland, poor little dot in Iceland and it’s like who are those people? Oftentimes the great thing about technology is that I don’t have to wonder, I get to hear from them.
Oftentimes people will email me, and they’ll share their story with me. In fact, about 10 days ago I got an email from a gentleman who is out of state and I just want to read it for you. He said this. He said, “Dear Pastor Aaron, My wife and I watched your interview with Brian Welch on YouTube. I’m a retired teacher so Brian and I don’t have much in common.” I love that. You think?
And he goes, “Sort of out of my comfort zone, however, listening to him I realized,” I love his heart, he goes, “I realized that we weren’t so different. That even though I’ve not taken drugs and I don’t get drunk, we have both been empty at one time in our lives and only God could fill that void. I go visit inmates at my local county jail. So, I retold Brian’s story this past Wednesday and it encouraged the prisoners and it reached them. And I just wanted you to know. God bless you and your church.”
So, in the next year we hope to fully launch an online campus. Right now we’re just kind of streaming it, we’re just kind of putting it out there. But we want to give it a lot more thought and we want to be more intentional about it and we want to resource people who maybe can’t physically show up at one of our campuses for whatever reason, but we still want them to be involved in community through groups and serving and giving. They can still be engaged. So, we’ll have an online campus pastor who will actually shepherd that group of people.
And we’ve had over 24 people all over the country contact us and say, “Would you train us? Would you train us to be a group leader to host a watch party? Because we want to be as intentional about this as we can.” And these 24 people are from the states of Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas.
And I’ve changed the names, but one of them is a lady named Annette. She’s a clinical director of a counseling and recovery assistance center in Fort Wayne. And she works with and has a huge heart for people who are far from God and anyone who is wrestling with addiction. She knows people who would love to be a part of Traders Point, or a church like Traders Point, and she’s heard from them that maybe they’d tried a church and maybe they’ve had a bad church experience. And she just said, “You know what? I want to host a Traders Point watch party and I want to invite them to come to a safe space for them to hear about Jesus.”
Sara is a young girl who grew up in church, but she heard about Traders Point from a friend in Westfield. And she’s been tuning in for a couple of years. And, she loves the online experience. She has a child with Autism and that’s made it a challenge to show up physically at a church service. So, she shares the live feed on Facebook and her friends jump in and watch with her and they comment and talk about it.
John, who works for Young Life, is in a community out in the western part of the United States and they are sort of in an isolated community, meaning he said, “If we’re going to head into town and back it’s a whole day’s drive.” And he said, “There are 50 staff at this retreat center and with family and kids there are 150 of us.” And he said, “Traders Point is our home. We tune in. We gather together every week and we watch online.”
Emily, who attended Traders Point when she was growing up, moved to Colorado to go to college and she had a hard time finding a Christian organization on campus. So, she just decided to host a watch party and invite her classmates and friends and some of the girls in the dorm to be a part of the church where she met Jesus.
So, we’re dreaming about leveraging technology to go with our students as they graduate, because we hear from a number of them who say, “I go off to college and then I just have a hard time getting connected somewhere.” So host a watch party. Be a leader in Bloomington, West Lafayette, Muncie, Fort Wayne, South Bend.
I just want you to understand our heart behind this. We’re not trying to replace somebody’s church experience, because I think a church experience is way better. But we are trying to engage people right where they are.
We often say this, “It’s just a great place to be able to connect and help introduce you to your community and to your people,” and the message is far too urgent for us to just sit back and hope that they hear.
So, I want you to be aware of what kind of church you’re involved in and the bigness of our vision and what we’re desiring to do. We’re not patting ourselves on the back. We don’t think that we are great because of this. In fact, God’s leveraging technology across all kinds of churches because it’s the same God and the same Jesus who are trying to get the message out of his hope and his grace. We give God all of the glory for it.
But I want you to be on mission with us. One of my favorite things to see on social media is when we share an upcoming sermon series and I click on the comments and all it is is you tagging your friends, “Hey, you’ve got to check this out. You can come and sit with me. Hey, if you don’t feel comfortable coming, you can watch online.”
I want to equip you to just be better inviters. If you go to TPCC.org/invite we’ve just got some helpful instruction on how you can do this. And the best invitation is just to say, “Hey, I know maybe you’re not a religious person, maybe you’re not into God, but, man, Jesus has changed my life and I’d just love for you to come check it out. Just come and see.”
Statistically, 75 percent of people say that if somebody that they know and trust invited them to church, they’d go. So, we are not about making a profit. We are not about making a big name for ourselves. We are not about growing a big church. We are about advancing the kingdom of God and the hope that can only be found in him.
So every now and then in my quiet time I’m talking to God and I’m trying to be quiet enough to let him talk to me, I just start thinking about where all this is going. Every time I’m out with friends, “Where is all this going?” And I’m just like, “I have no idea.” I don’t know.
But I do know this. One day it’s going to be orientation day in heaven. And I have this imaginary conversation with somebody who is going to walk up to me and go, “I’ve never met you before. In fact, I’ve never been in the same room with you, but because you guys cared enough, because you guys gave sacrificially, because you guys leaned in, because you guys were on mission, I heard—better yet, I experienced the grace that came through Jesus. And your church is the reason why I’m here now.” I just have that conversation and it motivates me to continue to do what I do, because eternity is long and lives matter, and this is real.
We are not just playing church. And I’m not just trying to give you some helpful life tips for you to be a better person. I don’t want you to be conformed, I want you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind for the glory of God and for the good of people.
Father, we come to you today and I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t expect to be, but I am—just how in the world you could use us to make this kind of impact, because, honestly, God, 12 years ago when I came here, I didn’t have a vision like this. My only vision was survival. My only vision was, “I don’t want to mess this up.”
And so, God, I just pray that you would keep us humble, because it is not about our ability—it’s all about your goodness. And I pray that you would keep us hungry, because the mission is urgent. And I pray that you would keep us healthy, because so many people have had bad church experiences that have turned them off from Jesus, and we don’t want to give them one more excuse to turn away.
So, Father, it begins with us. In each of our minds, the thoughts that we are thinking, what we’re exposing ourselves to that affects our thoughts and our hearts, our motivations. God, I pray that you would always keep those in check. I pray that you would help all of us realize that we’re not just part of a church, we’re part of a movement trying to get the message of your grace that comes through Jesus to a watching world. So thank you. And we just want to spend a few minutes listening to you now. We ask this is Jesus’ name: Amen.
Romans 12:1-2 | Romans 12:1-2
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