Sunday, September 27, 2009

The land of miracles.

Today I finished reading a book by Thom Rainer called "Surprising Insights From the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them." It's a big book with lots of research, so it took me about 3 months to finally finish it, but I'm so glad I took all that time to read it and really soak it in and think on it.

This book takes an interesting approach in surveying the unchurched; most research on the unchurched is based on conversations and interviews with people who are still unchurched - that is, they're still not attending a local church. Rainer, though, interviews the formerly unchurched - that is, those who are new Christians or are new to church, those who have just recently made the move from not attending church to regularly attending church. In this book, he interviews the formerly unchurched about what it was that drew them to the church, and he interviews pastors of churches that are successfully reaching the unchurched and non-Christians, asking them about themselves and their churches.

So because of that twist on the research, and mostly because my good friend Josh recommended the book to me, I took the time to read it. And I'm SO glad I did.

At the end of the last chapter, there's a line that really resonated with me, that really touched me in the deepest part of my heart. You need to know that I have a greatly broken heart for those who don't know Jesus, and I have a deep-seated passion for Christ's Bride, the Church.

So as Rainer wrote about reaching those who don't know Jesus Christ, and about how many churches in our country (and ESPECIALLY in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention) are in serious, dangerous decline, he found hope at the end of his research - even in the midst of the serious anemia in the American Church, overall. He saw that there are churches and pastors that are reaching the lost in droves, and that are focused on God's Kingdom, and that are "making hell a less crowded place" as Perry Noble from NewSpring Church likes to say.

After thinking on churches that are making a difference for God, this is what Rainer wrote on page 234:
"I have entered the land of miracles, and I do not wish to return. Too much is at stake. Too many lives hang in the balance. Let us storm the gates of hell. And let us see, in God's power, more of the unchurched become the formerly unchurched. To God be the glory!"

He's seen the land of miracles and doesn't want to return. I agree. I hear so many self-professed prophets talk about how the church is dying and how churches that grow and are seeker friendly only water down the Gospel to tickle people's ears, as if the choices are either be friendly or be antagonistic to seekers!

NO! I refuse to throw in the towel, I refuse to raise the white flag, I refuse to give up, shut up, or stop. I'll freakin storm hell with a half-empty water pistol, and do it alone, if I have to!!!

Like Rainer said, I've seen the land of miracles, and I don't want to go back to ordinary. I've seen the Gospel transform lives and I don't want to be anything but a part of that. I've seen people who were ready to take their own life, and then Jesus saved them both spiritually and physically. I've seen people who once were living in chains, in bondage to drugs or sex or alcohol or rage or a myriad of other things find those chains fall off and find healing in community. I've seen people so in love with Jesus Christ and so committed to the cause of Christ that they would choose to sacrifice immense amounts of money, time, and even their own lives because of Him.

So just like Rainer, I've seen the land of miracles in my 9 years of being in ministry, and I don't want to return to a regular, ordinary life.

And now, I'm gonna go fill up my water pistol halfway with water and then I'm headed off in the direction of hell. Feel free to join me if you'd like - but even if you don't, it's going down son ...

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