A New Church
Why do we need another church?
I’ve heard that question a lot lately as I have been meeting folks in the community and telling them about our new church.
Why a new church?
I heard recently that there are 17 churches in our area:
Bethel, CrossWay, Grants Creek, New Hope, Shiloh, Victorious Life, Sylvan Methodist, Wesley Chapel, Washington Chapel, Dry Creek, Church by Dry Creek, Cypress Creek Church, Church on Gainesville Road, Romulus Road Methodist, Church on Wesley Chapel, Church on Sylvan Loop, Mt. Zion Church
Did you know that there are 3266 SBC churches alone in the state of Alabama?
That doesn’t count the other denominations and the non-denominations and then all the non-protestant churches!
So why then do we need another church?
The two largest are First Gardendale and Hunter Street. Those two churches literally go back and forth each week as to which is the largest and it depends on which gained the most members that week. Brookhills, which a couple of our guys went to Friday night, is listed in the top 100 fastest growing churches in America under the leadership of Dr. David Platt.
But did you know that the “median” SS attendance is 51.
Now let’s take a quick statistical class to make sure we understand what that means. If we were to line up all 3266 SBC churches from smallest to largest and then went down that line until we came to the church in the dead center of that line, church number 1633, and then checked it’s average attendance it would be 51! That means there are 1632 that are below it in attendance and there are 1632 churches above it in attendance. That means that 1632 of our churches have attendances of 51 or less each week.
Let me give you a rough estimate of the rest of the churches:
· 815 average between 51 and 100
o 2447 attendance 100 or less!
· 490 average between 101 and 200
· 163 average between 201 and 324
· 163 average 325 and above
· 75% reach 100 or less
· 90% reach 200 or less
Why are so many churches reaching so few people?
I believe that there are several reasons.
- You can and do have small communities where there is not a great population of people therefore smaller churches.
- There are areas of decline and therefore churches decline also. Though sometimes this means that the church is not meeting or is unwilling to meet the needs of the community around it.
- I believe another reason can be the establishment of new churches which of course fit in this end to begin with. We are currently one of those churches. Our SBC Convention has committed to starting 2,000 new churches a year to keep up. Again we are one of those churches! WE HAD 51 LAST SUNDAY WHICH WAS OUR 10TH WEEK!
- But I also believe that the number one reason is because the church, and more specifically the people who make up the church, are unwilling to reach a world for Jesus unless it is on their terms.
Turn and read with me Mark 2:13-22.
Mark is writing to a Gentile audience and he is introducing them to Jesus. He began in chapter 1 with John the Baptist and then the baptism of Jesus. Then very briefly he shares with us the temptation of Jesus. Then in verse 14 when John was placed in prison Jesus began His ministry. He tells us;
· Calling disciples
· Casting out an unclean spirit
· Healing Peter’s mother-in-law
· Healing after the Sabbath
· Preaching in Galilee
· Cleansing of a Leper
Jesus is then completely surrounded by people and He literally could not enter the city because of the crowd seeking Him.
In chapter 2 He has returned back to Capernaum and He continues His ministry. But now He is doing more than healing people He is meeting with sinners. Here the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day got uncomfortable and begin to question Him.
In this passage I believe that we can see three very important lessons that Jesus taught about His ministry. I believe that these are lessons that we can apply to the church today and answer why we need another church.
1. He Came to Save Sinners, not to call the religious. (vs. 13-17)
In this passage we see the calling of Levi who later would be named Matthew which means “gift of God.” Levi was a dreaded tax collector. This means that he was HATED by the Jewish people. He may have been the one that introduced Zaccheus to Jesus. Zaccheus may have been at this party.
What we do know is that Levi forsook everything to follow Jesus. The next thing he did was to throw a party and invite all his friends, his “sinner” friends, all of his “unchurched” friends, the folks that he had been hanging with and he also invited his new friend, Jesus.
Immediately the religious people started complaining, “Look He is eating and drinking with sinners!”
Isn’t that just like so many of us today? If we catch one of us associating with a “sinner” then we immediately start talking about him, not about the fact that he might be sharing Jesus or building a relationship so that he might share Jesus.
I want you to know that gone are the days the lost will just walk into the church. There is too much else for them to do and attract them elsewhere.
People today the church must be willing to do whatever we can to catch those that are lost and going to spend an eternity away from Christ. Then as we draw them to Jesus and they accept Him then He will make the life-changing effect on them and not us!
That means that we take people right where they are. We cannot expect the man who is heading for hell to think and act like us. He is on another road and heading a different direction. He does not think like us.
You know I have never seen a fisherman complain about getting out in a boat, messing with slimy bait, getting hot and sweaty and then catching a stinky fish. I have never heard one say when he caught one, “Oh man I thought this fish would be cleaned already!”
You know we don’t clean the fish before we catch them do we. No we catch the old stinky fish and then we clean them.
We all sing the song, “Just As I Am” but do we mean it?
Jesus said He came as a physician to heal the sin sick. He did not come to babysit the saved. And He left this earth He left us with the ministry of reconciliation.
This is the job of the church. We are to throw our arm open wide to a sin sick world and say “Just As You Are, COME!”
2. He came to bring gladness and not sadness. (vs. 18-20)
Here we have two groups that came to Jesus and I think it is very important that we see this. Let me tell you what is going on.
The disciples of John, the first group, and the disciples of Pharisees came to Jesus and wanted to know why His disciples were not fasting.
Now quickly I must let you know that fasting is something Christ expects of His disciples even though we don’t practice it much anymore. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6:16 “when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
But why were these two groups together?
We know that John the Baptist and his disciples were devout men of God. We also know that his disciples did not understand completely what was taking place and they were having a hard time leaving John to follow Jesus. They had been following John the Baptist probably for years and now John was in prison and Jesus had begun His ministry.
I think it is important for us to state here that we do not follow a man, we follow Christ.
Also I believe that the Pharisees were using this to their advantage. They were religious but they had no relationship with Christ. They were using the confusion of John’s disciples to try and turn them against Jesus. How often do we see this in our churches today? I believe many times believers who are not rooted and established in the scriptures are led astray by those who DO NOT CARE ABOUT CHRIST OR HIS KINGDOM.
I believe that is why many of our churches are not healthy reproducing churches because they have allowed those who do not know Christ and who compromise the word of God to lead them astray. It is high time that we stand up and claim back God’s church for the kingdom!
He answered them by talking about a wedding celebration. The Jewish wedding was a tremendous celebration and feast that lasted a week. It was a joyous occasion and the family and friends spent a week in total happiness and celebration.
Part of this teaching was that Jesus was sharing with them was also from a prophetic standpoint which at this early stage in His ministry His disciples did not understand. Jesus is of course the bridegroom and we are His bride. His point is that while He is here why should they fast?
How does this apply to us?
Well of course Jesus is not here and therefore we should be fasting. I think this is kind of a side note but I believe that it is very important. I think that it is one of the spiritual disciplines that we should be practicing. I will teach on this more later but I pray that each of you begin to think about that as a believer.
But also I think that the main point is that we should see the pattern of joy. Jesus was happy and we should we be also. We have an eternal hope and the church shares that hope!
When you walk into this place, it should be a place of joy and hope. Our worship should reflect the joy that we have in Christ. This place should be a place of celebration and feasting. It should be a place of excitement. Step into most of our churches today across our land and look at the faces of the people. They have come out of duty and that can not wait to leave. May it never be so here at CrossWay. I cannot wait for us to get a real life “WORSHIP LEADER”. You notice I did not say a minister of music. I want someone who knows music yes, but more importantly I want someone who knows Jesus and who will lead us to His throne each week! This should be a place of great worship!
3. He came to introduce the new and not patch the old. (vs. 21-22)
The religious leaders were impressed with our Lord’s teaching, and perhaps they would have been happy to make some of His ideas a part of their own religious tradition. They were hoping for some kind of compromise that would retain the best of pharisaic Judaism and the best of what Christ had to offer.
But Jesus exposed the lie of that approach. It would be like tearing patches from a new unshrunk garment and sewing them on an old garment. You would ruin the new garment; and when the old garment was washed, the patches would shrink, rip away, and ruin that garment too (note Luke 5:36–39). Or, it would be like putting new unfermented wine in old brittle wineskins. As soon as the wine began to ferment and the gases formed, the old skins would burst—and you would lose both the wine and the skins.
Jesus came to usher in the new, not to unite with the old. The Mosaic way was decaying, getting old, and ready to vanish away (Heb. 8:13). Jesus would establish a New Covenant in His blood (Luke 22:19–20). The Law would be written on human hearts, not on stones (2 Cor. 3:1–3; Heb. 10:15–18); and the indwelling Holy Spirit would enable God’s people to fulfill the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:1–4).
By using this illustration, Jesus put to rest once and for all the popular idea of a compromising “world religion.”
Well-meaning but spiritually blind and deceived leaders have suggested that we take “the best” from each religion, blend it with what is “best” in the Christian faith, and thus manufacture a synthetic faith that would be acceptable to everybody.
But the Christian faith is exclusive in character; it will not accept any other faith as its equal or its superior. “There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Salvation is not a partial patching up of one’s life; it is a whole new robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10; 2 Cor. 5:21). The Christian life is not a mixing of the old and the new; rather, it is a fulfillment of the old in the new. There are two ways to destroy a thing: you can smash it, or you can permit it to fulfill itself. An acorn, for example, can be smashed with a hammer, or it can be planted and allowed to grow into an oak. In both instances, the destruction of the acorn is accomplished; but in the second instance, the acorn is destroyed by being fulfilled.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, types, and demands of the Law of Moses. The Law was ended at Calvary when the perfect sacrifice was once offered for the sins of the world (Heb. 8–10). When you trust Jesus Christ, you become part of a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and there are always new experiences of grace and glory.
How tragic when people hold on to dead religious tradition when they could lay hold of living spiritual truth.
People we must realize that our world is changing. And while our message does not, we must remember that Jesus brought the new so that He could reach the world.
Why cherish the shadows when the reality has come? (Heb. 10:1ff) In Jesus Christ we have the fulfillment of all that God promised (2 Cor. 1:20).
So why do we need another church?
Based on demographics we have 1113 households in the Foster and Ralph area which does not include my family. You see we live outside the area. In our Discovering CrossWay class Friday night, Del asked why we could we not include Buhl and Knoxville if our outreach. Why not? If you add in for the surrounding areas that we reach then you jump to right at 1850 households in our immediate area. We currently have an average of 2.6 people per household for a population of 4,810.
That means if everyone came to church next Sunday we would have to have 282 in each of the 17 churches to house them all. First of all none of the churches will hold that many. GCB would come very close. I think that we could seat with what we have about 220. That says to me we have never planned to reach all of them.
If our population grows and adds the 1200 homes as projected in the next 3-4 years then our population grows to 7,930 and suddenly every church must have 466! That means even if we all went to two services we could not reach them.
Now I know that not everyone is going to come to church but isn’t that our goal? What if we grow to that 8000 people we can’t even hold half of them.
But what do WE , CrossWay Church, need to do to reach them?
1. I believe that we must design our churches to reach the sick, those that don’t know Christ.
I think everything that we do needs to reflect that we want to reach people for Jesus. We are designing the website. Yes we want it to be a place to go where you can find out stuff. But we want it first of all to be a place where those looking to come will find something of interest to them.
All of my preaching on Sunday will not be to grow you as a Christian. A lot of my preaching will be to invite someone to Jesus. Help someone with a hurting marriage find an answer. I will try to point people to our small groups where they can learn in an intimate setting.
2. I think our churches need to be a place of joy, a place of celebration.
I want us to come and worship each Sunday. Now if a person does not know Christ then He can not worship. If you have a hard time worshipping, you need to stop and think about that. We are worshipping the One Who gave His life for us. A lost person cannot do that. But they need to come to a place where they see real people worshipping a real Savior and who live real lives in the power of that real Jesus. Our worship must be real!
3. I think we need realize that Christ came to usher in the new because the old is fulfilled.
We cannot do things the same old way and expect the lost and unchurched to come rushing to our doors. We are going to do things that others will question. But we are going to do things that will draw all men to Jesus. And we will take them how ever they come and we will let Jesus do the rest. Because we know that the blood of Jesus makes the vilest man clean.
Look at me, I’m proof.
Look at you, You’re proof!
Can I tell you more thing, NUMBERS MATTER!
I have already showed you that 75-80% of our churches are plateau or declining or dead!
We know that new churches grow faster but it is not by accident. It is through the hard work, commitment and prayer of God’s people.
Do we need a new church? Yes! Will you join God in this new work?
- You may not have been able to worship with us today because you do not know our Savior. I want to invite you today to come.
- You may have completed all our classes and plan on becoming a charter member but there is sin in your life. I know none of us are perfect but sometimes there sins that are so great that we cannot worship or serve Christ like we should. Do you need to come today?
- Maybe you just need to come today and pray for this church. We are going to PRESS ON but it will only take place successfully if we are spiritually prepared. We do that by starting in prayer.
Will you come today?