Give churchgoers practical ideas and time on Sunday mornings to “be” the church.
Many Christians claim they have a desire to serve Jesus and to follow him. They explain that the reason they fail to do so consistently is that they do not have enough time. Most pastors are very familiar with this excuse as it is one of the most common ones they hear. The challenge for many church leaders will be developing a way for the common Christian to live out an example of Jesus despite their busy lifestyle. For some this will mean you need to stop fighting the excuses and start using the excuses.
Figuring out ways to show the love of Jesus is not always easy, especially when you have limited resources. Cornerstone Church, in Joplin, Mo., holds an event called “Hearts for the Hurting.” The church leaders plan the event but do not inform the congregation about it in advance. During Hearts for the Hurting, the staff condenses the entire service to about 15 minutes in duration. The pastor gives a short devotional in place of a full-length sermon, in which he explains to the congregation that he is going to give them something and take something from them.
What the church gives them is time. What the church takes from them is their excuses. With this shortened service, the church is giving the congregation an hour. They cancel the rest of church and send the congregation out to share the love of Jesus. The goal is to cancel church to go out and be the church. On their way out, each person is given a list with five practical things they could reasonably do in about an hour. They are instructed, as a family or individual, to do at least one thing on that list.
The lists consist of things like: mow a neighbor’s lawn; leave a generous tip at a restaurant with a note to the server telling them about the love of Jesus; take cookies to a local police station; get some pizzas and spend time in an ER waiting room with families, just praying and talking with them. We simply try to provide a few simple, practical things that demonstrate the love of Jesus and give the people an opportunity to talk about Jesus. The next week, you can share stories of how God moved through this event.
Most people use the excuse of time. Really they are afraid. Sharing the Gospel can be scary. It is often not until all their excuses are taken away that they are able to face the truth of this fear. Give them motivation and opportunity to face their fear, and those that do will see that living a life for Jesus is not as scary as they thought. Cornerstone had several families after its first Hearts for the Hurting event that were “hooked.” They started going out and showing people the love of Jesus all the time. This is what the church should be. Not just a sanctuary to come and rest, but a training ground to take up the mission of Jesus for the lost.