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If you are one of the Dayspring people who recently were baptized please stop reading now. Seriously, if your initials are Mike K. [ yes, you] , or any of the new people, don’t let this bring you down, it is just how it is. Anyway, for the rest of the Willohroots readers there is a mathematical problem in new church plants that is manifesting itself at Dayspring, and is all too common in the Christian world. I have heard church planters talk about it, and I have read some blogs about this phenomenon, but it sure gets real when your face gets rubbed in it.
A new church start with a Christian core group of a few established, experienced disciples, and a larger group of newbies, seekers and the walking wounded has a wonderful balance. There are experienced, stable people who can provide the voice of godly wisdom, and who are financially secure enough to be a back bone of support for the outreach ministries of the church.
In our capitalistic society, a hug is wonderful, a shared meal is a delight, but to impact a life often takes money. We have had no success with our rich young ruler [Mark 10:17] ministry. Most of us had to be shown we were lost before we saw we needed a savior. While many unsaved people are quite wealthy, some lost people often need a bit of help. We don’t want to see someone who is cold and needs a coat, and say “We will pray for you!”. Dayspring has paid a couple rent, tax, light, and phone bills, bought some clothes, and generally showed some love to the people God has put in our path. These small expenditures have proved very effective in getting the attention of un-churched people and illustrating to them the Love of Jesus.
Most of the people to whom we have reached out have responded very positively to the Gospel message, our small gifts were enough to get their attention and open their hearts to a life changing method. Many of these people are stabilizing, and with God’s help overcoming addiction, arrogance and biblical ignorance, improving their own lot in life and moving toward a position from which to help others. This movement may take some time. Often there are fines to be paid off, amends to be made, new jobs to be found. The adventure of a Christian life is just beginning for these folk, and it is a joy to observe and share God’s involvement in their lives.
So often, however, that portion of the church that was the financial backbone , the tithers who have walked with God and who have been blessed with health and jobs and a stable financial base begin to move away. These new people do not act, or speak, or dress like the church people of former fellowships. some have coarse language, no idea of how “church people” act, and as they are reinvented by God often have unstable employment, and contribute spottily to the church. They did not grow up in a pot luck covered dish society. They bring a bag of chips and joke about the lack of a six-pack. Many step outside for a smoke, as we must sometimes pick an addiction to fight. There are times that the slogan T-shirt is way wrong! If these people invite family to a church function, there will often be trouble, as their families are often a wreck, and not supportive of one of their own who has gone ‘religious”.
The positive side however outweighs all of the above. These new Christians have hearts, so recently installed by God as He replaced the Flint hard, cold, sin drenched , damaged , evil hearts that these folk came with, new hearts that love the Gospel, love a bird song, love the sun up, love the scripture, and love the little church that God used to bring them to Him. There is an energy, a sense of victory surrounding them that is truly a blessing to behold. All Christiandom should rejoice, as did the angels in heaven for the salvation of these precious souls! Now for the problem, it is the Law of Diminishing Financial Return.
Due to poor life style choices of the past, this new group owes Caesar money for fines, and have had a share of employment issues. There is no way, at the moment, that they can contribute much cash to the cause. They contribute time, sweat, labor and prayer, but the economics are going to need to wait a while. This should not be a problem, as you have the established brothers and sisters to back them up , right? Here in lies the problem. People who have been “churched” for years have expectations. They grow to miss the fellowship of body of like believers. It is not easy being an elder in every social setting. Sometimes they want to just be one of the group. There is a comfort in a body of like-minded believers. It is nice to go to a pot luck knowing there will actually be other cooked products there. It is refreshing to talk about Charles Stanley, and Billy Graham without someone piping up, “Who is that? I listened to Joel Olsteen once, He seems like a nice guy!” Stories of abuse and addiction can be hard to hear. I didn’t say it was easy.
I have heard the frustration. A wonderful woman, a former Christian teacher and a bible student once said to me, “All these changed lives are great, but we need to get back to basics!” She was quite serious. Another saint left fellowship saying, “I feel like the oldest person here, like a dinosaur, I need to be around older people.” Other stable families visit, say they love the music, like the preaching, but they don’t return. We do have some scary looking dudes. I think these people are forgetting a lot. We are not to be a club. we are to reach out into the community and make disciples. Church is not about what you can get out of it, it is what can you put into it! Bringing in the harvest! That is why we exist, and all else is but window dressing. I would rather show the Light to one lost man, than be in the light with one hundred who can see. We are called to be a life boat, not a community swimming pool! Here are a couple verses that have given me strength lately, enjoy!
They only asked us to remember the poor— the very thing I also was eager to do.
2 Corinthians 9:8-10 (New American Standard Bible)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
as it is written,
HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR,
HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness
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