Bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light. People are attracted to other people who love them, who are kind to them, who truly accept them for who they are. People who shine the grace filled the light of Christ into their lives.
It is sad to me that I still see an exclusive, sectarian, judgmental, even superior attitude in many Christians and churches. Why is this? Do we as Followers of Christ have it all together? Are we above reproach at all times? I know I’m not, and it seems to me that if we choose to believe that of ourselves, and let others believe that about us, then we are no better than the “Pharisees and Teachers of the Law” of Jesus’ day.
Jesus said, “Come to me.” He didn’t say get it all together, dress a certain way, clean up your language, be a teetotaler, etc., and then come to me. He said come to me and let my love heal you, restore you. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
Neither Do I Condemn You
By Jud Wilhite
I talked to a guy recently who was really lamenting that fact that more pastors aren’t preaching hellfire, brimstone and condemnation. He felt like the problem with Christianity is that everybody just believes God loves you.
Really? As I talk with people in Las Vegas who are not Christians, as well as many who are, I find lots of people who already believe God hates them or at best tolerates them. Like the guy with the tattoo that said, “God hates us all.” To me this isn’t news, it is assumed.
The good news is that God loved us so much he sent his son to die in our place and take the punishment for sin. This is the greatest picture of love and it implies that yes… God loves us!
It’s like one of my favorite stories in John 8 where we read about a woman whose encounter with Jesus teaches us about guilt, grace, and forgiveness. She was dragged before Jesus by religious leaders who angrily throw her in front of him. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
Stone faces and stones in their hands. The woman must have been so terrified and embarrassed. In moments, she was exposed and hurled onto death row. From secret delight to public humiliation. The accusation – guilty of adultery – punishable by death.
This whole scene is fishy to begin with, though. How does one happen to catch someone in the act of adultery? And it takes two to tango – so where is this man? He is equally guilty. Maybe he was paid off to set her up or he could have been friends with these religious leaders. One thing is for sure – the religious leaders were using this question as a trap so they could have a basis for accusing Jesus (John 8:6). Rather than offering the woman help, they set her up. She had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and her guilt was real.
At first, Jesus did not respond to the religious leaders’ accusations. He bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. This is the only record of Jesus writing. People have speculated that he wrote the sins of the religious leaders gathered around. Some say he wrote Scripture. Maybe he just doodled!
As he knelt, the leaders kept questioning him; they planned to snare Jesus in a catch-22. If he sentenced the woman to death, the Roman government would intervene. They alone determined an execution. If Jesus condoned a stoning, he might lose popularity. The crowd had followed him and had been attracted to his compassion. But if he told the leaders to let her go, they would accuse him of violating an Old Testament law.
They thought they had him cornered. But Jesus rose and spoke one of the most profound statements of Scripture: “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then he knelt down and continued writing.
What followed? Silence. A few awkward moments of anger turning to introspection. The rocks fell to the ground one at a time. By moving the focus off of the woman, Jesus had forced them to see their own guilt. He wasn’t concerned about the woman’s innocence, but rather that she was treated fairly. If she was to be judged, the witnesses were to come forth and be just and impartial (Deuteronomy 19:15-19). And the religious leaders were neither of those things. Jesus was not trying to throw out the process of law and legal procedure, but rather exposing the trial as a sham!
Once everyone had left and Jesus was alone with the woman, he asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replies with, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus declared… “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:10-11).
Beautiful words from the lips of a Savior. He came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). He showed her pure, unmerited, undeserved grace. We are quick to judge, but what accusations could be leveled at us? This story gives us caution. Too often Christians, and churches, shoot their wounded. When people fail, they need to be restored with a heart of compassion. It’s too easy to judge people who don’t have our particular sin struggle.
It’s time to show grace. The same grace Christ offers us, despite all of our short-comings. The grace he offers everyone.
Looking at the idea of Grace verses Judgement from a church growth point of view, if bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light, is your church, are you, projecting sweetness and light in a way that says, “ I’m still on this journey too; lets walk together”? Because remember, Church growth is not about numbers, but it’s about seeking and saving the lost.
Until next Time:
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 30
Here at South Hills Church kids are a very big deal. If fact we are determined to make our church “The premier place for Families” and the first step is to fully embrace the children in our community. To that end, recently we needed to hire a new children’s pastor, and so we scoured the country to find the very best we could get. We found that person in Justyn Smith. Justyn has recently been named one of “Children’s Ministry Magazine’s” Top 20 to Watch, and with his help, we are looking forward to taking our “Kidmin” to a whole new level. Here are some thoughts from Pastor Justyn on the importance of Children’s ministry.
How Important is Children’s ministry?
How important is children’s ministry? How about if you don’t reach people with the gospel by the time someone turns the age of 12 there is only a 20% chance that person will ever become a Christ follower. Yet, only 13% of senior pastors list “ministry to children” among their church’s top three priorities.
Children’s ministry is one of the most important ministries in the church. It’s important because they are our kids. They are the leaders and movement shakers of tomorrow. Children’s ministry cannot be just a babysitting service. Children’s ministry should have the church’s best and brightest teachers and leaders. We all want the best for our children, yet we grow complacent with accepting anyone with a pulse to teach our kids. It’s not a time to become self-indulgent. We have been commissioned and entrusted by God to train of the next generation.
Children’s ministry is an equipping ground; it’s a time where kids should get together to celebrate God and reinforce the teachings of Christ that they should be receiving at home. If they’re not receiving godly teaching at home, then it’s a place of hope and love where we should be reaching out and become a Christ-like figure for those kids.
The healthy, growing churches of today all have at least this one thing in common—great children’s ministries. They have invested in the next generation. They have poured resources, money and time into creating a culture where kids—our future—are valued and celebrated. These church’s understand that children’s ministry is vital to the continuation of the mission God has placed inside of them. They have chosen to look beyond themselves and today and instead look outward and what lies ahead tomorrow.
For some larger church’s who have the ability to pour major money into their children’s ministry atmospheres have seen up to a 150% increase in church attendance. That means thousands more people—not just kids—are coming to church to hear about Jesus and grow deeper in their relationship with Him.
We are already seeing exciting changes in the couple of months since Justyn has joined us. In addition to the great things Justyn is doing on our church campus, he is also helping us to put Celera Kidmin in place.
Celera Kidmin was created to equip and empower children’s leaders by sharing resources for the kingdom. We are very excited that Celera Kidmin coaches are some of the greatest leaders and innovators in children’s ministry today, and those that are part of a Celera Coaching group will have access to their knowledge and direction on a monthly basis.
In addition to the monthly coaching Celera Kidmin members will receive:
During the course of the twelve month pastors’ coaching series each participant will receive two one-on-one coaching sessions with Pastor Justyn Smith.
Annual Roundtable Discussion
Once a year you will have the opportunity to come together in a live setting with your and other network groups and one or two of the Celera Kidmin coaches for a full day of discussion and connection.
Free and discounted resources
Over the course of a twelve month subscription each participant will receive a variety of free resources from the Celera Kidmin coaches.
I strongly encourage you that if Children’s ministry is not yet a priority in your church to do so. It is our great desire to reach kids for Christ and to help Kidmin leaders better meet the need of the kids in their communities. If you would like more information on how we can help you please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call us at 951-734-4833.
Until next time.,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6