Monday, February 12, 2007

“Church 2.0” Series: “Incarnational Living”

4 Sundays ago, at the start of this series I told you the story of how as a youth pastor I began thinking in news ways about “church” – what it really was and what it could be.

I’m not going to do a quick review of the last 3 Sundays, here at the beginning, like I normally would, because we just reviewed everything by going over that “Pathway 2.0 In A Nutshell” paper. Instead I want to get right into these last ideas about our new direction.

Jay Abraham, one of the top paid marketing consultants in the country, in his book “Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got” said something about the human mind that I want you to hear. He said…

“An amazing thing, the human brain. Capable of understanding incredibly complex and intricate concepts. Yet at times unable to recognize the obvious and simple.

“Some true examples:
“Ice cream was invented in 2000 B.C. Yet it was thirty-nine hundred years later before someone figured out the ice cream cone.

“Meat was on the planet before humans. Bread was baked in 2600 B.C. Nevertheless, it took forty-three hundred years for somebody to put the two together and create the sandwich.

“And the modern flush toilet was invented in 1775, but it wasn’t until 1857 that somebody thought of toilet paper.

“Once these obvious connections have been made, they seem so obvious. So evident. We can’t believe we didn’t see them sooner.

“An endless number of these unmade connections exist to this day, especially in the business world. You are surrounded by simple, obvious solutions that can dramatically increase your income, power, influence and success. The problems is you just don’t see them.”

What I’m about to tell you today is a new way to reach people for God. I want to talk to you about a new simple way to see ministry. Once you see it it will be obvious and you won’t believe you didn’t see it or do this before.

Think for a second about what Jesus did for us. He became one of us, lived with us, then died and rose again from the dead for us. That’s the method he used to reach us. He made himself known and showed His love to us. Jesus modeled incarnation as a way of ministering to the world. He showed us the power of going to a group of people and loving and serving them as one of them.

He also revealed this as the method we should use when he gave the disciples this command in Matt. 28, Go into all the world…”

But Jesus isn’t the only one to reveal this method! Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23… 19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

This is the way the Bible reveals to us to reach people! It tells us these simple instructions: Go to people in a way they can understand. Serve them. Love them. Tell them the truth. That’s it! This is the incarnational way to reach people.

But for some reason many churches focus on the opposite way to reach people: Make them come to you. Make them become like you and learn your lingo. Get them to serve the church. Get them to love the church. If they can do all that they’ll learn how to be saved!

This is the attractional way to reach people. Do you see how opposite these two ways are?



Go to people in a way they can understand.

Make them come to you and then they have to become like you and learn your lingo.

Serve them.

Get them to serve the church.

Love them.

Get them to love the church.

Tell them the truth.

If they can do all that they’ll learn the truth of how to be saved!

Look, we’re going to still invite people to be with our church. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if that’s our only way, or main way to reach people, then we’ll won’t really be effective in letting people know God exists and loves them. We’ll reach some people, but we’ll miss so many more!

If we want to reach and bless people we have to go to them! We have to become more incarnational!

How Do We Live Incarnationally?
We need to make it our number one goal to show God’s love and greatness to the people we know, to Palo Alto, to the Peninsula, and to the world.

We need to start trying to grow God’s kingdom and fulfill his purposes and not just try to grow our kingdom we call “Pathway”.

I want Pathway to think of Outreach like this:

  • Our goal has to be to make God loves felt
  • Our method has to be to show God’s love by serving.
  • Our outreaches has to have a purpose that is God oriented. It has to benefit God’s kingdom, God’s dream for this area and people.

Pastor Bob Roberts a pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, who’s an author, and who’s church is very outward oriented, said it like this…
Our first approach should be "How can we live out the love of Jesus in this society?" It's not "How can we start a church?"

People living like Jesus: that's what changes a society. Too often, we start with a preacher who tries to gather a church first, thinking that, in time they'll get around to engaging the world. That's backwards. It teaches people to think engaging the world is something we pay people to do after the church is built, or that it's an occasional trip we make.

No, we want people to understand the Great Commission is not the church's project, but it's something we all own personally. "You mean me go and use my job? What in the world can a plumber do over there?" Yes, we want everyone to think mission first.
Mission doesn't mean multiplying churches, but finding ways to show God's love and greatness to the world.

If you focus on mission, churches will follow, but if you focus on churches, mission often gets lost. – )… we serve not to convert but because we have been converted. We serve because Christ has changed us and made us servants to people who are hurting and lost.

The other way we can become more incarnational is to never think that ministry and what God wants to do only happens here when we’re together on Sundays.

C. Michael Johnson - said…

The first locating principle to get firmly fixed in our mind is that the Spirit of God is already there. He is already more active in your city than you could ever know. Our posture is to ask Him what he is already doing and come along side to co-labor in what He is doing. For all the obvious (and not so obvious) reasons, it's the smart thing to do. It's hard to remember this because, for the most part, the Holy Spirit's activity is invisible to us, but we have to meet Him there…out there active in the adventure.
I’ve found three basic ways we can find out what God is doing and what he wants done: 1) ask him, 2) ask others, and 3) simply nose around. But the starting point is to humbly ask God and ask him to lead you to the purposes he wants to redeem.

We need to find ways to relate to people. Find ways to connect with people in your everyday interactions. Put yourself in their place and ask a question: “How’s the day going so far?” Ask them ways that they use to connect with people.

My Story

Here’s what happened when I did this on Friday. I’ve been working on an ebook for youth pastors where I’ve interview 14 top student leaders from around the country. I’m getting ready to start selling it online, so I got a business license. One of the things you have to do when you start a business is pick a name and then it has to be listed in one of the newspapers within 30 days of getting the license. I was going to do it the first day I got the license and then things got really busy.

I had almost forgotten to get it in the newspaper till it popped in my mind on Friday. I had 10 days left to do it, so I called one of the papers that has an office in Redwood City. They said I had to bring the paperwork down to the office to complete the process. So, later on Friday afternoon I drove down to their office.

When I got there it was just one room with one woman working their. She took my paper work and was getting everything ready, when I asked her, “How’s the day going?” She said, “Not good.” I said, “Why?” She just said that someone she knew had died and that she had to go to the funeral. I said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Then we talked about some other stuff and she finished up. I got up to leave and said, “I hope you’re next week is better than this one!” She said, “Thanks, I hope to God too!”

I walked out and thought, “Mmm. She used the phrase, “I hope to God.” I got in the elevator and I had this thought, “I wonder if I should go back in there and ask her if I can pray with her.” Then I thought, “No! That’d be freaky. I’m that bold!” Then I thought, “Maybe I should. No! I don’t want to look weird.”

The elevator doors popped open on the bottom floor and I walked out and headed towards the exit. I thought, “What if God wants me to do this?” And I finally thought, “Well Ok, God, I’m doing this for you, but I don’t want to look like a fool!”

I got back in the elevator and went back up to her floor. I got to her office and she was on the phone, but she saw me and waved me to come in.

She told her friend on the other line, “Hold on a second.” And put the phone on the desk. I was too chicken to ask her if I could pray for her right there, so instead I said, “I’m a pastor. What’s your name, so I can pray for you sometime?”

She said, “You’re a pastor?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, My Dad has always wanted to be that and done ministry at our church.”

Then she did something happened I didn’t expect. She then told her friend she’d call her back and started to tell me her story.

She told me about how she didn’t want religion shoved down her throat when she was young, so when she was 18 she stopped going. She told me about how she made some life choices that got into trouble. She told me that she’s a single Mom and trying to do her best to succeed. She told me she realized that she needed God and recommitted her life to him and started going to church in the East Bay, but it was still hard to make the right choices.

She told me how she was finally able to get her friend, who’s not a Christ-follower, to go to church with her and that this girl’s father came to church too. He ended up recommitting his life to Jesus 3 weeks before he died!

And she told me other things and kept saying, “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this!?!” I kept saying, “That’s ok!” I finally got up the nerve cause of all this to say, “Can I pray for you before I leave?” She said. “Yeah, please do!” And we bowed our heads and I prayed for her. She gave me her card and thanked me. I told her I was glad to do it and then I felt like I was supposed to come back, but I didn’t want to look weird.

I couldn’t believe what had happened! Earlier in the day, I had been thinking about this talk and about how I thought we needed to live as a church. I told God I want to live like this and be a blessing to others and this happened!

God was there working before I was! Can you imagine what would happen if half of us (10 adults) did this every week?

  • 10 lives touched a week. God’s love, truth and hope revealed.
  • 40 lives a month.
  • 480 lives over the next year!

That’s if only half of us did something! If we all did 960 lives would be touched.

If we really believe that ministry isn’t just what happens on Sunday, when we’re together, then we need to learn to minister and start ministries “out there”!

There’s an old book from the early 80’s called “Unleashing The Church”. In this book author Frank Tillapaugh talks about the difference between a Fortress Church and an Unleashed Church.

Fortress churches are ones that buckle in and try and reach the world from inside their building. The Unleashed Church is the church ministering in the world. He says that “…any church can have a vital ministry in the community without expanding its “fortress.” The secret is unleashing its people so they can utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit within themselves. When this happens, the church extends its focus of concern away from itself, and the members are free to reach beyond the fortress walls to where hurt and needs are in the community.” (From back of book)

Later he talks about how to do this by what he calls “Target Groups”. He explains what a target group is by saying this… “When a sociologist looks at cultures he or she looks at the groupings within the culture. Hence, in sociology we study about nuclear families, extended families, peer groups, white- and blue-collar workers, upper, middle and lower classes, ethnic groups, etc.

“Seeing the city as a collection of target groups is seeing the city as a Christian sociologist sees it. We look for groupings of people and design ministries with their life-styles in mind. We already have children ministries and youth ministries in our churches. It shouldn’t be difficult to see the possibilities of street ministries and cult ministries.

“Then add perhaps less obvious groups such as artists and writers… And certainly professional musicians present yet another possibility.”

We already have people who a part of us who have ministries “out there”! We need to support Glen, Paula, Lilndsey and Ioannis more. Ride alongs with Ioannis/Glen set up? Ask them how you can help them! They’re us. When they succeed we do.

How Can You Bless And Serve People?

Living incarnationally doesn’t have to be scary or hard! Incarnational can be simple and inexpensive. You can do small random acts of service everywhere! You can do it together as a team with other people (next Sunday) or do it alone! Do one time acts and/or continual acts!

What happens when we do this? We discover people in need all around us! I really believe this is the way we need to live and be as a group of people called Pathway.

I believe when we do this, we’ll be more satisfied with our lives than ever before. We’ll know God in new ways like we never have before. We’ll impact our friends, Palo Alto , the Peninsula, the world like we never have before.

That’s why next Sunday, we’re doing this… We’re going incarnational! We’re going to be doing something we’ve never done before! We’re to do something I think will be really fun and cool. We’re going to go and be the church next Sunday.

I want us to do an incarnational outreach that will show you how easy living like this can be. I want to show you that it doesn’t cost much and it can be fun!

Here’s what we’re going to do…

We’re going on a field trip! We’re going to get donuts and drop them off at police stations and fire stations in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

We’ll give them the donuts with a thank you card that just says, “Thank you for all you do to serve this community. We really appreciate it. If there’s any way we can serve or help you, then let us know! Pathway Church –

I’ve already started calling the P.S. and F.S and they’re really excited about us coming by! You can see in your bulletin the rest of the details. (Sign-up sheets for drivers, who will be here, bring food)

We’re looking for some people who can bring some extra money besides your normal giving to help pay for the donuts. We’ll probably need about 10 -12 dozen donuts. That’s $6 if everyone brought money, but I know some of you can’t bring any extra money. But, some can of you can. Some of you could probably bring $10 or more.

I’m not going to ask you to bring a certain amount. I just want you to pray and think about if you could bring some and how much. This is your personal way to invest in blessing these people, so think about what you could bring.

There’s one last thing I want to talk to you about before we finish this talk. It’s this. I think there are people out there that would want to be a part of this new direction we’re heading in as a church.

The problem is that for some of us who’ve been a part of this you probably think you’ve invited anyone who would be interested by now.

But I saw a show awhile back that might change your mind

Primetime 6 Degrees Experiment
Primtime” did an experiment to test the “6 Degrees Of Separation” theory that says you can be connected to anyone else in the world by “6 people/degrees”.

"Primetime" set up the test so that the participants would not just be strangers, but would literally come from different worlds.

They picked two people:
1. Kristina Stewart Ward who is the editor of Hampton Style magazine, which chronicles the lives of the rich and famous people who congregate in
New York's high society summer playground. She has a home in the Hamptons herself one on Manhattan's fashionable Upper East Side.

2. Darren Schick grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania but now also lives in Manhattan, where he sells expensive china and crystal stemware to some of the nation's top retailers.

When they met for the experiment, "Primetime" told them that they were about to compete. Both were going to try to connect with someone they had never met.

But connecting to that person didn't mean finding them — that would have been too easy. The challenge was to link up by creating a human chain of contacts that ended with their "target," a man named Petey Pierre.

Pierre lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, also known as Bed-Stuy, a neighborhood of Brooklyn that has little in common with the areas Ward and Schick call home. It’s the ghetto – the inner city. Pierre has been living there trying to make a name for himself as an amateur boxer.

"Primetime" showed a picture of Pierre to Ward and Schick and asked them a simple question: Do you know this man? Both said no.

Then they began calling up friends to see who might know someone in boxing. Kristina contacted a friend who worked at one of the fancy stores she liked because he had mentioned that one of his workers had a friend who was a boxer.

Darren started calling his friends. It was cool to watch. Well guess what happened?

Both came walking into the gym he worked out at with one of the people who knew a friend of theirs.

It took Darren only 5 steps to reach his goal, but Kristina didn’t do that bad it took her just 6 steps to reach her goal. Petey couldn’t believe it!

Then Primetime did something pretty cool. They asked Petey if he thought he could find someone in their world. He said, “No way!” He didn’t have the connections and money they did, so he didn’t think he could do it.

But, they challenged him to try anyway and he said he would. Petey had to connect with Broadway dancer Heather Parcells.

That didn't mean he could just go to the theater and ask to meet her — he had to go to someone he knew personally, then hope that that person either knew Heather or could introduce him to someone who might know her.

He’d have to keep building this human chain until he finally met someone who knew Heather, who could then introduce the two.

Petey didn’t think he could do it, but one of the experts Primetime interviewed said Petey’s shortsighted view is common. The expert said, "It's what we would call the local view of the network, which is just the people that you know," said Watts.

"And of course, that is just a tiny little chunk of the whole global network, and the trick — the mental trick — is to be able to understand that your local view is not really representative of the global view. That in fact, someone you know can connect you to someone else that you don't know, who connects you to someone else who you really don't know … and that's where the power lies," he explained.

The expert said everyone has a power that often goes unrealized: the ability to get almost anywhere using our own personal contacts. (Remember this cause I’m going to talk about this in a second.

So what happened to Petey? He had a friend of his who was a woman who was like a sister to him and she was into dancing. She was the first link in the chain that ended up connecting him to Heather.

And guess what? Petey thought he could never do it, right? Well, Petey Pierre created a direct human chain in just 5 steps.

If we really understand the power of this “6 degrees/global view” concept it could change how we see what’s possible!

Remember the expert said, " the mental trick is to be able to understand that your local view is not really representative of the global view. That in fact, someone you know can connect you to someone else that you don't know, who connects you to someone else who you really don't know … and that's where the power lies," he explained.

The expert said everyone has a power that to get almost anywhere using our own personal contacts.

I think there are people out there who you might not know, but a friend of yours knows, who would really want to be a part of this new direction we’re going as a church

I want to give you a challenge: There people out there, as real as Petey who would would really want to be a part of this new direction we’re going as a church.

The challenge is: Can you use your network and find them?

Pray and ask God to help you to do this. Get the word out to your friends and ask them is they know anybody that’d be interested! (I’ll send you a sample email you could send your friends in your email address book.) Then, see what happens!

Close - The Key To Us Succeeding Or Failing

I’m really excited about this new direction. I feel more excited about this than I think I have about anything else that we’ve done as a church. But, you know what? There’s a danger we have to be careful of.

It’s the danger that we expect a method or way of doing church to make the difference! If we rely on this as method and look to it, we won’t see many results.

We have to love and live for God. That has to be the reason behind this new direction or else it will fail! We need to pray and seek God if this is going to work. If we seek and love him through all this, He’ll bless this new direction beyond belief! Let’s pray.

1 comment:

kenspeaks said...

Excellent Thoughts Scott. I am going to start following your blog. You can find my blog which deals with simliar thoughts at: I would like to hear some of your comments on my thoughts as well. Keep up the great work.