When I think of what kind of church I want Heritage to be I picture:
– Passionate worshippers of Jesus.
– Evangelistic, reaching the lost.
– A loving community of people.
– Impacting the city for Christ.
At the top, I would like to see Heritage be a place where people come to know Jesus and mature as followers of Christ.
– I want us to be the kind of church where if you brought a friend that was a brand new Christian, you would be certain that he or she would grow if they got plugged in there.
– Let’s call that discipleship.
Paul, from his prison cell in Rome, wrote the following to the Christians in Collosae:
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
The picture is of a wedding, where a father walks his daughter down the aisle.
– He has raised this girl for this moment.
– He has taught her and prepared her for her future, the day when she would move out of the house and become a wife.
– He presents her to her husband – here she is, ready for you.
In the same way, Paul is laboring to a specific end.
– Some day, he will present to God all those under his care.
– He labors and strives so that when he presents them, they will be “perfect in Christ Jesus.”
– So he preaches, warns, and teaches every man, with all wisdom.
What are some characteristics of a person mature / perfect in Christ Jesus?
– Love God, love people, good works, holiness, Spirit filled, etc.
It’s my prayer that you would labor and strive to present every person under your care mature in Christ Jesus.
– It starts with you accepting this responsibility, this desire.
– You must want this as a goal in your life.
– You adopt your Community Group as your responsibility.
I would like to share some Biblical characteristics of a culture that will be effective at helping people grow to maturity in Christ.
– Each of these items is Biblical.
– Each is important.
– They are each unique, but they are interdependent and related.
– BUT, each is counter-cultural.
- 1. A Desire to Grow.
– A culture that encourages and fosters growth.
– A culture that values Romans 8:29
– Our destiny is to be conformed to the image of Christ.
- 2. A Culture of Mutual Accountability
– Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
– In a culture of mutual accountability, you invite the people close to you to speak into your life.
– Invite it, ask for it.
– “Is there anything in my life that you see that I need to work on?”
- 3. A culture of Transparency
– In a culture of transparency, your objective is not to protect yourself to look good.
– Looking good is subordinated to becoming like Christ.
– You allow people to see who you really are, not your happy face.
– Specifically, you allow those close to you to know your weaknesses, so they can support you, strengthen you, etc.
For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.
Some day, all of your secret sins will be revealed.
– Rather than face humiliation on that day, there is a better plan.
– Be transparent with your weaknesses and temptations now, so that you are victorious.
– “I struggle with: over-spending, over working, lust, pride, greed, etc. Please help me overcome!”
– Then on that day, it won’t be nearly as painful. : )
- 4. A Culture of Confession.
When a person confesses their sin, bringing it out into the light, it breaks the power of that sin.
– When sin is kept secret and hidden, it can thrive.
– Remember what you were taught as a child – bad things grow in the dark.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
John Wesley helped to organize and form “societies of Christians” throughout Great Britain, North America and Ireland as small groups that developed intensive, personal accountability, discipleship and religious instruction among members.
– The Methodist movement was a revival movement, and Christian Perfection or holiness was a key.
– Each week small groups would meet and confess their sins.
– This caused people to grow to maturity.
– And thus they impacted the world as a result! Let’s do the same.
- 5. A Culture of Confrontation
We need to love each other enough to speak truth into each other’s lives.
– If you truly love the people under your care, you will be willing to be honest with them.
– The culture says to be nicer than Jesus, and ignore people’s faults.
– The bible says:
– Eph. 4:15 – Speak the truth in love.
– Col. 3:16 – Admonish one another with all wisdom.
– Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
The goal of speaking truth to someone is to see them grow further and faster, for their own benefit, not for yours.
– It’s to help them to mature to be like Christ.
– Christ has an agenda in their lives, and you can be used to help your people mature.
Every person has blind spots.
– By definition, you cannot see your blind spots.
– One of the best ways to identify and overcome blind spots is by loving friends who will come alongside you to show them to you.
The best method is called “the love sandwich.”
– You affirm your love for them.
– Then you share the one thing that they need to know.
– Then you affirm them again.
– The affirmation are the buns; the meat is in the middle.
- 6. A Culture of Receiving Correction
We can do all the other things we’ve just spoken about, but unless we get this one right, nothing else works.
– In my experience, few Christians are good at receiving input, correction, a rebuke, etc.
– We get defensive.
– We don’t see ourselves the way others do, so we disagree.
– Scripture says
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
- 7. A Culture of Love
When you love well, there is Grace
– You keep confidences, you protect one another
– You work out your issues and disagreements
– You forgive
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
You can make a lot of mistakes in being a disciple-maker, but if you love people deeply, it covers over lots of sins.
– Love people well.
– Let people know that you love them.
– Build a relational bridge that is strong enough to hold the weight of your mutual disciple-making.
So, I’ve just shared 7 qualities that we’d like to see in our church culture.
– Some questions for you.
- Are you convinced that these items are biblical?
- Are these things natural in our Southern California culture?
– No. They are the opposite of our culture.
– But we are in the business of changing cultures – not conforming to the patterns of this world, but being transformed.
– But being counter-cultural is not easy; we have to work hard and smart to change a culture.
- How can we begin to shift our culture to become this?
– Model it in our own lives.
– Teach into these items.
– Introduce them into group culture, slowly, carefully, thoughtfully.
Jesus said, “Go make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey. And I will be with you.”