What the world needs now is… yeah, of course, it’s love! But what does the world need from the church right now? Yeah… still love.
But also humility.
While Jesus will never give up on the church he started and our long-term survival is kind of guaranteed, our health in the short term is seemingly in trouble.
We’re not just losing numbers. We’re losing trust, and that will feed a vicious cycle of decline.
How, then, do we stop that cycle? I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe rather strongly that a huge dose of humility couldn’t hurt.
The last few years have been a season of exposure for the church in which our deepest faults have been laid bare, debated, blogged about, reported on, researched, and fought over on social media. And when a movement that identifies itself with Jesus is called out for abuse, hypocrisy, and inconsistency, we have two options.
Option #1: Get defensive. Claim persecution. Double down on how awesome we really are. Keep pushing the narrative that we are morally superior to everyone else. Close ranks, craft an aggressive public relations strategy and hope people are convinced that we’re ultimately right about most things.
(Hint: That hasn’t been working very well.)
Option #2: Humble ourselves. Own the damage we’ve done. Acknowledge abuses. Be open to legitimate criticism. Loosen our grip on privilege, power, and the illusion that we’re right about everything and have nothing to change.
I sincerely hope that we go with option #2. I believe humility is the way forward.
I want to suggest that we start with a cease and desist on making promises to the world we haven’t been keeping very well. I’ve named four of them in a new article and wanted to pass it along.
And I ALSO want to encourage every pastor I can to keep leading with love. You are following a calling and I want to affirm you. The world needs Jesus and the hope and love that he offers, so keep on serving in his name.
We can make progress, experience growth, and thrive while at the same time dropping any pretense of perfection. We can move boldly forward and be humble about it.
In fact, when you adopt a posture of humility, the pressure drops so that freedom can flow.
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Just be faithful to the Chief Shepherd. He always knows your heart.
Keep on growing!
This Week’s Big Sermon Ideas
I’m sharing two sermon ideas this week, one of which was technically from last week if you follow the Lectionary but I didn’t get it sent out because I was still working on it all the way up to preaching about it this past Sunday.
A sermon idea based on John 3:1-17 and assigned for the second Sunday of Lent in the current Year A.
What is the real point of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus and the declaration found in John 3:16? Everything about life on earth and in heaven, both now and forever, looks different when you finally come to understand how God loved the world in all of its brokenness and decided to save it through the life, death, resurrection, and ministry of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Also, I wrote a blog post once about John 3:16 and how God has stepped in through Jesus to save a cosmos worth saving.
God is always actively seeking those who need him and he invites us as believers to join him in the mission of introducing everyone we can to Jesus, the Living Water.
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
This four-week series explores the ideas of living a sacrificial and surrendered life. It looks at passages which ask us to die to self, think of others, and pick up our cross. We will be challenged to consider ourselves less, offering ourselves as a sacrifice given to glorify God.
Resources for Leaders
The Importance of Small Groups, Evangelism, Assimilation for Church Growth
By Marissa Postell Sullivan via LifeWay Research
The Role and Value of Women in Jesus’ Ministry
By Brandon Cox (me, in light of recent news)
The Most Important Behaviors of a Leader
By Scott Monty
All My Knotted Up Life: A Memoir
By Beth Moore (I’m 7 chapters in and am so moved!)
If you have a resource relevant to pastors and church leaders that you’d like for me to include, feel free to message me. I can’t always promise inclusion but I’ll definitely take a look.
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About the Cover Art: Siemiradzki, Henryk, 1843-1902. Christ and the Samaritan Woman, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.