Rick Bezet, “The Culture of a Life-Giving Church” (#Exponential 2010)

I went to my first workshop session with Rick Bezet, pastor of New Life Church in Conway, Arkansas.For those interested, this is the church where Kris Allen of American Idol fame came from.

The one thing that life-giving churches are doing without exception is reaching the lost.

Barna study not too long ago – we’re not in church b/c:

  • The music style
  • My kids don’t like it
  • The sermons are not relevant – nothing applicable
  • The church just wants my money (not me)
  • The people there are weird, hypocritical, and not like me

John 4:35 – “Jesus said this, ‘do you not say four months more and then the harvest. I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields now, they are ripe for the harvest.’”

How do you get families in your church to bring un-churched or lost people there?

“God is looking for people who are ready to go right now.”

Why are churches not reaching the lost? Because it takes a lot of work.

It takes a lot of work to prepare a sermon that thinks about the lost and hurting people.

We need to remember that we all need grace.

God is very good at forgiving people. We cannot fix ourselves. We need to change our minds in the church so that people don’t need to feel perfect to come to church, but feel okay coming to church when they’re not okay.

That’s why even though Jesus was godly, ungodly people wanted to be around them.

We need to get beyond competition. We need to stop fighting in our town over the same churched people.

If we want young people to follow after Christ, then we need to both model reaching the lost as adults while also creating a church that reaches the lost:

  • 80% of all teens leave the church and never return after
  • 33% teens can say they’ve been drunk in the last month
  • 9 out of 10 can say they’ve seen online porn in the last 30 days
  • 1 out of 4 can say they’ve been abused
  • 1 out of 5 can say they’ve contemplated suicide in the last year
  • 4% of teenagers would self-identify themselves as Christians

How do we turn this around to reach the lost?:

  1. We can’t forget about the power of a regenerated life. We have to remember the grace we have received. “You don’t have to be perfect to show up. Then we grow.” Ask questions of people who have come into church for the first time. The church is all about the needy and the hurting. If we forget about the pain that people have…then we are missing the point. Ex: woman caught in adultery – two different ways of stopping the sinning (Pharisees: stone her; Jesus: release & forgive her). Somebody needs to love somebody.
  2. We must allow constructive input at every level. The authoritative pastor is out. Allow people to question you. Jesus came to serve not to be served.  He cared about people and listened to them. Be able to ask: ‘Is there anything around here that we could do better? Is there anything I’m doing to de-motivate you?’
  3. Authenticity and humility are imperative. Hebrews 10 – ‘draw near to God with a sincere heart’. ‘God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble’ (Ps?). ‘Pride…it’ll kill you, boy.’
  4. Pick your staff and your friends based upon this whole commission of winning souls. Be around people who think about making disciples and winning people to Christ. The heart of the father for the lost.

[This is part of a series of note-posts from the Exponential 2010 conference.]

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