Monday, January 14, 2008

Break the Rules?

I had the opportunity to listen to Pastor Craig Groeschel at a conference a few months back and I have been sitting on what I heard for quite a while. So now, it is time to share what he said that has put a fire within me.

Craig opened up his lecture by reading Mark 2 and breaking down the story of four friends who broke through a roof of a house to get their friend to Jesus. It was interesting that we do not know how far these friends walked or for how long, but what we know is that they were on a mission. They saw obstacles and desired so desperately to get their friend to Jesus that they did desperate measures. Think about it, they did something that got others angry.

So the question was posed “When was the last time you busted something up to get someone to Jesus?” Why is it that the Christian culture has set up so many social and cultural rules….the do’s and don’ts….and many of these rules are the very same things that keep people from experiencing Christ?

I loved that Craig endorsed “That we all need passion for people, passion for Jesus and passion for the Word of GOD and add to that integrity and be willing to break through some barriers…” in our culture. We need to be driven to reach people for Christ.

Craig pointed out that “we have everything that we need to reach the people that GOD wants you to reach.” And so, as believers and leaders we need to care deeply but do we really care deeply about people? We have to ask ourselves if we are like one of the four friends that cared about the paralytic? Or are we so self absorbed that we are oblivious to what is going on around us? “When was the last time you had a non believer in your home? And the plumber does not count?” So, who is GOD calling you to reach that no one around you is reaching?

If you are a believer we must build within other believers an increasing passion for people who do not know GOD or else those Christians will they will resist anything new that we do. In order to reach those that no one else is reaching we will have to do things that no one else is doing. It is about time that some leaders and believers care more about reaching people than what other people think about ‘your’ particular ministry….we must care deeply.

Not only must we care deeply, I wonder if we need to break rules! Wow, that opens a whole can of worms here doesn’t it? So often the church preaches the example of how Jesus spent time with the outsiders of society in their places of comfort, their homes, etc.

“The church at large has not represented Jesus well and maybe it is time that we need to break some rules? We need to care enough for our friends to break through the roof to do something. Martin Luther broke some rules when he put the bible into the hands of the common person. John Wesley broke the rules when he took the message of the gospel outside the church.”

“We need to care more about reaching people than what we do about man’s stupid rules. The church historically puts more man made rules and limitations on itself than any other organization around. We can’t do that, we have to do it this way, we have always done it this way.” “We cannot contain the Gospel… believers we look at what people are doing and we study and learn and when GOD leads you…you may have to break some rules….”

Craig went on to add that “when you care deeply about people, and this causes you to break some rules, and when this happens…be prepared that you will offend some Pharisees….” Whenever you do something different learn to duck because people are going to start firing at you.”

In the Luke 13 Jesus healed on the Sabbath and it was the Pharisees who were offended, so the Pharisees got together that day and began to plot his murder. The irony here is that you can plot murder on the Sabbath, but you cannot heal on the Sabbath. And what we find is that in our culture today, as in the culture of Jesus’ day, there are people who feel that their religious man made rules are more important than what scripture really teaches.

Things that are closest to the heart of GOD is most offensive to the Pharisees. Like When you hang out with “those kind of people”…or when you try to do things to reach “those kinds of people” you will be criticized…and the majority of the criticisms come from the religious ones.

If you think about it, most of what is accepted today was “hated” in the church world years back. Having drums and electric twangers, worship teams (cheer leaders) doing drama, wearing jeans in church could have gotten you shot in some places, clapping or even laughing in the church was not allowed, but snake handling was!!!! And still is if you live in Kentucky.

Craig’s exhortation went something like this: “Some of the things that GOD may call us to do will be hated for a season, but we must endure it, and put a smile on our face just like those who have endured so much more and paid the real price of sacrifice and not just a little bit of criticism.”

We must not worry about criticism. We do not have to defend ourselves… Worry if you are not being criticized by the Pharisees!!!!

I believe that there are many false believers today in our society, who really don’t know Jesus who throw stones at other churches, at pastor and other Christians and maybe even you, because they see people trying to move the gospel forward in different ways, and that is what we need to do. We must do this however with love, and we must continue to move the gospel forward even if it does offend the Pharisees because when it comes down to our faith it is all about reaching people who don’t know Christ.

So who is GOD calling you to reach? What is GOD calling you to attempt that hasn’t been done before? What new thing is GOD calling you to do that will be hated today and embraced tomorrow? Just as I finished this my inbox bell went off. It was an email from Todd A. Rhoades the editor and Publisher of And this is what he wrote…

In his book The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell (McGraw-Hill), Oren Harari quotes former Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying, "Being responsible sometimes means ticking people off." Well, okay, I cleaned that quote up a little for this article, but the point remains the same: Sometimes when you're a responsible leader, people will not like what you're doing. Sometimes people will get quite angry. Unfortunately, in a church leadership setting, many times this means that people will get so angry that they'll leave your church.

Powell goes on to say: “Making people mad was part of being a leader. As I had learned long ago…an individual’s hurt feelings run a distant second to the good of the service.”
Harari summarizes: “Leadership can’t be a popularity contest. Trying not to offend anyone, or trying to get everyone to like you, will set you on the road to mediocrity. Why? Because leaders who are afraid to make people angry are likely to waver and procrastinate when it comes time to make tough choices. Leaders who care more about being liked than about being effective are unlikely to confront the people who need confronting…They won’t challenge the status quo. And inevitably, by not challenging tradition, they hurt both their own credibility and their organization’s performance.”
Clearly, in ministry work, people’s feelings are important. But the work God has called us to do for the kingdom is equally important. Many churches are deadlocked in tradition and will never change because there’s a group of people whose feelings (or even sins) will never be confronted.

Is your church on “the road to mediocrity”?


1 Corinthians 9:22To 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.


Ryan said...

"I have never set out to be shocking or controversial. That's a horrid goal - and I believe, a very unredemptive goal. My interest has always been the truth."

- Rob Bell, as quoted in Relevant Magazine [Jan / Feb 2008]

The interesting thing, I think, is just how controversial and shocking the truth actually is.

I mean, it's kind of ironic how much trouble you can actually get into following Jesus (and I mean that in a non-cult, non-blue-koolaid sort of way). While we talk often about our tendancy in the church to worship and canonize cultural standards, allowing them to replace the scriptures, it's very seldom we do anything to break out of that mold.

Maybe this is because "Breaking the Rules" is scary... and "Mankind doesn't crave anything as much as a closed system," (I can't remember who said that, but I agree.)

Too bad that God isn't interested in us having one... instead, we get this dynamic, messy relationship that can take us into the most unexpected places as we bumble and fumble towards Jesus.

I love the story from Mark 2: I guess it's possible to be a criminal one day, and a faith-hero the next.... of course, in order to do that, we'd have to keep our eyes on what's really important.

SoulPastor said...

Thanks Ryan.

I was given the book THE END OF RELIGION by Bruxy Cavey to read and I would like to share a great quote....

"Religious people often tend to confuse the reasure map for the treasure."


lilmisssunshine said...

That is soooo true!!! So often when they find it, they keep it - fence it in for themselves, and make a list of rules detailing who can access it, when they can access it and how!!! We need to break out of these "fences" that aren't even biblical, and invite everyone to find the treasure. You only get the blessing from it when it flows from you to others...

Misty B said...

As someone who came to Christ as an adult I often find myself confused by 'the rules.' I never learned the rules and often I wonder if that serves me well or not. I find myself either unintentionally ticking people off because I stepped into territory they are uncomfortable with or on the edge of church community because my story and assumptions are so different from those who grew up in the church. It has also taken a long time for me sort out obedience to Christ from legalism. Since I became so focused on what I saw as untrue, I stopped looking for the Truth.

In the past few months my heart has ached for some of the people around me. I see their hurt. I see that they are desperate for hope. Many of them have gone to church in the past but they won't go back because their lives have become too messy. They have had children out of wedlock, they are living in common-law relationships, they have had affairs. So I walk with them and pray for them and in my prayers are the hope that one day God will make a path for them to come nearer to Him.

Kev said...

This is a very good blog. It raises many good points that got me easy it is to lose sight of truth and focus on un-important "issues". It's time we really start focusing on what really counts in this life. Too many people find it too easy to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those who need our help. Most people are content to just live their own life, I'm sick of it.... How about doing what who were here to do.......???