An Open Letter to those that have walked away from church

Time to return

I have been thinking about those that no longer go to church anymore. Some leaders call this growing group of people the “dechurched”. Some say there are 12 million and I have heard up to 30 million followers of Jesus in the United States, people who love God, and they no longer are part of a faith community. I know there are many reasons for this, but I want to express my encouragement to those that have walked away.
Why do people leave their church or faith community
1. They don’t believe it is relevent anymore.
2. Their favorite pastor moved on and the new pastor is not the same.
3. The busyness of life. Church just fell of the map.
4. The high expectations put on them, and the only way to avoid that is to leave.
5. People put high expectations on the church, and when the church/pastor/ministries can’t meet them they walk.
6. Some people offend easily and have left for very petty things.
7. Some people have been deeply hurt by the church and leadership mistakes and their pain is real.
8. Many are barely connected, don’t get involved much, and no relationships keep them there.
10. People are sometimes just lazy, and look at the church and involvement as a burden. They would rather do other things.
11. Culture has immersed people, through media TV, and more things in life gain importance than being involved in a Faith Community.
12. A good church will confront people with the real realities of life, sin, family, healing and wholeness, and some do not want to be confronted with their mistakes or their pain caused by others.
13. Tragedy. Some have walked because they have encountered deep tragedy and loss in life and believe God should not have allowed it, is responsible, and the pain of that seems like it can’t be overcome.

So here is my open letter for those that have left the Body of Christ and still love Him.

Dear friend,
I know you have walked away from the church, but not your faith. You still believe and love God. You have called upon Christ to save you and you have been forgiven, yet you find yourself in life, not part of your church. You have walked away. I know some have many reasons, and many confess to me they need to get their faith more active and return to their place of worship. Let me appeal to you to return.
I believe the church is imperfect. It is filled with people, and we are all imperfect, striving to do our best, but falling short at times. Please consider the humanity of the attenders and leaders. You may have walked away because of being hurt, offended, overlooked, or passed over. People, all people usually disappoint at one time or another. Internal pain is real. I can only encourage you to do the right thing for you. That is to forgive, don’t hold grudges and bitterness. You are suffering more than who or what upset you into walking away.Let it go, and return.
You may be out of the a local fellowship because life just got so busy, and slowly the involvement just lost priority. You are losing out on a lot.

Before you stay out of a faith community forever let me encourage you to return for the following possible reasons.
1. We need to worship our God through Christ. God is seeking worshippers. We do need to gather together as the Body of Christ and lift Him up. It is encouraging and we connect with our Lord.
2. You don’t have to go to a faith community to be a Christian, but to be a growing one, I believe you do.
3. Your family is being greatly impacted. Most families that walk away, talk openly with kids present, why, and the bitterness can be passed down to children/students/young adults who take on your offense, thus they live a life void of church and probably void of God too.
4. One can’t be moved, touched, encouraged, taught by the Spirit if you are not present.
5. Your absence is a loss for the Body of Christ. Everyone is a minister. Everyone has gifts. With you not being part the ministry of your church is hampered. You can’t teach anyone, encourage anyone, pray for anyone. You lose touch with the heart of God and the heart for people.
6. The enemy loves believers that are disconnected with the strength of the Body of Christ. You can fall prey to sin, return to your life before salvation, allow old habits that are hurtful to resurface. Active faith combats that. Unbelief incubates better and grow faster when there is not much exposure to the light or the sun (Son).
7. All churches and all pastors/leaders are not like the one(s) that hurt you, so don’t paint Christianity with too wide of a brush. Maybe you need to forgive and pray about a new local church to be part of.
8. He loves you and his people do. Sorry if they were mean to you. Christians say and do stupid, imperfect, and insensitive things too. Many have hurt me also. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have to have the love of God in my heart for all people. Most don’t mean to hurt anyone, they talk before they think, not weighing the impact of words, being void of wisdom. It might happen again if you return to be honest. We both have also been guilty of this too, so lets receive grace and most importantly, let’s give it.

I know these can all be rebutted, especially by a hurt person. But I just want to encourage you to do what you once loved to do. I know it might be very hard, take courage, and more love and forgiveness than you think you have. But you still love the Lord and He will help you. He needs you active, present, and there. You have more to offer, more to give, more to learn, and more to influence for Jesus.

Thanks for reading. Don’t give up on the local church yet. Give it another go. We need you.
My Pastor’s Heart,

We can’t give up! A call to the church to keep reaching children and students.

IMG_2703This weekend I am going to sharer a clarion call to Compelled and any church leader and Christian that will listen online or via our app, podcast, or online. I am deeply burdened for the younger generation. The enemy is after our children and students. Our young adults are struggling for truth and to see the relevance of Christ in our Culture. the anti-God “spirit” is showing up with greater negative force twoard the things of the Lord. Christianity is being yanked out of our society. Bibles are being removed from motels, public displays of Christ are being barred, like prayer, or references to God. All to appease a very small sector of the population. Right is being displayed as wrong, and wrong is becoming right. Activity in a faith community or Church is not as much as a priority anymore. Most churches have little or no children and/or student ministry (not us at Compelled). Parents will go to great lengths to see their kids excel in academics, sports, travel team, and put little to no focus on their spiritual lives. Our society is reaping the results of years of these choices.

We can’t give up on the next generation! We must not let the enemy take our children and students from the Kingdom of God. We cannot allow them to grow up thinking their Bible and church or awkward and odd, because they are not familiar with them.

My heart is heavy. I believe its the heart of Christ. I will be sharing this message at all gatherings and both of our campus’.

Live with the tension, it’s not going away!

John 12.42,43 “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”

There is a tension when we believe in Christ. The tension comes from the conflict we will have living in a non-believing world. We live in a world where many do not appreciate the Christ-centered life, the teachings of Jesus, or for morality. We have to come to grips that this tension is not going away. We need to honor and serve God, and follow Him and the Bible says he will honor us (John 12.26).

When we choose the approval of men, to not upset our friends and family with our faith and convictions, we also forfeit the approval of God. He must be first. People will be attracted to the approval of God on our lives also. Some call this the anointing. Jesus is the anointed one, so to serve Him is to be anointed. The anointed one lives in us. People will see your faith and courage to not please men and God will attract them.

So do not desire the approval of men, nor avoid their disapproval. If it means keeping your mouth shut about your faith in Christ and the values and morals that come with that. We want His approval more than anything! The tension of our faith is the way it will be as long as we are here and serving the Lord. So serve Him, embrace the tension, and fruit will come of that. The approval and honor of God will come with standing strong in the tension.

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Ancient Voices and Present Day Direction

ancient voicesDoes it matter what a guy said almost 2500 to 3000 years ago. Does an ancient message given have any relevancy today? What could be relevant to us now? At the time of the writing of the Minor Prophets, their world and ours is so different. They had not electricity, no iphones, no email, instagram, facebook, cars, travel soccer teams, school boards, presidents. The average life span was about 30 years old. Life was hard. Physical suffering was prevalent, and people struggled through life in a way we can’t relate. So can we relate to the writings of the ancients at all?
I believe we can. For our worlds maybe be very different, but our hearts are the same. We stray from God. We struggle with faith. We live with fear. Evil is still on the earth, and the desire to conquest through military force is as real today as it was then.
Our summer series starts this weekend with Obadiah. I will tell us the ancient stories, recite the words of the past and ask some “gut-checking” questions. We can evaluate and not make the mistakes of the past, and obey the voices from the ancients thousands of years later. Be ready to be challenged, informed, and hopefully encouraged to take a fresh look at the ancient writing we possess in the Bible.

Prayer from Weekend Message

Many asked for the prayer we all prayed together for more of God’s presence in our lives.  Here it is.

I receive the truth that I can enter into your presence with confidence to receive Grace, mercy, and help.   I desire your presence in my life in a greater way.  This week help me be intentional about getting away  and alone to be with you.  I want to be aware of you. Open the eyes of my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can hear you, experience you, and be renewed daily with our fellowship.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit, your presence in my life.

In Jesus’ name… amen

Nine Trends I See for the Christian and the Church

church 1

1. I believe it is going to cost more,  and is now costing the real believer more to be a complete follower of Jesus, and to have the title “Christian”.   We will see more cynicism toward our faith. We will experience less favor by the world because of our relationship with Christ and our convictions that will more regularly  collide with society’s loss of moral standards and integrity.  The snickering and eye rolling toward followers of Christ will grow (from Ed Stetzer). 

2. People that rarely have attended church are disappearing completely.  Ed Stetzer says “nominal Christians are becoming none.” I agree.  Those that fiddle on the fringes of Christianity, seem to be just disappearing from the spiritual scene. People that used to attend Compelled like maybe once  a month or so attend almost never now.  I see that trend continuing, sadly. 

3. We will be challenged more and more on believing the Bible.  The morality of the Bible, the salvation plan of God will be attacked, challenged, and we will be looked down on by society, friends, and family for embracing God’s Word completely and God’s plan.  We need greater faith than ever. 

4. It is rare, refreshing, and more uncommon for someone to attend church weekly, be in a small group, or be part of a midweek.  I talk with many pastors and we experience more of a challenge to disciple people, as they are just not around to disciple. Interest in growing in Jesus is waning.  It is challenge to build a faith community, and people who know each other and are around their church family to get to know them, and grow in faith together.  The efforts must not stop. Pastor, don’t stop challenging people to grow, being innovative, and challenge key leaders to be examples and faithful to their church. I will not relent, even though Compelled’s midweek and small groups are struggling, I have been mandated to build disciples, so I will not give up or settle for mediocre discipleship.  “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Jesus words to Peter. I live by them! They encourage me when discouragement floods me on discipling people.

5. The pressure for our kids to be “professional athletes” at young ages and to be in that sport year-round will grow, and our children’s participation in their local church continues to diminish. Parents will continue to choose many things over getting their family to church. Time and resources will be invested outside of faith in greater  amounts.  I fear what the results will be as a generation gets older. I fear the reaping of these decisions on our children and youth. 

6. The Spirit of God, and His presence will become more of a reality to those who’s hearts are fully devoted to Jesus.  They will experience a close relationship with our Father that will ground them, and set their feet solid on the rock and nothing will cause them to step off, leave their faith, or compromise. Devoted followers of Christ will grow in devotion, no matter what happens in this world. 

7. The Word is going to become more precious.  As it is diminished in our society, and mocked by more and more of the world. The Spirit will bring greater appreciation, dedication, and desire in the followers of Jesus to know God’s Word and God’s Words.

8. Liberal churches that leave the Word, and follow the world’s philosophies  will continue to decline, and many will close. Those bodies that remain true to the Word, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ will continue to be strengthened by our Father and will remain to do the work of Christ on this earth.  The challenges for health will be greater.  The pressure on pastors and spiritual leaders will increase, but God’s Spirit will uphold the faithful and the work of Christ on this earth will continue (Joel 2.28-32, Acts 2). 

9. There are going to be more radical salvations!  I believe there is coming a season of harvest and those whose hearts and lives seem to be the coldest and farthest from God are going to be saved and will be so radical we pastors are not going to know how to pastor them as they will challenge compromise, business as usual, and mundane faith.  It is going to be a challenging and exciting time. I feel it’s coming.  A great harvest, awakening, and/or revival in the midst of everything else. God’s Spirit is going to awaken people and they are going to turn to Jesus without compromise.

Let’s keep faithful to our faith in Christ.  Don’t believe for a second that believing without growing is enough!  Ask God to give your a heart that will be faithful in the midst of the pressures of this world.  Grow in Jesus! Read and study the Bible. Pray and praise our Savior Jesus.  Embrace the fact that if you follow Jesus with all your heart you will not be like everyone else. You will not blend in.  God is with us. He is building His church. Let’s be part!  Pray believe, keep praying!  Be aware that the enemy of our soul is suttle, tricky, and patient.  May we have great discernment as he tries to lead astray the follower of Jesus.  Give us a greater desire for you Jesus!