by Bob Whitesel, Cure for the Common Church, 4/15/12.
(Download this chapter for various ways to share the Good News, including The 4 Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, etc.: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT.
This chapter we will look at “how” an uncommon church fosters newness. In the previous chapter we looked at “why” this newness is important, discovering that:
- loves his offspring,
- wants to restore his relationship with them
- and desires to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
- One of humanity’s most widespread needs is for a physical and spiritual change (this has been described as conversion, being born again, being saved spiritual/physical transformation and.or emergence of new people).
- God has made it clear that only through Jesus Christ can such a complete transformation take place.
- Turning from our wrong actions (repentance), knowing that with Jesus Christ’s power we can change (faith) and then going in a new direction with God’s help (spiritual/physical transformation) is God’s desire for every person.
- God designed the church to explain this Good News.
- God designed the church to welcome this transformation.
- Spiritual and physical transformation is the pivot point for the uncommon church (balancing the other three cures).
Therefore, let us look at “how” an uncommon church fosters spiritual and physical transformation.
Sittin’ on the Doorstep with Jerry
“I know how to survive in the streets,” Jerry told me. “It’s here among Christians that I was not at home.” Jerry had been the manager of a local grocery until the store was purchased by a large chain and Jerry’s job eliminated. Financial problems and a divorce soon sent Jerry from the church he had attended since a youth. “I grew up in that church,” Jerry recalled. “But my ex-wife and kids go there, and I wanted to give them some space.” And so began Jerry’s church shopping that now was at an end.
As we sat on a doorstep on a gritty urban street Jerry opened up about the spiritual journey that brought him there. “When I left that church I grew up in,” Jerry continued, “I started attending Main Street Church a few blocks north. It was an old, established church and I figured they would have ministries that could help me deal with my marital problems and get me a job too. It sure didn’t happen.” Jerry continued to tell of a church that seemed more concerned about his bad habits than his soul. “I always felt guilty around them. And, they were pretty good about reminding me of my faults. I guess they had a reason for treating me that way. I was still doing some pretty bad things and that really riled them up. I’m not even sure I was a Christian back then. I guess I needed to change, really change like I’d never changed before. I was just trying to find people that would give me the time and the help to make it happen.”
Jerry’s next stop was Trinity Church. “At Trinity, they helped me find housing, got me a job interview and even gave me a suit to wear to it. I’d say they helped up to a point.” “Up to what point?” I asked. “The point to where I needed to change more than just on the outside. I had a part-time job, an acceptable place to live, but I really needed a whole new start. I needed to understand my relationship with God. I needed to ask Him to forgive me. Ask him what he wanted me to do with my life. Ask him to help me overcome the addictions that I couldn’t overcome myself.” “Did you ask Him?” I interjected. “I asked them, the church leaders, but they said that was really between me and God. I remember the pastor saying, ‘Jerry, you’ve got to decide for yourself what you believe about God. What I believe may not be what you need to believe.’ I was more confused than ever,” summarized Jerry.
“So, I kept visiting churches, because I needed to find people that were reconnecting to God and who could show me the way.” Jerry visited church after church, until at last he found a Christian community that seemed balanced in its focus on helping him physically and spiritually.
“They told me they understood where I was coming from. They didn’t rush me, but made me feel like I could be a part of their fellowship as long as I continued to grow in my understanding. It really came together when they told me about a road to Jesus. A ‘Roman Road’ they called it. I became a new Jerry not long after. And, people say they can see it, too. But, it didn’t stop there, those people stuck with me. I had some setbacks, but a group of them kept helping me get my life back on course. I guess they traveled the road with me.”
With that, Jerry disappeared up the steps into the front door of a fellowship that had become his new spiritual family. This community of Christians had helped him get back on his feet financially and spiritually. I looked up at the sign above the door and realized that the Salvation Army continues to provide a good example for the uncommon church, for the Salvation Army does good work the common church misses or overlooks. As Jerry disappeared up the stairs, I whispered a prayer “Lord, please make more churches like the Salvation Army, ready to stick with people like Jerry so they can become healthy physically and spiritually.”
(Excerpted from ©Bob Whitesel, Cure for the Common Church)
Download the rest of the chapter here … BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT