The Church Is Not A Club
When the church turns into a club, we start making extra requirements and lose our focus on the people not yet there.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Anybody ever in a CLUB growing up?
Maybe you were in an established club like the boy scouts or girl scouts, or the young business professionals of America.
Or, maybe you made up a club.
Like the “no girls allowed club” or something.
Almost all of us do it as kids. We like the feeling it gives us.
We’re in. Other people aren’t. Which makes us feel even better about being IN .
When I was in 5th grade, I got my seven best friends together and started a club.
We thought we were the coolest kids in our grade, so we started calling ourselves the Awesome 8.
And we got everyone in school talking about it.
In the Middle School Talent Show, we even did an Awesome 8 dance to a Color Me Badd song.
Now tell me that’s not awesome?!?
And we went around talking to people, “Are you in the Awesome 8? Oh that’s right, you’re not!”
It was just…so bad…so sad…and so human.
We love to exclude. We love to feel good about ourselves.
THE CHURCH IS FOR ALL PEOPLE
Since we’re on the topic of embarrassing confessions…let me make another one
I hate fancy restaurants.
I just do. I feel so stupid there.
They don’t mesh well w/ my upbringing. In my family, if someone accomplished something amazing, we were going out to eat,& this time, we’re upgrading from our usual McDonald’s to Godfather’s Pizza!!!
So, when I walk into to a fancy restaurant, I feel like an idiot.
I don’t know the customs, my clothes are probably too casual, I can’t read menus in French, I have no idea why there are 7 forks on the table, and I just want to know where the kids menu is so I can order a $47 cheeseburger.
And something about the whole situation…makes me feel like…I’m wrong. Or…I’m an outsider.
And for too long, that’s how people have felt about the church in America.
Like it’s a club. It’s a club, and they Do NOT fit in.
This our third and final week of our series “3 Things the Church is Not,” where we’ve been focusing on ways the church has gone astray in America.
Today’s topic is perhaps the one that has had the most serious ramifications on the church in America.
Because when the church becomes a club...other people do indeed feel like they’re on the outside…or like they shouldn’t be there…or like they don’t belong.
And we stop reaching people.
And for the vast majority of churches in America, they’ve gotten stuck in “Club Mode.”
They’ve forgotten how to reach people for Jesus Christ.
Or, they’re now practically unable to reach people for Jesus Christ because their churches make non-believers and seekers feel incredibly uncomfortable because the people aren’t yet a part of the club.
They don’t know what’s going on in the service
They don’t dress right.
They don’t know all the right people.
They don’t know the song or the prayer that everyone in “the club” is supposed to have memorized…and on and on….
But the CHURCH was never supposed to be a CLUB
There are no requirements to coming to hear about Jesus.
Look at the people that Jesus sought out in the Gospels…the prostitutes, the hated tax collectors…
Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, you can’t come around me unless you got it together first.”
Church is NOT a country club mentality.
See, a country club is a place where a whole bunch of people get together who have some things in common.
Things like money, and careers, and politics. They share values and a certain way of life.
And sometimes churches let that happen.
And sometimes they let it happen to a degree that anyone from the outside…or anyone with a past…or anyone who looks differently……….feels uncomfortable.
The uncomfortable person feels like I feel in a fancy restaurant…They’re not part of “The club”
But the CHURCH is not A CLUB!
And we can’t ever let that happen here. We can’t lose focus. We can’t make it about us…or having to be a certain way before you walk into the doors of a church.
What I love about this church is that a doctor can sit next to an addict.
Or a recovered addict can sit next to an executive.
A mother of 4 can sit next to a divorcee.
Porn addicts sit next to people who are going to seminary.
The church is for everyone because Jesus was for everyone.
That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t still have certain standards for our lives, or standards for leaders, but it does mean that there is ABSOLUTELY NO STANDARD for coming to hear about Jesus or for Jesus to love you or forgive you.
(Luke 5:31-32) – NIV
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
God is for reaching everyone!
(2 Peter 3:9) – NIV
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But in a “Club Mentality,” you’re NOT for letting in everyone. Because…then you would “dilute” your club right!
It sounds absolutely terrible, but go back in history, especially to like the middle of the last century when the list of “clubs” were endless…and then were all sorts of “requirements” people had to pass.
My 5th Grade “Awesome 8” club…we weren’t expanding anytime soon.
Clubs don’t expand. They’re not concerned about expanding.
Now, to be truthful, I’m pretty sure at one time we were like the Super 7 or something, but when we did expand…our 8th person, had to go through rigorous testing and approval by the whole group.
It’s just stupid.
IT’S OUR JOB TO REACH PEOPLE
But this is part of the reason why the Christianity is shrinking in America. We got stuck in the “Club Mentality.”
And Clubs have no reason to expand. They’re happy with who’s already in the club, and expansion is the number 28 on the do-list.
First, we need to make sure all the members are happy, the annual club pot-luck is planned, and the club center is beautifully decorated for our next event!
And over the last 50 years, while churches were decorating for events and arranging our next PotLuck, the rest of the world was going to hell.
The Church can not be a CLUB.
But American Christians, in particular, have lived in this mode for so long that’s everywhere in our churches.
For example, in a growing church like this, we get a lot of visitors every week, and as often as I can, I love to talk to them.
But it’s become really common in our culture for people who are already Christians to say, “Oh, we’re just ‘Church Shopping,” or “Looking for a church that fits our family needs” or has some “programs that would be a good fit for us” or “where we feel the messages apply and we like the music.”
But just once…just once…I want to meet someone who says, “Well, My family and I are looking for a church that’s really impacting the community and reaching ppl for Christ, and where we can get on board with that. We want to do something of significance with our lives. “
See…that’s a CHURCH. Not a CLUB.
But it’s hard for us to get past the “country club perspective.”
And, I honestly, I can’t really blame people for it. It’s not just that it’s all over our culture, it’s that the church herself has enabled people to think this way.
Rather than courageously going out and impacting our world, we’ve chosen the coward’s way out and just pampered each other.
But we’ve got to go out.
Look at Jesus’ interaction in the calling of some of his first disciples
(Matthew 4:18-20) – NIV
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus didn’t say, “Simon, Andrew, what would you guys think of coming along with me and we could do some fishing seminars together! You know talk the fishing life! We could have a fish buffet and try out all sorts of fish together…just the three of us!”
The church needs to get out of the CLUB mentality and stop talking about fishing, and actually GO Fishing.
But in a club…you usually don’t do a whole lot but talk.
But this isn’t a CLUB…this is a CHURCH.
The Church’s role is to reach people with the hope and forgives of the Gospel: That Jesus Christ died on the Cross for messed up people like us
But our role isn’t JUST to reach people.
Yet another out of balance aspect of the American Church.
It’s like 80% of our churches are clubs, and the other 20% are ONLY for people who are seeking.
In Matthew 28, Jesus calls us to “go therefore and make DISCIPLES of all people.”
Not JUST make believers.
Now, that obviously is where it starts…but we want to make disciples…life-long followers who are not only daily growing in Him but reaching more people.
We teach people…to reach people.
It’s being changed to change.
It’s why I feel so good about reaching people at this church, because we can connect them into incredible community in our house groups where they are going to get discipled.
APRIL AWAKENING STRATEGY
So we want to reach as many people as we possibly can so they can become life-long followers of Jesus Christ.
And God has given this church a bold vision for the next month…
We are praying for an April Awakening in this city.
That God would use this church to do some real fishing. That WE, together, God THROUGH us, would reach a whole lot of people for Christ.
And in taking bold steps for that, we are going to 3 services starting next week…for four weeks: 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30.
And we want to be THE CHURCH…not a club. And we want to empower you to GO OUT…and EXPAND the Kingdom.
Listen, I’m a practical person. I always try and think in practical steps.
This is about as practical as we are ever going to get in a service. I’m going to literally lay it out and hand it out to you.
One of the first things I want to challenge you to is happening in a few days
We are asking for a church-wide 24-hour fast from Tuesday at 6pm to Wednesday at 6pm to pray that people would meet Jesus here in April
Then, I’ve rented the Party Room at Davanni’s in Coon Rapids, so as many people who can make it, can come and break fast with us at 6pm
The Bible tells us that fasting is the most powerful form of prayer
Fasting is an integral part of Biblical prayer, but just something the American church has neglected.
Fasting is so common in the Bible that it’s mentioned every more times than Baptism!
If you have questions on fasting or want more info, we have an AWESOME sheet on fasting in the hallway.
Ok. Let’s go with some more practical ways to reach out here.
Everyone look under your chair, and you are going to find a packet under there
Leave the white card underneath your chair for now.
Ok, pull out that Instructions sheet in there.
You’re gonna notice that we gave you THREE postcards to mail out
Postcards are an incredible way to creatively, and personally get the word out about what God’s doing here.
We also gave you TEN invite cards for Easter and this next month
We do this because it’s a proven fact that Invite Cards make any conversation 57% less awkward.
If I can, I want to challenge some people in this room to take the “1 a day” challenge.
And I’m not talking about vitamins.
Some of you in this room, can take the challenge of not going to sleep each day this week until you’ve handed out at least one card.
God can do that through you.
There are also instructions in the packet on how to use things like Facebook, texting, and more.
Here’s my challenge.
Take a step forward in this. Help be a part of Church…not a CLUB.
If it’s a step forward to invite 1 person for Easter. Do it.
If it’s a step forward to invite 2 people. Do it.
If it’s a step forward to do this whole packet: 3 postcards, 10 invite cards…some of u can do that!
But take a step forward.
Pray and MOVE.
Because we’re not a CLUB…we’re a Church.
And God has called us to be his ambassadors.
(2 Corinthians 5:20) – NIV
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Like Paul, we too are called to go out, and be AMBASSADOR’S for Christ.
Clubs don’t usually have ambassadors. But Church’s do.
And that’s us. All of us.
If you’re sitting here thinking, “But I don’t know anyone who isn’t a Christian,” let that be one of your first prayer requests each day.
But don’t just pray. Pray and move. Do something about it.
Meet the parents on your kids’ sports teams, Join a rec soccer team, join a book club, get gas at the same gas station every week and meet the employees, go to the same subway every week.
Ok, let me get EVEN MORE PRACTICAL with this.
Don’t just say, “Well, I’m ready for this. If someone asks me, I’m going to know just what to say and I’ll have an invite card ready!”
Make a plan.
This winter, we came out with a Spiritual Disciplines goal sheet called Personal Renovation Plans.
And it’s honestly been one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to witness as a pastor as SO many people are consistently reading the Bible every day in our church.
Before we started it, we said, all too often each of us goes through every day thinking (I want to read the Bible…because we KNOW it’s good), but we never do, because we don’t have a plan in place.
Well, it’s similar with evangelism…or the come and see approach to evangelism … we all know it’s good. We all probably even want to. But we aren’t going to…with out a plan.
So maybe this is crazy, but let’s just run with the logic here: let’s make a plan. Does that make us less spiritual?
Maybe that’s it. Maybe we don’t make a plan with this stuff cuz we gotta wait “for the Spirit to move?”
That goes back to PRAY AND MOVE.
Pray your heart out that God would move in your conversations…and then doing something about it.
And, yeah, listen as you talk…ask for the words to say…ask for courage…ask for openings in a conversation…
But let’s finally be bold enough to move on this stuff.
Cuz if we do, God’s going to crazy things through this church.
You’re going to be bragging on God to your friends about what you’re seeing God do at Renovation Church!
So, I would boldly ask you to “make a plan” for this week.
Plan that you’re going to send out 2 postcards on Tuesday morning.
That you’re going to ask your coworker in the middle of the week.
That you’re going to email your friend on Tuesday, and send a reminder text on Friday.
Let’s stop talking about how we want to go fishing, and the art of fishing, and let’s go fishing!
GOD CAN DO THIS!
It’s a battle against evil that HE is incredibly interested in winning.
Speaking of battles, every once in a while, when I watch a war movie, I ask myself, “David, if that was you would you jump out first? Would you be the guy to jump out while the battle was raging?”
I don’t know. I think it depends. It depends what you’re fighting for
I think if I knew that I was saving someone, I would go
I could muster up the courage
Because courage…is to do what you know is right even know it’s incredibly scary
And when we pass up going out to reach people, we often do so because we lack courage, or we lack trust in God, or we lack the understanding of what we’re really fighting for
Too many of us have conveniently forgotten that when people die in this city, in this county, if they do not know Jesus Christ, they will be spending eternity in hell
It’s one of the clearer points in the Bible.
Jesus came to rescue us from hell.
Not to help us set up a club.
And so the church is not a club…it’s a rescue mission.
Our job as Christians isn’t just to protect OURSELVES from evil. Our job is to work with Jesus Christ to engage evil. Defeat evil. Win people back from evil.
For far too long, Christians have just kept to themselves as the world is perishing around us and drowning in evil.
Let’s stop blogging about it, writing about it, and complaining about it, and let’s actually DO SOMETHING about it.
We are on the cusp of something great right now.
GOD IS GOING TO MOVE IN THIS CITY.
Because we’re NOT going to be CLUB.
Because we’re NOT gonna make it all about just us.
Because we’re NOT gonna just sit by as people perish.
We’re going to go out in the strength of Jesus Christ and HE WILL AWAKEN THIS CITY for the glory of His name.
(DON”T FORGET TO COME BACK UP FOR THE COMMISSIONING LATER ON! SIT IN THE FRONT!)
I know I normally don’t come back up here at the end of the service, but this is a special week for us, and I wanted to do something a little special.
When I went to church as a kid, at the end of every service the pastor would get up again and do what was called a Benediction.
He would say something like, “NOW, as you go out into the world, may the Lord bless you and keep you…” and so on..
And I wanted to do that this week. To commission you to go out and live out your mission of being changed by God to change the world.
Can we do that?
Let me pray for us.
God, we pray that as we leave this place today that you empower us to bring light into the darkness. That you would enable us to be more than a club…but a rescue mission.
God, we pray that you would exchange our worries and our fears for boldness and for courage.
And God, we pray for an awakening in this city, by the power of your Spirit, and for the Glory of your Name.
May God be with you.
REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR PACKETS WITH YOU, AND WE’LL SEE YOU ON FRIDAY
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.