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Church - Dead or alive?

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Opinion - Everybody has one!  Especially when it comes to the church!


(Ben Thompson Interview)

Why Columbus, Ohio and why the OSU campus?

Clarify.  This is not a student ministry church?

This journey has not been easy.  What happened?

What’s your dream for the church?  How can we help?

   ad – CARM SLEEVE.[i]  Pretty lame product but it’s good to know your opinion is worth something and so is mind!  Opinion is defined as a collection of generally held views.  An opinion could be a personal view.  Such as, “In my opinion any TV show featuring a Kardashian or someone named Honey Boo Boo is bound to be mindless!  A BIG waste of time!”  But again, that’s my opinion.  Opinion can also be estimation!  Maybe your son comes home and says, “Mom, my job interview today went well.  I think they have a high opinion of me.”  Maybe the employer does, maybe not.  Time will tell.  OR opinion can be an expert assessment.  If your boss gives you their opinion, unless it’s illegal, immoral or unethical - you’d better do it because they sign your paycheck.  You go to your doctor and your doctor looks over your x-rays and says, “Whoa, this is bad.  I recommend procedure/surgery immediately.”  I guess you could blow that off.  But he or she is an expert in their field.  Today, the Cleveland Browns are in first place.  Go Browns!  Someone tell me the total number of profession football teams.  32!  Correct.  Nearly every “expert” is expecting them to finish no higher than 29th in the league.  The odds of the Browns winning the Super Bowl is 335 to 1!  The experts believe the Browns will finish the season 3-13 or worse![ii]  Stupid experts!  But once again everyone is entitled to their own opinion!  And that’s also true of the church!

            Some people have a poor opinion of the church.  Tim Pressler said a woman stopped him at Kroger. She knew Tim and asked him, “Tim, do you work at a church?”  He said, “Yes, I do.”  She then said, “Could you instruct your people at church that when they come in the store after church on Sundays to be a little kinder, nicer.  Church people are so mean!”  Others, just the opposite!  The church is doing the work of Jesus.  AWESOME NEWS!  Because of the generous donations of this church and Lifeline Christian Mission the container is out of Mozambique and arrived in the village at 2:30PM yesterday! (9/8/12)  The church often helps those who can’t help themselves.  Now, let’s find out where you stand.  If you like the church give me a big thumbs up!  If you don’t like the church well give me a big thumbs down! 

            For the next four weeks we’re going to take a close look at the church as described in the Bible!  Is the church dead or alive?  Judgmental or holy?  Dishonest or trustworthy?  Boring or Active?

            Let’s let Jesus guide the way!  One of the earliest references to the church comes from Jesus himself.  Turn in your Bibles today to Matthew 16:13!  Do you need a Bible?  This weekend is our BIG kickoff weekend.  Please note this insert in your handout! / Pizza & Pastors / Five Smooth Stones Update - Occupancy permits the week if he 17th. Open House on October 14th @ 6:00PM.   Final Sound Lighting and video install the first and second week of October.   Pledged giving was down in August but had a good first week in September.  We are under our average need at this point but hope that the usual uptick in the fall will help.

I read an article by Tyler Braun called 3 Reasons why Pastors don’t connect with Millennials.  To be clear here, Millennials are people born between 1980 and 2000.  Which means the oldest millennial is 32 and the youngest is now 12.  How many Millennials are in the house today?  Braun was describing the church as seen by college students.  He said this, “The religious environment most of us have come to know is a rules-driven, legalistic, head disconnected from the heart, sit up straight and pay attention, religious type of duty.”[iii]  If that’s what it means to be the church of Jesus, I want no part of IT!  Jesus gives us a better understanding.  Let’s read Matthew 16:13?  When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi…

Caesarea Philippi was built by Herod Philip.[iv]  He honored Caesar but named it after himself.  Caesarea Philippi is 25 miles north of Capernaum.[v]  Jesus is leaving Jewish occupied territory and entering Gentile occupied territory.  Every Jewish mother would have told her boys not to go there, but Jesus takes them anyway. 

This is the third year of Jesus’ ministry.  I imagine Jesus is feeling pressure considering the fact that his disciples are not totally sure of just who HE is in the world!  He appears to be the Messiah/the Christ, but is he?  In three verses Jesus will ask two questions.  They are not rhetorical or yes and no type questions.  They require a response.  Question #1 is in verse 13!  Read all of verse 13! 

Opinions run rampant when it comes to Jesus!  It was that way then and it’s that way now!  People either loved him or hated him!  Think about our situation today.  Everyone has an opinion concerning our Presidential election.  Everyone has an opinion concerning Romney and Obama.  It appears to me that politicians often make promises they cannot keep.  Well, what about Jesus?  He claimed to be the Messiah and backed those claims by performing miracles.  Go back one chapter.  Find Matthew 15:30!  If that’s not impressive.  Jesus fed 4000+ people with only seven loaves of bread and a handful of fish!  Despite his credentials people still wondered.  Go to verse 14![vi]  But not one single person or group actually endorsed Jesus!  So what about you?  Jesus actually asks the question – his 2nd question in verse 15! 

If you won’t put your faith in Jesus, then give me a better Savior?  Many people today are turning to science.  I read an interview on CNN.  CNN questioned atheist, biologist, writer & thinker - Richard Dawkins.  They asked many questions.  Here’s two!  What about evolution?  We have shared ancestors with all animals and all plants. There is no serious scientist who doubts that evolution is a fact.  If there were a God that met you after death, what would you say?  If I met God, in the unlikely event, after I died? The first thing I would say is, well, which one are you? Are you Zeus? Are you Thor? Are you Baal? Are you Mithras? Are you Yahweh? Which God are you, and why did you take such great pains to conceal yourself and to hide away from us?[vii]  Dawkins opinion is that God did not show up, but Peter in Matthew 16 is looking right at God.  His name is Jesus and Peter makes this declaration in verse 16.  

This is what Jesus was looking for.  Since Peter answered the question.  Jesus now responds to Peter.  Read 17 & 18.  Please remember this.  The church is the body of Christ not the body of Peter!  Do you remember where Jesus took his apostles?  Caesarea Philippi!  I’ve been there.  Crazy place!  I don’t think for a moment that Axl Rose or Slash were standing off to the side.  But when they arrived, Jesus literally could have said, “Boys, welcome to the jungle!”  Go to Look at this cave.  Before Herod conquered the city.  The Greeks named the city Panias in his honor of their Greek god, Pan.  In their minds the cave created a gate to the underworld. They believed that their city was literally at the Gates of hell. In order to entice the return of Pan, the people had to engage in sexual interaction between humans and goats.”[viii]

            Yikes, Greg.  That’s disgusting so what am I supposed to get here besides a nasty mental image and a history lesson?  The church can overcome anything!  Even evil itself!  OK.  So what’s a church?  According to Jesus the church is an assembly of people.  People, like Peter, who’ve been called out of darkness and into light – out of confusion and into direction!  According to Jesus the church is an assembly of people, like Peter, who’ve made a profession of faith!  I believe that you are who you say you are – the Messiah, the son of the living God. 

Opinions vary in this world. Some people think the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota is a hot vacation destination!  But NOT me!  What determines whether or not the church is dead or alive?  Wouldn’t that be you?  Wouldn’t that be me?  Richard Dawkins has chosen to put his faith in his own intellect.  I have chosen to put mine in a God who showed up!  What about you?  Who do you think Jesus is?




[iii] Tyler Braun, 3 Reasons Pastors Don’t Connect with Millennials, August 30, 2012

[iv] EBC, 78

[v] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 301

[vi] EBC, 78



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