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A Few Good Men

One of the great movies of recent years was A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson played the role of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup. In a courtroom scene, he bellowed to Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!”

The same could be said of the modern church. You want the truth? I’m afraid most of us can’t handle the truth. But here it is. Forty-six percent of people in their twenties say Christians get on their nerves. And only five percent of them are drawn to a church that bears a denominational name.

But most churches fall into one of two categories. We are a “checkmark church,” where we check off “I went to church today.” Or we are a “clown church,” driven by entertainment. And as a result, the church is losing ground.

We are like the Black Plague. In 1664, only a few cases were reported. By 1665, 590 died. And within a few years, 100 million were dead. Disease is like decay. It happens slowly.

The modern church must awaken to today’s reality. The world is hungry for Jesus. It’s not Jesus they don’t like; it’s the church. The way most of us are “doing church” isn’t working anymore. Does that make you angry? I told you, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Holy Huddles

I was insecure as a child. I think it goes back to my infant years. When mom used to rock me, she used really big rocks. My insecurities carried over into my teen years. When I watched football games on television, I hated it when the players got into huddles. I assumed they were talking about me.

Actually, there was a day when they didn’t huddle up at all. The quarterback would tell each player what to do. Then it all changed at the powerhouse of college football: Callaudet University. Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet is a school for the deaf. The quarterback calls the plays by sign language.

In the old days, one of their quarterbacks noticed the defense was watching him call the plays. So he asked the players to “huddle up,” so he could call the plays without being seen by the opposition.

The custom continues today, on the football field and in the church. yes, in the church! In most churches, we are more concerned with “holy huddles” (meetings, gatherings in our buildings) than we are with putting points on the board (ministry, service).

Church, it’s time to break the huddle!

Great Organization

In his book, Harvest of Humility, John Seamands told of a wounded German soldier who was ordered to go to the military hospital for treatment. When he arrived at the large and imposing building, he saw two doors, one marked “For the slightly wounded” and the other, “For the seriously wounded.”

He entered the first door and soon found two more, one marked “For officers,” and the other marked “For non-officers.”

He entered through the latter and was suddenly faced with two more doors, marked “Party members” and “Non-party members.”

He took the second, and then found himself standing back on the street. When the soldier returned home his mother asked him, “How did you get along at the hospital?”

“Well, Mother,” he replied, “to be honest, the people there didn’t do anything for me, but they have tremendous organization!”

That is a picture of many modern churches. The people are busy, and things are well-organized. Things run well. But lives aren’t being changed. The church has just one product: changed lives. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how organized we are.

The Rushmore Report – A Dying Pastor’s Final Wish Come True

Shane Hall was the beloved pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. For three and a half years, the 46-year-old battled stomach cancer. Friday, the battle ended, as he went to be with the Lord. Knowing all medical options had been exhausted, Hall knew his fate. He had one dying wish. And that wish came true.

Hall’s final desire was to see his youngest daughter, Mallory, come to faith in Christ before he died. Here is the timeline of the pastor’s final days.

On Wednesday, February 7, Mallory trusted Christ as her personal Savior. Two days later, on February 9, Misti, Shane’s wife, announced that all medical options to save Shane’s life were exhausted, and they were now focused on pain management until his death. Then, on Sunday, February 11, Pastor Hall baptized his young daughter. On February 16, Misti posted, “Tonight he is worshiping with Jesus.”

The last person Hall would baptize would be his daughter.

The funeral service for Shane will be today in Oklahoma City. This week, Misti posted, “We continue to see God’s sustaining grace in all of this. Shane said he just wanted to baptize Mallory. So, for him to say that and then to see it within two or three weeks was just a precious gift to him. I felt like, that’s what kept him here for awhile, his wanting to fulfill that desire to see her come to know the Lord.”

Frank Page, President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, prayed with Hall many times in his final weeks. “When I heard about Shane’s miraculous efforts in helping to baptize his daughter, I wept,” he said. “It spoke of a father’s love. It spoke of a pastor’s determination. God bless his wonderful family.”

 

Football and Church

Note the contrasts between the average football fan’s worship of a pigskin and the average Christian’s worship of God. Football fans pay a hefty sum to park their cars and walk a long distance to the stadium. The churchgoer expects free parking close to the building. Football contests are noisy with loud cheering and the enthusiasm of the fans. The churchgoer sits in grim silence, and objects to loud music. Football stadium seats are narrow, backless, and assigned. The churchgoer hates a hard pew and insists on a particular seat.

Football games always last well past three hours, and if they go to overtime, fans consider it a bonus. The churchgoer expects worship to take only an hour. If the service goes into overtime, the churchgoer displays great movements of agitation and frustration.

Actually, things don’t have to be that way. At my church, season tickets are free, and if you come early enough, you can sit in the same seat every week. Our seats are comfortable, the music is excellent, and the home team – Jesus – wins every time. And we try to keep it to an hour. By any measure, the best arena you will ever attend is the one down the street, with the steeple.

With a new year dawning, find a place of worship this Sunday.

Huddles

I was insecure as a child. I think it goes back to my infant years. When Mom used to rock me, she used those big rocks. My insecurities carried over to my teen years. When I watched football games on television and the teams went into their huddles, I thought they were talking about me.

Actually, there was a day when they didn’t huddle up at all. The quarterback would tell each player what to do. Then it all changed at the powerhouse of college football: Gallaudet University. Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet is a school for the deaf. The quarterback calls the plays by sign language.

In the old days, one of their quarterbacks noticed that the defense was watching him call the plays. So he asked the players to “huddle up,” so he could call the plays without being seen by the opposition.

The custom continues today, on the football field and in the church. Yes, in the church! In most churches, we are more concerned with “holy huddles” (meetings, gatherings in our buildings) than we are with putting points on the board (ministry, service).

Church, it’s time to break the huddle and run some plays!

Stuck

The 19th century evangelist, D. L. Moody, loved to tell the story of a man who was asked by his ten-year-old son, “Daddy, why don’t you ever to go church with us?”

The father replied, “I don’t need to go to church, son. My faith is established.”

Later that same day the man drove his horses out of the barn and hitched them to the buggy. As he and his son drove out of the yard, the horses became mired in a mud hole. The man tried in vain to extricate them, whereupon the boy observed, “They’re not going anywhere, Daddy. I believe they’re established.”

The Bible warns us, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as has become the habit of many.”

In America, that is so true! Most Americans skip church religiously. They come to church disguised as empty pews. I was raised going to church consistently, every Christmas and Easter.

Most of us think we are “established,” but we are really “mired in a hole.” We aren’t going anywhere. This Sunday, that can change for you. If you like, you can even come on your horse.

The Rushmore Report: Chick-fil-A Hosts Displaced Church in Virginia

Chick-fil-A is opening up a Virginia branch of their restaurant to host a church congregation that has been displaced. The White Oak Community Church recently arrived at their usual place of worship to be informed that the hotel could not host their weekly gatherings due to “building issues.” So, Chick-fil-A stepped in. The family friendly company has once again solidified its standing within the faith community.

A church member phoned her friend who managed the restaurant premises, when the need arose. “They are NOT open for business,” the church clarified in a subsequent Facebook post. “They have simply agreed to let us use their space for worship this week.”

Lead Pastor Dave Wilde, a veteran of the Marine Corp., also shared his appreciation for Chick-fil-A and its manager, sending a “huge thank you to Greg Williams and Chick-fil-A for graciously agreeing to host us next Sunday,” according to Fox News.

“If you’re a current or future attender, and you always wanted to worship in a restaurant setting, this is your lucky day.”

About the Author

Will Maule is a writer and editor of HelloChristian.com.

The Changing Face of Protestantism In America

For the first time in American history, there are now more Protestants in America who do not identify with a specific denomination or tradition than those who do, according to a new Gallup survey. In just 16 years, the number of Christians who said they belong to a specific denomination dropped from 50 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2016.

Overall, the number of Protestants in America has dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to just 47 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of people who claim to be Christians without a denomination has grown from nine percent to 17 percent. Baptists remain the largest denomination, with 10 percent claiming to be Baptists.

This confirms other evidence supplied by the Barna Group, which has found that the #1 reason people now attend church is to “touch God.”

It really doesn’t matter what label you wear. The question is whether or not you truly seek to touch God.

Funny Church Signs

I love funny church signs. In the old days when I was a youth minister, I was the guy who changed the sign in front of my church every week. I tried to be clever. My favorite was, “Try One of Our Delicious Sundays.”

Check these out . . .

“I wish Noah has swatted those two mosquitoes”

“Whoever is praying for rain can stop now”

“Hipster Jesus loved you before you were cool”

“God expects spiritual fruit, not religious nuts”

“I hate this church – Satan”

“God shows no favorites, but our sign guy does. GO CUBS!”

“God, help me be the person my dog thinks I am!”

These are all clever, to be sure. And they might even help bring people through the church doors. But what matters most about church isn’t what’s on the outside. And that includes the church name or denomination. What matters is what is happening on the inside. For a church where lives are being changed – that’s the best sign of all.