"Most people lead lives of quiet desperation.. an unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind." - Henry David Thoreau
If we do not create a context for hope and healing, people will keep acting out of their pain in sinful ways. We all know we were intended for more! But we all need hope, that despite all our screw-ups and misguided stabs at life, we can still become all God intended us to be.
The problem compounds, though, when seekers come into our churches or groups and rather than hear the predominate message of hope in Christ - that the Creator of the seas wants to come on board and navigate them toward life - they hear only that God is mad about the reefs they keep hitting... leaders spend more time talking about shipwrecks and reef-avoidance than how to let the Navigator navigate!
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day because they had an inaccurate perception of God and no compassion for broken people.
It's the funny thing about humans compared to other creatures. We alone know we are not yet as the Creator intended. I seriously doubt cats ever feel anxious about whether they'll reach their full potential. But all humans know they have potential to be more. We all instinctly know there's a life out there we were created for, but we can never fully seem to live it.
One of the greatest challenges leaders face is correcting misperceptions of the nature and intentions of God.
The Evil One has done a great job of making God look like the mean, bad guy who wants to rob people of all life - destroy their fun, deny their dreams, make them marry someone they aren't attracted to, and then send them into a profession they hate against their will.
Eight characteristics common to growing churches:
Holistic Small Groups
Inspiring Worship Services
People do not change without motivation. But the root of motivation comes from emotion - a connection to the heart as well as the head.
The worship service can create a culture of hope that inspired seekers and believers alike to clearly see who God is, to envision the life he intends for them in a specific realm, and to motivate them to trust him in that area.
We find we must constantly evaluate whether we are connecting the dots, using creative elements to really connect the message of Scripture to real-life issues, or if we are falling into the trap of doing creative elements to wow, entertain, or be cool. The latter never motivates spiritually.
When seekers come to church, they usually know somethings broken... but they are not sure there's hope for something better.
But messages can also motivate people to take next steps: connecting into community, serving with their spiritual gifts, putting intentional practices into place. That's when people begin to become all God intended. And when all the pieces come together, God powerfully uses catalytic teaching to bring hope and life through the whole Body, and that becomes contagious.
Live gives life. When God's message of hope begins invading the hearts of people, motivating them to action, meeting their real needs spiritually, they change. And life-change is contagious. Seekers invite seekers even more than believers do. The change and newness of life is fresh and liberating and full of hope.