Joining God Requires Adjustment

Gideon Lee 7/25/2018

Dear friends,

This coming Sunday, Pastor John Frazier will continue our sermon series on Experiencing God with a study of the sixth reality, “joining God requires adjustment” (chapter 17).  If my former experience leading the Experiencing God series is of any reusable value, I’d say this is the make-or-break chapter for most people.  Some would perhaps have resisted Blackaby since reality 3, when Blackaby claims that God has a personal tailormade plan for individual Christians.  Others would find reality 4 preposterous when Blackaby claims that God speak to us personally and we could hear Him.  Even more would want reality 5, that accepting God’s invitation invariably leads to crisis of belief, not to be true.  “Don’t we have enough struggles in life to deal with already!?”  But reality 6 is where rubber meets the road.  There is something called inertia in physics.  People naturally resist changes.  People would rather keep doing the same old routine even when it reaches the point of depleting return.  But the key to lasting transformations is found in leveraging pivotal moments in life into making uncomfortable but necessary adjustments.

Brother Dan Yuan will be leaving for missions to China in August. It will indeed be quite an adjustment! But the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17-20) begins precisely with “going.” On Sunday, August 5, we will have “A Souper Potluck” organized for him from 12:30-2PM at the English Kitchen to give him a celebrative and prayerful send-off.  Please sign up here to indicate the soup, salad or dessert that you will bring.

The English ministry August business meeting is tentatively set to Sunday, August 12 from 11:30-12:30.  As we gear up for a new academic year and a new building, we will be making quite a few adjustments to anticipate growth and outreach to the community.  We will discuss the proposal for Sunday schedule change which the English ministry initiated, with subsequent amendments from different ministry committees and the Council.  On agenda is also the affirmation of the personnel recommendation from the EM nominating committee.

Major adjustments can often be bogged down by minor details.  To succeed in making systemic changes, we need to be intentional in keeping our attention on the megatrends and the big picture.  Facts and Trends (https://factsandtrends.net/) is a free online resource/quarterly magazine published by LifeWay that I’d strongly encourage all church leaders to subscribe.  I rarely find an article on this publication that is not timely and relevant to what we do at CBCGL.

For example, in re-imagining our Sunday program, Aaron Earls’ article “How the forgotten history of Sunday school can point the way forward” will prove perceptive and practical.  I stated unequivocally before I accepted my call to CBCGL that I think it is okay to outreach on Sunday.  I believe growing and healthy church consists primarily of members who go out to serve rather than come in to be served.  Times have changed; churches must adjust.  With their education level and the abundance of readily available resources, I expect that our church members will take the self-initiative to get educated for theology and trained for ministerial skills.  When we come together as a church on weekends, it should not be so much about spoon-feeding information people can acquire on their own, but about witnessing the gospel to the unchurched and unevangelized.  I said many times, buy a study bible!  (For example, this is a good one.) You don’t need the preachers to read the footnotes of a study bible for you on Sunday. 

As another example, I have recommended Thom Rainer’s Becoming a Welcoming Church to you as a summer reading.  An excerpt of the book is published on Facts and Trends in the article, “The front door churches often forget.” Another study reported by Aaron Earls, “How do churches actually welcome guests?” informs us of the statistical reality.  Most of the times, as you will find, Thom Rainer is just pointing out the common sense.  So why do churches continue to do things that defy common sense?  Resistance to change!  Becoming a welcoming church means becoming something different.  It turns the church from inward focus to outward focus.  As the cover of Rainer’s book reveals:

In almost all of Thom S. Rainer’s consultations, church members perceive their church to be friendly. But as he surveyed guests, he found that the guests typically saw church members as unfriendly. The perception chasm existed because the members were indeed friendly . . . to one another.

The guests felt like they crashed a private party.

As a third and final example, I’d highlight Rainer’s article, “7 Keys to Successful Leadership Succession.”  I said in April’s state-of-the-church that I believe in working myself out of my job.  To develop future leaders is to delegate, automate, and get-out-of-the-way.  Or as Pastor John Frazier noted in one insightful sermon, success literally means succeeding in the task God has given you now so that you can do the next thing tomorrow.  Therefore, churches – like any organizations – must think about leadership succession constantly, both for pastoral staff members and volunteers.  We need a constant stream of new blood!  But how do we recruit?  Take a reading of Helen Gibson’s “Your 5 Biggest Volunteer Recruiting Questions Answered.”

Joining God requires adjustment.  Pause for a moment this week and think: what changes does God want from you?

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL