For Bay County: Think different about God
Do the people in your world know you’re FOR them? In our world today, people are often known more for what they are against than what they are for. Unfortunately, this extends even into the church. We want to reach the lost with the incredible good news of Christ, but often all they ever hear us emphasize are the behaviors and attitudes we are against. In this sermon series, we will talk about how God is FOR the people in our world. He is FOR breaking down unnecessary barriers that keep people away from experiencing His love.
Something To Talk About:
Jesus was a pioneer and we are called to follow His ways. In this message, we learn more about how we can impact our community with the love of Jesus.
- Common ground: Paul was always looking for common ground. He enters the world of the Athenians (Acts 17), finds common ground, and then uses it to build trust, establish a relationship, and engage in an effective conversation. Paul used common ground to lead to higher ground. And so should we. People will always be who you think they are…until you get to know them. Start getting to know people whom you don’t agree with, whom you don’t like, whom you think are crazy. Sit down. Share a meal. Listen to a story. Find some common ground. And begin to build on that common ground. You will begin to connect, to find something more, something greater, something amazing. You’ll discover part of God’s truth that was between you and them all along. And you’ll find Christ within your midst of the conversation.
- Conversations: Having a conversation with someone is not that hard. A conversation about Jesus is the hardest and the most exciting thing about being a Christian and maybe one of the most difficult. It is really easy to assume, that people aren’t going to be interested and to shy away. When that happens, we automatically think we did it wrong. Rejection makes us assume that we did it wrong as well. And I don’t think either of those stands up to the scriptures. We need to get to know people before we take the opportunity to open up our hearts and to open up other people’s hearts. We need to see those who disagree with us as people. This helps us to not be so frightened of them that we never start that conversation. It also keeps us from seeing them as a project or task on our to-do list. Your neighbor, cousin, barista, or person you pass on the street is created in God’s image, has inherent dignity, and was created to worship. Having a conversation requires listening. This is an easy next step, but one we often ignore and miss how important it can be. Just listen to what they have to say. Oftentimes, you can stand out simply by paying attention when they talk. In a noisy world full of loud voices, sometimes a listening ear can speak the loudest.
- Connections: According to a recent Pew Research study, only 31 percent of Americans claim to know their neighbors. Getting to know one’s neighbors is such an easy way for Christians to begin the work of relationship building. As we seek to build connections with people who don’t know Jesus, it’s critical that we don’t have a salesperson’s mindset. We’re not just looking for people to witness to (although sometimes that’s what we get), but we’re also looking for people to demonstrate Jesus’s love to. It’s fairly apparent when all we’re looking to do is evangelize, but when we create legitimate friendships and show genuine care, trust is created-and trust creates openness. It’s all about making connections.
- What do you think are common perceptions about the church? Do you think the church is known more for what it’s against or what it’s for?
- Are we looking for common ground or common differences? What are some ways we can devote more time to building relationships or making current ones better?
- How can we build new relationships this year and make current ones stronger?
- What is difficult about starting conversations? Is it difficult to engage in deep conversations with others? Why or why not?
- How do we know we are asking the right questions? How can we intentionally take an interest?
- How do we find common ground with others in a conversation?
- To what extent do you invest the necessary time and energy to make meaningful connections with others? What stands in the way? What choices are you making?
- To what extent do you open up space for others to make meaningful connections with you? What stands in the way? What choices are you making?
- What part of this message will stick with you and why?
Take One Thing Home with You
Jesus was servant-minded. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus approached His relationships with the heart of a servant. He didn’t give demands and expectations for how He should be treated by them. Instead, in humility, He sought to consider others over Himself. Jesus had the authority and merit to value Himself above others, but He never did. Jesus lived a life of serving others, purposefully looking to the needs of others over His own.
We may be tempted in friendships to make it about ourselves and our needs. We may set the bar high for how we wish to be treated and cared for by our friends. We may have unrealistic expectations and demands for others. But it is only when our posture towards friendship becomes less about us and more about them do we find freedom and joy in serving others just as Christ came to serve.