Pastor Kent Reeder is at the Exponential Conference this week - April 27-30 - and will be regularly posting notes and thoughts based on the sessions and speakers in the conference. Please note that while many of the speakers at the conference are not confessional Lutherans and will, therefore, have some errant theology, the principles discussed are scriptural and godly. Pastor Kent will filter anything that isn't valuable out of these posts - you can enjoy the beneficial parts!
Loving People “Not Like Us” by Eric Bryant
How can we go about overcoming the barriers that exist between Christians/Christian families and people who have grown up in a more post-Christian, biblically illiterate culture? Here are a few principles to keep in mind.
Cause creates community.
- Our cause can’t be any less than increasing the number of people glorifying God.
- Having "good fellowship" is not enough.
- Having "great worship" is not enough.
- Even "individual personal growth" is not enough.
- “The church is not here to meet your needs. We are the church, here to meet the needs of the world.” - Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force
Meet the “Felt" Needs of the People Around You
- While people may be repelled by the belief of Christians, they ought to be intrigued by the character of those same Christian people.
- This is not only a good strategy for evangelism, but it is also one of Jesus’ most significant encouragements to his people.
Reach for the stranger.
- There are certain folks that “church people” tend to run away from.
- They are frequently the ones who need Jesus, and they are most likely to be very impressed by an invitation from someone as different from them as you.
Develop authentic, sacrificial friendships.
- Consider all the people in your sphere of influence.
- The barista.
- The neighbor.
- The postal worker.
- Realize that people don’t know you care about them unless you do a lot of things to show them. Not one thing, not two things - it takes a consistent stream of loving actions.
Allow people to “belong” before they “believe."
- “Come as you are, but you don’t have to stay that way.”
- Romans 2:4 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?" If God's kindness leads us to repentance, when we reflect God's kindness to the people around us it can do the same.
- Your convictions are not a litmus test for Christian friendships. In fact, we should actively pursue friendships with people - even those with whom we disagree morally, politically, etc.
- You don’t have to compromise in your life, but you can’t forget that there are people who don’t know what you know!
- Unbelievers expect judgement from believers. They are blown away by forgiveness.
- So many more people today don’t know anything at all about Jesus.
- Maybe in the Charlotte Metro Area there is still a predominantly Christian culture, but the trend is not “up and to the right.”
- Remember, we do this all the time in the church - with children. They don’t understand or believe what we believe. That’s why we have confirmation classes and Sunday School - to teach them! If we’re willing to
Make decisions based on “who isn’t here yet” rather than on “who has been here the longest."
As you look over this list and consider the encouragements here, one important thing is of note: if you put these principles into practice, not only will people start to see Jesus and love Jesus because of what you’re doing, but you will grow and be challenged in your faith yourself.
- Pastor Kent Reeder