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Say It Again….Again….And Again!!!

repetition

While teaching sermon preparation to pastors in Tanzania, I challenged them to develop an introduction, a strong body, and finish with a conclusion. It is certainly Sermon Prep 101because our messages should tell them what we are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what we told them. Reiteration is a good tool for learning and especially remembering. Several leaders continually say, “Cast your vision, cast your vision again, and when you are tired of hearing it cast it again!” In an attempt to write something new and hopefully inspiring every week it has left me wondering: “In my efforts not to be too repetitive, am I failing to communicate effectively?” Preaching and communicating God’s word in any manner should leave people with a better understanding of what God has said and clearly knowing what He wants them to do about that truth.

When approaching God’s word we begin with observation, move on to interpretation, and then make application! Nehemiah 8 is where preaching becomes a centerpiece of worship. The word is read and then in verse 8 Ezra gave the meaning of the text so the people could understand and obey. This a great example of the exposition of the written scriptures but remember the people left knowing what God expected them to do next! Andy Stanley has said well, “Vision leaks!” Don’t assume that everyone knows where you are going and that they know how to get there! One example of this is that many vision statements for churches begin with the focus on teaching and preaching. While that is fundamentally and vitally important, the Great Commission begins with us going and sharing the gospel first. Maybe it is time to say it again, “We go and then we teach!”

So let me say it again; Every church and every Christian is called to be outwardly focused and to live on mission for God. Unfortunately, we have flip flopped the biblical order to where we teach, baptize and then maybe go – but the biblical order is to go first. Also, many churches appease the lack of spiritual impact in their communities by talking about how much they give to foreign missions. That is a good thing to support missions around the world, but once again, the biblical order is Jerusalem first. Who are the lost people in your Jerusalem? What are they doing and where do they live? What are you doing to build relationships with them and share the love of Christ with them! At the risk of being repetitive, in U-Turn Church Kevin Harvey says, “If we are going to move outward toward those who are lost it will take more energy than most of us dream.”

Again let me say; Every church and every Christian is to be involved in making disciples! If we do not make disciples then we will never develop leaders and we will never multiply! The problem seems to be that many churches have the discipleship terminology down and can talk it very well but when you look closer there is not very much discipleship happening. Will Mancini puts it this way, “Everyone talks about discipleship, but too many churches stick to business as usual. Stop talking, start acting.” Once again, at the risk of being redundant, there is a great formula for discipleship by Jim Putman in Real Life Discipleship which includes an intentional leader, a relational environment, and a reproducible process. Leaders, it begins with us! You have to be intentional. Who are you discipling? Where is your Paul and who is your Timothy? You must develop a process and begin discipling now!

At the risk of continuing to push a button that make some uncomfortable, let me say this again: You can be culturally relevant and biblically sound! While in London I saw the back of a bus where the M & M’s where wearing the hats worn by the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace now that is contextualization! Knowing who you are trying to reach and being sensitive to who they are and what might be able to reach them. It is not starting a praise band just because the big church in the city has one. The question is, what are we willing to do to reach the unreached around us? Do you have children or grandchildren who need to be reached? What would you do to reach out to those generations to provide them a place to say yes to life, to genuine love, and to God’s grace and mercy? Change just to change is not wisdom but remaining the same just to hold onto the way we have always done it is not wisdom either!

Healthy churches verbalized their mission statement and then they say again…..and again…..and again!