December 3, 2017
The greatest meal in the world isn’t found in a five-star restaurant in the city. It isn’t a home cooked meal. It’s the Bread of Life known as Jesus Christ, and it is best served at the table known as the local church. But that table doesn’t sit idle and alone. It is surrounded by chairs. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Am I chair aware?” In this message, Pastor Ed Young helps us discover what it takes to be aware of the chairs and who is in them. Because when we are aware, we will understand the power and potential of the table to transform everything!
ILLUS: Lisa and I went to the largest flea market in the world and while we were there, it was during August, very, very hot outside needless to say. While we were at this place, we decided to get some food so we stopped at a chicken sandwich restaurant, ordered the chicken sandwiches, sat down at picnic tables, which were strategically located in the shade. We were munching on our chicken sandwiches. While we were munching on our chicken sandwiches, something strange happened.
A girl who worked at the restaurant where we had just bought the sandwiches walked around to the picnic tables where people were eating their food and she was serving samples of the food we were already eating. In other words, we were eating chicken sandwiches and she was serving little samples of chicken sandwiches to us.
“No thank you,” we said. “We just ordered chicken sandwiches from your restaurant.”
So we watched her move around in the shade, in the comfort of the picnic tables.
Lisa said, “Isn’t it crazy? All this girl has to do is walk about 25 feet out into the sunlight, where hunks of humanity are passing by in a NASCAR type pace. Obviously they haven’t eaten yet and she could serve samples to them. But she just moved around in the shade, feeding the already fed.”
As we discussed this ironic situation, we said, that sounds like a lot of Christians that I know.” And then Lisa said, “that sounds like a lot of churches I know, feeding the already fed. Moving around in the shade with the picnic people as opposed to getting out into the sunlight, out into the elements or hellements and serving samples of hungry hunks of humanity who haven’t been fed yet.”
The church is the table where people come to get fed. The church is the table where people come to get nourished.
The metaphor of the table is used throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, you have the showbread table. Psalm 23, David said, “The Lord will set a table in the presence of our enemies.” In the New Testament, you have the disciples reclining at the table during the Last Supper. Then in Revelation 3, you have those of us who are followers of Christ eating with Jesus forever at the table. So you can’t get away from the table.
As I said, the church is the table where people come to get fed. We feed on the bread of life. That’s Jesus. Let’s read John 6:35 together. You ready? Are you ready? All right. One, two, three. “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”
So it’s not enough to say, “Wow. Here’s the bread of life. I believe that’s bread. I believe that’s a cosmic carbohydrate. I accept that reality.”
It’s much more than that. The word “believe” means we appropriate it. We digest it. We make it a part of our lives. That is how someone becomes a follower of Christ. The church, the table, where people come to get fed.
At the head of the table is the pastor, the shepherd, the dude with the food. Because this table is the church and it’s where people come to get fed, we have an opportunity, the leaders here, to serve the food, the bread of life, in a creative and compelling way. The gospel should never be a half-baked presentation. We have to think about the invitation. We have to think about the preparation. And we have to think about the participation of everyone in this beautiful ecosystem. So I’m the dude with the food. The table is a place where people come to get nourished.
And notice this, the food gives us the fuel to push away from the table and to do and to be who the Lord wants us to be. So even though we find ourselves in, they call this area the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. Have you ever heard that before? The Bible Belt? Yeah, this is the belt buckle of the Bible Belt.
I find it paradoxical. On one hand, you have Dallas/Fort Worth. There’s more restaurants per capita than any place in America. And then you have more obesity here than in any place in America. That’s interesting.
Well, in the Bible belt, we have more spiritual restaurants per capita than any place I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s why I didn’t want to come up here. But never say never in God’s economy. Yet, I would argue we have more spiritual obesity in the Dallas/Fort Worth area than any place in the world. A lot of people are walking around with their Bible belts on the last hole. A lot of people are walking around with their spiritual pot bellies, eclipsing their Bible belt. They talk a good game, but I have got to wonder. Are they believers? I mean, just because you say you’re a believer doesn’t mean you’re a believer. And there’s got to be more faux faith people in this area than any place I’ve ever seen in my life. So we’ve got a bunch of unchurched people.
ILLUS: For example. This morning, I got up early. And I went to a spin class. So I’m driving through the streets of Dallas/Fort Worth. Empty. I go to the spin class. Empty. Where are the people going to church? I thought this was the belt buckle of the Bible belt.
Again, we have more faux faith here. More people who think they’re going to heaven, who in reality are going to hell. Because the Bible tells us what it means to be a believer. And a lot of us know a lot about God but we don’t really know what God is about. The table. The table. The church is a table where people come to get fed. And I’m the dude with the food and I serve the food, we serve the food, hopefully in a creative and compelling way.
Have you ever thought about entertaining people? Have you ever thought about when you invite someone over to your home? You think about them. You don’t just say, “”
No. “Hey, what’s a good time for you? Any food allergies? What do you like? Will this work for you?”
We defer to our guests. Are we compromising? Heck no, we’re being strategic. So at Fellowship, I love our team because we work and work and work and work some more to present the bread of life. The ultimate food deserves the ultimate preparation to hungry hunks of humanity falling behind. Isn’t that exciting?
I’m the dude with the food. The table is a place where we come to get fed. The fuel gives us nourishment to push back if we ingest it, digest it, and to be the people that God wants us to be.
ILLUS: Check this table out. This table has been in my family since I’ve been in the second grade. This is our family table. And my mother gave it to Lisa and I years and years ago, obviously before she passed away. At this table, my brother and I played some mean games of paper football. At this table, I did homework. At this table, Jesus was shared. At this table, people of color showed up. At this table, billionaires have eaten here. At this table, people on welfare have eaten here. At this table, when I acted up, dad bent me over here and wore my butt out. At this table. The table where my mother served incredible food. The table where we had these deep conversations about the Bible. The table where I ate my last meal before I went off to college. This table.
The table is the central part of your condominium, of your apartment, of your home, of your mansion if you live in one, it’s the table. The table. The table is the epicenter of the church. The church, the table, where people come to get fed. I’m the dude with the food. The nourishment gives us the ability to push away and become the people that God wants.
There are different chairs around the table. The first chair, chair one, is the chair of people who don’t know the Lord. Chair one will be those people who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ.
Again, in this area we have a lot of churched unchurched. We know enough about Jesus to be dangerous. And there are a lot of people, millions of them in our area who don’t know the Lord.
ILLUS: Over the last, you won’t believe this. Get ready to clap. Over the last, oh yeah, you’re going to freak out on this. Over the last 12 months at Fellowship Church, I’m giving you hard data, no exaggeration. We’ve had over 21,000 guests at our church. Now think about that for a second. That’s the size of any major NBA arena. 21,000 guests. 21,000.
Why do they come? Well they’re drawn, they don’t know it, by the aroma of the bread. The Bible says in John 6:44, let’s read it together. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”
Unless the Father who sent me draws him. God has drawn you, if you’re in chair one to Fellowship. And here’s what we say to those in chair one. Just hang out here for about four weeks. Commit to showing up for about four weeks and I promise you, I promise you God will reveal Himself to you and change your life. We don’t expect you to act like a believer until you become a believer. We want you to feel like you belong before you believe. So kick tires, test the waters. Chair one.
And chair one should make up one third of any biblically functioning church. Did you hear that? Chair one people should make up a third of any biblically functioning church.
Here’s what will mess you up about “Christianity”. Faux faiths. Everybody who says they’re a believer will say, “I want to reach people.” I discovered everybody wants to reach people until you start reaching people. Because when you start reaching people, you’ve got to change. You’ve got to get outside your comfort zone. You’ve got to be comfortably uncomfortable.
ILLUS: My favorite Mexican restaurant is a restaurant called Javier’s in Dallas. Unbelievable ambience, unbelievable food. They even have a cigar bar there. I love Javier’s. That’s okay, I smoke cigars now and then. Don’t, “oh my gosh,” it’s okay to make a burnt offering before the Lord now and then. Javier’s, the food is awesome, but the chairs are uncomfortable. I don’t like the chairs. But then I figured out, no wonder they’re uncomfortable! They want you to enjoy yourself, have a good time, but get out of there and then bring the next group in.
We’re comfortably uncomfortable at Fellowship Church. And chair one, I’m so glad we’re a chair one church. I’m so glad. But it’s not just chair one. It’s not just chair one. Chair one would be those people who are far away from God, who have never, ever made a faith decision.
We go from chair one to chair two. We’re also a chair two church. One third of your church should be chair one. One third of your church should be chair two. What happens? How do I go from chair one to chair two? You pray the prayer to give your life to Jesus. You become a brand new believer. You’re born again. You go to one of our growth track classes where we get into some serious table talk. We give you an opportunity to see what the church is about. Who we are, where we’re going. We give you an opportunity to make a faith decision at our growth track classes.
That’s the strategic nature, the philosophy of moving, of progressing. You’re born again into the family of God. We teach you how to pray in these classes. How to read the Bible. We have an app and we have devotionals written just for you every single day. I mean, how easy is it?
You see, spiritual maturity is easy to explain. Simple. It’s not complex. I’ve forgotten more theology than you know because of my background. What I’m telling you is simple. I didn’t say easy. I didn’t say shallow. It’s simple. Yet a lot of people take the simple and try to make it complex. It’s, I’ll say it again, simple. What does it mean? I’ll tell you what it means in a couple of minutes.
But here’s the thought. Here’s the path. Here’s the progression. Here’s the journey. We give you an opportunity to make a faith decision.
ILLUS: Right before I walked out, one of our pastors told me he had the opportunity to lead a young man into a personal relationship with Christ who entered our church through one of our athletic leagues. Started attending Fellowship Church. He didn’t understand why he was drawn here. He didn’t even understand the questions he was asking. And one of our pastors talked to him, boom. He became a follower of Christ. Chair one to chair two. The next step for him, growth track. How to pray, how to study your Bible. Then you have a connect group.
The Bible says, and I love this; the Bible says when we become a believer, we’re born again. You’ve probably heard that before. We’re born again. We’re born into the family of God. It’s interesting to think about physical maturity. We just mature physically. I mean we just grow through the high chair stage, we grow through being a toddler, we grow through being a teenager. We go through the single life. Then we get married and then we reproduce.
Well when Lisa and I started having kids, I didn’t walk around and go, “Hey! I’m mature now, man. Look at these kids. It’s not about me anymore. I am, yeah, mature!”
No one says that. That’s stupid. You just know you are. People can tell it by looking at you. If you walk around like a kid or a teenager saying, “Oh I know the score. I’m the man. Mom, you have no idea, I know.” You’re not mature.
So I understand what it means when someone’s born again. I understand what it means, we do, the Bible says when we’re born again, we understand what it means when we spiritually develop. We’re born again. Then we have this beautiful, beautiful way to mature.
How do we mature? What does it mean to be a mature believer, to move from chair two to chair three? I’ll tell you in just a second, but let me talk about this for a second. This is the high chair. We’ve all spent time in the high chair physically. And spiritually spent time in the high chair as well. We’re toddlers and we’re teenagers spiritually. And we don’t expect you to act mature until you become mature. But something really special takes place. You’re born again, you’re saved, your power washed. Then you begin to progress.
Here, though, is what happens to many, many people. They remain in the high chair. That playpen-whining, Gerber-dining, nap-timing baby. “I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. I want to get fed.”
Whenever you hear someone saying “I am not getting fed,” just realize you’re talking to someone who has a dirty diaper. You mean you can’t feed yourself? That’s got to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard in my life. “I am not getting fed.” If you ever hear that just say, bless your heart. And move on. “I need more. I would go but my friends aren’t there.” You’re talking to a baby. And that’s okay. We love babies. We love children. We love teenagers. It’s all about you, I understand that. It’s a stage you go through.
See, that’s not spiritual maturity. And here is the scary part about living in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. There are a lot of churches that prey, P-R-E-Y, on baby believers. You become a follower of Christ. “Wow! Man, I was born again at Fellowship.” And one day you’re in a coffee shop, “Oh, man, you need to go over here. You need to read this book. Let me take you over here or there.” And that effect is you’ve got scores and scores of churches right here that are “I chair, my chair” churches.
Most church growth is a colossal collection of swapping sheeple. Sheep. From one place to another to another to another.
What happens when you’re a child? “Oh, Mom and Dad, I don’t like it! Too many rules! I’m going to go over there to their house! They don’t have a curfew. Their allowance is five times more than mine. I am going over there.” You’re dealing with a bunch of babies.
ILLUS: Amber Alert. That’s serious, man. Someone’s been kidnapped. What if an Amber alert went off when every baby Christian or every kid Christian was kidnapped by another church or movement?
So I get it. You’re going to leave the house where you were born again? Really? Really? We don’t expect you to act mature until you become mature. We don’t expect you to act like an adult until you become an adult.
Check out Hebrews. Let’s read Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.”
So we’re paused so often on puberty. Let’s go over to Luke. Jump back to Luke. Luke 14:28, let’s read this together. “
That’s what Jesus said. So here’s what happens. Little babies in their high chair, “Here’s a pacifier.” Maybe they grow up to become kids, teenagers. They count the cost of going to chair three. A third of the church should be people far away from God. A third of the church should be brand new believers. And a third of the church should be mature coast to coast followers of Christ.
So these people, they count the cost and they go, “Dang! There is a relational cost to following the Lord. I’m having sex outside of marriage. And the Bible says from cover to cover that sex is for the marriage bed. The people I run with, I mean my best friends aren’t really believers.” See there’s a relational cost and it messes people up when they think about going to the next level of maturity.
Then there’s a time cost. I know people, they say they’re Christians. They say it. Yet they come to church once every six weeks. I’m sorry, I doubt you’re a Christian. Now I don’t know. But based on my theological training, based on my biblical knowledge, I would doubt, friend, you’re a believer if you show up to church once every six weeks.
Oh and then there’s a financial cost as well! Woo-hoo! Man! There’s something called the tithe. “Oh my gosh. 10 percent.” I didn’t say it. Don’t get mad at me. It’s what God says. Minimum worship requirement to the house. 10 percent.
I don’t care if you make 10,000 a year or 10 million a year, 10% to the house. Minimum worship requirement. That’s what the Bible says. And again, if you’re not doing that, you’ll never, ever, ever, ever, ever ever know what it means to be a mature believer. Never.
Do you think when our kids were babies they had a concept of how much money we spent on them? Do you think when they were teenagers, they stopped and said, “Wow! Mom and Dad, thank you so much for providing!” Are you kidding me? What kind of dope are you smoking, man?
People walk in here and these facilities are worth millions and millions and millions and millions and more millions. These high-definition screens, our children’s facilities, our parking lots alone, all the campuses, all the stuff we have, are you kidding me? You think that just happened?
And here’s what’s sad. 20% pay the freight for everybody. And that’s the way it is in churches around North America. I’m tired of picking the check up.
ILLUS: Oh yeah! This Thursday we decided to have Christmas at our house. Because you know, Christmas Eve for us means service after service after service after service. Everybody’s in town. So I took the entire family out to dinner. Nice restaurant. Big check. They stuck me with the bill. $300. I looked at it, I’m going, “Wow. Okay.” Looked around the restaurant. The restaurant was packed. I said to myself, “I’m not paying. I’m sick and tired of this restaurant. They talk about money, they always give me the bill. I’m out!”
So we all stood. I said “Don’t even look.” I had my best pimp limp working. And we drove off. Well I got arrested. Did you know that? Thrown in jail. No, I’m playing with you.
We don’t send you a bill. But too many of you are walking the check, man! We’re giving you an unbelievable meal. You’re not doing jack. And you sit up here like you’re something else. You sit up here like, “Oh yeah I’m a Christian.” You sit up in here like, “Oh yeah man, bring it on, Ed.” You clap, you raise your hand. Give me a break. Give me a break.
What did Jesus say? Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is. You’ll never know.
So when you move from chair two to chair three, what do you do? You do three things. Number one, you share. You share. You share your faith. See the beautiful ecosystem. A third should be in chair three. You share your faith. You’re engaging. You’re inviting. You’re having strategic conversations.
Then you serve. You get outside of yourself and here’s. See here (in chair one) it’s always about me! Here (in chair two), you’re like, “wow maybe it’s not about me. I think it’s about someone else and yeah, it is about you, Jesus.” Then you’re mature. You’re like, “whoo! Man! It’s about others.”
So you share, you share, then you serve. You get involved in a serving ministry here at Fellowship. Then you sow. You share, you serve, and you sow. You do those three things, you will be a mature believer. That’s what you do.
John 4:34, let’s read this one. “My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.’”
There’s a work that only He can do. Yet there’s a work that only you can do and I can do. And I love the work at Fellowship. Hey! I love the fact, chair three, that you’ve invited over 21,000 people to Fellowship Church. I want to thank you. We have over 4700 people who volunteer every month just to make this happen. Thank you for volunteering. I want to thank those 20%, and I’m thanking myself, for being generous to the church. Unbelievable.
But how about you? What are you doing? You sitting on your rear? What are you doing? You’re walking the check? What are you doing? You’re not using your abilities and gifts to serve?
Look at Hebrews 5:14. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Think about the seminars. Think about the parenting classes. Think about the marriage classes. Think about the addiction classes. Think about the prayer classes. Think about the children’s classes. Think about the children’s website. Think about the retreat. Are you kidding me? We’ve made it easy for you. What about the table don’t you get? The table! The table!
Oh, I’ve got a great, great, great announcement. We’re adjusting all of our service times over the next month. Now why? Well, the table dictates it. We got 21,000 guests showing up. We need more volunteers. We need you. We desperately need you. And all of our campuses, we’re adjusting our Saturday night schedule to move to Sunday for a number of reasons. One being, 21,000. One being, starting in January, we’re going to do a whole new seminar thing after and before all of our services on Sunday.
Also too, we have just sent letter. An LOI, a letter of intent, on 25 acres in Frisco, Texas. We are going to build another one of these, these in that area. So we’ll have two main locations. Here’s the good news. It costs $40 million. Here’s the good news. You’ve got the money! Yeah! And here’s some even better news. You’re going to bring it in! And here’s some crazy news. We don’t have one dime for it! We’ve never had money to do anything we’ve ever done here. Never!
You’re waiting for the punch line. There’s none. I’ll tell you again, don’t talk to me about being an entrepreneur. Don’t talk to me about being faithless. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? We’ve never had the money to do anything we’ve ever done in over 25 years, ever! Ever! You got it.
You got millions? Get ready to give a million. You got hundreds of thousands? You get ready to give 100,000. You got tens of thousands? You get ready to give 10,000. You got thousands? Get ready to give thousands.
Why do you think God’s blessed you? I know I’m not very smart and God’s blessed me incredibly. Financially He’s blessed me. Why do you think so? Well I’ve been obedient. I’ve brought it here. This is my biggest investment right here. Financially, over the last 25 years. Yes, right here. I’m one of the biggest givers at Fellowship Church. And I’ll brag on that ’cause I’m bragging on God. But that’s sad. Some are thinking, “oh man that’s awesome.” No, that’s sad. I mean, I have moderate wealth, but I’m not loaded. Some of you are loaded and you’re robbing God. You’re tipping God. That’s pathetic. And you know it is. And one day you’ll be held accountable for it. Just remember I told you, just remember I told you that. I’m talking to those people who are holding on to the stuff.
And here’s what’s crazy. You let go of the stuff, God’s going to give you more stuff. That’s what is so funny. Guys who are such control freaks, who are so scared and we act so big and bad and tough. Yet when it comes to that cash money, “it’s mine. It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.” You begin to release it and you watch God release the blessings in your life. It’s up to you. I can’t make you do this.
But we’re going to have to do this to build and reach people. And you know what’s going to happen? When we build this church out in Frisco, it’ll end up being bigger than this. I’m just going to tell you right now. So we’re coming to Frisco. We’re going to move dirt as quick as possible. We’ve been studying this thing for like two years. And now we decided upon it. It’s happening. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
Also, hey! We got this Christmas Show coming up. I mean, I been hearing people buying rows and rows of tickets. That’s awesome. This guy, a friend of mine, he’s not a believer. Living with his girlfriend, et cetera. He’s been to Fellowship once. And I’m like, “Man. I’ll buy you tickets to the Christmas show.” He goes,” How much?” I go, “Man it’s on me.” He goes, “No, no how much?” I said “They’re $10 each.” He goes, “What?! That’s nothing! I’ve been to Fellowship before. You ought to be charging 50, man. 50!” I kinda chuckled. I went “no, 10.”
Anyway. This Christmas show. What an easy invite. It’s not like a service. Just say, “Hey. I bought four tickets for you.” I think you can afford $40. Boom. There’s no telling what will happen. But get your tickets now. Three shows. We’re going to be jammed.
If you don’t want to go to the show, cool. We have round two, our candlelight Christmas Eve services. And, of course, those are free. But we’re doing so many amazing things for this Christmas show. I think it’s going to catch on to people and it’ll be next year, it’ll be insane. So anyway.
Make sure this table is your life and make sure you regularly go and dine at the table. Make sure you realize the bread of life gives you the ability to push away and to share and to sow and to serve. Make sure you’re embracing these new schedules, that you’re mindful of these 21,000 people, that we need your gifts and abilities to serve here. And make sure you’re moving along the table and let’s thank God for the table.
What are you doing? I mean what am I doing? Are we in the shade feeding the already fed? Or are we walking out into the hellements and giving people the bread of life? Let’s pray.
[Ed ends in closing prayer.]