NEXT STEP WEEKEND
May 2, 2010
Welcome to Fellowship. Great to have you guys, great to have you. Please be seated. You know, today, I’m going to talk about something that I‘ve prayed about and thought about talking about for 20 years. Now, I’ve talked about it in other venues, but I’ve never talked about it on stage at Fellowship church.
If you didn’t know it or not, this is Next Step Weekend, Next Step Weekend. When you walked in, you were handed a cool little guide called Next Step. Several months ago, we were in a planning meeting and some of us said, “Hey, let’s make a weekend a Next Step weekend. Because a lot of people need to take that next step. So today we’re going to talk about that next step. What am I driving at? I’m talking about this. Today I’m going to address my comments to three groups of people, three. Are you ready for this?
The first one are those people here and at all our other environments who need to be members of the church. You need to place membership at Fellowship Church. Obviously I’m partial. I think Fellowship is the greatest church in the western hemisphere. I really do. There are though some awesome churches around this area. Also around our campus downtown, and in Fort Worth and Plano. There’s some awesome churches in Miami. I understand all of that. Many will watch this by television. I know there’s some great churches around, and that’s cool.
Make sure though that you place your membership in a Bible teaching, Bible believing church. Because we’re going to find out that if you’re a member of a church, you’re disobeying about 24 to 30 specific commands in the New Testament. Did you hear that? If you’re not a member of a local church, you are disobeying anywhere from 24 to 30 commands in the New Testament. There’s a bunch of stuff, in other words, that you just can’t do unless you are a member of a church. So some of you need to join a church, and I’m arguing to join Fellowship.
Number 2, others of you here, the 2nd group, would be those who are members. You’re a member of a church. You’re a member of Fellowship Church. And you’ve been here, some of you for a year, some 5 years, some 10 years. Some here, 20 years. We have a number of people who are original founding members. And that’s a cool, cool thing. Because the members of Fellowship Church make Fellowship Church go and grow.
For a church our size, you know, over the last 10 years, I don’t talk about this a lot or blog about this a lot or twitter this a lot, but we have been listed as among the most attended churches in North America for the last decade. The top 10 most attended churches. We’ve been as high as I think 2 or 3, we’ve been as low as 9 or 10, whatever, that’s great, awesome. And it just shows you what God has done, what He is doing and what He’s going to do. So we have a bunch of people at Fellowship Church showing up. Now, a church our size should have a staff, a paid staff about 4 times the size that we have. We have a very small staff. Why? Because we have a phenomenal army of members who understand that membership means ministry and every member is a minister. So the pastors are the administers. And the members are the ministers. The 2nd group are those of you who are members, I want to encourage you, and thank you, show you the love, man.
The 3rd group would be those here, and this is kind of a strange group. You think you’re a member of Fellowship Church, for example, but in reality you’re not. You think you are because, “Hey, my name is on some kind of roll, I’m in the database. I show up now and then, and throw a bone in the offering plate. I mean surely, surely, surely I’m a member of Fellowship Church.”
Or maybe you’re watching and you’re like, “I’m surely a member of this church or that church.”
Well, wait a second. Let’s find out what it really means to be a member. Because membership has its privileges. You’ve heard that before? I think God admitted that. Because the church is known as the Body of Christ. Kind of a fun fact. 95% of the time you see the word church in the New Testament, it refers to a specific local congregation. And the Bible tells us that for the Body of Christ to function properly, all the parts have got to be moving together. All the parts have got to show up.
What if, before I walked on stage, what if I said, “You know what? I’m just going to chop my right arm off, and then I’m going to go ahead and just…”
You’d be like, “What? What? ”
I mean, for my body to function properly, everything works together, right, in concern. Is that right? And because of that, wow, things can happen. And the same is true in the body of Christ. You have unique talents and abilities and aptitudes that I don’t have. I have stuff that you don’t have. Together we show up, we do the stuff, we get outside of ourselves, and the Body of Christ is awesome. And there is nothing like the local church when it’s working right.
Well, I want to share with you what it means to have a fellowship. Because that’s what we call our church, Fellowship, did you know that? It’s called Fellowship Church. Now, did we pull that name from the sky? Did we go, “Ok, well, we’ll just call it Fellowship”? No. Fellowship is something that the Bible describes as occurring as the local church began to emerge. Read about it in the book of Acts. It said they had fellowship. So fellowship is not only what a church is, fellowship is what a church does. Isn’t that cool? We should be about fellowship.
10 principles that make a difference. What does it mean to be in the fellowship? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I want to give away a book, because a lot of this stuff that I’m talking about is from my book I wrote a couple of years ago called the creative leader.
If you really want to get in depth and read all the details about what I’m going to talk about, pick up The Creative Leader. If you can get past this goofy picture on the front, I think it’s a pretty good read. I think I had a member’s only jacket back then. Anyway, who would like a copy of The Creative Leader? Wow, I can tell the demand is huge, wow. Yeah, how about you right there. What’s your name? Debbie, I’ll even sign it, ok. Debbie. To Debbie. To Debbie, D-e-b-b-i-e? You know, the first girlfriend I ever had was named Debbie Jones. I just remembered that, she had long red hair back in the 2nd grade. Debbie Jones. Anyway, To Debbie. I’m going to say, “Be creative.” All right. Ed Young. The Creative Leader.
So if you really want to see a lot of the stuff behind what I’m going to talk about, pick up the book. Let’s talk about 10 principles, and I’m going to fly through these things, fly through them. I’ve given you Scripture references, take your Next Step out and let me fly through these.
The first one I want to talk about is a foundation that is biblical. A foundation that’s biblical. If you don’t have a pen or a pencil, what a great way to meet someone. Some of you singles are like, “Man, how do I meet people.”
Well, just say, “Hey, can I borrow a pen or a pencil.” Just think, maybe a year from now when you’re married, you’re like, “I remember how we met. It was in that Next Step talk that Ed gave. And he gave us freedom to ask one another for a pen or pencil to take notes. That was it, I still have the pen that you gave me. And now we’re in love and it’s so special.” Anyway.
First value is we have a foundation that is biblical. Fellowship Church is a biblically driven church. There’s no man-made creed. There’s no group in Nashville or New York or Kalamazoo that tells us how to do church. We’re a Bible teaching church. We believe the Bible. We don’t put a question mark where God’s put a period. We believe it from Genesis to Revelation. We even believe the maps. Because there’s maps in the back of the Bible.
Well, the bible says this in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture,” that means all of it, is “God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Our authority is the Bible. Our church is autonomous. Meaning that we can do before God what God leads us to do. And People ask us often, “Did you plan Fellowship church? Did you plan it to look like this or to be like this?”
And we’re like, “are you kidding? No. No way. We didn’t plan this. This is a total God thing.” But remember, we’re a Bible teaching, Bible believing church.
Here’s the 2nd value. An excitement that’s contagious. Whoa. What did David say? David said, “I was glad when I came into the house of the Lord.” What did David say, Psalm 71. “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you.”
One of the character qualities of someone involved in the church, one of the character qualities of someone who’s walking in sync with the savior is the fact that they have this outrageous contagious joy and excitement for life. And if you don’t have it, you better check your connectivity, your fellowship with God himself. And I want to thank you for your excitement and encouragement. Man, wow, I think it’s one of the most exciting places around. Church is exciting; we don’t know what is going to happen next.
The 3rd one. A love for the lost. A love for the lost. Now we can all connect with that because at one time or another, we were all lost. Some of you are still lost. You’re far away from God. You just showed up here and that’s cool. We love the lost. Why do we love the lost? Because Jesus did.
For example, Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Everybody wants to reach people until you start reaching people. And for far too long, the church has been on birth control pills. We want intimacy with God, but we don’t want to have any reproduction. And when you have a bride and a groom together, and you have them sleeping together, and you have intimacy going on. After a while, they’re going to crank out some babies.
So if you show me a church that is a true biblically functioning church, I’ll show you a church that has a lot of babies. We love the lost. We’re the perfect place for imperfect people. Luke 15, Jesus told 3 stories back to back about something that was lost, and was found. So we want to be comforted by Christ, but uncomfortable for Him. Comfortably uncomfortable.
We also want leadership. That’s the 4th thing. Leadership, the 4th thing if you’re taking notes. Leadership for change. Leadership for change. And at Fellowship Church, we have some phenomenal men and women who lead. We have leaders of leaders.
Revelation 21:5. “I’m making everything new.” Some of you have been a part of Fellowship Church for several years and you’re like, “Wow, this place has changed, man.”
Well, growing in Christ is all about change. Walking with God is all about change. It’s change and change and change and change and change. You say I do to Christ, you don’t realize the implications until later. Same way as in marriage. You say, “I do.” you have no idea what’s going to happen. You have no idea of the implications of that decision.
So at Fellowship, we change a lot. Our mantra is, “If it ain’t broke, break it.” We’ll just change just to change.
So you got change, conflict, growth. That’s the spin cycle of success. Change, conflict, growth. And most of us resist change because of the resistance. If we navigate through conflict from change, what’s going to happen? We’re always going to have growth.
But notice something else, the 5th one. We have an opportunity to serve. An opportunity to serve. And we’re all about serving. Worship is serving, and serving is worship. And here’s what’s so interesting about the church. Because we don’t look for a church to serve us, we need to look for a church so we can serve somewhere. All the other things we join is like, “Ok, how can this entity serve me, how can they help me, how can they put wind in my sail, how can they do this for me? Church is just the opposite, see? It’s kind of an inverted thing.
We serve in the church. We think about others. And as we serve, that is when we have this unbelievable growth, this maturity. And so many people at Fellowship each and every weekend, each and every day at all of our campuses who serve and serve and serve some more. And if you’re not serving, I always say this, you’re swerving. You’re swerving off God’s plan for your life. Jesus talked about that we’re to love God for the totality of who we are, Matthew 22. But also he said in Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Christianity is not a solo sport. Christianity is about one another, the church is about one another. Let me go through some one another’s. Because it’s all about one another. In the New Testament it says to Love one another, encourage one another, spur one another one, serve one another, instruct one another honor one another and be kind to one another. Where do you do that? Within the only institution that Jesus ever built, the house, the church, the bride.
Also, if you’re looking at your notes, the 6th value, we need to worship that’s fluid. A worship that’s fluid. You don’t come to church to worship. As a follower of Christ, you come worshiping. Worship should transcend everything we do, say, touch and feel. Yeah we live in this compartmentalized world. Ok, I’ve got my recreational stuff here, I’ve got my social stuff here, I’ve got my religious stuff over here. And I can go to Fellowship Church and think about the things of God and talk about heaven, but live like hell outside the doors of the church. It doesn’t work that way. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, that we’re to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy acceptable and this is our act of worship, the bible says. Romans 12:1 says that. Romans 12:2.
So as I live my life, as I go to school, as I take the test, as I talk in the locker room, as I watch stuff on television, as I go online, everything I do, as I talk to my spouse, everything I do should be an act of worship. So I come to church, I come to the house, worshiping, worshiping. And it’s amazing how we try to separate that. But I want you to know there’s a fluidity of worship.
1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us about something else, the 7th value. It talks about the structure of the church, a structure that is simple. A structure that is simple. At Fellowship, we have a very, very simple structure. When we looked at our church structure, we did not say, “Ok, what does this group say, what does this person say?” We said, “Ok, what does the Bible say about structure?” What does the Bible say about church structure? Most churches are structured for failure, not success. Church should be structures so leaders can lead with great accountability.
Now, if you want to talk about a complex structure, look at our government. Name one thing our government has taken over that’s working right? (Wrong buzzer) So, we want to keep it simple. Keep it simple. And we have a very, very simple structure. The pastors are the administers, the members are the ministers. We want to give the ball of ministry away to the members. We’ll take care of the maintenance, you take care of the ministry. I’m not saying we don’t minister, but I’m saying that’s how we get involved, that’s how we serve, that’s how we go to the level that God wants us to go.
Well, how are we structured? Very, very simply. For 20 years Fellowship Church has been staff led. We’re led by the staff, by the elders of the church, that’s how we’re led. The accountability is with a board of people. And this board oversees everything we do, legally, financially, any question, any deal, we defer to them.
And on top of that, we have a team of accountants that audit us every single year in this accounting firm, works with more ministries and churches than any other accounting firm in America. And on top of that, we have an independent group of lawyers that look at everything we do. and then, on top of that, for example in my life, I’m just one of the pastors here, I’m the senior pastor, I’m accountable to God, I’m accountable to my wife Lisa. I’m accountable to our 4 kids. So we’ve got as much accountability as any church anywhere, any time.
However, we have the freedom to make those quick decisions. Because as something gets bigger and bigger, here’s what happens. It kind of drifts to that corporate mentality, and then you try to get into all that red tape like the government has, you see what I’m saying to you? And it gets all complex, and you’re like, “Man, we have to go through 500 boards and 300 think-tanks and 17 votes just to do one simple thing.
Well at Fellowship church, we say, “Let’s do like Nike – just do it.”
People sometimes say, “Well, man, how do you control a church like Fellowship?”
And I go, “I don’t control anything at Fellowship. I don’t control it. Before God I try to lead it, I don’t control it. I lost control of the church when we hit 201 people.” Because you can control as a leader in business or team or whatever, about 200 people, you can pastor them effectively. Once something gets over 200, totally, you’re totally out of control. It’s interesting.
So, we have very, very simple structure. And I’ve noticed my kids, you know, when they were young, simple toys, you know, blocks, ball, whatever. As they’ve gotten older, man, their toys are getting more and more complex. So let’s keep it simple. So, we have a structure that is simple.
And I have here in my notes, you know what the church is? 3 things right quick, I’m going to throw these in right quick.
Number 1, the church is a place where we preach the whole counsel of God. And if you look at some of the trending out there, there’s this kind of vibe that I’m seeing more and more that some people call moralistic therapeutic deism. Let me say that again. There’s this kind of flow out there that people are very, very attractive to called moralistic therapeutic deism.
You’re like, “Ed, what does that mean?”
Well, it means basically this. God wants you to be happy, and to do good things, and He wants you to be comfortable.
There’s only one problem with that. That’s not biblical Christianity. Moralistic therapeutic deism? God just exists to make me happy? What? You know, one of the things that is not a real popular thing in Scripture, is this thing called suffering.
You know it’s God’s will for us to suffer. God does not cause it. We live in a fallen world. We’re going to suffer, the Bible says. God never wastes a trial, don’t you waste one either. That’s part of it, it’s part of the refining process. It’s part of the commitment. It’s part of the discipline, it’s part of the endurance. It’s part of the growth, it’s part of the growth.
We have a structure that’s simple.
Number 8, a house of honor, we have a house of honor. It’s a place that we honor. We honor the bride, the Bride of Christ, the church. We honor it, we honor it. We honor it.
You know, in my travels and in my speaking, I have a chance to talk to a lot of different leaders, a lot of different pastors. Not only in other countries, but also here in North America. And one of the big things they ask me, and one of the big things we’re talking about is, they’ll go, “Ed, how in the world do you plan a church for people who only show up once a month?”
Now, if I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard that a squillion times. Pastors from all over the place, asking me, “Ed, man, some of the most involved people in our church only show up once a month, dude, what do we do? Once every 6 weeks, what do we do?”
Do you realize if everybody at Fellowship Church showed up on one weekend that attends like once a month or once every 6 weeks, we’d probably have about 45,000 to 55,000 people. Wow.
That’s a lot of people. Think about it though. We’re diss’ing the bride. Can you imagine being married and only seeing your spouse once a month? Can you imagine only being intimate with your spouse once a month? That’s it, just once a month. Can you image taking a shower like this, once a month?
The Bible says in the book of Ephesians that we’re washed by the water of the word. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, don’t forsake, don’t diss the gathering together of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. The Bible commands us to worship corporately together. Are you doing that? It’s part of honoring God. We honor God, God will honor us.
Number 9, an innovation that’s attractive. We should be innovative, creative. The church should be the most creative entity in the universe. God is a God of creativity. First verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning,” see, God likes baseball, in the ‘big-inning’ thank you, that was an old preachers joke, “In the beginning, God created.” He started the creative process, he’s been creating on and on and on and on.
As believers, we should be creative because we’re made in the image of our creative creator. Why should we be creative? 3 reasons.
Number 1, God invented it.
Number 2, Jesus modeled it.
Number 3, the Holy Spirit inspires it.
So, for you to say, “I can’t sing, I can’t dance. I don’t have an original thought in my mind.” You’re making a mockery of the genius of God. Every single person that I’m looking at right now is an absolute walking, talking creative genius. Everybody. But somewhere along life’s journey, our culture just beats the creativity out of us. We trade in dreaming for dogma. We trade in the artistic for the analytical and we have this creative cramp.
Well, hey, it’s time to allow the Holy Spirit of God to massage that creative cramp. It’s time for us to get involved in the church, to realize we’re a part of the Body of Christ, that we can offer this church something that one else can. And it’s time for us to see this body function and to do things like we never, ever, ever dreamed possible.
The 10th one. Number 10, and this spells Fellowship, I hope, did you check that out? It spells fellowship. Am I the only one that saw that? Oh you saw it, yeah, yeah, you’re there.
Practicality in teaching. Practicality in teaching.
Now, I could talk about moralistic therapeutic deism. And you’re like, “Wow, what in the world is he talking about.” And some would go, “whoa, Ed’s deep. Wow, he talked about moralistic therapeutic deism, I have to look those words up, man. Ed’s being deep.”
No, I’m not being deep, I’m being muddy. We gotta be simple, we gotta be clear.
Think about Jesus. Read the synoptic gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Walk through the Bible Ministries did a survey on the words of Jesus. They found that 30% of His words were words of information, 70% were words of application. In other words, Jesus gave us handles. He gave us principles and precepts to live by. So we want to talk about things that will change our lives, things that we can apply by the holy spirit of god, right, that will change our marriages, that will change us when we get into a conflict, that will change the way we see our parents, that will change the way we look at the opposite sex, that will change the way we date, that will change our language. That’s what we want to do, and that’s what Jesus did.
So, we’re not doing anything new. People think, “Oh, man, Fellowship Church, you guys are creative, man, you guys are innovative.” What? We’re just doing what Jesus did. If you don’t believe me, look at Matthew 13:34. Jesus spoke all of these things to the crowd in parables. What’s a parable? Word pictures, an illustration, a story. He did not say anything to them without using a parable.
What did Jesus do? Jesus told stories people could understand and take those things and apply them.
Every time we do something at Fellowship, we think about a table. Because Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. I’m the cosmic carb.” That’s what He said. So I’m the dude with the food. God’s called me to pastor this church. Maybe you’re the dude’ette with the food’ette, I don’t know. I’m sitting at the head of the table serving the food. And can you imagine someone serving up the Bread of Life in a boring and predictable way? The higher the predictability, the lower the connectivity.
And one chair of this table, 1/3rd of the church should be those who are far away from God, those who are lost, those who are hell bound. Those who are clueless about God, the Bible, the church. About 1/3rd of your church, if it’s healthy, should be people who are far away from God, if you’re doing Matthew 22 and Matthew 28.
The other chair, the other 3rd should be those whose faith is fresh. They’ve just stepped over the line, they’ve just became followers of Christ. They’re brand new believers. A 3rd should be brand new.
Now the other 3rd in this ecosystem should be those who are mature. I’m talking about coast to coast followers of Jesus Christ. Those who are doing the stuff. That’s what it means. So anytime we do anything, whether it be in the children’s ministry, whether it be with our work in Haiti, whether it be writing curriculum, whether it be in our student ministry, whether it be in doing a video, whether it be in our television ministry, whether it be in a conference we do for leaders, we’re always thinking about the chairs.
As I said earlier, Fellowship Church has been listed over the last 10 years as one of the largest, the most attended churches in America. But I want to tell you about a church that is by far and away the largest church in North America. It’s not on any list, but there’s no doubt about it, this church is an absolute monster. It’s probably, I don’t know, 20 times bigger than the most attended church. You might have heard of it – Hopper Community Church. You ever heard of Hopper Community Church? It’s everywhere. It’s for you know, church hoppers and shoppers and boppers. You don’t join it, you just kind of go with the flow.
The pastor is Reverend I Am Shallow. He’s an interesting guy, because he only has a one-phrase sermon that everybody memorizes. Are you ready for this? If you want to be a part of Hopper Community Church, just memorize this phrase. And I’ve travelled, and I’ve heard this phrase all over now, here it is, “I’m not getting fed.” Say it with me, “I’m not getting fed.
Whenever you say that, you’re a part of Hopper community Church. That’s a very interesting phrase. I’m not getting fed. Because it’s a self-incriminating phrase. When someone says I’m not getting fed, they’re basically saying I’m a Gerber-dining, play-pen whining, nap-timing baby. They’re saying, “I’ve got to be spoon fed.” That’s what they’re saying.
So, if you’re really mature, all you got to do is pick up the fork and eat. That’s all you got to do.
There are a squillion different translations of the Bible, all these different Christian books, you got no excuse. So to say, “I’m not getting fed.” That’s kind of a popular thing.
Also too, and leaders ask me about this, how to deal with this. Also to ‘I’m not getting fed,’ is a subtle put down of the church that you just left as you kind of move toward this other one. It’s like, “I’m not getting fed. They just really didn’t do it for me. They didn’t put the spoon right on my tongue. They just didn’t wipe the beets off of my lips. That was the problem.”
Now, you never hear someone say, “Yeah, you know, I left that church because I am a commitment phobe. And I don’t tithe, and I don’t serve. And I’m just kind of a service-y person. That’s why I left that church.” You don’t hear that do you? I’m not getting fed.
Now, people who are part of Hopper Community Church have several characteristics. First one is, they are very critical. They always look for that weakness.
How many are married here? How many are seated beside your spouse. Ok, look at your spouse for a second. Have you ever noticed a weakness in your spouse? Don’t way it! Ok, here’s something that’s really funny. Look at your spouse again. Have you ever seen anybody better looking than your spouse? Don’t respond! Let’s be honest, in a crowd this size there are hundred’s of people that are better looking than your spouse. Let’s just be honest. That’s easy, all you got to do is stand up and look around –there’s hundreds. Again, don’t agree with me, just look at me. I’ll get myself in trouble. I mean seriously.
Ok, what if we said, those of us who are married, “Well, you know, you’re kind of weak. You know, you got a little love handles, your skin is kind of sagging. I’m just going to find somebody better looking, Ok? I’ll leave this and hook up with him. That’s a weakness, see, you got the love handles, he doesn’t have the love handles. He’s got a six-pack, man. You got the love handles.” Or “You got sagging jowls. And she doesn’t. So I’m going to leave you.” Whatever, you got the picture. So we find the weakness, right, so because of the weakness, we go, “Oh, forget it, I’m just going to hook up with somebody else.” Then you’re with them for a while, the shine wears off. The six-pack turns into flab. The girl starts sagging too, because everybody sags, come one, gravity takes over, we all do, you know. What do you do then? It’s the same mentality that people have who are followers of Hopper Community Church. There’s not a church in the world, and I’ve heard this all over the world, that is perfect. If you’re looking for the perfect church, don’t join it, you’ll screw it up. I mean, every church, we have weaknesses, this church has weaknesses, I don’t care what it is.
So here’s what I’m begging you to do. If Fellowship Church is the church for you, obviously I’m partial, I think it’s the greatest church in the world, and you know I’m going to say that. We need you to join Fellowship. If God is leading you somewhere else, go for it, join that church. Don’t follow Hopper community Church. And I’ll tell you why in a second. Ok, don’t do it.
If you’re watching by television, listen to a podcast, find a Bible teaching, Bible believing church, realize it’s not perfect – you’re going to find some weakness. Join it, get involved, serve there and God will take you place you never, ever, ever, ever dreamed possible. So just make the decision to commit.
So, people who are a part of this Hopper Church are critical. They also don’t ever really bring the tithe, they also don’t ever really get involved.
Now, what If you commit, what if you commit to the Bride? Well, let’s run through some quick benefits of commitment. I’m going to fly through these. I could do this class in 2 hours. But let me just fly through them. When you commit to membership, because membership has its privileges, when you commit, you will have a sense of belonging, a sense of belonging that is just unbelievable. You’re not going to shop-hop, no, no, no, no. I’m there, I’m planted, I’m in the marriage come hell or high water. Broke, busted and disgusted, I’m in the marriage.
You’ll have a sense of accomplishment. You’ll look back and go, “Wow, is God awesome or what? Through thick and thin, through weak times and strong times, through times of crazy growth, through times of famine, I hung in there and look at the blessings of God.
I know of a family who have been a part of a church in the southeast for 30 years. And this church, it’s a good church, but is the preaching the best I’ve heard? No. Is the music that hot? It’s ok. But I’ll tell you this – they have committed, they have hung in there, and their lives are so rich and deep and blessed with relationships and Character qualities and with the fruit of the spirit that words can’t describe. And I was thinking the other day, why are they so blessed? I’m not saying they’ve never suffered, but why are they so blessed? You know why, one of the reasons? Commitment. When they said “I do” to the church, they meant it.
Also, a development of talents. Again, you guys are so talented, you don’t even know it. You got talents I don’t have, I have talents you don’t have. And the longer you stay in the game, the more talents that will come to surface. You’ll be like, “I didn’t know I could do that. I did not know I could do that. That is unbelievable, I did not realize that!” You commit to the church, and watch.
Also, you can be about touching eternity. You name me the church, I’ll just brag for a second, that has the global impact, and also the local impact of Fellowship Church, you name a church in the world, I mean, there’s not very many, let’s just be honest, let’s just be honest. This is unprecedented what has happened at Fellowship church for the last 20 years. And I’m just bragging on God. I’m the most shocked person here. I’m not like, “Wow, I expected this.” What? No way.
And this morning, when I came to church, I walked through the children’ area. I have never seen a children’s area and children’s leadership like we have at Fellowship. Pastors come, again, from all over the world. They’re blown away. And parents, let me beg you, for you, not to have your kids up here every week. Oh, man, AAU is not going to get them where they need to go. This recital or dance lessons or this other extra circular activity, it’s not going to get them where they need to go. Those things are cool, the church has got to be the top priority. Choose this day, Joshua said, who you’re going to serve. As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.
And parents, you commit yourself, you commit your kids here, they will see this commitment track record and they will rise and call you blessed. You can touch eternity. This is it. Think about it again. Matthew 22, Matthew 28. Matthew 28, the Great commission. Only the church was given the ability to carry forth the great commission. Not a Christian School, not a Christian university, not a hospital, not a para-church group, the local church.
It preaches the gospel, number 1, the whole gospel.
Number 2, it practices the ordinances, you might have heard sacraments, I’m talking about baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And also the church practices discipline. Did you know that? You probably didn’t, we don’t make a big deal out of it. “Oh, we just did church discipline a couple days ago.”
What is church discipline? It’s when someone who is a member of the church is acting totally contrary to the will of God. Maybe they’re living a life of immorality, maybe they’re on this gossip train. Maybe they’re into this or that and the elders of the church will sit down with them and meet with them biblically and lovingly and say, “Hey, this is the deal.” And they either get their stuff together before God or not. If they don’t, bye. Bye-bye. You can still show up here, but you can’t lead anymore. That’s church discipline, that’s New Testament. That’s accountability, man. That’s accountability.
So we can leave a legacy, that’s something else. Again, a sense of belonging, accomplishment, developing of talents, touching eternity, and we can leave a legacy. People want to leave a legacy, you hang in there in the local church. If it’s this one, awesome. If it’s somewhere else, awesome. Hang in there and you will leave a legacy.
Also, you’ll have a powerful witness to your friends who are far away from God. You know what, I’m a part of the church, I’ve committed, I’ve married the church, I’m staying here, I’m all about the church, and I can look at so many people here who have been here for a long time and I can see the benefits in their lives that’s absolutely unbelievable. So I had to say that about the benefits. I didn’t want to you know, talk about just like wow. If I’m not doing this, here’s the bad stuff. I mean, it’s good to talk about the bad stuff, but let’s talk about the good stuff.
Now, fellowship. Say “fellowship” with me. Fellowship. It’s impossible to have fellowship unless you have a relationship with God. Do you have a relationship with God? Well here’s how you do it. I’m going to run through it, because what I’m going to tell you is straight from Scripture.
Number 1, you can fill in the blanks here again, God’s love from above. The Bible is a book of love. It’s about love letters. Lisa and I write love letters to each other now and then, and I like to read them. They’re to me, about love. That’s the Bible. The Bible tells me how much God loves me. How much did God love me? Well, he loved me this much. I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner. My sins separated me from God. Your sin separated you from God.
Number 1, we have a love from above.
Number 2, our bad, that’s sad. Our bad, you know. I’ve been out, play sports a lot. People mess up, make a turn over, “My bad.” We have a bad that’s sad. Our sin has separated us from God. What did God do? Did God leave us in a lurch? Did he say, “Well, too bad.” No.
3rd thing, Number 3. God’s solution to our pollution. I’m polluted, so are you. I’m a natural born sinner, so are you. What did God do? God saw me in my state, sent Jesus to live a perfect life to die a sacrificial death, to rise again, and he gives me an opportunity to receive that.
4th thing. It’s Christ’s call for our all. God laid the cards on the table, gave us His best. He redeemed us, He bought us, He sought us. He’s the Hound of Heaven. He brought you here today to hear this message. Have you made this decision? I can’t force you to make it, I cannot coerce you to make it. I can just tell you how to do it. You want to do it? If you do, I want to pray a prayer right now, just very quickly, and I want you to repeat these words after me. Even if you prayed it before, pray this prayer with me. But many here for the first time need to pray this prayer. Close your eyes and pray this prayer out loud.
“Dear God, I know you love me, and I believe it to the best of my ability. I admit to you that I’m a sinner, that I’ve gone my own way. I turn from my sin and turn to you. I ask Jesus Christ to come into my life. I give you everything I am and everything I’ll ever be. Welcome to my world. Thank you for saving me and rescuing me. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Let’s give a round of applause, because I believe many people just prayed that prayer to give their lives to Christ.
You know, the Bible says there’s a party going on in heaven when 1 sinner repents. A party. And that’s what we’re about, introducing people to Christ. Maybe you prayed that prayer for the first time, maybe you recommitted your life to Christ. Here’s what I want you to do. The Next Step, the Next Step brochure, ‘I’m making the following decision,’ you see that? If you just prayed that prayer with me, just check off this box, ‘I believed and received Christ today.’ If you prayed that for the first time, just check that box.
If you recommitted your life to Christ, check the 2nd box. If you want to join Fellowship Church, and many of you need to join, check off the 3rd box. See, you can join the church today. I’m making it easy for you, we’re making it very, very easy. Next step, man, next step, next step. So fill that out.
And again, if you don’t have a pen or a pencil, ask someone and I’m sure they will loan you one.
Ok, if you prayed that prayer today to receive Christ, in a couple moments, we’re going to baptize you. Again, it’s your choice, but the Bible says that many were baptized on that day in the book of Acts. 3,000 the Bible says, were baptized that day. I thought a while back, “How can this day become that day, or that day this day.” I’ll tell you how, spontaneous baptism. Spontaneous baptism.
Doris Scoggins, Doris, come on down, Doris, Doris, Doris, where are you. There’s Doris Scoggins right there. Doris is a founding member of Fellowship Church. She comes from the accounting world. She’s done everything in this church you can think about except coach basketball. And she can do that too. Doris has worked, well, she volunteered for the first years and she’s done everything from finance to wow, baptism, newcomers, whatever. Doris, I’ll just tell you a little bit about Doris, she has more shoes than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life. Lisa and I went over to her house and she has more shoes than J-Lo. Anyway. Doris is Mrs. Baptism. And many of you need to get baptized. So, in a couple of moments, Doris is going to stand there for just a second. I’m going to ask you to stand and make your way forward to Doris and she’ll take you out and get baptized.
“Well, Ed, what do I wear?” We’ve got outfits for you. Dark blue cool shorts, you know the long shorts that are kind of in style. Not the 80’s short-shorts guys. No, it’s time to go a little bit longer. And then with these cool Fellowship Church blue and white shirts, somebody call somebody, we’ll give them to you. Ok. How about my hair? We got blow dryers. “Oh, my makeup.” We got all that. Changing room for men, changing room for women, we’ll take you out there and ba-boosh.
“Well, man, I was baptized. I was sprinkled or spritzed or poured.” Awesome, my wife was sprinkled in a Lutheran church. But you need to get baptized by ba-boosh. Why do we baptize by ba-boosh? Because every baptism in the Bible was by ba-boosh. Jesus, study this, traveled 60 miles out of the way just to get baptized by ba-boosh. Why? Because the water was too shallow. But 60 miles away, it was deep enough to ba-boosh.
So, Doris is Mrs. Baptism. In a couple of moments, a lot of people are going to flood there to get baptized. That’s one of the most important things you can do. And it’s kind of strange, but it represents your old life, your new life. You’re sin, buried, resurrection with Christ. It is incredible. If you’ve never been baptized by ba-boosh, get baptized. All right.
Now, let’s talk about church membership. A lot of you need to join the church. You’ve been kicking tires, testing waters. I talk to people all the time, “Oh yeah, I’ve been attending Fellowship Church for like 4 years, I’ve never placed membership.” What? It’s time to get married. It’s time to get married.
What does it mean to be a member? Because a lot of you who think you’re members aren’t. Whoa. “Well, man, my name is on this database.” So. “I get these tax…” Well. “I show up at church, I can’t do anything else.” Well, let’s see what it means to be a member. Because we take membership seriously. It swims against the current of our culture. There’s a biblical reason.
What if I said, “I play in the NBA.”
You’d go, “What team.”
What if I said, “No, I just play in the NBA.”
You’d be like, “No, what team.”
That’s like someone saying, “Yeah, I’m a follower of Christ.”
“Oh really, where are you involved?”
Oh, no, I just go from this church to that church. I’m a part of Hopper Community. Maybe you know my pastor, I Am Shallow.”
All right. Thank you, Doris.
Fellowship Membership Covenant. Now, can we keep this perfectly? No. But this is what it means to be a member. Membership is active. It’s a verb, not a noun. It’s not like the garden club, or the country club or whatever. Here we go, I’ll fly through these.
Number 1, I’m committing to connect with God and others at Fellowship Church by attending the weekend worship experience at least 3 out of 4 weekends. If you’re not doing that, you’re really not a member. You might think you are, but you’re not.
By meeting daily with God through prayer and his word. I mean, that’s this relationship thing. He wants to meet with you every day. I mean, if you miss a day, I miss a couple days some. But you got to do it consistently, regularly.
By sharing my life with others and being hospitable. So, that’s just the baseline, basic. 3 out of 4 weekends. Wow. And the church is becoming increasingly marginalized. All these extra circular activities, all these games, all these concerts, all this crap, and it’s crap, has infiltrated the weekends and Sunday to the world, it’s just like another day. And it’s totally torn apart the church. And sadly, parents chase the scholarship dream, and the actor and/or actress dream, or my kids going to be a superstar dream. And most of them will not. And they chase that dream and put the church on the back burner.
I commit to giving faithfully to the ministry of Fellowship church. How do we survive? By you and me bringing the tithe. You’re not giving. I hope you know that, because I don’t own anything, you don’t either. You bring it.
Also, by giving offerings as led by the Lord to special causes. And we’re going to do that today. I’m going to tell you in a little while, why I’m writing a big check today as an offering. I’m writing a check for $5,000 today for a special offering.
Now, some of you are like, “that’s a lot of money.” Others are like, “Pht, that’s not that much money.” It’s all relative. I’ll explain that in a second.
By striving to live a life of generosity. People say, “Give until it feels good.” No, no, no, I say, “Give until it hurts.” That 5 grand hurts a little bit. Our, 5,000. That’s like, Doris, is this so true? For years, for 20 years, people have said, “Yeah, man, I want to give some furniture to Fellowship church.” And we go, “Oh, awesome.” We drive to wherever and pick the furniture up, old ratty stained furniture. Given a bunch of crap to God’s house. When’s somebody going to give something brand new? That’s what I want to know. When’s somebody going to give something that costs something? That’s what I want to know. If you want to get into the flow, the currency, the current, give something that matters. I’m telling you, God will mess you up. Some of you right there on the brink, on the edge, Oh. Do it.
If this is your church, do it. If somewhere else, do it.
I commit to inviting the unchurched to attend. You know people I don’t know, I know people you don’t know. Together we can reach this community for Christ. Pray for people. Live it out. You’re the only Jesus a lot of people will ever see.
I commit to serve my world locally and globally. Are you serving? If you’re not serving in the house, you’re not a member of Fellowship Church. If you’re not serving in the house, you’re not a member of Fellowship Church. If you’re not serving in the house, the body of Christ is incomplete. You’re not a member. Again, I’m just telling you what the Bible says. You think you are, what are you smoking? You’re not smoking the Bible. You’re smoking something else.
I commit to uniting with God and the leadership and members of Fellowship Church by protecting with my words and actions, the vision of Fellowship Church. Those, you know, 10 values, by reconciling, by trusting the leadership of the church.
I’ve been playing Mr. Mom for the last week. Lisa’s in Europe at this gi-normous women’s conference. It’s like, I don’t know, she took like, I don’t know, 12 different pastor’s wives with her. So, man, pray for me, I’m by myself trying to be a man for all seasons. And this morning before I left, I was leaving, I was the only one up, and I heard something in our den and I’m thinking, “No way the dogs are in.” Because our Doberman can open the doors, that’s a whole ‘nother story. And I heard this thing, and I look around, and there is bird flying around our house, inside. And I looked at it and I’m thinking, “Oh, I’m just going to leave it there. I’m not going to mess with him. I’ve got to get to church.”
EJ is sick, up in the bed. Laurie was still asleep. I’m sorry, no, Laurie was spending the night with a friend, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know where she is. Landra was still asleep, I had to wake her up right before I left, and they’re here at church. So, I don’t know why I told you that. I told you that for some reason, I totally forgot. What was I saying? Huh? Yeah, I forgot what I was saying. I’ve got some serious ADD. And you know, I talked so long, I’m starting to bore myself now. When I start getting bored, it’s time to leave, man. I really started getting bored about 10 minutes ago. I did. What was I talking about?
Lisa’s at the conference, make something, it was good point, I felt it. Yeah, Mr. Mom. OH, I know, I got it, I got it. Ok, now I remember. Yeah, thank you, man. Ok, here’s what happened. This is going to be the last thing I promise you.
Ok, EJ got sick, coughing, coughing, coughing, whatever. He has asthma and all that stuff. So, I took him to Dr. Perkins. Dr. Perkins has been a part of our church for a long time, awesome guy, great guy, Dr. Perkins. Anyway, we walk into Dr. Perkins office, and you know, da-da-da, sit down, and EJ’s coughing, coughing, coughing. And asking him a couple of questions, 2 questions. I mean, and then I thought after I left, “You know, those were dumb questions. I mean, what do I know about asthma, or what do I know about medicine?” but you know, I asked the questions, and that’s ok. But I trust Dr. Perkins, you know. We drove through the pharmacy and picked up the stuff, whatever. He’s still not doing well, but that’s ok, he’ll get better. Um, Dr. Perkins gave us some more medicine last night. But anyway, I trust Dr. Perkins. And basically I can ask the questions – I either trust him, or I don’t. If I don’t trust him, I can go down the street and talk to another man or woman who is in the medical field. But for me to understand what he does, for me to really ask an intelligent question, I’ve got to go to medical school, and I’ve got to practice medicine for, I don’t know, 25 years. Then, I can ask him some real questions, that at the end of the day, I trust.
So, in the church, we trust, we trust God, we trust the leaders, we trust one another. It’s a house of honor. A place of commitment. A place where we need to join. So, what do you do? Fill out the Fellowship Church membership card. See that on there.
I know we’re going overtime, don’t worry about it, it’s just 12 minutes. I guarantee you, you’d still be there if the Cowboys were neck-and-neck playing for the Super Bowl, right? So, stop whining. No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding, I’m joking.
Man, my back’s hurting. Man, being a mom, I’m telling you, I couldn’t do it. I am worn out right now. Oh, my goodness. Anyway, it’s been great though.
All right, Fellowship Church membership cards. You can join the church right now. How do you do it? Date. What’s today, May 2nd? May 2, 2010. Name; mine is Edwin Barry Young. Edwin Barry Young. That’s not yours. Spouse’s name, Lovely Lisa. Date of Birth, 3/16/61. I’m 49. And you know about age? You know, I don’t care how old someone is, you gotta be young in spirit.
And I know people here in their 70’s and 80’s, they’re young in spirit. I know some in their 20’s, and they’re like old. You know what I’m saying to you? You gotta be young in spirit.
I’m male, I’m married. If you’re single, write singles. We have just a great singles ministry here. If you’re widowed, divorced, we have some amazing ministries for those who are divorced or widowed.
Great, address, write that down, city, state, zip. Home phone. Very few people have home phones anymore. You might, but whatever. Cell phone, write that down.
I would like to receive FC Text messages? You better believe it. Email? No doubt about it. Employer? Who is that?
Occupation, I mean, you don’t have to write this down if you don’t want to. I mean, your employer, occupation, you don’t have to.
Children’s names, date of birth. Now, I guarantee you dads don’t know those. Well, you might know the date, but not the year. I know the date. LeeBeth was born October 3rd, she’s 23, and then EJ’s 18, he was born November 15th, and the twin towers, June 30th.
Former church. The former church that I was a member of, Second Baptist Church. My father pastors that, it’s an awesome church. If you’re ever in Houston, it’s just one of the best churches I’ve ever attended. Its incredible, it really, really is. And Dad’s pastored there for like, I think, 35 years. And my two brothers work there. And it’s a cool place. But I used to attend, I joined, you I know, a member of Second Baptist Church.
Maybe you don’t know your church, you’re like, “I don’t know where I went to church.” That’s ok. Most people that join Fellowship, they’re like “question mark, I don’t know.”
I’ve been baptized by ba-boosh. Have you? A lot of you need to get baptized today. Ba-boosh. I’m interested in serving? Where? We just listed a couple of things. There’s about a squillion opportunities to serve. A squillion. A squillion. Media, man, we did so much media stuff here, videos and short films and slides, and bla-bla-bla-bla… Children’s ministry, student ministry. Other, first impressions, greeter, usher, parker. We have a golf cart ministry. So, I’ve been involved in that lately, I’ve been driving golf carts last couple of weeks. You’ve seen me out there, anybody seen me driving the golf cart? I have. I’ve been driving around picking up people, I love it. Yeah. If you’re a good driver, a safe driver, have your hands at 10 and 2, you can be a part of the golf cart ministry.
So, fill that out, and now, after you filled it out, grip it, everybody grip it, who wants to join Fellowship? We got a lot of people, come on, now, come on now, it’s time to join, grip it and rip it. Ok. When the offering is received, just take it and toss it in the offering bag. Just put it in there, and that’s it.
Now, before we do that, some people need to get baptized. Ok, let’s put our hands together, remain seated, if you want to get baptized, stand and go to see Doris Scoggins, the woman who has more shoes than J-Lo, let’s do it right now, ain’t nothing to it but to do it.
It’s time to liquidate. It’s time to go H20. It’s time to get baptized. Don’t be leaving now. It’s time to get advertized. We’ve got a lot of people, families, single adults, students, let’s do it. It’s a biblical value. The Bible says it from cover to cover. Get baptized. Get baptized. We’ve got all the clothes for you, no matter if you play for the Mavericks, or not matter if you’re like 4’11”, we’ve got stuff that will fit you. All right. You guys come on out. And Doris, just take them out right now if you would. Doris Scoggins, first lady of baptism, isn’t that awesome. And all the satellites, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Miami, same thing, man. Go on out, go on out.
Who wants a free t-shirt and a pair of shorts? Free-99. A 1 and a 2 and a…let’s see, right here, there you go. All right. Yeah, that’s good, that’s good. Keep it up. Come on now, we’ve got some more that need to get baptized. It’s time to join the church, it’s time to understand that membership has its privileges. I’m not just going to have my name on some role. I’m not just going to be a part of a database, I want to be active, engaged, involved in the only thing that Jesus ever built.