#DEATHTOSELFIE     Why Death to Self(ie)?  Believers Statesboro       8-28-16

 I’m bothered that I can be a selfish person sometimes.  I don’t want to be, I’m not as selfish as I used to be, but ‘self,’ even though I try to suppress it and put my selfishness down, somehow it keeps creeping back up.

My own self interests are always trying to work their way back up to the surface. 

Maybe you are like that too. It seems to be a human condition that we always deal with.

There are little hints of our selfishness, self-pride, and self-exhalation, that we see in our everyday habits.

  • One that has only surfaced in the last several years is the “Selfie”. “Let me just take a picture of myself and see how great I look.”
  • Pre-selfie generation? When we looked at a group picture, our eyes always went to ourselves first.

This is not an anti-Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter series.

  • This series is more about our struggle to come to grips with who we really are, and then to let God transform us into who He wants us to be!
  • We will have to experience a Death to the Selfie, death to who we think we are or want to be, and we will come alive to our true selfie in Christ Jesus! 

We all have a tendency to exalt ourselves above others.  We all have a tendency to want the world to evolve around us, we want be the ‘Center of the Universe’. We all tend to be obsessed with ourselves. All of these natural tendencies, however, must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  As a matter of fact, Jesus is the one who said we must “die to ourselves.”  Death to Selfie.                                                                                       

Real Life

 In Luke 9, Peter had just declared Jesus as the Messiah, and the disciples were super excited about what this would mean for them such as freedom from Roman oppression, or maybe twelve thrones for each of them! 

Luke 9:21-22 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Not at all what the disciples were expecting for a Messiah! 

Not only was Jesus going to experience this, but it would be a pattern and example for them as well.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must: (1) deny themselves and (2) take up their cross daily and (3) follow me. (continual loyalty to Jesus.)

The Cross was an instrument of death, not just a burden to bear.  Taking up your cross to follow Jesus means you are willing sacrificially laying down your life.

 Why would Jesus say that?  Why would Jesus want that?  Why does He call us to lay down our lives?

Why does He call us to “Death to Selfie?”                              Here is the key:

Luke 9:24-25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

 Whoever carves out a life for himself doing things their own way and struggles to find themselves and define themselves according to the world’s standard and expectations of others, will actually lose their life in the process.

 But whoever is willing to die too self and lose their life for the sake of Jesus will discover true life as Christ Jesus lives through them.  Real life!  Life abundant and full!

 This is the paradox of the Christian Life:

Love Life Lose It                     Keep        Lose                        First         Last                         Great       Humbled

Lose Life Live                          Give         Receive   Last         First                         Serve       Great

                                                                                                    

Am I Willing to Die for Jesus?

 Now here is the question we all have to deal with. “Am I willing to die for Jesus?”

 It could be a physical death, but what Jesus is talking about is daily dying to yourself as you live your life. This may actually be harder than physically dying for Jesus. 

NEXT STEP:  Today I will consider if I am really willing to die for Jesus?  Can I really say “Death to Selfie and mean it? 

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl                                                                                  

Dying to self is not so much about losing everything for the sake of losing, but it’s more about giving all that you have for something that is far, far better! 

Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.                                         

Are you be willing to sell or exchange everything you have in your life for the life that Christ has for you? 

NEXT STEP:  This week I will inventory my life and consider if I am still willing to sell or exchange everything for the life that Christ has for me.                                                                    

Death to Selfie Vs American Christianity 

The Cross, Death to Self – VS – Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

The world says:

  • Live for today!
  • Whatever makes you feel good, do it.
  • I win, you lose! (You snooze you lose!) You deserve to be first!
  • Give yourself a break today! You deserve it!

Sadly, the American church has bought into it a lot of this “Me First” mentality.

But in the parable of the Pearl Salesman we see that the Kingdom of God will cost all that you have!

  • It could cost you your job, savings, stocks, cars, boats, toys, clothes, family, and EVEN YOU!
  • We only want to give up what we don’t want or need!
  • It’s easy to give up things that hurt us, but what about our dreams and desires?

WE TEND TO Christianize our selfishness!  It’s all about me!  God is blessing me! By not being willing to sell all the we have, we may never experience the one pearl of greater value! 

The Mark of a True Believer  Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves. 

NEXT STEP:  This week I will memorize Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.

 Elijah and the Widow

1 Kings 17:8-16 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

 The widow was not willing to give from her abundance, rather she was willing to give from her need. She gave all she had, even to the point of death…  Only then did the supernatural happen.                                                                                                

Why Death to Self(ie)?

  1. Total Reliance On Jesus

We Need Total Reliance On Jesus! 

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

We like to say, “I can do all things through Christ”, but if the truth be known, most of the time we are just doing things in our own strength and asking Him to bless our efforts.  Have we gotten to the point where we desperately need Christ strength, and without it we can do nothing?

 God’s Strength is Needed

God is calling you to do something that cannot be accomplished in your own strength.

If you can fulfill your dreams in your own ability, you are not dreaming big enough.

You need GOD SIZE DREAMS!  Could the widow feed Elijah in her own strength and ability?

  1. God Is Molding You

God wants to mold you into a vessel fit for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:20-21  In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.  21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

 God Wants You to be Fruitful.

 John 15. When you bear fruit it brings glory to the Father.

John 12:23-26 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves

Dying to ourselves will produce many seeds which will result in more fruit!

  • Hating what the world has to offer in this life will result in real life with Jesus for all eternity!
  • The servants of Jesus follow Jesus and they are honored by the Father.
  • And just like in Jesus’ life, when we die to ourselves our lives will be glorified!

          5. God Wants You to Walk in Resurrection

 Romans 6:4-14 (let’s read verses 5 and 8) 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

Are you willing to Die to Self Today?      Death To Selfie?                                                                    

God is willing and ready to do a work in us, and if we are having a hard time surrendering or dying to ourselves, God may break us. (God never uses what hasn’t been broken.)                                 

  • You will hear seasoned believers talking about being broken. Totally void of self-pride and self-ability. 
  • I personally feel that I have been broken, and the process continues.

 Is there anything that’s keeping you from experiencing full life in Christ today!

 Is there anything you love more than Jesus, anything that you are not willing to give up today?

Die to it and live!

 Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. According to Luke 9:23, what are the three requirements to be a disciple of Jesus?
  2. Was it easier to say, “I will lay down my life for Jesus.”, when you were younger? Why?
  3. At this point in your life, what would you struggle giving up for the sake of Christ?
  4. What is the lesson to learn in The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl (Matthew 13:44-46)?
  5. Pastor Scott said, “Dying to self is not so much about losing everything for the sake of losing, but it’s more about giving all that you have for something that is far, far better!” Can you give some examples of that being true in your life?

 

Why Death To Selfie Promo

Why Death to Self(ie)?

Because God cannot bless who you pretend to be.  God can’t save your enhanced, retouched selfie, but He can save you.

This series is more about our struggle to come to grips with who we really are and then to let God transform us into who He wants us to be!

We will have to experience a Death to the Selfie, death to who we think we are or want to be, and we will come alive to our true selfie in Christ Jesus!

We need to get real with God and come to Him with our True Selfie.  Then we must die to our own will, plans, and! This is Real life!  Life abundant and full!  Join us Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m. 

#DeathToSelfie

 

Ladies join us at Believers Church for our annual conference for Ladies! We will meet together Friday, August 26 and Saturday August 27th. You can sign up by going to believersstatesboro.com or https://believers.infellowship.com/Forms/329027!

RefresHer 2016 Rev 1

 

 

     08-21-16_DTS_Your True Selfie_Wk1 PPWhat do you think of when you hear the word selfie?  Someone standing in front of a mirror, one hand extended and the other hand on their hip?  Is it a girl with a “duck face” staring at you, or maybe a guy using his phone to show the results of his latest workout?  Maybe people whose faces fills the whole frame of the picture with a big toothy grin?

Over the past several years, selfies have become so popular that it seems everybody is taking them. Everyone from movie stars, presidents, the first lady, Pope Francis to everyday people are joining in.  Maybe even your grandma has taken a selfie!  According to Stylecaster.com:

  • Over One Million selfies are taken each day.
  • Overall 50% of Men and 52% of Women have taken a selfie.
  • According to SAMSUNG, Selfies make up 30% of photos taken by people between the ages of 18-24.[1]

This is not an anti-Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter series.  I’m not telling you to get away from all of that.

  • This series is more about our struggle to come to grips with who we really are and then to let God transform us into who He wants us to be!
  • We will have to experience a Death to the Selfie, death to who we think we are or want to be, and we will come alive to our true selfie in Christ Jesus!

We will be using the example of selfies to represent the conflict of who we really are compared to who we want other people to believe that we are; the conflict of being who we are compared to how we sometimes try to be who other people want us to be.

When we compare our unfiltered lives to a world cropped and edited where everything is perfect, we’re left with thoughts of misery and frustration. Consider more from Stylecaster.com:

  • 14% of selfies are digitally enhanced.
  • 36% of people have admitted to altering their selfie.
  • 34% of males state they retouch every selfie.
  • 13% of females state they retouch every selfie.

The struggle to know who we are in this world, as we are striving to be who we are in Christ is an age old battle that we all deal with.  In this series, we are going to learn how to get self or selfie out of the way so that we can walk in our new identity in Christ each and every day of our lives.

Jacob Wrestles with God

Genesis 32:22-26 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. Sometimes you’ve got to get alone in order to hear from God.  Away from distractions. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

So Jacob wrestles with this man, who he doesn’t really know all night long.  This is not the first time Jacob wrestled with someone, as a matter of fact he has be wresting most of his life trying to find his true identity.                                                            

Jacob Was Wrestling Before He Was Born

Genesis 25:21-26 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless.  The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave

birth to them.

So here is Jacob whose name literally means “heel grabber” wresting with his brother Esau to try to get out of the womb first.  In other words, he was born trying to get ahead.  Being the first born in a Hebrew family in those days meant that you would inherit the birthright and receive a double portion blessing from your father.  It was almost as if even in his mother’s womb Jacob was ready to fight for that first born blessing.

Let’s face it, we live in a “Me First World”, and if we are not careful we can get caught up in “Me First” too.  Like Jacob, we can find ourselves always fighting to get ahead, always trying to be first, always trying to get more or at least more than the next guy.

“I just want to get ahead.  I want to be better.  I want to be and I want my kids to be smarter, stronger, and better looking than others!”

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Jesus also said if you get caught up in this, you may actually gain the whole world! Be careful, though, because in the process you may lose your true self.

Luke 9:25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Money, status, power, and position… but how does that help you if you lose your soul in the process?

Mark 8:37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Jacob seems to be a man born in 2nd place who spends almost all of his life trying to be in 1st place.

  • Scripture reveals that he is sort of a mommy’s indoor type boy who wants to win over his brother Esau who a man’s man.

Jacob Wrestles for the Birthright

In Genesis 25:29-34 Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s physical hunger to purchase Esau’s birthright for a bowl of red lentil soup! (see 04-17-16 Outlier Now or Later)

Jacob Wrestles for the First Born Blessing

In Genesis 27 Jacob steals Esau’s first born, right handed, double portion blessing from Esau by deceiving his own Father Isaac into thinking he was Esau.

The name Jacob not only means heal grabber, it also means supplanter or deceiver!

  • He pretended to be someone else in order to get blessed.
  • He put on things to make himself look like someone else, to be someone whom he was not!

Just like Jacob wrestled with his family, with God, and himself to find who he really was, we wrestle as well.  We often times find ourselves in conflict between who we think we are supposed to be and who we really are.

The sad thing is that sometimes we end up somewhere in life having totally lost the person we used to be, and we don’t even recognize ourselves any more.

Being Centered On Yourself(ie) is Never Enough

God cannot bless who you pretend to be.  Jacob may have fooled his Father but he couldn’t fool God.

  • You can sometimes fool others but you can’t fool yourself.
  • You might can fool your neighbors but you can’t fool God.
  • God can’t save your enhanced, retouched selfie, but He can save you.

Next Step: This week I will consider how much I have centered my life around my self(ie).

Hanging On for A Blessing

Genesis 32:25-26 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 

When you see this story in your mind’s eye, how old do you picture Jacob being?  He was around 97 years old.  It was 20 years earlier when he stole the 1st born blessing form Esau, at the age of 77.

  • Jacob had wrestled something or somebody for a long time. He always wanted to be blessed.
  • Now Jacob realized that he has got ahold of someone special, someone divine, someone who could actually bless him, his true self. Not someone he was pretending to be.
  • He wasn’t going to let go until he got that blessing.

He was wresting with God, or a type of Christ seen in the Old Testament.

When the real you gets ahold of the real Jesus, you better not let go either.

Selfie What Is Your Name?

Instead of granting Jacobs wish to be blessed, the man asked him a question first.

Genesis 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

This was a question that Jacob had heard before.

Genesis 27: 18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”  “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my

game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

The first time Jacob was asked this question he lied, just to make sure that he got blessed.

This time he tells the truth so that he, not someone he was pretending to be, could truly be blessed by God.

“Jacob,” he answered.

Jacob had to admit to God who he really was.  A heel grabber, a supplanter, a deceiver.  He had to come clean.

Genesis 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have

struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

God changed Jacob’s name.  Israel means “Triumphant with God”!

You know when we get ahold of Jesus, He demands we come clean and admit who we really are.

Jesus will look at you, who your really are, not your enhanced selfie self, but the real you and he will call you by a new name:

“Child of God, Righteous, Holy, Pure, Beloved, New Creation, AND Redeemed.  Not only that, but you will be given a new name in heaven that only He knows.

Revelation 2:17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious (Israel means triumphant), I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.                 

Genesis 32:30-31 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life

was spared.” 31  The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

Jacob limped.  A constant reminder of his divine encounter with God.  A reminder of the day he came to God just as “Jacob” and no one else.

The God of Jacob Too

Now, throughout scripture Jacob is stilled referred to as Jacob and Israel.  God loved him and blessed him as Jacob and God loved and blessed him as Israel.

God loves the real you and God loves the you He is transforming you into.

Notice that God doesn’t say I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  What does God say?

Matthew 22:32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Exodus 3) He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

  • God is the God of the real you, the Jacob you. God wanted to be known as the God of the man who was a deceiver.  He is not just the God of the pretty parts, but He is the God of our weaknesses and failures too.
  • God is not the God of that old dead selfie, He is the God of the self who is alive to God in Christ Jesus!

Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.                         

Everything changes for us when we admit, “I’m just a Jacob.”  It is then that God says, “I will be the God of Jacob too.

Next Step: This week I will come to God revealing my true self(ie), if necessary seek forgiveness, and allow Him to love me just as I am. 

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application 

  1. Who did you bring to church this weekend? How did it go?  Who are you bringing to church next weekend? 
  1. Read Luke 9:25. When was the last time you got something you really wanted, only to realize that it didn’t satisfy you as much as you would have thought? What did you learn from that? 
  1. Do you ever find yourself trying to do things in life like the people you compare yourself to? Why isn’t that healthy?   What do you need to stop pretending to do so that you can fully appreciate God’s blessings? 
  1. Even after Jacob wrestled with God and received His blessing, he appears throughout Scripture as both Jacob (the liar and deceiver) and Israel (he who triumphs with God). Do you ever wrestle with the conflict knowing that you’re made new, but still struggling with your “old self?”  How? 
  1. Have you ever believed God didn’t love you because of something you’ve done? Why isn’t that true?  What advice would you give to someone who feels that way today?

 [1] http://stylecaster.com/beauty/selfies-infographic/

 


Death to Selfie Week 1When we compare our unfiltered lives to a world cropped and edited where everything is perfect, we’re left with thoughts of misery and frustration.

The struggle to know who we are in the world without compromising who we are in Christ is a battle as old as mankind – but so is God’s answer for finding peace.

Join us Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m. as  we begin to discover how finding our identity in Christ can save us from the greatest obstacle standing in our way – us.

8-14-16 Better Together 4 No Man Is An Island PromoNo Man is an Island.  We are relational people created in the image of a relational God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everyone needs friends.

The bottom line is that everyone wants and needs to BELONG.  They want to be a part of a community.  They want to know and be known.

Everyone wants to BELONG somewhere because no man was created to be an island.

Join us this Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m. to find out how Life Groups are used to help us BELONG, not just to BELONG to other people, but to BELONG to Christ Jesus!

 

8-07-16 Better Together 3 Island Market Promo

 

People aren’t just looking for a friendly church…people are looking for friends.

You don’t have to know everybody in the church to feel like it’s your church, but you do have to know somebody.

Have you ever visited an open air market on an island? Maybe on vacation? At the markets in Mexico for example, products are exchanged by the mutual consent of the seller and buyers. These Island Markets are the Free Market System at its best! If a product is good it will attract people and sell.                              If a product is bad it will fail.

Our Life Groups at Believers Church are based on the concept of the Free Market System.

Join us this Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m. as we continue our Better Together Series with “The Island Market.” We all want friends, but besides friendship, why should we join Life Group’s?

7-31-16 Better Together 2 Flip Flop Promo PIC

Better Together 2 “Flip Flops”   Believers Statesboro       07-31-16

Flip Flops

People aren’t just looking for a friendly church… people are looking for friends.

  • Most of us love the thought of an intimate circle of people who know and accept us for who we are and aren’t.  We love the idea of belonging, having long-lasting friendships!

It’s this very idea that makes church, and especially “Life Groups”, so appealing.

Life is Better Together!

The statement “People aren’t just looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends” is backed up by some interesting statistics.

  • People decide within the first 10 minutes if they will come back to a church, generally based on the friendliness of the people.
  • People who drop out of a church within one month will usually do so because of theology.
  • After six months, people stay or drop out based on “how many friends they have made.”
    • The Big Three and other ministries help people make friends.
  • After one year, people will stay or drop out based on “the quality of friendships that they have made within the church compared to the quality of friendships they have outside of the church.”
    • These quality friendships are made in Life Groups.

People like small churches… or is it that people just desire small groups? 

The average size church in America is 90 -100 people.  If your church has more than 200 people in attendance, you’re among the top 15% of churches (based on size) in the United States.

  • When people were asked, “What factors led you to choose your church?,” 90 % stated that it was the pastor and his preaching.
  • When asked if the pastor were to leave would they stay at the church, their answer was “Yes”.
  • When asked why, they replied, “I would stay because of the friendships that I now have here.”

That’s what keeps these small churches surviving.  It’s friendships; it’s belonging; it’s knowing others and being known; it’s that sense of community, and it’s that sense of family.

  • They don’t care if the sermon is good or bad.
    • Most of them could survive without even having a pastor because a new pastor comes in with vision, salvations, and growth in mind.
    • He says we are going to grow and the congregation is thinking, “Over my dead body!  We’ll just outlast him like we did the last guy.”
  • They don’t care if the music is good or bad or if the programs are good or bad.
  • They have family and friends, they belong.

 The average American Church is 90 – 100 because we have a social and emotional capacity limit.

  • Above 60-70 people, our ability to care, love, and know begins to diminish.
  • Therefore, we either intentionally or unintentionally remain small for the sake of friendships.

Social Channel Capacity

Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”, pulls together some fascinating research on our “Social Channel Capacity”.

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s research: Group of 5 people

  • You have to keep track of ten separate relationships:
    • Your relationships with the four others in your circle
    • And six other two-way relationships between the others.
  • That’s what it means to know everyone in your circle.
    • You have to understand the personal dynamics of the group.
    • You have to juggle different personalities.
    • You keep people happy, manage the demands on your own time and attention and so on.

Group of 20 people

  • 190 two-way relationships to track.
    • 19 involving yourself
    • 171 involving the rest of the group.
  • That’s a five-fold increase in your group, but a twenty-fold increase in the amount of information needed to “know” the other members of the group.
  • A relatively small increase in the size of a group, in other words, creates a significant additional social and intellectual burden.

Humans socialize in the largest groups of all, primates, because we are the only animals with a brain large enough to handle the complexities of that social arrangement.

Neocortex ratio:  The size of the neocortex relative to the size of the brain spits out the expected maximum group size of the animal. The Homo sapiens estimated group size was 147.8 – or roughly 150.

  • 150 represents the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship.  This is the number of people that you would NOT feel embarrassed about joining them at their table for dinner if you ran into them at a restaurant.

150 pops up in social circles.

  • 21 different hunter gatherer societies’ studies found that the average number of people in their villages was 148.4 – or roughly 150.
  • Military organizations.  “Over the years, military planners have arrived at a rule of thumb which dictates that functional fighting units cannot be substantially larger than 200 men.
    • Planners discovered that it is hard to get more than this number of men sufficiently familiar with each other so that they can work together as a functional unit.
    • Of course, military organizations operate at larger numbers, but only by imposing complicated hierarchies and rules and regulations and formal measures to try to command loyalty and cohesion.
    • Below 150, it is possible to achieve the same goals informally.
    • Below 150, orders can be implemented and unruly behavior controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contacts.  With larger groups, it’s impossible.
  • The Hutterites are a religious group who, for hundreds of years, have lived in self-sufficient agricultural colonies in Europe and, since the early twentieth century, in North America. They are out of the same traditions as the Amish and Mennonites and for centuries have a strict policy that every time a colony approaches 150, they split and start a new one.
  • “When things get larger than that, people become strangers to one another.” Bill Gross.
  • Close knit fellowship gets lost, divisions start to form. People don’t have enough in common.[1]

That’s Why People Fear Church Growth

That’s why when Believers Church left the Recreation Department, moved into our new building and increased to well over 150 people; some felt that something was different.  They didn’t seem to know everybody anymore.  They feared losing the sense of family.

  • Some wanted to go back to the Recreation Department days.
  • But in the 1st year in our new location with larger numbers of people, we saw 115 salvations.
  • What were we supposed to do with them? Turn them away so that everybody could still know            everyone by name?

 

A church less than 150 – 200 people is struggling.

Research and experience tells us that pastoring a church of less than 150 people is the most difficult church to pastor.

  • The church is just hanging in there, all of its energy and focus is just in surviving.
  • Almost everything that goes on is a struggle to pull off each week.
  • You can’t pay staff.  The pastor is overworked because he does everything that needs to be done.
  • You don’t have enough volunteers.
  • For a new church, you can hardly afford to build a building.
  • Not enough teens to have a dynamic youth group.
  • Children’s program is a challenge due to lack of staff and volunteers.

Church attendance is declining in America.  Only 41% of the people in America attend church regularly.

  • Why is that if the data shows that the church will provide people with what they desperately seek?
  • Church offers them a sense of family, a place to belong.
    • One of the problems is that these small churches are too tight.  They love intensely but they limit their love to only a few.
    • In an attempt to preserve what they have, they treat guests as outsiders and a threat to what they have.

Let’s face it, most of these churches, though made up of saved, God-fearing people that love one another, aren’t fulfilling the Great Commission.  They are not reaching a lost and dying world.

“A church that has no interest at all in increasing its number of converts is, in essence,

saying to the rest of the world, “You all can go to hell.”  Rick Warren

So, as long as there is one unsaved person out there, the church has a mandate to grow!

NEXT STEP:  This week I will resolve if I really want our church to grow or do I want to keep like it is for my personal sake and comfort.  Then I will commit to the growth Jesus desires.

So what are we to do?

Subdivide the church every time it reaches 150 people?  We would have several small churches that are hard to pastor and would probably be very ineffective in building the kingdom of God.

Should we have to sacrifice church growth for the sake of church unity and closeness?

 THE ANSWER

In Mark 6, we have the story of Jesus sending out seventy disciples to minister under the authority of His name and, when they were done, they reported back to Jesus about all that had happened.

Mark 6:30-38 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

With so many people coming and going for ministry, you barely have time to eat and you are desperately in need of rest.

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. (Life is flowing, people are in need, the ministry never seems to stop.) 34          When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.  35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages!  Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

“You give them something to eat.”  Jesus will ask you to do things that are impossible in the natural.  We tend to try to solve problems in the natural and ask, “Are these people worth spending that much money on?”  Not realizing God has supernatural provision that we need to tap into.

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

  • Jesus will take what you’ve got, no matter how small, and do something great with it.

JESUS’ PLAN TO FEED MANY PEOPLE

Mark 6:39-41Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

  • Divide them into groups.
  • Provide a comfortable setting. A place where you can wear FLIP FLOPS!

40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

Jesus uses His disciples to distribute life to others.  We all can say, “I don’t have much.  But if I give it to Jesus, He will bless it, break it, and then I can use it to bless other people.”

All I have is a place to meet. / All I know how to do is fish. / All I know how to do is play all types of sports. / All I know how to do is knit. / I don’t know much about marriage, but I have a great book.

The End Results

Mark 6:42-44 They all ate and were satisfied, 43  and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

  • They all had plenty to eat and were satisfied. There was more than enough.
  • Large numbers of people were able to be ministered to.

When people get involved in a Life Group they will make long lasting friendship.

When they make long-lasting friendships, they will stop flip flopping from church to church.

When they stop flip flopping and put their roots down, they will grow.

When they grow, they will produce fruit.

NEXT STEP:  For the sake of my spiritual well-being and the health of Believers Church, I will commit to stay connected and continually be part of a Life Group.

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. Why is the average church size in America so small? Why do people fear church growth?
  2. Why do you think that God designed us to want friends and community, with a desire to know and be known?
  3. People like to know others and be known (small), but Jesus has called us to “reach the world (big)”. What was Jesus’ solution to help us grow, but maintain a sense of family as well?
  4. If you had an emergency at 3:00 a.m., how many friends do you have that you know you could call on to be there for you and your family?
  5. What was the end result of Jesus grouping people in small groups in Mark 6? What would be the result of Believers Church grouping together in small groups or Life Groups?

 

[1] Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, (New York, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2002), p. 175-181