"Free" Internet...

I spent the afternoon at a youth camp meeting with my friend Tom Cottar and his Youth Ministry associate Stephanie. We met at this pretty cool coffeehouse in Austin called Flipnotics. They advertise great coffee, a chill atmosphere, and "free" wifi. Personally, I prefer Starbucks on most days to other places...But the lure of free wifi has me broadening my horizons.

But here is the thing with the free wifi at Flipnotics. While it is free, there are so many stinking obstacles to get it. This is the third or fourth place recently where the "free wifi" has taken me a half hour to get to. First, I had to pick a username. Next, I needed a password. Oops - Go back and confirm the password. Now I have to agree to the terms and conditions of the LessNetwork and finally I can sign in...for 10 minutes. Then I have to confirm my email, logout and log back in before I can continue. Why all the obstacles, Flipnotics?

And that experience got me thinking. How many times do we do this with the gospel in our churches? How many obstacles have we put in the way of people coming to Christ?

The last couple weeks I've got to preach twice at our church. Both times were the simple, plain message of Jesus and the cross. Our target audience were those who have not yet began to follow Jesus. And as I prepared and tried to teach in a creative, engaging, relevant way I began to ask myself that question: What obstacles have we put in the way of people coming to Christ?

Jesus makes the way simple and plain. He did all the work on the cross. The Bible says that God only asks us to believe. He made the way simple because he knew the world would provide enough obstacles along the path. The church shouldn't be placing obstacles on the path too.

So here are a few questions to help us as we seek to remove obstacles that might hinder someone from taking that initial step to follow Christ in our church services:
  • Are we teaching and communicating the message of Jesus in a language that is easy to understand? (Most unchurched people don't use words like salvation and repentance in everyday language...)
  • Are we using the best methods and tools to communicate the message of Christ? Our world is a techonlogical one . We should use every tool and method we can to teach people who learn in a variety of ways. (When was the last time you went and listend to someone give a speech for 30+ minutes, except at a church?)
  • Are we offering our BEST every week? Is it our best effort, our best energy, etc?
  • Have we taken into consideration every aspect of a visitor's experience? What are we communicating from the moment the pull into the parking lot until they walk back to their car after the service?
  • Do our people MODEL the love of Jesus? It does us no good to teach about a loving God if our church is not full of loving people who model that to others.
  • Have we planned for Christ to change lives? Have our churches put significant planning into each service? Have we given proper time to the explanation of the gospel? Have we given proper time to invite people to respond?
  • Have we created an atmosphere where our people feel comfortable bringing their unchurch friends and neighbors? The best tool to aid our members in sharing their faith and in seeing their friends come to know Christ is to give them the confidence and assurance that EVERY week will be a top-notch experience for their guests.

I've got some more thoughts on this later, but I'll save them for another post.


randman said...

Good thoughts.

Brett said...

Sometimes people put those obstacles in the way of people who believe by telling them about the "other" things they have to do. It's good to be reminded, as much as possible, that it's just belief.