In case you are reading this and didn’t know it already, I attended a small eastern Kentucky Christian university. I majored in ministry and Biblical studies there. I absolutely loved my time at Kentucky Christian University, and I learned a ton. I also met a bunch of people, got to hang out with them, and did tons of things that I would have never gotten to do otherwise (like getting to randomly drive to Nashville in the middle of the night…twice).
One of the things I learned was simplicity. I loved packing my day full of things to do and people to see, but I valued the times where all I had to do was one or two things. For example, I loved Sundays because of the simple schedule I had. I was an intern at a local church, so I taught during the 10am hour at this church, and then participated in the worship service in the morning. After that, I’d come back to my dorm and…do whatever I wanted. It was great! It usually consisted of watching NFL football while falling asleep, then waking up in time to go to dinner. It was simple, and I loved it.
Simple is good. I actually just gave a message at a church about simplicity in Christianity. You can check that out here. As I was thinking about that, I began to think about words. Weird, I know. But there are certain words that I love. They describe either who I am or what I value. And, as Craig Groeschel says, “What you value determines what you do.”
These words aren’t earth-shattering or full of profound wisdom. But they are important to me, and maybe important to you.
Audacious. This might be a strange word, and I’ve got to be honest: I ripped it off from Steven Furtick. He uses it a lot, so I took it. It’s important because I believe this is the type of faith God calls us to have. Which, to be honest, having the opposite of this — a safe faith, I guess — is almost an oxymoron. If I have faith in someone or something, it MUST be audacious. If not, then I don’t really have faith. I just have hope that something will come through or happen. Unfortunately, a lot of Jesus followers live with a safe faith. But I don’t read the Bible and see stories of a safe faith. Therefore, I love the word audacious.
Passionate. This word is overused in the Christian circle. But I still love it. I think a lot of churches have hung this word up, out of the way, because it might be too “charismatic.” That’s not the case at all. This word can give life to a church. We don’t knock passion in any other arena. For example, as I watched America’s Got Talent last night, I heard the judges talk to each of the singers about something called “passion,” as in they need more of it or they have a great amount of it. Why is it OK there, but not in the church. I want Middlepoint Christian Church to be a passionate church. We are passionate about Jesus. We are passionate about serving Middlesboro. And we are passionate about being passionate!
Tension. I use this word too much, probably. Especially in my preaching. And, again, to be honest, I ripped this word off of Andy Stanley. For too long, churches and church leaders have shrugged this word off because it is scary. To acknowledge in a message or group that there is a tension may be awkward, but it starts the path to seeing who Jesus really is, and how God can move. As a church leader, I must address the tension between things so we can move forward as an organization and as a church. That’s why, in a lot of my sermons, you’ll hear me address some type of tension presented by what I’m talking about. Why do I do that? So you can know it’s OK to have this tension! I have it too, so let’s talk about it! How do we live with it? What can we do to solve it? This is the tension we must address when talking about tension.
Follower. I have gotten into the habit of calling Christians, Jesus followers. I have nothing against the word Christian (obviously, since I am one). But I sometimes think that the phrase “Jesus follower” describes what we do best. No matter what we do, say, or think, we are Jesus followers. That means that we emulate Jesus. That means we are full of grace and truth, love and forgiveness, service and gratitude. This is also why I have taken a page of Southland Christian Church’s book and started to refer to my title at Middlepoint as “Lead Follower.” After all, that’s what I am. I’m a follower of Jesus who happens to be the leader of a church. Maybe you’re a follower of Jesus who happens to be a teacher. No matter what, that should be the order: I’m a follower of Jesus who happens to be a ______.
Simple, right? Whenever I was in college and began to study preaching, I tried to stuff all kinds of knowledge and know-how into my sermons. It was useless, though. I’d preach for 40-45 minutes with 3 or more well-crafted points, but nobody who heard it walked away thinking anything different. I was the equivalent of a commercial-free show on Netflix. You’d watch, be entertained, maybe even laugh a time or two, but then you’d head on to lunch. Someone then suggested to keep it simple.
Man…what a relief.
My sermons after that had one point. They addressed tensions. I hope they were passionate, addressing the audacious faith Jesus followers are called to have. And I hope non-followers got to see church how it should be.
Simple. What a way to go.