LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
July 22, 2004

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Here is this week's LeaderLines. . . .

“Subculture or Counterculture?”
by Tom Goodman

Urgent Note:  John Hill passed away at 11:30 p.m. last night.  Please keep Betty and their family in prayer.  Information on the funeral service will be available in the church office later today.

This Sunday begins our last week of united prayer for our THEMs.*  I hope this five-week emphasis has been a spiritually-stretching time for you.  Each week we’ve prayed for a different circle of relationships:  family and friends, neighbors, co-workers, and those we know socially.  Next week we’ll end the prayer effort by praying for our “other relationships.”  This is a wide category that captures all of our casual acquaintances we see:  the clerk at the driving range, the manager at our favorite restaurant, and so on.

If you haven’t joined your prayers with fasting, why not take this Tuesday to do so.  Also, meet us in the Worship Center during the noon hour if you can.

Why all this focus on identifying our THEMs?  Isn’t church supposed to be for us?  Isn’t Sunday a time we can go to Sunday School and the worship service to get our batteries re-charged to have the strength to live faithfully “out there”?  This is a question our staff occasionally gets from folks.

Let me share with you a section from C. Gene Wilkes’ new book, Paul on Leadership (p. 50-51):

“I don’t have friends who aren’t Christians.  All my friends go to church.”
When I heard this church member’s confession, I knew why he didn’t grasp my messages on seeing people as Jesus sees them.  He had come to me to complain that my messages were no longer “touching” him as they had when he first came to the church.  He wondered why my interests seemed to have turned from helping him grow to talking about the people who weren’t yet at the church.
I tried to explain that a sign of Christian maturity was a love for the lost:  “What will help your faith grow is to love a lost person as Jesus would and to invest your life in him until he bends his knee to Christ.  Then spend the rest of your relationship with him helping him live a changed life for Jesus.”
He stared at me like I had just told him to start a company and take it public in six months.  He had no point of reference for what I had just said.  He was trapped in a world he did not know how to get out of.  It was all he knew, and until something or someone dislodged him from that world, he would go on thinking church was for him and those like him.  All I could do was encourage him to enter the mission field of his friends and coworkers.
Too many Christians have become such a part of the Christian subculture that they are no longer part of the counterculture Jesus brought when he announced the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Too many so-called disciples of Jesus have set aside the adventure of mission for the latest Christian bestseller and hottest radio host.
I tell people that to make disciples does not mean starting with Christians and making them better.  Making disciples means starting with the lost and hurting, then leading them to a love relationship with Jesus, and walking alongside them as they grow into the likeness of the Son.  The Great Commission insists we begin with the raw material of a heart without Jesus in order to produce devoted followers of Him.
Amen.  When we make a commitment to make real connections with our THEMs, that’s not a step away from Christian maturity.  Instead, it’s an essential step toward Christian maturity.  Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  Read that sentence carefully and the only conclusion you can draw is that if you’re not fishing for people, you’re not following Jesus.

Sometimes we sing the song—

I just want to be where you are
dwelling daily in your presence.
Take me to the place where you are
I just want to be with you.

The next time we sing that song, it should make us think of where Jesus is.  According to the gospels, he’s with those who need him.

So . . . where are you?


*  Remember that “them” is the most important word in the Great Commission:  “Go to the people all nations and make THEM my disciples.  Baptize THEM in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach THEM to do everything I have told you” (Matthew 28:19-20, CEV).  You can’t say you’ve reached THEM until you’ve reached at least one!