When the Crowd Becomes a Church

Larry Osborne @ James River Church

Introductory Comments

  • For 1900 years people went to church with their neighbors.
  • For the most part throughout scripture their was low mobility.
  • A large church used to be 125 – and everybody knew everybody’s business.
  • The sign of a spoiled Child – they get their own care at 16.
  • Neighborhoods don’t exist the same way they used to. Children riding bikes everywhere.
  • Unfortunately as society and church culture has grown and changed, we have become a crowd…and problems were created.

The Problem:
1. Church has become something we go to instead of something we are.

  • We have lost the tendancy to think of ourselves as a movement.
  • Their is no brand loyalty anymore.
  • We can be fooled by constant attendance, when in reality people may jump at the next new thing.
  • Instead of being who God called me to be (missional). We have become consumers of a product (church service and programming).

The Problem:
2. We think of Christianity as a private relationship.

  • Faith is intended to be plural; to be lived out in a community.
  • When our faith is too Private it leads to defensiveness when confronted with sin.

The Problem:
3. We have nowhere to live out the “One Anothers” of scripture.

  • There are over 30 “one another” commands in scripture.
  • We need to be part of a community to be able to live out scripture correctly.
  • This is a fairly new problem socially and culturally. 100 years ago churches were filled with neighbors, and they were smaller in size. Thus, they were naturally small communities.

Hebrews 10:24-25And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭24-25‬ NIV)

  • These verses are about creating positive peer pressure.
  • Stir and agitate others to good deeds.
  • We need a “buddy system” for faith and personal growth to occur as it should.

James 5:19-20My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

  • We all struggling with a case of meandering/wandering faith.
  • This type of correction cannot happen in a crowd.
  • Only a close-knit community with have the relational knowledge to be able to confront and correct our brothers and sisters with kindness.
  • We need people around us who know us – who will go beyond “fine” and not stand for our lies.
  • It’s not just about life-Groups. It’s about beingin a community.

For Me to all I can be as a Christian:

1.  I need to be genuinely Known.

  • We behave differently when we know someone is watching.
  • Anonymity breeds sin.
  • John 3:19-21 – This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭19-21‬ NIV)
  • Where are you making it hard to hide (your sin)?
  • Do you have a place where it is hard to hide (accountability)?

2.  I need to be lovingly supported.

  • Somethings are too big to face alone

Galatians 6:2-5 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭2-6‬ NIV).

  • We can try to carry it by ourself and tough-it-out, or we can share.
  • We shouldn’t be leeches, but when we need to share… we should.

3.  I need to be honestly challenged

  • The preacher – who doesn’t know you – cannot challenge you on a personal level. 
  • Your community of faith and life (life-group) should be the one/s to do that, and be that for you.

 

 

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