This material accompanied the sermons BE AWARE OF THE MOLDCHARITY CHURCH from the sermon series: Be the Body – Seeing the Church as the Body in the Bible and Making the Body a Priority in the Present by Pastor Howard Lawler on 10/8/17 & 1/21/18, respectively.

“Testing out what God wants is discovering the thing that is good for us, pleasing to him, complete in itself. And what God’s will is, namely this thing which he wills, we discover from his Word and from that alone, and we subject all our own conceptions of what is good, etc., wholly to that Word. Every test made without the Word is deceptive and wrong.” R.C.H. Lenski

“It is my experience that most Christians are barely biblically literate, let alone equipped to use their Bible appropriately and effectively in personal ministry. When you don’t know your Bible well, you will tend to use it as an isolated collection of wisdom statements for daily living, and you will tend to look for the verse that best seems to fit the situation you are discussing. This method completely misses the genius of the Bible’s grand redemptive themes that form the basis of the hope and courage of the brand-new way of living to which God has called us.” Paul David Tripp

“One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.” Eugene Peterson

“Worldliness is whatever any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness to be strange. When we imbibe the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age) of worldliness, then we feel strange trying to think Christianly and to act according to the Bible’s mandates. That is, when we think the world’s thoughts after it and do not think God’s thoughts after him, we will not be motivated to do the things that God wants us to do, but we will only feel comfortable acting in a manner that fits into the world’s way of doing things. This is why Christians who cease going to church begin to feel more and more comfortable in the world and less and less comfortable in church. For the same reason, this is why regular attendance at church is so important. At church we worship by Hearing God’s Word, praising God, praying, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and fellowshipping, all of which encourages believers and convinces them that they indeed are the ones who are normal and that the world is strange before God’s eye. Believers need to encourage one another that, from the biblical perspective, it is normal for God’s people to reflect Christ and his behavior and not the world’s.” G. K. Beale

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.” Richard Halverson

“A young family may begin at a particular church because it has a high-impact children’s ministry and a worship style that fits with young Mom and Dad’s tastes. But then the kids get older, and so do Mom and Dad. It seems important, then, to find the church with the best student ministry. Then, when the kids are gone, and it’s just Mom and Dad at home, finding themselves suddenly in middle age, the worship style they found so resonant at the younger churches seems too young, and they long for perhaps more substantial preaching or for a church more focused on men’s ministry or social justice issues. Do you see what has happened? The family has not been won to a church. They’ve been won to a menu of attractive goods and services.” Jared Wilson

“The way the church wins its people shapes its people. So the most effective way to turn your church into a collection of consumers and customers is to treat them like that’s what they are.” Jared Wilson

“When we meld this kind of business principle into the functional ministry of the church, we make at least one crucial mistake: we assume that the customer’s interests are legitimate…But in the biblical way of thinking, if we’re going to call potential believers customers, we have to acknowledge that sometimes the

customer isn’t right. And, in fact, sometimes the customer doesn’t know what they want, or they want things that aren’t very good for them, or they want things that aren’t bad but aren’t best. No human’s desires are value-neutral. We can and should address some felt needs, but not all felt needs are created equal.” Jared Wilson

“Freedom of choice, competition in providing experience, and customization of product. When you put this recipe into church strategy, you end up not with churches but with religious resource centers. In the end, as in the beginning, the attractional church operating on pragmatic and consumerist principles has forgotten who the church is really for.” Jared Wilson

“Brothers and sisters, we need to remember this truth: what we win them with is what we win them to. If we attract a crowd by appealing to their preferences, they are going to expect that we will continue to do so, and they will in fact eventually feel cheated or betrayed when we try to switch gears on them. It is not in the best interest of the very unbelievers we’re trying to reach to appeal to consumerist tastes in the interest of offering them the living water of Christ. They’ve been drawn by the promise of lesser satisfactions. And when we make such a big production out of these lesser satisfactions, we communicate that in actuality they are what really satisfies.” Jared Wilson

“Personal ambition has a symbiotic relationship with consumerism. The two go hand in hand. They feed off each other. As a Christian leader who is motivated by personal ambition, I can appeal to the basic consumer tendencies of the people I desire to be a part of my church or ministry. If I do this well, I will be rewarded by their attendance, their support and their allegiance, and my church or ministry will grow. Everybody is satisfied. Everybody gets what they want. The lighted match of my ambition ignites the dry timber of consumerism, and we have a raging fire that is very difficult to put out. While I suspect that there is not much that I can do about the cultural force of consumerism in our country, I believe I can do much about the forces that drive me as a Christian leader.” Kent Carlson & Mike Lueken

“Perhaps our greatest lesson from the past decade is that it is spiritually formative to be dissatisfied and unable to resolve that dissatisfaction. In fact, there is hardly a better catalyst for transformation than to not get what we want. Sitting in the dissatisfaction, without frantically trying to resolve it, can do wonders for a human soul. When we don’t get what we want, we are more acutely aware of eternity. We are more apt to remember God. We learn what it really means to trust him. We remember the bigger story. When we don’t get what we want, we have to deal with our inner restlessness. We have to face ourselves and our addictions. We have to deal with the various ‘medications’ we use to cope with life. When we started these changes at Oak Hills, we put spiritual formation on the front burner, and the first thing that we saw that needed to be transformed was this raging desire to always get what we want.” Kent Carlson & Mike Lueken

“The combination of confronting consumerism, prioritizing spiritual formation and changing the feel of our weekend services broke an unwritten contract we had with our congregation. The contract was something like this: we provide people with programs and weekly services that satisfy their religious needs and preferences, and they continue to attend and support the church with their time and money. We do our part; they do their part. We started teaching on the necessity of Christ being formed in our people, and we realized that some in our congregation never signed up for that. We discovered that people weren’t necessarily coming to church to be formed in the image of Christ. That’s a sobering thought. More sobering is the extent to which we had oriented the church around the concerns of those who were minimally interested in being apprentices of Jesus. This is not unique to larger churches like Oak Hills. The sad fact is, Christians don’t always go to church to be transformed.” Kent Carlson & Mike Lueken

“It must be a very small God indeed who can only be encountered at a church with a vibrant youth program, killer music and specialty coffee drinks in the lobby. Obviously, the danger is that we are choosing the church we attend not primarily to meet God but to satisfy our perceived needs. There is no way this can be good for our formation into the image of Christ.” Kent Carlson & Mike Lueken

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