Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dangerous church: dangerous leaders September 27

Dangerous Church: Dangerous leaders”
September 27, 2009

Here we are at the end of the Dangerous Church series.  We have talked about our dangerous God, our dangerous savior, the dangerous mission, praying dangerous prayers, reading a dangerous book, and being dangerous servants.
But as I told you about the Bible “if this is where it ends.  There is no danger at all.”  If today is the end of the Dangerous church then we are no more dangerous than the paper on which I wrote these sermons.  If we leave this message about the dangerous church on the page rather than picking up and taking the risk to run with it- I would have to say the lion not only has no roar, but no teeth- and maybe it is just a stuffed kitten after all.
So what am I saying?  I am saying that our Dangerous God and dangerous savior are only as dangerous as those who answer their call to a dangerous mission.  Our prayers and our book are only as dangerous as the servants who live them.  And the servants are only as dangerous as the leaders who point the way.
Without dangerous leaders the church is a safe little clique, using our stained glass to shield us from the emaciated children who would peer at us with hollow eyes, using our walls to keep out hurting and hopeless people because they are different from ourselves, and locking our doors to our neighbors who just want someone to care enough to point them to Jesus.
That is not the kind of church we are.  That is not how we want people to remember the Reinbeck United Methodist church when the doors are locked and the weeds have grown up around the sign.  Because if we play it safe that is surely what will happen.

Throughout all of time God has called ordinary  people out of the midst of the congregation to be dangerous leaders.  I want to lift up one today.
He was just a shepherd.  He had been raised in the Pharaoh’s palace, but he was just a shepherd watching sheep for his father-in-law Jethro.  They weren’t even his own sheep.  He didn’t have any remarkable powers.  In fact he was kind of shy and had a speech impediment.  I am talking, of course, about Moses.
As ordinary as he was- there were three things that made Moses dangerous.  And the first thing was faith.  He was faith filled.  What do I mean?
There are two kinds of people.  There are people filled with faith, and people filled with themselves.  When Moses saw the bush burning but not being consumed,  he went over out of sheer curiosity.  He heard the voice.  “Moses, take your shoes off.  You’re standing on holy ground.”
If Moses were filled with himself, and his own issues and problems he would have said, “Yea, right.” Turned around and went back to his sheep. The self filled person has no reason to look outside of themselves.  No reason to look outside of their family or their little circle of friends and their job.  They have no sense that there is anything beyond themselves, beyond the here, or beyond the now.
Moses was just an ordinary person- like us.  We are just farmers, and teachers, and office workers, and mechanics, and merchants, and retired people and preachers.  We are just ordinary people living in an ordinary place going about our ordinary business… but not really; because we have heard the call of God to take off our shoes and stand on holy ground.  That’s what we are doing right now.  We come to this place week after week, year after year to stand on holy ground- God's ground- because we know that there is something beyond ourselves.  Something bigger than ourselves.  Something bigger than our family and our job and our house.  We come because we have faith.  We are faith filed people. 
So take off your shoes.  This is Holy ground.  If you have faith that you are sitting in the presence of God.  If you have faith that you are sitting before the High God Almighty take off your shoes right now. All of us should be in our stocking feet right now.  If you didn’t believe this was special you wouldn’t have even come today.
Don’t worry, if everyone takes them off no one will be able to tell whether it is your feet or your neighbors that smell. 

The second thing that made Moses dangerous is that he inspired by God’s vision.  God said- “Moses  I want you to lead my people out of Egypt.  I see a people who are no longer oppressed by pharaoh.  They are no longer enslaved in a foreign land.  They are no longer whipped.  They are no longer beaten.  And I see you leading them out to a land flowing with milk and honey.” 
Now Moses didn’t immediately see the vision.  He didn’t drop his staff and run to do the job.  Moses was the man of 101 excuses.  But by the time God was done with him, he was inspired.  He dropped his staff, his job, and his doubt and headed off to Egypt to face pharaoh.
The word “inspire” means to breathe in.  Just like the spire of the great  cathedrals or beautiful stained glass is designed to make us inspire- you know (gasp)  God's vision is designed to make us breathe it in- to breathe in the vision- to breathe it in to our lungs where it is exchanged into our blood to circulate through our entire body.  When one is inspired God's vision becomes their vision – a part of their very being - a part of who we are even as our breath becomes part of us.
 I am talking about something inside of you.  Something that goes beyond faith.  Something that stirs in your heart and lungs, or burns like the bush in your belly inspiring you to want to do something.
Inspiration has nothing to do with survival.  Much of what the church, in general, has been about for 50 years has been survival.  When you are struggling to survive you don’t have time for inspiration.  You don’t have time to dream with God what the church can be.  You don’t have time to seek with God, God's vision for the church.
Don’t get me wrong.  We need people who will make sure the bills are paid, the light bulbs changed and the toilets cleaned.  Those are important, but those people are not necessarily the leaders.  Christian leaders might not have the least idea how to set up an accounting system, or scrub the steeple, or print bulletins- though they might.  But Christian leaders look beyond those mundane tasks, catch a glimpse of God's vision for the church and are inspired to share it with others.
That all sounds pretty high and lofty.  But it really isn’t.  Let me put it in real simple terms.  Dangerous leaders are faith filled people who want their church to do more than survive.  They want their church to be God's church.
If you are sitting there with your shoes off, and you really deep down inside want your church to be God's church.  I am going to ask you to raise your hand.
Look around you.  These are the people not satisfied with survival.  These are the people not satisfied with just getting by and keeping the doors open. You are not alone.  I want you to look around and be encouraged by this.   But be careful, these aren’t all dangerous leaders. . . yet  There is one more criteria. You can put your hands down.

Did Pharaoh let the slaves go on Moses’ first request?  NO.
Second? NO
How many did it take?  Let me give you a clue there were 10 plagues.  Ten requests that’s right.  Did it happen instantly?  NO. It took TIME.
Once they crossed the red sea the Israelites were in the Promised Land and everything was good right?  Wrong. 
They were in the wilderness and they wondered there for how long?  40 years.  It didn’t happen instantaneously.  Could God have simply transported the slaves right from under the taskmasters whips to the promised land?  Sure.  But instead he selected a leader- or leaders who would give what? . . .  TIME into achieving the vision.
That is the final criteria for Christian leaders.  Not only are they faithful, not only are they inspired, but they will give their time.
In this church giving time is a lot harder than giving our money.  It is a lot harder to pry ourselves away from the other important things we do in order to make time for the church.  I know I am preaching to the choir in one sense, but on the other hand there are a lot of people who raised their hand who don’t give much time to the church.
I understand that time is precious.  But is it more precious than God?  Is it more precious than your inspiration? 
I am not saying that Christian leaders have to give 1.6 hours per day which would be approximately a tithe of your waking hours.  I am not saying that Christian leaders have to give any certain amount of time to God through the church.  What I am saying is if the inspiration is real to you-- you will make the time necessary to see it through.  Significant amounts of time.
If anyone wants to argue about being too busy I will put my schedule up against yours any day.  That is the lamest excuse of them all.
When we wake up in the morning we all have 1,440 choices to make, about how you are going to use each of the 1,440 minutes we have been given that day.  Some will be for you, others for your family and work, but how many will be dedicated to answering the call to fulfill the inspiration God has placed in your heart.
If the answer is 0 or almost 0, Satan can breathe a sigh of relief because that is one more Christian playing it safe. 
Truly dangerous Christian leaders-- dangerous in the best sense of the word – are those who are faith filled, inspired by God, and giving significant time to God's work in the church.
We need servants who are FIT to be leaders for the church.

Now- this is not for everyone.  Remember last week I talked about the importance of dangerous servants. We have to have servants too. Servants are faithful and give time to seeing the inspiration of the leaders fulfilled. This is not for everyone- but of those of you who had your hand up that you are inspired. If you commit or are willing to commit significant amounts of time to faithfully seeing that inspiration blossom in this church come on up front.  I want you to come up front and stand with me facing the congregation while we sing- Here I am lord.

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