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Logo of Michigan Camp Meeting 2019: As a Witness, Matthew 24:14

Closing the Back Door - Part 2

Olan Thomas

Sponsor

Conference

Recorded

  • June 18, 2019
    12:45 PM
Logo of Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 (US)

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Our father our God we're so grateful for camp meeting a time when we can come together and for a time we can think about you and how we can serve you better Lord bless our devotional time but also bless this time which is more of a mechanical class how we can be like you in our church relationships Thank you Lord for your Jesus name Amen so I'm sorry again about this screen but hopefully you can you can read it from time to time so the question we want to look at today is what happens when a person joins the church how many of you have ever lived Let's start here how many of you have ever moved from one church to another. Most of us have Ok how many of you have ever lived not just visited lived in a different culture. You have one or 2. So that's what we're going to try and talk about this morning when you go to a new play even if you've never been here to camp meeting for it's going to feel a little different I just came from Pennsylvania camp meeting and never been to Pennsylvania camp meeting it was different it was different for me there are tents and r.v. camping is across the street from the main part of the Academy campus a little different way they run their program a little different and so on so it took me a day or so to start to feel if you would say come to bowl because the environment is different. We often don't stop and think about that for the new convert that's what we want to talk about today is how is that new person who for whatever reason they've moved into the community or Usually we're thinking of new people in the sense of evangelism new to the Adventist method how do they feel when they walk into your insurer How does your church make them feel what have you in your church done or what you do to deliberately make them feel welcome very interesting questions and questions we don't sit down and ask ourselves as a church are very often but it's critically important so yesterday I sat across the table from a pastor from another conference another state and he said that just recently had a lady walk into his church and fortunately he got to talking to her and discovered that she it was her 1st time in an Adventist church she has watched some of our media things online and that's what led her to come and visit so I suppose just suppose if no one had. Interacted with her in any way other than maybe someone asked her to sign the guest book. What would she have gone away with. Me tell you one story we had my wife and I were moving we worked for it is written we were moving from Michigan to California and we ended up. Partway on Sabbath we had the moving truck and ski or whatever it was a truck pulling a car anyway we found a church park a little ways away we couldn't get in the church parking lot didn't know if I could turn around never been there before so again see I'm a stranger and so we walked the block whatever to the church when we were greeted that down through all the services church is over we deliberately went in the bathroom we wandered around stood around we had no place to go nobody nobody. Nobody. We got back in the truck we drove on a little just a little bit had our lunch of course took naps in the truck the afternoon after Sabbath we continued our trip how would your church have treated and I'm not saying I'm anybody I'm just saying I was a stranger I was a stranger I was somebody they didn't know they didn't know it may have been my 1st time that the news church they had been I was a regular neighbor and I was a pastor may have been whatever they didn't know because nobody yet nobody talked rules nobody interacted with them so that's what I want to talk about today what happens when a person joins the church so we've talked about how it's a whole new world to them they don't know that Sabbath school as they call it maybe Bible study to be a better term is followed by a divine worship hour if anybody ever tell him that how did they learn that obviously maybe before the evangelistic series was over you had that transition where you brought them to church ones that have it in the evangelists who was visiting from wherever or the conference evangelist whoever it was so they did have maybe one Sabbath where they experienced some sort of bible study hour followed by the worship hour but not very much exposure maybe not much explained. Here's Mary's story so she attended the series of meetings that came to her town and she realized she needed to start keeping the Sabbath that's a wonderful thing right by the way with the church be happy to have somebody join their church. Are we happy to have someone join our charity or not every church is I'm not trying to shock you. We're pretty comfortable in our culture right I mean we know how things work we know who the power people are we know how that potluck thing works we know we're pretty comfortable and we bring in these new people like Mary what might they do what might how might they stir us up to follow I mean so we have to think this through do we really want new people are we willing to give up our let's call it authority in the church if that should be the best thing yet when we give up our pew Yeah yeah yeah are you know that story you know people being asked to move because they see that in someone else's if you if you have your name on it that might be fair but unless you have your name on it you should so Mary decides to keep the Sabbath and she wants to join the Adventist Church which we believe to be the remnant church right there was one problem for Mary that is there was one problem she was the secretary of the local Catholic. Aid secretary local Catholic church. But she wanted to be an Adventist and so she talked to the Catholic authorities and they have course agreed that Mary could parkways but that of course with the her without a job well it just happened that the Adventist church with needing a secretary and they apparently had a paid position a large church most of them and so. Most most Your church is going to pay secretaries right but in this case that's what it was so Mary was invited to interview and she was accepted for the job she was baptized and soon started the work great thing maybe what Mary didn't know was how difficult things were going to become because all of Mary's family is Catholic most of her family obviously didn't understand her decision in changing churches I mean here once Catholic you're always like if you want Methodist you're always not right. And so that was a pressure for her and then you have to add the other that as church secretary she was invited in this case a larger She was invited to sit on the church board that a good thing by the way. We have some people here with experience don't wait. Yeah so she was invited to sit on the board and that kind of led to some challenges pretty soon she felt a little bit isolated from certain church members and what ended up happening in Mary's case is she. And several others that had been baptized about the same time they sort of had fallen form their own little bomb remember we talked about cliques and brands yesterday so they had kind of because they were new and they didn't understand all the ropes and Unfortunately several of them kind of let out in a couple of years so what could the churches done differently what could they have done differently to how Mary in the situation. Perhaps part of it would have been for somebody who was more seasoned in the church to have developed closer relationships with the right and maybe they would have picked up then that she was struggling with whatever and they might have been able to help her through those things. Well I don't think that's what it meant it's more like what the brother said there are things sometimes that get said about people or whatever church or that what you meant. And we don't want to get too far afield here but the church board is really supposed to be an evangelism organizing committee. Now right but most church for don't function that way because well I mean maybe there are many but a simple reason or 2 is there's so many other things like buy git church budget even membership issues and other you know expansion and church cleaning yardwork I mean there's so many things that have to be done to keep this thing going so it seems like we need to look at ways to find other. A column committees if you please other groups that would supervise those functions of the church to free up the church board so that the church board could actually spend more time thinking about outreach and evangelism and so what we're trying to think about today is this new world of the advantage and when we bring people in do we slow down enough to actually think about how does this impact them and what are we going to do as a church to make this transition from one hype of lifestyle insurer to another somebody had a hand. Here. Ok that's good. Thank you and yes that. Dress like to. Really. Where is this wish they shall know us by our love right have like. The. Others I mean you know. You know their babies right maybe let the baby develop right let the baby grow so I was in the lunch line a couple weeks ago not at camp meeting and we're getting our food each and this lady behind me somehow the conversation came just right and I said we do not believe in they should buy food she was while. We don't believe in salvation by food do we Jesus said very clearly what goes in here comes out you know that's not what if the tongue and how we use that that really it says more about us I'm not against the healthy diet and all of that please understand but sometimes it's easy for us to get focused on minor issues on minor issues do we want this person in the church or not are we willing for them to be here I was just had lunch with a pastor today and he said when he came to his church I'm going to tell you what he told me at parlor up he said they had the Sir line steak they had the fancy fish they had the vegetarian and they had the big and he said The only problem well several but one problem was that the vegetarian in the vague and look he was what he said it looked like somebody just kind of thrown it together but the fish in the sink in that was taken care of properly he got it changed I'm here to thank the Lord God let him blast him and he was able to do it apparently in the right way because there's excitement about the change but my point is we do not believe in salvation by big an ism we do not believe in salvation I've been a vegetarian 6 years old I believe it but not are. Jesus loves me no for the Bible Tells Me So we were to do bait to kind of force anything on somebody that's what it should be right the card loves you and yes you may have a taste for this fish or for this steak but you know God will change you you'll you'll develop a taste for something. That's right. To have new people come in by definition means we have to change as well as they have to change yes that's very true very true. So then what we're actually saying is to say we want to grow our culture we want new people in our culture we are playing we want change that we're willing to to we're willing to see that changing experience that change Good stuff good stuff so let's look at this. This game and really you see his name up there I can't pronounce it severe lez garde he did a study on culture shock Ok when you go into a strange place a strange environment what happens this is what he describes is of course that 1st these people have come to the evangelistic meeting they've learned anything they've heard about the Bible truth and of course the evangelist whether the local pastor the presenter whoever it is that evangelist is get them excited rightfully so by the way there's a certain momentum and the Holy Spirit I believe works with that momentum as you have meetings 20 nights in a row not asserting a role but in the course of 3 or 4 weeks there's a certain excitement anticipation that comes with that right now. Yeah you could say Oh. Yeah. And of course it's very theoretical very perfection. And they have blinders in so they they've heard some beautiful stuff the 2nd coming for the 1st time maybe the state of the dead whatever it is that really you know encourages them and helps them so there's an excitement and anticipation and they think of course that we all have that same excitement and that we have that that and that we are living exactly as the pastor described. So there's a certain excitement anticipation and now they come to your church and they come to your church and they find out that you have a broken toilet that you know whatever something needs to be painted it isn't as perfect as they thought somebody left early somebody came late you know whatever it is and then of course eventually they sort of balance out and then they and we adapt to where they get to that place where they feel like they belong their part. So we have to think about how are we going to help them through because this will happen and I live in branch speaking countries for a while and I can tell you this is true this is the way you feel you know 1st you're excited and new play and equal and wonderful but when you get there find out well yeah. So the new believers journey. We could even call it the honeymoon stage you know where they 1st start out they're all excited even We're excited to have these new people coming in and we've been coming to these meetings are South you know it's a it's a special time in a church when we see new people coming and the baptism I mean that should be that half of the most exciting thing that ever happens in a church right and you know one time I remember in your pea when I baptize the ladies came up you know our hands up and she was just praising the Lord as were we but it was exciting it isn't easy but the next week or that person not quite excited you know we're not congratulating them we're not giving them the same amount of attention a little bit more whole Homma a little bit more ordinary life. So course the honeymoon stage is this passionate enthusiastic stage just before maybe just after baptism they still have a bit of blinders they're not seeing all of our blunders and things yet and they still expect a whole lot even thinking that they must not be seeing what they're seeing in us in the church and hoping that we're really better than we are more idealistic like the evangelist had presented and then of course very idealistic because they're new to it. Of course for them once they they accepted these new truth they assume everyone in the room. Has no disagreement on them. And I know that's not necessarily true right there can be and that's all right we're all growing but for them it's a new thing and of course then you have this issue of victory over Sam let's call it the cigarette of a call it alcohol whatever it is that may be a challenge for them after a few weeks when life sort of settle down and the as an excitement is gone it's easy for those things and I just mention those 2 because they're evident that there are others those things it's easy for them to creep back in right because now it's just sort of whatever and then of course at 1st the members went out of their way to welcome them hopefully. But now they're just one of us out time for you to get their work you know kind of thing if that. So they it can be really different so from noname I'm kind of comes that just illusioned discouraged time perhaps and so this is where we have to as existing church members is where we have to realize this is going to have to have. You bring them to your home we talked about eating with people at the bottom of the lunch very very very critical but what about actually getting them to someone's home even more important you all understand how important it is that that you in someone's home to really know that right. For example but when I enter your home and I'm not when I enter your home in moments I've learned volumes about. Right I don't know all of you understand what I just said but it's very very true so when we interact by going to each other's homes is it Biblical by the way. But we should be entertaining I heard about a church here this week that that's one of the things they're emphasizing now policy every Sabbath but from the front in the Bulletin and so on they're saying people. Make friends one important absolutely for somebody like this like you said they come to your home you read the Bible together you can sing you can maybe get some people there that play instruments I mean whatever you have a fun time together take them out for the walk in the woods or whatever you do but now you're with them and they're with you instead of them being influenced using Mary as our example by the Catholic family she was attached to obviously now she begins to be attached to you she finds you're nice people you have interests too you do things besides just go to church you're real people you have real lives you like popcorn in the evening or whatever it is you know you're real people with the interests and so on yes those. Yes Yes And that's an important thing that gets communicated to them isn't that we're not saints we're not perfect we're on this path we're on a journey together searching for the kingdom we believe certain things the same of course but even those things how we apply them and so on maybe a little a little bit different so you brought up a good point who teaches them how to keep the Sabbath who teaches them how to have a daily devotional life who teaches them how to pray who teaches them some of the basic Christian functions that are essential to a Christian life that becomes our duty our response you can't just say well the pastor will be can and you won't and so we have to pick that up. So people can discover politics in the church and hopefully your church doesn't have in. You. But again friendships can supersede some of this right knowing you knowing people in the church. Lying about marrying again are family members are going to ask questions right what about this text this text here seems to say you don't need to keep the law of course that was mentioned to her in the meeting but is she going to remember that explanation at that point at the time it made sense to her enough to help her make her decision what is she going to be able to argue I don't mean argue but if she can be able to present that to someone else probably not but if you're there and she says to you is your calling or every other day or whatever just says to you you know I'm having a little trouble with my mom she's in our arguing you know she's been arguing with me about this is whatever you can say I found I got this little look I've gotten whatever I can call the pastor we can get a viable verse you know we can help you with this now she doesn't feel like she's dealing with that along there's mighty well you know easier for her to stick with it and to hang in there. So friends outside the church of course there are they're going to give her all the reasons that she doesn't need to make this change or continue this way and then of course often friends inside the church are hard to come by we have our groups our family our friends our Saturday afternoon activities we're going here we're doing that but how does that new person Mal then and find friends in the church or I've forgotten the number but they're saying there's a certain number of friends relationship friends you must have in the church or you probably won't say. Now for those of us that are lifers that's not a problem we know many people we have no more or less relationships with many people but for that new person out of they get those branch out of they get those relationships needs to start in that local church then of course you bring them here to camp meeting they expand that circle a little bit and then and so on so it can grow but unless they find a couple or 3 people in their local church we find most of the time people will not say. So for the recording she's saying that when people come to the church they often lose their previous friends because obviously now you have disagreement and you can't you with a new person can't persuade the old person of the reasons they're doing what they're doing and those people they've left obviously won't change immediately yet. But has he found friends in the church now a. Very important then here's another one that's a real challenge so this new person comes in they're in for a few months and then those I mention habits a moment ago just paralysed ration and so they start feeling they know those things are wrong a Holy Spirit convicted them that they needed to make whatever changes but now those struggles are back. They really are real struggles and now they feel guilt if they slip back and so this can be a real problem I I I don't belong here because I'm guilty now of you know whatever it is and so again are we prepared are we ready to help them or that to to forgive them let's be clear they're going to make blunders right and and maybe overt blunders out outright blunders you might find out that they worked on a Sabbath now what are you going to do you're going to disfellowship them this new person you know you work with them you work with them try to strengthen their character they have their faith that God will take care of them God will provide for them God will give them victory over whatever it is that they're struggling with very very real issues don't think about these things very often in dealing with people so on a moon I don't know exactly how long for different people I'm sure will be different periods of time but not very long they're going to get into this phase right because we're such wonderful people it won't take them very long that we have our bumps and bruises. And it's very easy then for them to find that exit door. Just not show up and nobody called them because they don't have any friends yet we're assuming nobody call them nobody notices until some board meeting 6 months later and the clerk says by the way that anyone seen Mary now it's 6 months it's kind of to that Mary's back with her friends rightfully so and going on with her life may be very very difficult where if we had responded right away and started. Lavishing her with love and compassion and interest we might have been able to write her back sure Ok very good points for the recording there she's talking about single people who come into the church and how do we deal with single people. So we need to get either like someone said go it seems to ladies could visit a single man or a lady in a man could visit the single man or of course 2 men. And teams are an excellent idea anyway by the way just very excellent because when one thing where one person is speaking the other person is graying and and courses with them in numbers you know one person doesn't have the right idea the other person might have just the thing and so if we can go to lie to it and I feel that if you can't then maybe you could find a man to do it you might be the one they have to call them brother in the church is they are a deacon or an elder whoever just a brother you know this person hasn't responded for a while or whatever it is and see if you can get them to make. Sometimes if somebody is willing or able to notice and flag this person need to contact might be sufficient most churches count we have a clerk here as well I keep looking here most churches count at a certain time of the year right. But that's just a count you're a step beyond that I have to admit as a pastor I tried to do that from the front but but you're still limited in. Your view is the distracted whatever Even now my wife and I will go home from church in Los Angeles and there an hour later was saying you noticed that so and so wasn't there you know it's just kind of built into. Well praise the Lord Ok then the bullets and with the suggestions they're very good idea yes thank you. Very important thank you that's a success story for the recording they invited gentleman home I've been there most of a year and no one had invited him to lunch and they invited him several weeks successively sounds like more or less until they got him connected with several people in the church and could carry on as a young person very very good thank you and I know another pastor that did a regular email on Friday night would send out to the less. We do want to be honest and say there's nothing like a personal touch however you know somebody thought of me I mean I appreciate that even now when somebody oh right hey we missed you last Sabbath while they knew I was on business grabs but still that they missed me it still gives you a nice feeling right if you have a definite Welcome back so that the next time you're able you want to be part of. So continuing the way the psychologist did after the disillusionment are fortunately is the good news they can settle in they can become part of us and I don't want to mean settle in in the sense of becoming. Positively. Help me out. Right we want them to feel at home we want them to know this is their church but that's really the goal and we're trying to get them through now for some people this may happen fairly rapid and they are other people it may take a little longer because of their shyness their whatever their they may be more reserved. Well there you go our goal is not to just get members but really to make disciples right so we want them to be welcome but we want them then to become workers whatever that means for them with their skills that may mean teaching at children's class maybe teaching an adult class maybe you know after some time or. Whatever it may mean for them but you want to get them involved maybe getting them involved in the pot lucks you know the fellowship Neeld but getting them involved in that so your little story happened right down here I don't know how many of you know Russell Palmer but just a way of getting people involved he would visit people until they get him to come to church once out on the Sabbath there at church after the Sabbath school some time before they go he would come up to them and he would they did you enjoy the Bible study time that we had this one of course they would usually say yes they say by the way could you help me out next week would you be willing you know how we have a little bit for each day write something for each day would you be willing to do Tuesday just Tuesday just think of a question or something you could ask the group here and I'll be here I hope you don't worry but would you be willing one question them to say what do you do when a she says yes what she does she promised to be here next week how do you get a promise for someone to come back the next year as a visitor I thought it was a gene by now there's a risk I understand there's a risk this person may not say the right thing I may not ask the right way but are we willing to take that risk are we willing to take that risk to be able to Malveaux a new person into our church group we know what we believe no matter what they say. And you know how to respond right when they say whatever they say that's interesting and then you turn to the Bible or what the Bible says that's all you have to say you know my mom died and went to heaven what do you say interests. Look at what the Bible says here in Ecclesiastes the the dead know not anything no problem doesn't have to upset us what they say they haven't learned yet they haven't they don't understand everything and everybody understands. Not a problem I thought it was written so there are different ways that we can find if we're thinking this way how do we engage these people without without compromising our standards without you know what I'm saying we're not wanting to give you your choice you know we're not wanting to do that but how do we tie them in and get them involved so that it becomes their teacher so if somebody comes to visit them they'll say come on over this is our There are bad days yet this is Archer this is Archer come on over so we want to make disciples this says what do you want in a new believe or life will go rather quickly we're kind of out of time here what's the most important thing not just for the new people right this is for all of that where we all struggle I think we can honestly say for all of this is where we struggle right personal devotional life is what we need this is where the devil attacks this is where he works if he can separate us here he's accomplished his goal doesn't matter if we attend church on Sabbath or not he can break our connection with he's accomplished its mission of course we want to get them involved in outreach and evangelism when the time is right and so on and remember by the way of course this new well we tell you I was talking to up. The whole story I told you about Kelly yesterday the man who hadn't been visited in 22 years I met his wife here Bible work I think I told you that and she said to me you know here we have this Bible Study dot com right she said that she's a Bible work conference paid by the worker in the Grand Rapids area she says I don't follow any of those names the church members do that divide work I said Where do you get your names oh she said that simple so then she started and I can't repeat her story she started studying with Mary Mary and her husband said they'd met this lady at church at the store they had a health problem and never met this lady before but they gave that lady's name to Andrea you and your they gave her Andrea the name Andrea contacted that person. With a little help list she started Bible studies nosy neighbor came over to that neighbor to see what was going on and she started Bible studies with them and that's so my point is when this person comes in and we'll use Mary because that's the story we told if Mary gets sort of settled in the church is Mary going to know anybody else that she would like to know about. Now how are you going to help her to be able to work with those people you don't have to necessarily find people Mary will find them she knows her sister and her friend and her work associates whatever she's talking to and they're asking question their candidates right there. But we want them to get involved in outreach and eventually but in the right way we've got to kind of slow them down sometimes when they're too enthusiastic we want them involved in church not to involve but involved enough that they know it's theirs they take some ownership and then of course we want to we talked about building a network of Christian friends and of course we want them to grow in the a logical majority want them to understand the truth of the Bible in a meaningful and practical way we'll conclude here with this thought from the Bible you know this is about the old elder brother so he answered and said to his father lo these many years I have been serving you I never transgress your commandment can you say that by the way about God never transgress his command at any time and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friend the elder brother was on converted right he didn't know God Prodicus son he did all the terrible thing but he did come back he did come home he did want to have a relationship with his father this son what did he want he wanted his inheritance and he was willing to wait for it but he had no real relationship with his father unfortunately but as soon as notice this son of yours King who was has devoured your livelihood with harlots you killed the fatted calf for him so here's a list of some of the common errors of the fair you must make sure this isn't new during your notes I think Judge those who think differently from you very easy we talked about it yesterday we have our standard of what someone looks a Christian looks like every one of us has a different standard but the easy to judge those who have a different than we expect the way we've created that you know our are mine. Somehow the fairest expects people to become instantly mature How many of you are spiritually mature or perfect in other words but were fully committed right at the differ that's what we want full commitment and the maturity will come God will take care of that. Become resentful when a new believer has a more passionate relationship with God than the. This is the challenge for a new person comes in they have more excitement about this message than we do and we've been here so long we think we know is. Great to feed on their excitement instruct people is that of loving them who was it that talked about telling people how they shouldn't. Worry about the minor matters of the law apparently thought they were doing it right if you weren't doing it the way they did it you had to be wrong could be that way in Archer be careful they will skip this one so the question is the father said to his servants Bring out the best robe and put it on him put a ring on his finger that about jewelry but Authority and sandals honesty and bring the fatted calf and. It made him a real Again the father wanted to grow his family we are we like the father we like this the elder son we want to grow our church family that's all we. We want to do let us eat and be merry for this my son was what was dead but he is alive again he was lost and is found and they began to be merry Let us pray to other god then a little painful talk about some of this today because we are thinking of real people. Somehow have either been discouraged or have just drifted away from your jurors and none of us including us sitting here know the Guard help us to prevent this from ever happening in the future may we go back to our churches and they think in a different way of creating an environment that would welcome not only just visitors from other places but new people who have never experienced this culture of ad been. Blessed with less as we continue to study how to keep members in our church we carry Jesus in. This media was brought to you by audio person a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio version or if you would like to listen to more sermon leave it to w.w.w. dot audio person dot org.

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