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Soggy bread doesn't feed souls - Gabriel Stovall

Gabriel Stovall

Gabriel Stovall

Since most of the more receptive messages about Christian maturity are done in lists or “steps,” here is a seven-step process to spiritual renewal. Each step is one you can take for each of the seven days of the week.

You ready? 1. Sunday — Kill your flesh. 2. Monday — Kill your flesh.

  1. Tuesday — Kill your flesh. 4. Wednesday — Kill your flesh. 5. Thursday — Kill your flesh. 6. Friday — Kill your flesh. 7. Saturday — Kill your flesh.

There’s even biblical credence to back this stuff up!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” (Galatians 5:24, New Living Translation).

What does this mean?

It means that there are no shortcuts — I repeat — NO shortcuts to spiritual maturity and becoming a Christlike Christian.

There are no magic formulas. There are no magic Scriptures. There are no magic sermons, worship services, nor are their any pastors, preachers or ministers of the Gospel gifted enough to give you a once-and-for-all remedy to the sickness of spiritual immaturity.

Understanding this will properly aid us in properly ministering to people who have not been properly introduced to Jesus Christ.

You do know that is still the purpose of being a Christian, right?

It’s not to accumulate more stuff for ourselves. It’s not just to make our souls happy. It’s not just to have better marriages, better children and better jobs.

And if you are pursuing a relationship with Jesus, primarily hoping to attain just these things, then you, my friend, are in it for the wrong reasons.

The reason why God threw you a blood-stained lifeline in the first place is so you can help make happen for others what God made happen for you.

The main reason you are a Christian is to help other people become the same.

Oh, I know. That “C” word is such a loaded term. It gets bandied about in so many different contexts and settings that its watered-down nature often makes what was intended to be a solid faith, into something soggy and unappealing.

Jesus once said, “I am the Bread (or nurturing substance) of life.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my bread soggy.

In the church growth era that largely caught fire in the mid-1990s, many pastors set off on a race for more.

More bodies. More buildings. Bigger budgets.

It is this unholy trinity that has either caused prospective followers of Christ to be tricked into a genie-in-the-bottle love affair with Him, or to just be turned off from Him all together.

The problem with the “three B’s” method to Church growth is that the people who Christ truly came for can easily get left behind.

To draw more bodies we employ consumer-like strategies to entice people to come visit our churches.

Varying genres of music. Miniature Starbucks environments. Cool lighting and stage presence. Laid-back, non-threatening environment.

Nothing sinful about these things. But they usually do more to entice other people who are disenchanted with the color of the carpet or the songs and hymns being sung in their own churches than it does to draw people truly seeking Christ.

Then you’ve got to find people who can pay for it. And most new Christians or prospective followers of Christ are not hip to the whole tithing and giving thing — at least not right away.

Bummer. That means you become susceptible to recruiting donors to your church instead of reaching souls that have nothing to give but their brokenness to God.

Brokenness doesn’t pay many bills.

As a former pastor of an established church, and now a church planter who spends much time trying to figure out how to get the Gospel message through the door of the heart who either knows little to nothing about Jesus, or has experienced enough church hurt that they stop their ears to anything about Him, I’ve come to find out that a person who just wants and needs Jesus isn’t impressed with the things that impresses church folks.

Which brings me back to my initial statement. The irony of watering down the Gospel to make it more palatable to seekers is that most seekers are more interested in the hard truth — even if they don’t initially agree with it — than they are being served up spiritual cotton candy.

It wasn’t a watered-down message that brought YOU to Christ, was it? It wasn’t someone who told you only what you wanted to hear instead of what you needed to hear that made the difference in your life, was it?

I didn’t think so.

The same message that saved you — the reality of sin in our lives needing a Savior — is the same one people need to hear today. No frills. No filters.

Everything beneficial is not popular.

Gabriel Stovall covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald Newspapers. He is also founder and pastor of NewLife Church in Forest Park. NewLife meets each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in the Forest Park Middle School’s cafeteria. Follow him on Twitter @gabrielcstovall.