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Church Assimilation

By Pastor Chad

In John 13:15, Jesus says, “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.” It is here we see Jesus calling His disciples to think of others and serve them. This call extends to us: As Christians, we are to follow Christ’s example by thinking of others and serving others. 

Given our fallen human nature, it isn’t always easy to think of others. In fact, It is sometimes challenging to look beyond our own skin and think about the needs and lives of those around us. That, however, is the call Christ has placed upon us: a call of self-humiliation–a life of selflessness. Selflessness is a characteristic and attribute that is generally disdained in our culture. You can probably think of popular songs and commercials that put personal aspirations, personal gain, and personal satisfaction before the needs and lives of others. But that is the opposite of what we are commanded to do in Scripture. 

In Philippians 2:3, Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This not only goes against the fleshly nature within us, it is contrary to the hedonistic, narcissistic heralds of our culture. In other words, following Jesus is very countercultural. Selflessness–even in small acts of humility–are revolutionary in our time. 

The need to answer the call to others is needed not only in the culture at large, but in the local church. One immediately practical application to Jesus’ call is applying it to guest or visitor assimilation. I generally see assimilation as a three tier approach. 

The first tier is greeting visitors or people you don’t know. This happens when we walk up to a guest or someone we haven’t met and introduce ourselves to them. We welcome them to Cedar Heights, and let them know we are glad they are with us.  

The second tier is getting to know some details about people’s lives. This is where we ask questions such as: Do you live around here? Do you work around here? What do you do? Do you have any kids? We all like it when someone takes an interest in our lives. This second tier of assimilation is a way we show people that we want to get to know them more. 

The third tier is integrating someone into your life. This happens when you invite someone to spend time with you outside of the normal church service. Integration can happen by inviting someone to lunch or coffee, or inviting someone over to your house. Clearly, this tier is the hardest of all. It takes time, effort, and intentionality on our part. 

In my opinion, as a church, we do really well at the first and second tier. I think, however, we could do better at tier three. We aren’t horrible, but I see room for improvement. 

Jesus’ challenge to think of others isn’t just a nice platitude. It has on-the-ground application to our lives and in our church. And it starts with personal humility. Don’t wait to be invited to lunch, you invite someone else. Don’t wait for someone else to invite the guest to coffee, to a ministry group class, or to a meal. You be the first. In these small acts, we are simply being obedient to the commands, will, and example of our Lord. We are simply living out the incarnate ministry He calls us all to.

Watch the full sermon here.


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