It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? A pastor saying that teaching about Jesus isn’t the most important thing to our church. Especially at Christmas. Run for the doors. Alert the prayer warriors. Wait! Slow down and breathe deeply. Here’s what I mean:
I’ve been a part of many churches (and even pastored some) that spent all their time, energy, and money teaching about the Bible, and all the stories of Jesus. The thinking went something like this…if we can just get people to know enough about Jesus, they will learn to love Jesus, and then act like Jesus, and we’ll be a church of great people who are incredibly holy. Or something like that. The same thinking applies to teaching our kids. We think that if we can just teach them enough about Jesus they will be kind to everyone, volunteer to sit next to the dork at lunch, never do drugs, get pregnant, or let a curse word slip through their lips. Right.
There’s just one problem. It’s not working. Ask non-Christians what they think about how most Christians act and they’ll say things like “incredibly judgmental”, “unkind”, “self-righteous”, and “unforgiving”, All things that Jesus was wildly against. Way too many of our churches spend a fortune on themselves while the poor go hungry and have nowhere to lay their head at night. Again, exactly the opposite of what Jesus would want. The great majority of kids who grow up in church leave it as soon as they go away to college or move out on their own. Apparently, our plan of teaching about Jesus isn’t changing lives in the ways that we would hope.
That’s why at New Story Church we aren’t that interested in just teaching stories about Jesus . What we are interested in, is helping people encounter Jesus, and there is a big difference. When we just learn about Jesus, we can recite facts about him, tell stories about him, and impress our friends with cool Jesus trivia. But that’s no different than what we could do with Ben Franklin, or Mother Teresa, or Justin Bieber.
When we encounter Jesus, it changes us from the inside out. His thoughts become our thoughts. His ways become our ways. His heart becomes our heart. That’s why we do so much outreach at New Story Church. Jesus makes it very clear in the Bible that when we serve the poor, and the lost, and those rejected by others, we are really encountering and serving him. We believe that you can learn more about Jesus by handing out meals to the hungry than memorizing 10 chapters of the Bible. When we serve others, we learn about Jesus’ compassion, hope, and love, and slowly, but surely, we begin to act like Him. This is why we have all of our New Story kids at the forefront of our missions projects. As they pack meals for the homeless, or help serve dinner at a faith based rehab center, or make cards for homeless kids, it teaches them things they could never learn in a classroom. Do we believe teaching is important? Yes. But not as important as living out our faith through serving others.
So, if you’re looking for a place you can encounter Jesus, get to know what He’s really like, and see how He can change your life, then come walk with us at New Story Church. We’re letting God use us to change our community, one meal and heart at a time.