Dear Church, It’s time to stop playing defense

Greg Stier
Greg Stier
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 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:18

We are in a cultural moment where the church is reeling. Morally fallen pastors, Post-Covid-Lockdown church attendance plunges, congregations divided over politics, masks and vaccines, BLM, CRT, OMG…we are living in crazy times.

And many pastors are reeling, running from one dumpster fire to the next trying to throw a cup of water on each of them. And all to no avail.

So what’s a pastor to do? What action can a church leader take that will put the fires out once and for all?

The answer is this…none. Dumpster fires have been around since Adam took a bite of forbidden fruit and will be around to Jesus finally makes everything right.

But the good news is this…it’s not our job to put the fires out. It’s our job to preach the Gospel and to get our congregations doing the same. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “It’s the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.

Jesus put it this way, “go and make disciples of all nations….

Pastors, church leaders, youth leaders, it’s time to play some offense.

The church has been too busy running around, trying to put out fires when our business is building wells that produce Living Water. Build enough of them and all those fires will eventually get doused by a flood of hope.

Now is the time to mobilize your congregation to advance the Gospel. Now is the time to energize your people to share the cure for racism, division, confusion and delusion.

The cure is the Gospel. You know it and I know it. So let’s do something about it!

Henry David Thoreau once said, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, one strikes at the root.” Only the Gospel can strike at the root of evil.

I saw this in my own family growing up. My family and our neighborhood was a violence-drenched mess. My uncles were so violent that the Denver mafia nicknamed them “The Crazy Brothers.” To add insult to the real possibility of injury our very Welsh and very white family was right in the middle of a largely Latino community. Suffice it to say that our streets and hearts were rife with racism.

But then a hillbilly preacher nicknamed “Yankee” reached out to my family with the Gospel and one by one the root of evil in the hearts of “The Crazy Brothers” not only got cut, but replaced with Jesus, who was nicknamed “The True Vine” in John 15:1-8. Soon, racism was replaced with relationships and violence replaced with victory through Christ!

I wrote extensively about this in my upcoming book that releases November 9th through Tyndale, Unlikely Fighter: The Story of How a Fatherless Street Kid Overcame Violence, Chaos and Confusion to Become a Radical Christ Follower.

This book demonstrates the power of playing offense (sharing the Gospel and mobilizing believers to share the Gospel) over defense. There’s no defensive strategy in the world (prison, rehab, moral education, etc) that could have rescued my family. But the Gospel turned my family from street fighters into street preachers, almost over night.

Prayer and the Gospel are our primary offensive strategies as Christians. We must unleash them to transform society from the inside out.

So how can you stop playing defense and start playing offense right away? Here are three actions you can take:

  1. Tackle every issue in light of the truth and mission of the Gospel.

Of course we as preachers need to tackle difficult cultural issues from time to time. But, as we do, may we lead our congregations back to the blood stained cross of Jesus and find the solution there. And may we dare not merely EXEGETE the Gospel. May we EXECUTE it’s mission as well. We must mobilize our congregations to reach their spheres of influence with the Gospel.

2. Refuse to get distracted from the last and lasting mandate of Jesus.

The 12 Apostles didn’t get distracted from their mission of making disciples. They devoted themselves in Acts 6 to “prayer and the ministry of the Word.” The ministry of the Word had a two pronged focus: the strengthening of the believer and the reaching of the lost. Refuse to get distracted from the one thing that should drive everything: making and multiplying disciples.

3. Mobilize your young people to lead the way.

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 to, “Let no one despise your youth….” Instead he told young Timothy to lead the way with his life and witness for the entire church.

Are you despising the youth of your church? Are they more of an afterthought than a strategic focus? Do you view youth ministry as a necessary evil, a kind of glorified, God-ified babysitting until they are old enough to become “real” contributors to the church?

Remember that Jesus chose primarily teenagers to be his followers. God used a teen named David to defeat a giant, a teen named Esther to save a nation and a teen named Mary to bring the Savior into the world.

God doesn’t despise youth. He unleashes them.

So should you. For help when it comes to unleashing teenagers for the Cause of Christ spend a little time on dare2share.org. Check out the Gospel Advancing page. And have your youth leader(s) join you.

It has been said, “The best defense is a good offense.”

Let’s start playing offense! Let’s win this competition for souls against the kingdom of darkness.

Unlikely Fighter

Coming november 9

The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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