THE NEED AND THE CHALLENGE
It is very important for you to understand clearly my goal this evening. I want
you to think. I am going to use this time and my ability to challenge you to think. I do
not want you to react. Reaction basically is an emotional response. Reactions use
feeling rather than thinking. I want you to think.
I do not ask for your agreement. I do not ask for your approval. I just want you
to think. I do not want you to think just for the few minutes I share with you. I want you
to begin thinking in ways that you cannot turn off.
- Recently some articles "jumped out" at me in our local newspaper, Southwest
The first one I share with you had the title, "KB Toys Eyes Future."
- Three of the articles appeared on the same weekend, and all of the articles
were published in March and April.
The second had this title: "Ousted College Coaches Learn The Hard Way."
- KB has a 6% share of the $30 billion U.S. toy retail industry.
- A quote from the CEO, Michael Glazer: "We never get depressed around
here because we can always come play with the toys."
- The company was founded by two brothers in 1922 as a candy business.
- When World War II made sugar scarce, they switched from candy to toys.
- They have taken the company off the stock market and returned to being
a privately controlled business.
- They are now trying to build their Internet presence to keep pace with the
profound changes in the toy industry.
- They are now seriously trying to define their personality.
- How needs have changed in the toy industry!
The third had the title, "Refocus and Renew."
- About 25 head basketball coaches from division I colleges lost their jobs at
the end of the season--in spite of the fact that most of them had contracts.
- Division I college basketball has become big money.
- In 1963 the television rights to telecast the NCAA tournament cost
- In 1985 they cost $27,000,000.
- In 1995 they cost $149,000,000.
- In 2003 the price has already been established: $545,000,000 (which is
part of a $6,000,000,000 eleven year contract already signed).
- So today when we attend a division I college basketball game, students are
the smaller section of the crowd; the majority are the "gray hairs" who have
- Among the coaches who lost their jobs was Jerry Green of the University of
- In the last four years, his teams won 89 games, the same number the
University of Florida won.
- He had guided his teams to four consecutive NCAA tournaments.
- Each of the four years his teams won at least 20 games.
- And he was forced to resign. Why?
- He did not "play the publicity game" correctly.
- He did not meet the expectations of the alumni.
- He did not please the alumni.
- How needs have changed in college basketball!
The fourth article had the title, "Compassion, Understanding Keys to
- It talked about needs that must be met if a marriage survives.
- It said 75% of divorced people remarry, and 70% of those divorce again.
- Why? "Step-families have less time than regular families and regular families
have no time."
- Married couples must care for three levels of relationship: physical,
emotional, and spiritual.
- How needs have changed in marriage!
The last I share with you had this title: "Kmart Headquarters Employees
Offered Early Retirement."
- The article talked about the local problems created by unreliable child
support in divorced families.
- On March 5, the Sebastian County Circuit Clerk's Office handled $38,000 in
child-support checks (for one month).
- For a year, that office handles an average of $5.7 million worth of checks.
- How needs have changed in caring for children!
- About 500 employees at Kmart's headquarters in Troy, Michigan, were
offered early retirement packages.
- The criteria for the buy out: 50 years old or older, worked for Kmart
headquarters for at least 10 years.
- It was said that the nation's number three retailer may be striving to attract
a younger, more tech-savvy staff.
- They have been recruiting new executives who are forty years old or
- The people offered the buyout "are probably very good people, but they were
not brought up or schooled in the new ways of running a business in a tightly
and intensely competitive environment."
- How needs have changed in the business world!
I would like for you to interact with me by raising your hand; I will not
intentionally embarrass anyone.
- Would those of you who have children raise your hand?
Would those of you who have grandchildren raise your hand?
- In your love for your children, how many of you would risk your life for them?
- How many of you would you do anything in your power to help them through
any real danger or real crisis?
- Thank you!
I want to ask you some more questions. DO NOT RAISE YOU HANDS.
- In your love for your grandkids, how many of you would risk your life for
- How many of you would do anything in your power to help them through any
kind of real danger or real crisis?
- Thank you!
- Before I ask these questions, let me be as clear as I know how to be.
- I love God; I love Jesus Christ; I love God's Spirit; I love the Bible; I love
- I never knowingly encourage anyone to do anything that opposes God,
Christ, and the Spirit; the authority and message of the Bible; or the
church in the Bible.
- I do not knowingly do anything in my life that opposes God, Christ, and
the Spirit; the authority and message of the Bible, or the church in the
- The questions are not asking you to consider doing anything unbiblical or
contrary to God's will.
- The questions: (remember, do not raise your hand. Remember many of you
said you would risk your life for your children.)
- How many of you in your love for you children and grandchildren would
change the songs you sing in worship?
- How many of you in your love for your children and your grandchildren
would regularly change your order of worship or your focus in worship?
- How many of you who love your children and your grandchildren would
reach out to their needs and their preferences in the church even when it
meant your needs and preferences were not met all the time?
- How many of you who love your children and your grandchildren would
regularly use your teens in significant ways in your worship assembly?
- As long as it is biblical, would you do whatever it takes to help your
children become disciples of Jesus Christ who truly accept him as Lord?
- Nation wide in the Churches of Christ 50% of our young people stop
associating with the Churches of Christ when they "get out on their own." Is
it okay with you if that continues?
Another question: who will own your church property in 25 years?
- Do some figuring with me.
- First, add 25 years to your age right now. In 25 years, how old will you be?
- Second, look right now in your congregation at the people who are the age
you will be in 25 years.
- How much support can they afford to maintain?
- How much are they able to be involved?
- Third, look at all the girls who will either be married or on their own in 25
years, and understand that most of them will live somewhere else with their
family or their job or both.
- Fourth, look at all the boys who will either be married or on their own in 25
years, and understand a significant percentage of them will not live in your
- Fifth, look at how much your congregation has grown in dedicated, involved,
sacrificial members in the last 25 years, and honestly estimate how much you
expect to grow in the next 25 years.
- Then answer the question: who will own your church property in 25 years?
- Many of you have made an sacrificial investment in your church property.
- As a group, you probably have invested more in your facilities than in
- I know what we all want to happen, but will it?
If it were possible for me to go back almost 2000 years and attend worship in
a first century congregation, I would feel very "out of place."
- The things I am most accustomed to would not be there.
Things that really distract me would be there. 1 Corinthians 14 gives us a
small glimpse at some of the things that happened.
- They did not own church buildings with air conditioning and insect control.
- Since printing had not been invented, songs books, pew Bibles, and visitor
cards did not exist.
- Since the New Testament letters had not been compiled, New Testaments
did not exist.
- There were no bulletin boards, printed announcements, or newsletters.
Christians who were Jews and Christians who were converted from idolatry
did not do things in the same way when they assembled.
- The Holy Spirit was visibly active.
- Some would speak in tongues, and some would interpret.
- Some would receive a revelation and share it.
- Some would edify, and some would prophesy.
- A lot of people were verbally involved.
- I doubt many of us would be comfortable in that situation.
- Neither would they be comfortable right now with the way we do things.
A real need and real challenge we all face as congregations is to understand
that biblical things can be done in different ways to meet the spiritual needs of people
as they mature in Christ. If we do not let Jesus teach us that biblical truth, we will die in
our isolation, our children and grandchildren will increasingly leave, and someone else
will own our facilities in 25 years.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 25 April 2001
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