i command a higher devotion better get busy

i’m speaking at fuel this week. i’m excited. i’m anxious. and i’m getting my mind blown preparing for it.

the topic i’m speaking on is one of my favorite things to talk about: sharing your faith. when i was asked to cover this topic over a month ago, i got really excited because if i had to rank the things i like to teach on the most, this would be at the top. as excited as i was, it also got me thinking a ton.

what lost people are in my life?

am i even sharing my faith right now?

when’s the last time i talked to someone about jesus?

i seriously started questioning things. i questioned them so much that i had discussions about it with my roommate, with a friend who is a student pastor, and with one of my professors from seminary. it was seriously bugging me. i felt like i should be doing more than i was but after talking through things, they reassured me that i was balancing everything the way that i was supposed to be.

in my preparation, god started showing me things through glasses i’d never used in the past. before we go any further, let me remind you of my background. i’m a 23-year-old kid who has been in the church since before i can remember. i was a part of every possible kid’s ministry that i could be up until i got to high school. i wore the cheesy “witness wear” t-shirts that took popular brands and made them for jesus.

i know church and church knows me.

there was a period of time where i didn’t go to church very often. okay, i didn’t go to church at all really. i thought it was boring and old fashioned and stupid. at the time though, i just thought that i was like every other 20-something college student who grew out of church in high school.

what i didn’t realize was that the majority of this country is like me when i was 20 years old.

the majority of our country doesn’t go to church. they go to bed on saturday night and don’t even think twice about not setting the alarm clock for sunday morning. they wake up, watch sportscenter, and get ready for nfl games without even considering going to one of the hundreds of churches in their town.

one of the things i wanted to know for my lesson was the amount of unchurched people in our area of east tennessee. i asked one of our pastors if he knew and he gave me the number of a guy that did. i called him and talked to him for about thirty minutes.

i knew people didn’t go to church.

i didn’t have a clue it was this bad.

we live in the bible belt. some people would even say we’re somewhere in the buckle of the bible belt. there are over 700 churches in our county. between my house and the closest chick fil a, i pass at least ten churches. there is literally a church on almost every corner. and the thing is, some of these churches are thriving. the church that i’m on staff at has averaged about 1550 on sunday morning for the past month. we had 150 people at our high school gathering this week. we are busting at the seams in every way imaginable.

but we’re still not doing enough.

you see, there may be 700 churches in our county, and there may be 1500 people at our church on a sunday morning, but there are even more people that aren’t in church on sunday morning. we have roughly 448,000 people in our county. of that number, 335,000 of them do not go to church.

i went to the tennessee football game on saturday. the announced attendance was 95,000 (side note: i had no clue that they were using the liberty university school of counting to figure out their attendance but hey, whatever). statistically, of the 95,000 people, less than 24,000 went to church sunday morning. that leaves 71,000 people out there that would pay a bunch of money to see a terrible football team (sorry, it’s true) but wouldn’t walk into a church for free.

i sometimes get on a “yay us” kick when i look at our attendance numbers and how we’re jam packed in our building. i see numbers that make people go, “wow, they must be doing something right” and think, “yeah, we are, and i’m a part of it. go me. go us.” last wednesday night after fuel i tweeted something along the lines of, “we had a record number of people at fuel tonight with 150 people showing up.” i instantly had five or six people “like” that on facebook.

don’t get me wrong, i’m proud of that number. i’m proud of the way we’re growing as a student ministry and as a church. i just don’t want to get complacent. i don’t want to get comfortable. i don’t want to think i’ve arrived. there’s been a lot of work done at this place before i got here and we’ve done a lot of work since i got here in july.

the work isn’t over yet.

truthfully, it’s just getting started.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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