'Pagan' friends key to church growth, pastor says
March 7 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

'Pagan' friends key to church growth, pastor says | Friday, March 7, 2003

Friday, March 7, 2003

'Pagan' friends key to church growth, pastor says

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

GOLDSBORO - Pastors who want to help their church grow should build relationships with some "pagan" friends, the pastor of a 2,000-member Kentucky church said.

Steve Ayers, lead pastor of Hillvue Heights Church in Bowling Green, Ky., led a breakout session at the State Evangelism Conference called, "How to Create Players in the Kingdom."

He urged pastors to build relationships with non-Christians and listen to them.

"Why? They'll tell you why people don't go to church," he said.

Ayers said pastors shouldn't worry about whether church members are comfortable. He said more people sit out in the cold to watch football games than attend any mega-church.

Churches will grow if the experience they offer is captivating, explosive and real, he said. Churches are full when Jesus is releasing His true love and passion on people, Ayers said.

"People will come to that," he said.

Ayers asked pastors to check their passion.

"Is your passion to fall in love with Jesus Christ?" he asked.

The first attitude pastors should have is that everyone is important, Ayers said. For example, the church gossip can have their skills turned into a mission of connecting people with what's going on in the church, he said.

If pastors will stop doing the things they shouldn't be doing, someone else will start doing them if they're important, Ayers said. If no one starts doing them, they weren't important, he said.

"You don't have to do it all," he said. "The only reason you do it all is you do it all."

Ayers urged pastors to utilize the people in the church. They should try to find people who want to connect other people with Christ, he said.

"Instead of going with the few workers you do have, you complain about all the ones you don't have," he said.

Ayers talked about the way people "mess up God's church."

"Our concept of church does not bless people in the way God will bless them if we'll let Him," he said.

Ayers said traditional church institutions such as WMU can help further God's kingdom.

"Don't dismantle your WMU but allow the machinery of the WMU to connect with the harvest," he told the Recorder later.

Ayers said the main emphasis of his message is "to get all systems inside a church to connect to those who are disconnected."

At the breakout session, Ayers told the pastors to get rid of the "small church mentality."

"We've made it an art form," he said.

Ayers said long-range planning committees should be called "arrogance" committees.

"Only arrogant people who have no respect for God will try to look five years down the road," he said.

Ayers said church members who make their livings in the business world form opinions of their pastors from the way the pastor deals with them.

"Most guys think we're sissies," he said. "Why? Because we're always trying to compromise with them."

Ayers said his church has a goal to be "in" mission. To be "on" mission implies that you can be "off" mission, he said. Churches need to teach that all of life should be spent "in mission," Ayers said.

"I've read the book," he said. "Seems to me Jesus didn't invite people to the synagogue as much as He became the synagogue in front of them."

Ayers said his church offers a "mission experience" rather than a mission statement.

"In the 21st century, visions don't work because we're in a multi-dimensional world," he said.

One of Ayers' church's efforts involves sponsoring a car at the local racetrack. Other drivers often cuss about "that ... church car," he said.

"Why? We beat them every week."

He said race fans' attitudes toward the church changed when the church was willing to let one of the top drivers who had wrecked his car drive the church car because he was involved in the overall championship competition.

Churches should teach people that God cares for them.

"We don't spend enough time in the pulpit de-programming people," he said.

Ayers said many "Bible thumpers" act as if they don't believe the part of the Bible that talks about spiritual gifts.

"We believe the Bible until it gets in the way of our philosophy," he said.

Ayers said pastors should seek to serve God and serve people. He said he likes to hand out bulletins at his church.

When he gets to the pulpit, people ask, "Y'all let ushers preach here?"

Ayers defined success as "bringing people everyday to the kingdom of God."

"When the church becomes about God, it'll bless people," he said.

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3/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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