Category Archives: Church Inside Out

Go do some good!

Trey Morgan posted this on Facebook:

Christians in a church are a lot like cow manure. If you spread them out all over a community as God intended, they do a lot of good. BUT if they only stay piled up doing church things in a building … they tend to just stink.

Now there’s an illustration that will stick with you! Better yet, hope it motivates you to get out and do some good! Even better… hope it motivates me to do the same.

[I’m speaking on Church Inside Out in Silver Spring, Maryland, this month. Then in November I’ll do another seminar in La Grange, Texas. And in December, I’ll be working through the material with the leaders of the Church of Christ in Princeton, New Jersey, as they prepare to study Church inside Out with their members. I’d love to do the same for your church… contact me, and we’ll talk about it.]

Physical fitness tests and the church

I’m blessed to have the opportunities to talk to church leaders about their congregation’s outreach. If you’ve read Church Inside Out, especially the workbook, then you know that much of the book is focused on self-evaluation. It calls a church to look at what it’s doing well and what it’s not doing well.

Today I was remembering the Presidential Physical Fitness test from my youth. If you went to school after Eisenhower and before Obama, you had to do these tests in some form or fashion. I remember the tests as being 600-yard run, 50-yard run, chin-ups, sit-ups, standing broad jump, and softball throw. Since I didn’t get my coordination until junior high, those tests were a nightmare. I could nail the sit-ups, do okay in the broad jump, and would be totally humiliated in the other categories.

We would take those tests once a year, then forget about them. We did nothing to try and improve our performance. We merely ignored the existence of the test until it came around again.

In an ideal world, when those tests revealed my lack of upper body strength, someone should have helped me develop in that area. (Poor Mrs. Jenkins was dealing with 50+ kids in P.E. class; there was no way she could have paid that kind of individual attention to one student. She did well to keep us from killing one another.) Then the next year’s test would have been an interesting evaluation of progress, rather than merely confirming the previous year’s results.

When churches look at their strengths and weaknesses, they should be looking for how to improve in the areas where they are weak while taking advantage of their strengths. It’s not about criticizing nor ridiculing; it’s about finding areas where improvement can be made.

The same goes for each of us personally, of course. We seek outside evaluations of our spiritual lives, not to swell with pride or wither in despair, but in order to learn to strengthen the areas that need fortifying.

Review of Church Inside Out

I’m very pleased to see that the Christian Chronicle has published a review of my Church Inside Out books. I’m especially grateful to Paula Harrington for her thoroughness in studying the material and writing her review.

Juan Antonio Monroy was the first to write a full review of the books. His review was written in Spanish for the website Unfortunately, a review in Spanish about a book in English has a very limited audience.

The Chronicle review is the first “real” review of any of my books. I hope you’ll take the time to read it.

The review can be found here:
The book can be found here:
A link to the workbook is on that page.

Time spent with other Christians

I was blessed to attend the Red River Family Encampment for the first time this year. My parents attended years ago, and I’ve had many friends go regularly; I had very much looked forward to being there. I got to go this year representing the Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) ministry.

And my expectations were met. It’s a wonderful gathering of Christians in a beautiful place.

On Saturday, I led three sessions in Spanish. Despite some technical issues at the beginning, we had a great time.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I taught classes in English. There were several glitches there, I’m afraid. I was invited to speak back in November, then my invitation apparently got lost in the shuffle. Early promotional material listed the usual 10 classes, but not mine. Later they added a class by “Tim Harris” to the website. When I got there, I found that they had squeezed me into an 11th slot. (Which I’m very grateful for; I’m sure that involved renting one more tent than usual)

Not having been there, I asked the organizers if I would have the ability to use PowerPoint. I was told yes, but apparently they were only thinking of Saturday. The tents for the classes don’t have electricity! I’ll admit my first class was sub-par because I was planning to use some videos and visuals that weren’t available.

Attendance at my class was very low. On Monday, I ran into one of my cousins. He said, “I’d love to go to your class, but I don’t speak Spanish.” It’s possible that he’s not the only one who thought I was only teaching in Spanish. More likely is the fact that I was a relative unknown in the midst of some very talented teachers.

That said, I had a great time. I heard some great teaching, saw several old friends, made numerous new friends, and got to share some about Church Inside Out. All in a beautiful setting in the mountains.

I had to leave a bit early because our ministry was participating in the Summer Celebration in Nashville. We had out ministry breakfast on Friday morning, then I taught one session on Church Inside Out. I wish we’d had more time there, but it’s hard during the summer to be everywhere.

I love getting to share this material that I think is important. And I especially enjoy the time spent with Christians from other places.

Relationships and outreach

Studies done back in the 1980s showed that anywhere from 78-90% of those that came to church for the first time did so because of a friend or relative (The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples, Arn and Arn). Other studies have shown that approximately 95% of those that become Christians have friends or family in the church.

What does that mean? Here are a few thoughts:

  • We, as Christians, need to be developing relationships with non-Christians.
  • The best chance that our relatives and friends have of hearing the gospel is to hear it from us.
  • We need to focus less on programs and more on people, less on showmanship and more on relationships, less on head knowledge and more on knowing our neighbors.

The unique mission of the church is to share the good news of Jesus Christ. There are other groups that can do much of what we do in interacting with our communities: building houses, sharing food, providing clothing. These good works and others can be done by those who don’t know Jesus. But only Christians can effectively share the gospel.

And we are the best ones to do that with those in our immediate circle.