As I was about to leave my apartment to head to work this morning, my heart was heavy with this issue. I'm reflecting a ministry call from last night and my brother (Prophet Norman Quarles) brought up a passage that made me think about this blog that I've been sitting on since the spring of this year. He mentioned Acts 4-5 (one of my favorite sections in the book of Acts) where the disciples were being persecuted and were going to Jerusalem to get refilled with the Holy Spirit. But Jesus had to force them out of their comfort zone so that the great commission can be fulfilled. To get people in church nowadays to go outside their comfort zone and preach the gospel is like pulling teeth. I guess it's easier to invite someone to come to church than it is to minister the gospel. As a result, we tend to stay within the found sheep where it's comfortable, and then what happens is that complacency sets in.
Luke 15:1-7 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable:
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
In today's society, we focus more on church growth than we do seeing people getting saved or healed right where they are. We don't meet people where they are from a salvation perspective, but more from a church growth perspective. Sure, they can come to church, but if they don't get saved, it's pointless. Something said from the pulpit and our attitude towards those who are lost (note they will not have a sign on their head saying "Non-Christian"), should cause their hearts to stir and consider who Jesus really is.
In 2011, while writing my novel DDBS, God have me an acronym "AMCC," and it stands for American Middle Class Church. If you look at the job market and the attitudes of people who are considered "middle class," you'll find the mentality is "all about me, my family, and my clique" and everyone else can fall by the wayside. Sadly, we carry that mentality into the church world, where special prayers are for the elite group. If you're outside the group, you have to pray for yourself (and I got that from many people writing that novel - refer to my blog earlier this month When I Wanted To Die and from July of this year How Suicides Can Be Prevented). One principle of the AMCC is that the found sheep are more important than the lost sheep. It's been said, "the found sheep are to be like puppies in a box looking after each other."
I've taken a lot of flak from people within the body of Christ and to include my local church for that acronym (I did a series on the AMCC back in March/April 2013). Now for clarity, there is no church called that. It's a mentality (regardless of your skin color). In fact, it's hard to tell who's worse. But let me talk about my race for a moment and how we act with that mentality. In this mentality, we easily forget about the lost sheep unless it boosts their reputation among their clique. Another thing that happens is we look for other found sheep with titles - sadly some give themselves titles and then get big headed. And that's one thing God does NOT need. While I'm on that, a serious tragedy that can happen as a result is that we focus on our OWN agenda and start using people (or entertain impostors who say they are part of the five-fold) and the minute you see a flaw, you cut them off unless they itch your ear and/or they have a title next to their name.
Here's another attitude that comes up when you're focused on the found sheep (living with the AMCC mentality), someone asks you for prayer, but you won't because you have so much hatred, envy, or jealousy towards them and because they're not part of your clique. In fact, they (leaders and his/her members) envy your anointing because they see how your heart is in sync with the Father's heart. In short: you're a poster child of ridicule to them! Leaders with an AMCC mentality ensure that those seeking the lost sheep and not on the church's agenda are targeted, and will inform their members who are the outcasts to ensure their circle remains tight.
A warning that needs to ring out loud and clear: the AMCC mentality is not of God, people of God. People are dying under our watch. And just because they're not part of your clique does not mean they're not worthy of love. We need to stop focusing on the found sheep and start fulfilling the great commission. I look at my novel DDBS and a lot of people criticized me (and some have cut me off) for dealing with two depressing topics that need to be addressed in the world and the church (sexual abuse & suicide). I have read testimonies from people inside and outside the US of how it's saved their life or they're now considering Christianity, that says a lot; but I simply say glory to God.
Yes, we do need a covering of a church (and some need to stay under it), but everybody has a part in fulfilling the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Now there are many who are commissioned to go outside the four walls (which I believe I am as well), because God knows their heart is in sync with God (seeking and saving the lost - Jude 20-23 - and not solely seeking them to attend your particular church). Now inviting people to church is NOT a bad thing, but if it becomes the focus, churches can easily get big headed. If you look at Acts 8, Philip was not focused on getting the eunuch to come to church, his focus was for the eunuch to understand the gospel. God is an unconventional God (and as my brother would say, His character does not change). I believe our priorities are out of place. Now I'm used to people having a problem with what I say or taking things I say out of context; my thought is to just let the gainsayers be who they are and pray for them (after I clarify my statements). When people speak out on this, persecution is inevitable because this definitely won't itch the ear.
Earlier in the blog, I referenced Luke 15. If you were to read the rest of the chapter, you'll find people going after their lost coin or their lost son. We all have that great commission. If you're relying on the church leaders to do all of the work in teaching the lost, we have a problem. If you're not even thinking about the lost (unless it's part of your AMCC clique), you have a problem. Thinking outside the AMCC box will bring ridicule, shame or possibly excommunication from your respective clique or church.
Here's a freebie, if we could show more love and compassion to everyone, then there would be no need for one person (typically the pastor) to take up the slack of what the congregation should be doing already.
Ok, now that my heart & spirit is emptied, I'm going to stop here. I pray that this moves you to have a heart for the lost and to see the chains fall off of people who are hurting.
The Mayne Man