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28
Apr
2019

Signs

by Benji Kelley

While in seminary, I attended the church once were a couple actually said to me, “We don't want any visitors here because we don't have any room.” No doubt they were packed out that particular day. People were flocking to this church. It was an exciting place to be. And yet this couple made it clear to me, “We don't want any newcomers.” I wish I could describe for you the look of shock and regret on their faces when the pastor introduced me as the guest preacher. It was priceless. Thankfully, I was already a Christian, and it didn't impact my relationship with God. But imagine what that message would communicate to an un-churched, pre-Christian person – someone who doesn't yet know the Lord? What would that sign say about God? 

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign / Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind / Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? (The Five Man Electrical Band)

Can we read the signs? More importantly, can we tear down some signs that have been littering the landscape of God's church and serving as barriers, keeping people out rather than bringing them in? Church leaders need to square their shoulders, straighten their spines, and with an infusion of the Holy Spirit, resolve to start pulling up destructive, unbiblical, unfaithful signage, and erecting in its place signs that represent the heart of the God we serve. 

If Jesus were here today, I believe he would tear down church signs all over this land – signs that drive people away, diminish the church, and misrepresent God. Call me crazy, but I think Jesus would tear down signs with the same intensity that he turned over the tables of the money changers, running them out with whips and cords (see John 2:13-19). 

Don't get me wrong: I love the church. I am a ferocious defender of the church. I am a student of the church. Which is exactly why I am so passionate about the messages we communicate to the world. I believe the Lord would tear down some signs and hang up a few of his own. 

newhope is a multisite church. Each time we prepare to launch another campus, “Signs” is the final sermon I preach before sending out these modern-day missionaries. It's a message about the DNA of our church. During my message, I literally take out eight-foot tall signs and plung them into buckets of sand, erecting a clarion call about who we are as a church. These literal signs remind our people of what should be the hallmarks of every newhope campus. The four signs read: 

  • You Matter to God…
  • Grace Happens…
  • God Searches for the Lost…
  • Come As You Are… 

While each of these signs contains a message of how the church should embody the heart of God, I believe this last sign represents Jesus’ central message to the adulterous woman in John 8. The sign was clear. Jesus held it high. The religious leaders didn't like it at all, but Jesus held his ground. I believe his message can be captured in those four pithy words: Come As You Are! 

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign / Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind / Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? (The Five Man Electrical Band)

Watch one episode of the evening news and you can see that most people don't understand how much they matter to the God of the universe. A malaise of hopelessness seems to saturate every corner of our twenty-first-century culture. People are dying to know that they truly matter to God. That is why the right signs are so important, eternally important, for the world to see.

 

Benji Kelley is the pastor of newhope church in Durham, North Carolina. Hear his amazing testimony this Tuesday on LIFE Today. This is an excerpt from Wrecked & Redeemed by Benji Kelley. Copyright ©2019 by Benji Kelley. Published by Wesleyan Publishing House. Used by permission.