If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10: 9-10 (NRSV)
Would you like that Rare, Medium, or Well Done?         
Will determine how you eat tonight.
Would you like the job?               
Will determine how you make your living.
Will you marry me?               
Will determine who you spend your life with.
Would you like to profess your faith in Christ?               
Will offer you a quality of life available only through Jesus Christ: marked by kingdom living, empowered by the Fruits of the Spirit, making available joy, hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Deep discipleship changes our hearts to be more like Christ, committed, unrushed, with a quiet confidence and gives us a heart to love and serve others.
There is power in questions.   They can make you think.  They can open you to new understandings and possibilities.  They can change your mind.  They can help chart your life’s course.  And how you answer them can change everything.  Jesus was the master of questions:
  • Jesus used questions to engage people and to draw them in.
  • Jesus asked questions to make others think about important issues and help them understand who he was and what he had come to do.
  • Jesus also used questions to blunt the attacks of religious authorities of the day turning confrontations into an opportunity to teach.
In visiting with a pastor recently, I was reminded of the power of the question.  This pastor had been sitting in his office when he overheard his secretary talking to someone who wanted to “join the church.”  The pastor motioned for his secretary to put the call through to his office.  During the phone conversation, the pastor learned that this man, E (we will refer to him with an "E"), in his late 30s had been raised with a father that was Methodist and a mother who was Baptist.  As a child E had bounced between the two churches, but the family was never fully committed to either.  E told the pastor on the phone that he would like to “join the church.”  The pastor immediately inquired about whether he had ever visited their church before.  E said he had not visited the church but that he felt God drawing him here.  The pastor admitted this made his “spidey” senses go off. “Okay, what does this guy really want?  He has never visited this church and now he wants to join.”  E explained that he was out in the parking lot, so the pastor invited him to come in and meet in his office.  The pastor admittedly said he expected someone to walk through the door and ask for money or some type of help.  To his tremendous surprise, E walked in well dressed.  Later in the conversation, he learned that E was the executive director for a company in the area.  E sincerely knew that God had brought him to this church because this was where God wanted him to be.
The pastor and E began having a conversation.  E was insistent that he wanted to “join the church,” to get plugged in, and to grow in God.  The pastor was still scratching his head a bit, but the more he listened to the heart-felt longings of E, he realized that E was not looking for just a membership with the church or even Christian community.  E was looking for a relationship with Christ.  The pastor paused and asked the question, “I know you were raised somewhat in church, have you ever professed your faith in Christ?  Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior?”  E excitedly said, “that is what I want.  That is why I am here.” My pastor friend is excited to not only welcome this man into the church as a member, but as a brother in Christ as he stands before the church in the coming weeks to profess his faith in Christ, to be baptized and to become a part of the Church.
I was convicted by this story.  How many times have I heard, “I want to join the church” without asking, have you professed your faith in Christ?  It is much easier to make members than to commit to the deep listening and relationship building that making a disciple requires.  This has me thinking…
  • Are we listening to the people God is sending through our doors deeply?  Deeply enough to realize that they are not only seeking a community of faith to truly belong to… but much more deeply they are crying out for a relationship to the Savior of the World?
  • How comfortable are you in asking:  Have you ever professed your faith in Christ?
  • If it is difficult or unnatural to you, what holds you back from offering this priceless gift?
  • How do we as congregations move from a membership model to a disciple-making model?  Helping persons to grow in their relationship with God through Christ?  Helping persons to find a place in our community, with a genuine deep and growing relationship with Christ?
The future of the church is not tied to the role of the building, the level of digital sophistication, the style of worship, the quality of the band or a host of other things we have tried to make church about.  No, the future of the church, will be defined by whether it is a place people can experience the transformed life offered in Christ. Experience Kingdom living communities of faith with real authenticity, with all its messiness, with all its u-turns, fresh starts, and new beginnings, and with all its forgiveness and grace.
Lead them with Love and Grace… And ask the question!

Dr. Leah S. Hidde-Gregory, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission and Church Growth
Storm the Gates!
Matthew 16:18