turkeyshootThe boy scout troup I was a part of as a young teen sponsored a turkey shoot fund-raiser. A guy walked up, bought a couple of tickets, and asked me to shoot for him. So, I took aim, fired, and won the round! Impressive? Not really. We were using shotguns shells which were filled with hundreds of little pellets.  Those little bb’s blasted randomly toward the target. Yes, I did hit the target; but so did everyone else. One of my little pellets hit the closest to the bulls-eye. When you get down to it, shooting a shotgun shell at a stationary target is more about luck than real skill.

God has the same basic purpose, or bulls-eye, for every church: make disciples who love God and others (see Matthew 22:37-39 & Matthew 29:19-20). At River Ridge we like to say it this way: “We help people find real life in Christ.” Without Christ, there is no real life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus was teaching us that he is the only way to heaven and the only way anyone can experience real life.

Real life, however, is not a one-time conversion experience. A lot of people “get saved” and then put God on a shelf. They “visit God” every now and then by going to an occasional worship service or saying a few prayers. But for the most part, the whole Jesus thing is more about a religious experience than a relationship with the true and living God. That is not real life! Paul confronted this whole idea in Philippians 3:7-11 (The Message):

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

10-11I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

Real life begins when you acknowledge your sin and need for a savior. You trust Jesus to forgive you and become his disciple. You begin a journey of faith where you become a mature follower of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, that is what I mean when I say that we exist to help people find real life in Christ.

No matter how you say it, it is time for every church in America (and beyond) to aim for the bulls-eye. Rather than hoping we hit the target with a shotgun, let’s use a rifle! With laser focused strategy, let’s obey our Lord by making some disciples who really love God and others!

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