You and I are in a fight, but are we fighting against an enemy that has already been defeated? Why are we allowing fear to keep us from living into the calling God has placed on our lives?
If we refuse to deal with the injustice around us, can we effectively share Christ with the world? I don’t mean the disagreements that break through our comfort and bother us as individuals, I mean the injustice our neighbors are experiencing. If we are not shaken to the core by the injustice others experience then can we really call ourselves Christ followers?
Did you grow up in one of the BIG denominations: Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic? Do you live in the Plant City, Florida, area and are wondering what a non-denominational church has to offer?
We can’t speak for every non-denominational church in Tampa or even Plant City, but here are five reasons you should try Centerpoint.
Your middle schooler already has a packed schedule with school, extra curriculars, hobbies, friends… the list is never-ending. When you think of youth group, the thought of driving to one more activity is daunting. We hear you! We get it. But one sec. Your middle schooler needs youth group, and here are three reasons why.
Life is good, isn't it? We can have everything at the click of a button. Our every need is at arm’s reach. Comfort is easily attainable for most of us. And once we get it, we build bigger walls, install more security systems, hoard up our treasure for ourselves, and work harder to ensure we never lose the comforts we've come to mistake as rights.
Jesus is calling us as a church to step into our calling, and to step out of our comfort zone.
Tear down walls
We are to tear down walls, remove the barriers that keep people from Jesus, and start fulfilling our destiny. This is the only way we will live life to the fullest.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Your happiness and peace rest in fulfilling God’s call on your life. But here’s the next part of that truth. Your life isn’t about you. It’s bigger than you.
John 10:11 goes on to describe Jesus as the good shepherd, one who would lay down his life to protect you.
Ask yourself. Are you living a life worthy of that sacrifice? And then remember you aren’t the only sheep in that story. Jesus laid down his life for the person to your right and your left, and every other one as well.
Build a bigger table
Jesus didn’t save humanity by sitting on his couch, reading the Torah and binge-watching the Bible on Netflix. Get off your butt and engage with culture. Engage with the sick and the weary. Engage with the people whom Jesus died to save. And in case you are wondering, that’s everyone. No exceptions.
Start inviting people to sit at your dining room table. Welcome the religious, political, social, and sexual outcasts into your homes. Serve the people who make you uncomfortable.
Stop moving away from people who look, speak and act differently. Engage with the people you’ve spent your entire life moving away from.
Speak up and be the voice for those that don't have a voice. Like you, they were made in the image of God. Like you, they have a right to be heard. But before they can be heard, we have to stop demanding that our voice matters more.
It’s time to let go of selfishness and start living lives that imitate Jesus. If we are going to impact our culture for Christ, we must learn to sacrifice self.
Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone church? Are you willing to give up your own selfish desires to serve others?
Call it comfort or call it casual Christianity. But whatever you call it, it's killing us. Literally, destroying us.
The problem is we continually expect life to be easy, to be comfortable. This desire is misplaced. We've decided that comfort means structure and rules within the church -- that it means certain subjects weren't approachable, and that it means we can only worship beside and with those who look exactly like us.
That is not comfort. That is death.
You and I weren't called to comfort; we were called to be the hands and feet of Christ. That means doing work and getting dirty.
Comfort a #firstworldproblem
Gay Marriage. Abortion. Women in leadership. Politics. Racism. Poverty. Classism. Kaepernick. Immigration.
Is your skin crawling yet? Did your anxiety just rise? Good. We're getting outside of your comfort zone, and that's where you should be. If not we could go on. Our culture is full of hot topics. As a church, we were raised to stay silent.
If we don’t talk about it, won’t it just go away?
Can't we make up some rule that excludes those from our communities who think and look different than us? Isn't that what Jesus would want us to do? Is it church... is it really?
Instead, we'd rather focus on our #FirstWorldProblems. You know the ones: is there enough parking, is the lighting right, is the music too loud, if we keep growing will there be space for me, or is the pastor plain boring. It's time to move away from the rule "no politics or religion around the dinner table" and start addressing real needs. People are hurting, and we've sat on our hands for far too long.
It’s time for the American Church to start adulting.
And that starts with us.
A reality check
If our desire for comfort isn't directed to walking alongside those who are hurting and offering them comfort, then we are missing the point.
In John 16:33 (NIV) Jesus made it clear that "In this world, you will have trouble." Our world is at war, and the church is standing idly by sipping tea watching it all go down.
Let’s start by getting comfortable discussing the issues as they arise. Let’s talk about violence in America. Let’s address the sorrow and lament with the black community when racism and hate takes a life. And then let’s get to work to bring comfort to those who are suffering.
When we stay in our comfort zone, we turn a blind eye to the hurting. We become unfeeling and calloused, saying its not my problem. And church, we will die.
Good podcasts will stick with you. They get you thinking and open up the possibilities of how you engage with the world.
Much like our human desire to binge watch Netflix, a great podcast will capture us. Are you driving to work? Podcast. Saturday chores? Podcast. Working out? Podcast. Annoying the kids? Podcast. Breathing? Podcast. It’s the talk radio shows our parents listened to while driving us around - but relevant and interesting. Oh, and convenient.
If you feel like you need an extra little push out of your comfort zone, give one of these three a try:
Unfiltered Radio is a movement on a mission, in our city and our world. The show seeks to amplify the name of Jesus and to lead people to experience the love and grace he offers.
We’ve gotten Jesus wrong. He’s been misunderstood, misinterpreted and his message hijacked by followers and skeptics alike. The bias of church history, politics, religious movements and personal agendas lay claim to his life and mission.
This podcast will have you taking a new look at Jesus. We all have filters we approach Christ with. What does he look like when we strip those away?
Relevant Podcast is a production of Relevant Magazine. It explores the intersection of faith and pop culture. Every Friday introduces listeners to artists, authors, pastors and other influential creatives.
This podcast delivers poignant, sometimes random and always life-changing perspectives on culture and faith. Warning. Once you start listening you’ll want to catch up on all the ones you’ve missed.
You Have Permission
Dan Koch is the host of the new podcast called You Have Permission. He describes his faith journey as complicated. He seeks to engage anyone with questions about God, science, faith, politics, culture and more.
This podcast gives permission to take both Christianity and the modern world seriously. The show introduces listeners to a plethora of experiences and vantage points.
A resource for Christians on the right and left, skeptics and those who are non-religious. You Have Permission is for anyone who wants to explore the questions faith presents. It’s addictive. It’s relevant. You may just get hooked on the episode To Think Theologically About Aliens.
Try all three podcasts and come back to tell us what you thought. Tag @CenterpointFL on Twitter and let us know if there are any podcasts you’d add to this list.
Reject apathy by opening your eyes, stepping out of your comfort zone, and into your calling to serve others.
Meaning of apathy
According to Webster apathy means a lack of feeling or emotion, a lack of interest or concern. Basically, to be apathetic means you don't care.
Apathy is an easy state to fall into, but it is deadly to our faith. We convince ourselves that turning off the news and looking the other way solves our problems. But this is just not true. The ability to turn our eyes away from pain is a privilege, and it is a privilege, as Christians, we have to forgo.
Step out of your comfort zone
We naturally gravitate away from what is uncomfortable. It takes an effort to engage in new ways. But Jesus did not take the easy way out and neither should we.
Jesus spoke up for the weak, the marginalized, the outcast and for us. We must do the same.
I want to challenge you to go through your day and take a close look at your routine and conversations. Listen for the moments that make you uncomfortable. Search them out.
Start embracing the feels
Don't run from your emotions. If something or someone pulls on your heartstrings, listen to that pull. The world is full of problems, but we don't have to become overwhelmed. As we grow aware, we become wiser and learn how to better care for the world and the people who live here.
Focus on hope
You alone can not save the world. That is not your calling. Yet, we can each do small things throughout every day that heals our world rather than destroys.
Listen to those who are hurting. Really hear their story and ask what they need. Perhaps all they need is your ear. Maybe they need your help. Never assume. Be clear and ask.
Apathy kills faith, numbing us to the needs of others. It shuts us off from hearing that gentle nudging from God telling us when to act. By practicing your listening skills, you'll be more open to that nudge and more likely to be in the right place at the right time.
Make your circle bigger
Jesus did not come to earth to hole up in the synagogue and speak with those who already knew him. Instead, he went out into the world and met people where they were.
Don't make your circle exclusive. Be intentional about meeting people who look different, believe different and live differently. The goal isn't to shape them into a mini version of you. You might be surprised how much Jesus chooses to minister to you through them. You aren't the only one he is working through. You, my friend, as do I, still have a long way to go ourselves. God isn't done with us yet.
Together let’s work on rejecting apathy and embracing Jesus’ call to serve others.
Centerpoint is a non-denominational church in the Brandon Valrico area that is doing things differently.
Yeah right. I hear you. “Non-denominational churches are just Baptist churches in disguise.” If you’ve been part of the evangelical church for any amount of time, chances are you’ve heard this joke. Or how about the one “non-denominational churches are Baptist who like to drink.”
So where does that leave Centerpoint, a non-denominational church claiming to be an alternative to church as usual? Are we Baptist in disguise? Tattooed hipsters who like our music and comfortable millennial safe spaces? Or are we something more.
Centerpoint Church is tearing down every unnecessary barrier. Nothing should stand in the way of hearing about Jesus. We see denominations as one of those barriers. Over time denominations can put up hoops to jump through on how to become a part of the community. Rules develop that are less scripture based and hold more of a “how to get into the country club” vibe.
Everyone at Centerpoint is welcome. There is no age requirement. Tattooed hipsters are as welcome as grandma. Sexual orientation, belief in God, marital status, or musical talent are not pre-requisites.
You are safe with us, exactly as you are.
What does non-denominational mean
Non-denominational is an adjective. It means open or acceptable to people of any Christian denomination. Stick the word in front of church, and it becomes a place of worship, a community accessible to anyone.
When we strip away denomination, we are taking away years of built up historical bias. The church as a whole has molded Jesus to fit a set of rules. Jesus broke through cultural barriers and religious rules of his own time, and he is doing the same today.
Who we are
Centerpoint is a diverse gathering of real people who believe in Jesus. We want to see our city changed by his love. Come join us and see for yourself. You don't have to buy into everything we say, that's the beauty of our non-denominational church. Whether you are a Jesus follower, atheist, agnostic or skeptic, we've designed a place for you to ask hard questions of the Christian faith safely.
Join us this Sunday for one of our three services in Brandon or Live Stream from the comfort of your own home. Before you come, feel free to take a look at previous messages. See for yourself if we hold true to who we claim to be.