Monday, April 17, 2006


“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night….”

In John 3 Nicodemus was going through a process. He had questions. He needed answers. He was preparing himself for a major life change. He was getting ready give up his former beliefs - some of which were firmly held (he was a Pharisee). The process was emotional. His decision was going to have repercussions. This is why he came at night. It’s not easy, after climbing the ladder, to come to the realization that it is leaned against the wrong wall. Jesus respected the difficult process that Nicodemus was going through. He used the word picture of birth to describe the change. He used the word picture of the wind to describe the Holy Spirit. He didn’t talk at him, He talked with him. He treated Nicodemus with respect.

It is absolutely critical that we remain sensitive to the spiritual journey people are on. After a funeral service I officiated a man came up to me to say thanks. He told me he had been to a funeral service previously where spiritual sensitivity had not been present. I think he used the words “hell, fire and brimstone” to describe the tone of that service. With tears in his eyes he remembered, “It was really hurtful.” To my knowledge this man was not a believer. But what he was telling me was that one experience had pushed him away from God, the other had nudged him a little closer.

At CTK we not only want to respect the spiritual journey, we want to facilitate it.. There are three types of facilitation that are needed:

1) Physical Facilitation....Can people find you when they need you?

By subscribing to “multility” we are creating multiple places for people to find us. By organizing by small groups, with multiple services and sites, we are giving people hundreds of opportunities to get their questions answered. Most churches have one entry point. The Sunday morning service. We want to have an unlimited number of contact points. If you are a pastor wanting to facilitate the spiritual journey for people ask yourself, “Do people know where to find you? Are there options?”

2) Emotional Facilitation....Can people feel safe with you?

In some churches people are expected to believe before they can belong. At CTK “belonging” precedes “believing.” We want to give people a place to belong, so that they’ll come to believe. “Safe” is an important word for us, and the people we are trying to reach. We say we want to be “a safe place to hear a dangerous message.” Evidently, Nicodemus felt safe bringing his questions to Jesus. If you are a pastor wanting to facilitate the spiritual journey for people ask yourself, “Is it safe for wayfarers to be with you, and not be 100% committed yet?”

3) Spiritual Facilitation....Can people get the deeper answers from you?

Felt-need ministry has become the rage in the past couple decades. But there are deeper spiritual issues than how to discipline your children, or how to get ahead at work. There is a spiritual battle going on for the souls of men. It would have been tragic if Jesus had said to Nicodemus, “Let me share with you 10 steps to becoming a better Pharisee.” If you are a pastor wanting to facilitate the spiritual journey for people ask, “Are we addressing the divide between light and darkness? Are we praying for spiritual transformation?”

Only the Spirit of God can change a heart. Our job is just to put the cookies on the lowest shelf. We can build the bridge. God is the one who has to draw them across. We just try to clear the path to the cross, and keep light on the path for the person who is on a journey to God.

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