Why the People We Want to Reach Probably Don’t Care About Our Awesome Sermon Series



November 22, 2019

Acts 28:1-2 (NIV)

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 


Every morning as I take my children to school, I pass by a church. I pay particular attention to what they put on their marquee sign. Lately it says something about not having a perfect marriage and not having a perfect family; implying that it is a place for imperfect people. Today they had a banner next to the marquee that said we should come every Sunday in November, presumably because they were in the midst of an “awesome” sermon series.

Every day I find myself asking the same question, which goes something like, “What on earth has them thinking that a sermon series is going to woo me into coming to their church?!” Do they think I’m sitting around thinking about how “imperfect” my marriage and family are and how I’ve been waiting on just this moment when someone would solve my problems with a sermon series in November? I find it incredulous and I’m a follower of Jesus. I can’t imagine someone who doesn’t follow Jesus giving up their peaceful-easy-feeling Starbucks Sunday morning to go to a place where they knew no one because they saw a church sign about an awesome sermon series on having an imperfect family in the month of November. I mean, what’s the problem with having an imperfect family, and if there isn’t a problem why do I need them to help us become more of one than we already are?

It’s why today’s text is one of my favorites. What if the 276 half dead people who just washed up on shore saw a sign on the shore line that said join us each week in November because we will have a great fire each Sunday? We probably wouldn’t be talking about it two thousand years later. Instead we get this:

The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 

What would it look like for this church I pass every Sunday to take down their sign, head out to the neighborhoods, build some fires, and welcome people? Sure, it would take the bold imagination of holy love to figure that out, but isn’t that the mission?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for great preaching and awesome sermon series. It’s just that it’s raining hard and very cold out there and our clever street signs and advertising campaigns aren’t going to get it done.

It’s going to take “unusual kindness,” and well-built fires and the kind of welcome that doesn’t wait for them to come to us. Love is the kind of welcome that doesn’t wait for you to come. It actually goes out in search of you.




When is the last time you built a fire and welcomed a stranger because it was raining and cold out? How about your church?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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