As we read through the New Testament, we cannot miss the way in which Jesus saw people. Crowds weary from travel, hungry from listening to a lot of preaching, beggars, the marginalized, the sick, and the lost were all embraced in His sweeping gaze.
It becomes obvious that Jesus did not merely look; He saw.
Too often, the busyness of our lives removes from us the possibility of truly doing the latter of the two. We look at an accident on the interstate, but do we see the damage to the people involved? We look at a husband and wife straining to appear normal, but do we see the widening gaps in the marital foundation? We look at the backward girl in the middle school assembly, but do we see the bullying she’s enduring at school?
Looking takes but a moment; seeing requires us to process information, connect dots, sympathize, and understand. It also requires action.
All around us are people who need Christ. Do we see them? All around us are believers who are struggling to walk with Christ. Do we see them? All around us are believers desperately wanting to be connected, but are entrenched in loneliness. Do we see them?
A recent survey found that 74% of Protestant churchgoers feel they “have developed significant relationships with people at [their] church.” Yet, the same survey found that only 53% of the same group are intentionally trying to meet new people at their church.
Nearly half of our people are looking without seeing.
To help more people along the path of discipleship means that first, we must see them. Then, involve them. With that in mind, here are three keys to help us learn to see with Jesus’ eyes:
Key #1: Help people learn to go beyond the surface.
Most churches have some kind of greeting time during the worship time. These are good as far as they go, but have inherent limitations. It tends to be loud. People are moving around. There is an expectation of a handshake, a “good to see you,” and not much else. It’s like speed dating for visitors.
Rather than the greeting being the end, make it a means. Teach people to identify people to catch up with at the end of the service to engage more fully. The first time may not be the right time for a small-group invite, but it can be the right time to start remembering a name, a face, the family structure, or get contact info.
Key #2: Have people tell specific stories of seeing with Jesus’ eyes.
This does not have to be the leader personally, but a story they know. Use the “wins” in your church body to show others how to see. Rather than saying, “I read this story this week,” say, “John, come and tell everyone that amazing thing you witnessed Tuesday morning.”
Key #3: Pray for Christ-like compassion for yourself and the body.
Often in the gospels, we are told that Jesus had compassion on a certain group of people. This usually led to an action on His part, like healing the sick or feeding the crowd. Seeing with Jesus’ eyes is directly tied to compassion. As we see with Jesus’ eyes, we will experience compassion as He did and be moved to reach out to others both inside and outside the family of faith.
In our Bible Studies for Life curriculum series that formally begins this fall, I believe we will see God deepen relationships through teaching people from God’s Word. I believe you and your church will benefit spiritually if you use this curriculum, all the way from Preschool to Adults. If you are interested, you can find more information and sample lessons here.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
I have a growing conviction that we are on the brink of the next great move of God in America. I do not proclaim to have any special insight on this, but I just sense in my heart that God is preparing His people to do something special.
Seasons and Moments
I do believe we have had seasons and moments when God was up to something big, but we walked away from it. Hundreds of thousands of people who are my age came to Christ during one of these great seasons called, The Jesus Movement. Countless thousands of us were called into ministry and missions due to this great move of God. Since the church did not embrace it fully, in time, the movement seemed to subside. Yet, many of the results of that great move of God have been long lasting and eternal for, perhaps, millions of people.
It appears to me, some twenty years later, there was another great surge of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Matters like prayer, fasting, and holiness seemed to emerge in the ranks of Christianity. Great men like Bill Bright began to lead conferences on prayer and fasting, and at the same time, a men’s movement called Promise Keepers seemed to be rising greatly. The status in the nation, along with this rising tide of the Spirit of God, seemed to move us to the brink of entering the land of that next great move of God.
I Will Never Forget
Due to God’s movement in my own life in a profound manner, I found myself, on October 4, 1997, preaching to 1.3 million men in the Washington D. C. Mall at a Promise Keepers national gathering for men called, “Stand in the Gap.” As I left Washington D.C. that evening, I thought we were about to cross over into the unknown territory of the next great move of God.
Yet, for some reason, it seemed it just did not happen. Some would say they know why, and perhaps they do. I will leave that up to historians to decide. Yet, one cannot deny the powerful movement of God that led up to that day in Washington. It was something far bigger than conferences on prayer and fasting, or Promise Keepers. But for some reason, by the year 2000, this rising tide seemed to go back out to the sea, yet to return.
God Is Preparing His People
My life was changed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first movement I described, and I was involved actively in the second great movement. For the past ten to fifteen years, it seemed the tide would not roll in again. While the nation continues to fall into deeper depravity, the church seems to be losing ground greatly.
However, I am very hopeful! I sense God is rolling in the tide of the Holy Spirit in a fresh way. Yes, sin abounds in our nation; but grace abounds much more! While many churches seem powerless and others are dying, God is doing some mighty things in many churches across the land. While some may be closing their doors, others are entering into moments never before seen in the American church. Yes, I believe God is preparing His people.
Why I am Hopeful we are on the Brink of the Next Great Move of God
I choose to believe by faith that we are on the brink of the next great move of God for these reasons:
1. Desperation is growing. People are convicted, now more than I have seen in many years, God is our only hope. While desperation is growing, God is getting us ready! I believe all generations are desperate for God to do something great in our day.
2. Prayer is on the rise. I am hearing and sensing that prayer is on the rise in the church. People are beginning to cry out to God again. God always answers when His people cry out to Him in their desperation for Him to move. Extraordinary prayer always precedes the manifest presence of God. As desperation is growing, prayers are rising up from the people of God.
3. Leaders are ready. Everywhere I go and every spiritual leader I talk to is aware the need for a move of God is greater today than ever before in our generation. They know, with growing conviction, God is our only hope! Leaders appear to be more ready for this next great move of God than I have seen in years.
4. Church is the key. We hear continually that denominations and conventions are losing their meaningful influence they held in the past. Whether this is true or not, without question, even those in denominational or conventional gospel work, are aware the landscape has changed from even a decade ago. This places the church at center stage, just the way Jesus intended.
I believe this next great movement of God will fall upon a church that is experiencing:
- A return to the gospel. Not just receiving the gospel, but living out the gospel.
- A rising commitment to planting gospel churches nationally and globally.
- A revitalization and rebirth of vision and mission.
- A renewal towards compassion for the poor, the needy, the orphan, the widow, the broken, and the hurting; whether it has come from a person’s past, misfortune, or even a disaster, a renewal towards compassion is occurring.
- A release of people, dreams, and resources to the finishing of the task of making disciples of all the nations.
This is why I am hopeful we are on the brink of the next great move of God in our nation. The church is as ripe as I have ever seen it. If indeed the great outpouring of the Spirit happens in our generation, He will be poured out upon a church that is as ready as possible, and prayerfully desperate. When the church is prepared and prayerfully desperate, I believe we will cross on over into the land of that next great move of God and ultimately finish the task of making disciples of all the nations.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd