Churches need to stop making excuses and get back to reaching the lost, popular pastor Ed Young said in his challenge to thousands of Christians.
Fresh off his 24-hour bed-in to promote his new book, Sexperiment, Young spoke to crowds at the Code Orange Revival in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday night, stressing the need to rescue those who don’t know Jesus Christ.
“People are drowning without the Lord,” said Young, whose corneas and face were burned from sitting on the roof of Fellowship Church for the bed-in on Friday.
The Grapevine, Texas, pastor recalled the time he rescued a drowning man who had fallen off his boat as he was fishing just offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Shortly after the rescue, Young came back to the marina. As he was pulling in, a man and his wife waved to him from the dock, smiling, carefree, and unaware that a man had nearly drowned just moments before.
“God spoke to my spirit and said ‘Ed, that’s a picture of so many Christians,’” he said at the 12-night revival. The Texas pastor called it a “marina mentality,” where Christians are stuck at the marina while people are out at sea drowning without Christ.
Young organized his talk around three phrases to help the crowd remember that God gives the lost a life-ring. “The ring is the thing,” he emphasized, using an orange life ring as an illustration.
Tying a rope around the ring, Young added, “The hope is the rope.” Once people grasp onto the life ring, it is attached to God, he explained, and He won’t leave people floating by themselves.
God has thrown us a life ring, he told attendees. “Jesus is the life ring.”
But Young said that once people are saved, God wants them to share their rescue stories and to reach out to the lost – in other words, “Pull so the house will be full.”
While many churches start out with these three principles, they get sidetracked with excuses, he lamented.
These churches try to play it safe and they steal people from other churches, according to Young. He praised Elevation Church – where the revival is taking place – for growing by baptizing “a squillion people.” Elevation’s mission is to “aggressively reach out to people who are far from God.”
Another excuse churches give for not reaching out is “the depth excuse,” which Young said puts God in a box. Anybody who says the church isn’t deep enough is a “playpen whining baby.”
People in these churches say things like, “Oh, we’re the smart people, we’re the smart church … let’s get deeper and smarter … I’ll tell you about the aquaduct system during the time of Solomon. Let’s get really intellectual,” the Fellowship Church pastor described.
According to Young, what these churches should really be about is reaching the lost. He said looked at the history of yacht clubs and found that many started out as rescue societies. But gradually people started relaxing and buying bigger boats.
Unfortunately, that this is what many churches do over time – they stop trying to reach the lost, Young lamented.
He challenged Christians to get in their boats and out of the marina and to make disciples of all nations.
“The radically rescued rescue radically,” he stated. “It’s time for us to rescue radically.”
The Jan. 11-22 Code Orange Revival is being led by Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick and is being broadcast live on the Web and TV. Furtick noted that before Elevation was founded, he visited Young’s megachurch in Texas for inspiration and remembered thinking, “One day we’re going to do this.”
Elevation Church is now one of the fastest-growing churches in the country.