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Super Chicken, Super Church, Exploring Myths and Truths | The Greg Lancaster Show!

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Super Chickens and Super Churches? Are they Different, Are they the Same?

In the Western Culture, the idea of a “Super-Sized” meal is something most are aware of. With just a quick drive-up window, and a 30 second conversation, we have access to “Super-Sized” meals. With our meals being so easily “Super-Sized”, sometimes we begin to take on the same belief that everything has to be the same way; “Super-Sized”. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States, there is a quick realization that the serving size for their foods is not the same way. Walking through grocery stores in America could easily be described as warehouses. When we look at the church, or what many perceive the church to be, we begin to assume that it has to be the same way. It seems that people aren’t happy unless it’s bigger.; it’s “Super-Sized”.  

While talking about the concept of “Super”, it’s important to recognize a talk that Margaret Heffernan shared at a TED Talk. In this presentation, she talks about a study conducted by Purdue University on chickens. While referencing this study, she first asks the question of “what makes Corporations successful?”. This is a valid question, as hopefully the Church is interested in this answer as we should all want to be successful. The question is though, does Jesus define success the same way today’s corporations define success? Jesus’s words in John 15: 1-8 are pretty straightforward:  

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 

 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” 

This is so powerful when we approach the topic of wanting to be productive or successful. Is about producing “the most eggs” or producing fruit”. In the case of business, it may be easy to measure productivity by just looking at revenue. But, in the case of chickens, as Margaret shares, “it’s easy to measure with chickens, cause you just count the eggs”. As all people want more productivity, Purdue University carried out their own study. In this study, one flock of chickens was monitored for 6 generations, left untouched. Then, there was another flock. In each generation, only the most productive chicken was chosen to be used for breeding. So, now 6 generations later, what were the differences between the two flocks? Looking at the first flock, production had increased. Wonderful.  

What about the second flock that was comprised of only the highest producing chickens in their generation? This is where the study gets interesting. As Margaret shares, “all but three were dead. They’d pecked the rest to death.” She continues, “the individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest”. Hearing those results, you may find those results eerily similar to what you’ve witnessed in your own life. Isn’t it interesting how “production” and “results” is driving factor why many of us make the decisions that we do? Is it really about just getting to the top? Margaret shares her thoughts on this mindset this way, “and I’ve never really felt motivated by pecking orders, or by super chickens, or by superstars. But, for the past fifty years we’ve run most organizations, and some societies along the super chicken model. We’ve thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars”. Have you seen this? How many times do people just decide to pay more money for the superstar, or volunteer to BE the superstar?  

If we can see that this model doesn’t truly work in the business/corporate model, how can we ever think that this would be an acceptable model in the Church? Recalling Jesus’ words from John 15, fruit only comes when we walk in Him, not apart from Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Truth of the matter is, each of us has a part to play. None of us is supposed to do it all. Jesus is the One, the star. If we only get focused on productivity, and not the very fruit that we are bearing in our lives, Eternity will not end well. Jesus says very specifically how it will be for those who focused all their efforts on just “producing” while neglecting fruit, 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” 

This important to hear these truths now. There is going to be a fruit check when we stand before Jesus. Are you a part of what God is doing in our generation? Now is the time to find out! If you have not yet met Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can hear we met Him by reading our stories as well.  

 

Jesus Has Called Us to Be Successful. What Does a Successful Church Look Like?

Many of us have been exposed to a myriad of team dynamics. Some of these different experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, while others, not so much. What is about team makeup that makes some teams more successful than others? This is an important question to ask because we always want to be a part of successful team no matter where we are. Corporations often have team training exercises to maximize productivity and output, but all the while neglecting the very people that make up those teams. As the Church, we all love Jesus, we get hyped up and excited for an event on Sunday morning; we arrive as individuals, we participated as individuals, and we end up leaving as individuals. Has the Church carried out their routines the same way Corporations have? 

In a presentation at a TED TalkMargaret Heffernan shares about a study conducted by MIT, by putting together groups of people and presenting to them difficult scenarios that the teams then had to solve. As the researchers were observing the performance of these groups and teams, they were surprised at what the found to be what distinguished the groups that performed well versus those that did not. What they initially thought would be factors that produced results, was actually the opposite. As Heffernan shares, “the high achieving groups were not those that had spectacular high IQ; nor were the successful groups the ones that had the highest aggregate IQ”. The interesting reality were the three factors that all of the successful teams had in this study; “they showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other. This is measured by something called reading the mind and the eye test. It’s broadly considered a test for empathy, and the groups that scored highly on this did better. Secondly, the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one’s voice dominated but neither were there any passengers. And thirdly, the more successful groups had more women in them”.  

This is so important to understand: MIT figured out through this study what God knew all along. God has created us all to have something important and valuable to bring to the table. It’s imperative that we have empathy to value those around us, to our left and to our right. But, just because it’s imperative doesn’t mean that empathy exists. We have to have TIME to connect in order to build empathy and connectivity with one another. Just because we are gathering as the Church, doesn’t mean that we are connecting with one another.  

When was the last time that someone asked you, “what is God saying to you?” Has anybody asked you to share what your thoughts are? After listening to a message about the Word of God for an hour, has anybody ever asked you what your thoughts are about that teaching? Has that ever happened? Well based on MIT, the successful gatherings are the ones that do. We’re not talking about “social networking” but “social connectivity”. As foreign as a thought as this may be, the truth is you can actually enjoy coming together and connecting with the Church, the Body of Christ.  

Instead of showing up somewhere as an individual, disconnected and alone, only to then leave equally disconnected afterwards, imagine having a gather to be connected to where you have an established relationship with people the other 6 and a half days of the week before the gathering? This is the gathering that Jesus desires for His Church. He desires for us to honor one another. Think about this reality: if Jesus died for them, they are worth listening to.  Jesus said in John 13:34-35“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What MIT and Margaret Heffernan is talking about is the reality that we have to love one another.  You may have never been brought to the table or seen as something to even having something important to share at the table. We can often see how our relationship is with the Lord by looking at how our relationship is with people. It’s hard to say that we love Jesus if we’re not doing anything to love those who are His, the Church.  If we’re treating people bad, we’re treating Jesus bad. 

Imagine a place where people, who you have relationship and connection with, look forward to seeing you, who know your name, and who walk with you each other’s journeys of life. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them”. As you share you life with another, you gather together to break bread, and to discuss the testimonies of what Jesus has done in your life, you discuss with one another what Jesus says in His Word, you find out that His tangible presence is there. He is there, in the midst of those who are His. Why would you want to be anywhere else where His presence is not? When we see this, we can understand why all of hell comes after everything involving the family, because it is design. Imagine beginning to see family as God designed it to be. 

 

Dysfunction Is A Common Definition of Family, But It’s Not God’s Design for Family? 

Imagine a place where people, who you have relationship and connection with, look forward to seeing you, who know your name, and who walk with you each other’s journeys of life. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them”. As you share you life with another, you gather together to break bread, and to discuss the testimonies of what Jesus has done in your life, you discuss with one another what Jesus says in His Word, you find out that His tangible presence is there. He is there, in the midst of those who are His. Why would you want to be anywhere else where His presence is not? When we see this, we can understand why all of hell comes after everything involving the family, because it is design. Imagine beginning to see family as God designed it to be.  

This can totally be a foreign concept, ESPECIALLY if you’ve never seen this before, and all you’ve ever witnessed with anything relating to family is painful and dysfunctional. This is exactly what Margaret Heffernan shared while talking a TED Talk regarding a study from MIT observing why some groups do better than others. It’s called “social connectedness”. As Heffernan shares, “it means that what happens between people really counts, because in groups that are highly attuned and sensitive to each other ideas can flow and grow, people don’t get stuck, they don’t waste energy down dead ends”. It’s interesting to realize and remember, that of all the things that Jesus died for, He didn’t die for an organization, or a building, He died for people. Jesus Christ died for you. We should want to know what the people around us have to say. It’s about meaningful conversation that takes place within the context of relationship and family.  

Steve recalls his own story of the first time that he encountered God’s family. Sitting there at the table, enjoying the food, he was watching, waiting for the argument to break out. Waiting for a plate to be thrown or somebody to stomp out the door. The thought that he just couldn’t answer was that, “how can so many people come together, and talk for so long, and nobody argue, nobody burst out in some fit of rage? What is this!”. The very concept of family was one of the most foreign concepts; what it is, or even how to be a part of it. Steve was seeing it, and watching it, and was absolutely gripped by it because he had never seen it before in his life. You can’t “Watch family”. You are called to get it. As Steve continues to share, he points out the revelation that came during this season of his life, “you don’t realize that you’re dysfunctional until you physically, visibly, see functioning healthy family.  You just think you’re normal”. It’s important to remember too, healthy family doesn’t just happen. As Steve points out, “you have to grow in it” 

This is the reality that so many people are presently in right now: dysfunction. Your family environment may be dysfunctional, while at the same time you are showing up to work everyday in an environment where it’s all about production and results, you may be succeeding under the guise of “quarterly performance”, but you’re dying inside. You may be feeling miserable right now. That’s because God has called you be connected to His family.  

 The Church Isn’t a Compilation of Specialties; It’s Family

Looking at the model of the Church today, there appears to be a collection of specialties. There those that focus on the children, the specialties for men and women, like we have specialties in medicine. We used to have one general practitioner for family medicine, and now we have all these differing specialists for all the specific body parts as if were not whole human beings. God designed us to be whole and to function as a whole. In a presentation at a TED TalkMargaret Heffernan shares about a study conducted by MIT regarding an observation on teams and the productivity of those teams.  

As Heffernan points out, “Companies don’t have ideas, only people do; and what motivates people are the bonds and loyalties, and trust they develop between each other. What matters is the mortar, not just the bricks.” Can you imagine being in an environment where the connectivity of relationships between you and the people around you is valued greater that the results of productivity at the end of the day? What help us to become more fruitful is the very relationships we have. When we look at Colossians 3:12-14, we can see how the Word of God speaks about this very truth. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” It’s a shocker to realize, but the mortar that actually binds us together, is love!  

Bishop T.D. Jakes said this, “Lord, if I have to be lonely, please at least let me be alone”. How many people are surrounded by people all day long and are still consumed with being alone? Just because we have people around us, doesn’t mean that we have relationship. It’s hard to have value when you don’t have relationship. Simply taking the time to learn to know the person next to you, we are taking the time to know Jesus. If we don’t spend time with the people around us, why would be shocked to find out that they don’t feel valued? 

We don’t “swipe right” or “swipe left” when we are looking for a Church family, or looking for relationship with God? Having friends in our lives is not about the number of followers on our Social Media platforms, it’s about the people in our lives that we are walking together, who we care about, who care about us. Relationship with other people is a choice that we have to make. As Rick Joyner with Morning Star Ministries said, “if you’re in depression, it’s because you’ve distanced yourself away from God because the closer you get to God’s presence, you’re not depressed. Truth of the matter is that you’re not just showing up to a gathering for yourself, you’re showing up because of those that value and need that relationship with you! We’re not called to do this alone, we can’t walk this out alone. We’re only able to bear fruit when we’re walking with Jesus, walking with others. This is where the fruit happens.  

To know that you have God’s family around you, to know that you are connected to God’s family is indescribable. Pat recalls his own journey of understanding that he can’t do this alone and how much it means to him to have true, authentic family in his life. “Its priceless. You can’t put a price on it, it’s so beautiful. Being around family, people that truly love you, that care about you, care about your family, care about what’s going on in your life”. You can recognize those surface level conversations and relationships. Family is not supposed to be that way. If you’ve never had that authentic relationship in your life, seek out relationship! It’s important to have relationships with people that you trust, not just anybody. Your heart matters, so entrust your heart to those that value you AND your heart! It takes time to build healthy relationships, and healthy family. However long it takes, IT’S WORTH IT! YOU MATTER TO GOD!  

 

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