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Good News People

• Danny Churchill

The church too often puts on display bad news that drives people away from God. This sermon confronts this pattern and shows us a different way­—a way of love that can provide an experience of good news.

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Many people have walked away from the faith or at least have questions about what God is like because of their experience of the church. The good news has not been presented and embodied as good. In fact, a whole lot of bad news has been experienced in the church, things like judgmentalism, sexual abuse, hypocrisy and violence. The horrible things that people have done in the name of Jesus throughout church history should be enough to make us all take pause and reflect on how we’re representing Christ to others through our actions. To help us address this pattern, Danny Churchill, offers a different way.

At the core of this bad news church experience is judgmentalism, the lived-out expression of a person’s belief that they are morally superior to others. Judgmentalism leads people to feel “less than” and to experience the church as hypocritical and fake. Instead of learning to love together, the church has developed a culture of learning to judge others together. Judgmentalism is a relational-killer that goes against all that Jesus taught.

Instead of judgment, we are to live in a way that assumes we don’t have the full picture. We can’t see things clearly when it comes to others because we have an obstructed view. We have a plank in our eye that hinders us from seeing what’s going on in the other person. Anything we’re noticing in someone else that we’ve deemed less than ideal is insignificant compared to the work we need to do in our own life.

We, the followers of Jesus, are on a journey to be formed more into the image of Jesus —and we haven’t arrived yet! We are a work in progress. We all have planks that we’re working on and trying to remove so that we can see things clearly. We must not point out someone’s “speck” unless they’ve invited us in and asked for our help. When we are asked to walk alongside another person, Danny offers a set of questions to help us avoid the trap of judgment:

  • Have I become trustworthy?
  • Why am I the person that needs to point this out?
  • Have we established that this is what we both want from this relationship?
  • Is this how I want someone to treat me?
  • Can my agape-love for this person be greater and deeper than our differences?
  • What is the plank in my eye that’s preventing me from seeing things clearly right now?

We are built to live in community and to be with others who can share the load. We need one another, which means that we need help. We must adopt patterns of love, as opposed to judgment, so that we can serve each other well. As we are doing this, we will actually put on display God’s good news.

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Topics: Judgment, Love

Sermon Series: Unraveling Truth

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Audio File
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The MuseCast: February 7

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 7:1-5

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

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6 thoughts on “Good News People

  1. Sarah Houpt says:

    Your message said to always have a friend in the journey. How do you keep spiritual friendships? My family moved across 3-4 various states and at least 7 churches.

    Actually, this is my real problem for staying in Church: Just when I think we’ve settled down on one, we go for another church, and it keeps happening outside of my say-so! Seems unlikely to keep any friends when paths split us apart. I can see how constant “deconstructions” make healthy faith at a personal level, but is this constant uprooting normal for friendships, or even Church?

    I mean, I’m getting tired of being constantly uprooted, because I think it’s better to live in a community with a same spot to stay in, to see and help the growth over time. However, I’m also weary of gaining roots because such deep growth may inevitably breed traditions of legalism and polarization.

    How important are Roots to Church?? Is there gonna be a topic on this for the series? I can wait for that.

    1. Maggi says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I developed several spiritual relationships with people through the sermon discussion groups at church and the spiritual friendships class. The people in the groups live all over the country and we have been meeting with each other for well over a year on zoom. Some of us have also met each other in person. Small intimate groups that will not change with your physical location. I am very pleased and have come to love them and share my life with them.

    2. Emily says:

      Hi Sarah, passing this message along from Paul Eddy. —Emily from Communications

      Hi Sarah,

      You are asking a very important question! In our highly mobile culture today, it can be very difficult for any of us to maintain long-term friendships with people who live close by for our entire life. This is one reason why we at Woodland Hills have begun to promote online connections that can survive and thrive even when people relocate geographically. As one of the responders to your post said, our Gathering Groups have been a real relational life-line for many people, and our Spiritual Friendships class that we regularly offer is designed to help connect people all over the world who are wanting to explore spiritual friendship. For those who live in the Twin Cities, we also have our Sojourner’s house church network, which incorporates spiritual friendship into its regular rhythm.

  2. Patty says:

    Danny’s message – refreshingly a first for us older peeps . Thank you for challenging my heart to Jesus again. We can’t wait to hear from him some more.
    The young people have known this all along.

    God bless!

  3. Kaylie says:

    I’ve been looking for a community/church to help me grow spiritually while I’ve gone through “deconstruction” and judgement. This message was said beautifully. Very welcoming and refreshing to listen to this point of view and makes me want to come experience this church and community ❤️

    1. Sarah Cassin says:

      Hi Kaylie,
      So glad this message reached you! We would love to have you come to a service on Sunday if you’re in the area, otherwise you know you can join online, and we’re just as glad to have you 😊

      Since you mentioned it, I wanted to let you know a few ways you could get connected within the Woodland Hills community! On Monday evenings we have what we call Mondays Together – Sermon discussion groups, support groups, and a young adults group meet. We also have some classes (this is all a mix of online and in-person). You can learn about all of these here: https://whchurch.org/mondays-together/

      On that page you can also find the email addresses of the staff who lead each of the ministries, if you want to reach out directly. (If you’re local and happen to be in the 18-30s age range, Danny, who gave this message, is the leader of the Vessels [young adult] group – that group is a great way to get involved in community here!)

      Thanks again for your comment! Hope this was helpful 🙂
      -Sarah, from the Communications Team

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