The church is not an exclusive place for “church people,” Alabama megachurch pastor Chris Hodges said.
“We’ve got to make sure the church understands what the church exists for,” the pastor of Church of the Highlands told Premier while at a Hillsong Conference last month. “We don’t exist to be a little club that we have just for us — too many people think the church is for church people.”
Hodges, who leads a congregation of over 45,000 people in Birmingham, maintained that church was never supposed to be a place just for believers.
“I personally believe the church is a place where people who don’t agree with us can come,” he said. “We’ve had to train our church people and teach them how Jesus lived his life and how He ministered to people.”
He stressed that God’s heart is with the “lost” (nonbelievers) more so than those who have been found (are already Christians).
“[God’s] not thinking about His found kids, He’s thinking about His lost kids,” Hodges said.
And the best way to love God is to love the people He loves. “God loves the lost,” he stressed.
When it comes to reaching out to the community with the Gospel, the megachurch pastor likes to go by this saying: Connect before you correct.
“Jesus connected before He corrected,” he pointed out, citing biblical examples such as when Jesus approached Zacchaeus the tax collector.
When Hodges received a gift certificate to get a custom-made suit, he found himself in a shop with a Hindu tailor whose gods were displayed in the store. During his visit as he was measured and picked out fabrics, neither mentioned their faith, though the tailor was aware Hodges was a pastor, and they had a pleasant conversation. They enjoyed their time together.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov