Build a church not an assembly hall, Osborne says
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Standing in front of an auditorium filled with future ministers, veteran pastor Chris Osborne issued one challenge from his years of ministry to a chapel audience at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 27.
“When you leave this school and become a pastor, you’re going to face one decision that will decide whether or not you die successful in the eyes of Jesus Christ,” Osborne said. “You’re not going to face it now. You’re not even going to understand it now, but it is going to be a pressure-driving decision. And you are going to have to decide, and you can’t imagine the intensity of the pressure.”
“Are you going to build an assembly hall or are you going to build a church? The pressure is enormous to build an assembly hall and not a church.” Chris Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist Church, College Station, Texas
“Are you going to build an assembly hall or are you going to build a church?” Osborne asked. “The pressure is enormous to build an assembly hall and not a church.”
Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas, and a Ph.D. in Preaching student at Southwestern, challenged students from John 6:53-69 to understand what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Osborne explained that Jesus’ teaching on eating His flesh and drinking His blood was given to distinguish between true and false disciples. Bringing it to a present-day context, Osborne said, “Let me be clear about something. You are not a disciple because you tithe. You are not a disciple because you go to church … because you clap after a song … because you hold your hand up when you worship … because you weep.”
“You’re a disciple when you understand absolutely who Jesus Christ is, you believe that, (and) you surrender to it. And it doesn’t matter what He says, it doesn’t matter how He says it, it doesn’t matter where He tells you to go, it doesn’t matter how He tells you to go, you are all in. That is a disciple. That is what He’s looking for.
“What Jesus did is He ran off the assembly hall, and He gathered His church.”
Osborne, who has served as pastor at Central Baptist for more than 25 years, explained the tug-of-war that pastors face between man’s recognition and God’s calling.
“Let’s be honest, today. Your stature as a pastor will be exclusively based on the size of your church,” Osborne said. “Your value in the convention is tied to how many people come to hear you preach, but it’s not about assembly halls. It’s about gathering people who really get it as to who Jesus Christ really is. It’s easy to say in here that we’re going to preach the truth when we get out there, but it’s difficult to live.”
Referencing Ephesians 2, Osborne warned pastors against accommodating the church to the preferences of the people over against God’s desire through Christ’s death on the cross to bring individuals from opposite ends of the spectrum together in the church.
“It is not about the flavor of worship, it is about the Savior of worship,” Osborne said. “We’ve got way too many churches that are concerned about the flavor, not the Savior.”
“Build a worship that if they don’t like worship they don’t come. You have no right to be offensive; Jesus was not at all offensive. But build a worship that [for] people who don’t worship Jesus Christ, it’s not good for them. I think the real distinction in worship isn’t so much hymns versus choruses; it’s that there’s a generation of people who wanted to watch worship, and now there’s a generation of people who want to do worship.
“If they don’t want to worship your Savior, you love them, but they’re not the church. If you understand who He is, you can’t help but worship who He is.”
Osborne also advocated for preaching the Bible verse-by-verse, book-by-book because it requires the preacher to stay within the biblical context and to preach passages he would likely never preach otherwise.
“What you’ll discover is that people who don’t want [the Bible], because they don’t really want Jesus, won’t come to your church. The people who really want [the Bible], who hunger for it because they know who Jesus is, will come to your church.”
Osborne said focusing on authentic worship and biblical preaching may result in less church attenders and more grumbling, “but you build a church and not an assembly hall.”
To watch, listen or download Osborne’s message, visit www.swbts.edu/chapelarchives.