Sermon Illustration: Sent Church vs. Sent Culture

Below is an opening illustration I used to communicate the difference of doing something just to say you do it, and doing something because it is a part of who you are. You can listen to the sermon here.


Tuesday of this week, I went to the dentist for my bi-annual cleaning. I am happy to report that I had zero cavities and have been cavity free for several years now. I was not worried and had solid confidence this would be the case. As a matter of fact, I practically strut my way into the dentist office.

I haven’t always had that confidence. Nor have I always come away from the dentist chair without having to go back to have a cavity filled. I brushed, of course. At least once a day. And I flossed. At least twice a year.

I would floss the night before my dentist appointment. I hated flossing. Still do. So I would floss the night before my 6 month cleaning and check-up. Why? So I could get the really nasty stuff out of my teeth and so I could tell the dentist I flossed. Was I telling the truth? Sure I was. I flossed. . . The night before. (It didn’t take long, however, for the hygienist to figure out that flossing was definitely not a regular part of my life.)

I will spare you the gory details, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I actually started flossing every day. Some things happened in my mouth that were painful and expensive and embarrassing. Since then I have flossed religiously, brushing at least twice a day and rinsing with the most powerful form of mouthwash money can buy.

I used to be fearful I would have one or more cavities needing a filling because I hadn’t taken care of my teeth. I said I flossed, which was true. But it wasn’t part of my every day routine.

Now I have solid confidence that I am going to get good reports from the dentist. I take care of my teeth and it is part of the culture of my life.

There is a difference between saying I floss and flossing every day. There is also a difference between saying we are a mission-minded, living sent, evangelistic, disciple-making church and it actually being a part of our culture, who we are. It’s one thing to say we care about the lost and do some things about it. It’s another thing when it is part of the fabric of our being.

Putting a map of the world on the wall, giving money to missions, and packing shoeboxes for children every year is good. But it doesn’t mean we have a living sent culture. That’s the same as young Matt telling the dentist I floss.

Having a day a year where we reach out to our community or a week where we open our doors for children and families for VBS is great. But it doesn’t mean we are a culture of disciple-makers. It means we floss before we go to the dentist.

Going on a mission journey once a year or giving so that missionaries can enjoy nice things is incredible. But it doesn’t mean living sent is part of the fabric of who we are.

There is a difference between flossing to say I flossed and flossing to have good teeth.

There is a difference between doing missions so we can say we do it and having a culture that exists to make disciples of Jesus.

A church that lives sent in its ethos, its culture, is made of those who know this is who they are at their core. They live sent with their lives. Their mission in life is to be on mission with God who is inviting the lost and searching into a love relationship with God the Father.