We hear it all the time from the pulpit, and you’ve probably repeated it in some context; but what does it mean? If you ask a group of people, you’ll get quite a few different answers; so I thought I might give you my perspective and some thoughts about being “Sold Out For God.”
I Think of a Store
I have worked at K-Mart (teens ask your parents what that is) One Stop Auto Parts, AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts and a few other retail merchandise businesses where you have product on the shelf. It is this mindset I am using when I define being Sold Out. Now please understand, I’m not trying to say that we should treat the Gospel of Christ like a sales product, not at all. With that said:
Sold out means there is nothing left, the shelves are empty.
What kind of Store do you have? What is on the shelf?
Stores are defined by the merchandise on the shelf. Grocery store, appliance store, variety store… so one might ponder, what have you stocked your shelves with? I mean if a store (Church) is going to be successful, you need to have available that which people need. So often modern Churches have a full stock of music on the shelf, and a light show with drama teams are in no short supply. Other Churches are stocked full of empathy, emotional support centers and even scream rooms. Many Churches with youth programs have turned their Church into activity centers with rock climbing walls and dance teams. However, are these what people need? Is this providing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, doctrine and discipleship? Or are those valuable items found down isle 3, stuck in the back. By the way, compassion is in the discount basket seeming to have no value in Churches anymore.
1 Timothy 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Some might even call the modern Church as a convenience store. Older Churches an antique store and some even still a variety store, when what we need is a specialty store.
Do you Know What’s in Inventory?
If you’ve ever worked retail there is a floorplan for merchandise, and everything in that store has a place to go. Additionally, it was important to inventory what you had in stock so you wouldn’t run out…
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
If we take inventory (Examine yourselves) we will know what we have available to give. Whether a Church or an individual, a good inventory will help assess our effectiveness to our community. So many Churches stretch themselves so thin trying to help in so many different areas; they miss the most important part about ministry… God’s relationship to the Church and its membership.
Additionally, is the viewpoint to that of management:
Psalms 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
A good Pastor will not compare his Church to another Church to that of growth, but rather work with the resources (inventory) that you have. So many Pastors look at the Churches around them and want bigger facilities, more ministries, more buses, greater outreach; eventually increasing the scope without increasing the resources. The result is a ministry greater than the resources. The facilities go without upkeep with the workers exhausted from the expansion. Often a Pastor will quote Proverbs 29:18a Where there is no vision, the people perish:.. but that vision should be to use the resources that God provided, rather than a vision that causes the people to perish.
If a Pastor is in continuous evaluation of his inventory, the shelves will never be empty.
Matthew 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Lesson here: He didn’t pray for a BIGGER harvest… he prayed for more labourers. Maybe you should wait till you get labourers before you get bigger than you can handle.
Sold Out For God
Let me just be clear to this process, being Sold Out for God is NOT a good thing! It may preach good but if the shelves are empty, it creates discouragement to those who would come to fill a need. How often have you visited a small Church where the membership is exhausted in the ministry. Sold out every week and never getting replenished. Large Churches will have the same issues in a larger effect because you stretch a small team to do a larger work.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In one of the colleges I attended the Church had a huge ministry. This Church seated 5,000, a college with an average of 800 on campus, it even had a full day school, from kindergarten through high school. Yet, when going to workers meetings it was the same small group that seem to do everything. The Pastor would get up and say we gotta do more, we need more on the bus, more visitations, more decisions for Christ; more, more, more… These people in some cases gave all they had to give and often had nothing left. When I looked at the faces when he would he would say that, their countenance was so low.
In retail, when the inventory was low you would line it up on the front of the shelf so it looked like the shelves were full, but in reality they were just barely keeping the doors open. It’s called front and face. So many are weary in well doing, putting on a front and a smile on their face… but inside their shelf is empty in need of replenishment.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. A good Pastor, managing inventory will keep his team replenished, so when people show up needing Jesus… they will find the shelves fully stocked and a team not weary in well doing; but rather renewed and ready to help.
Is what’s on the shelf, worth the price?
It’s been my experience that if a product needs to be hyped, it’s probably not worth the price. When you need a hype man to get the crowd pumped up, or to “set the mood of worship”… you might not have your shelves stocked with the right stuff. I’ve often made the analogy that people no longer come to Church hungry for the things of God because they are full on the junk food of the world. Problem is, too many Churches are serving the same candy in a different wrapper. So I ask the question “Is what you have stocked on your shelves worth the price that Jesus paid?” Are you offering faith or fake? Because when the hype music stops, so will the faith apart from the Word of God.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Not Music, not relevant messages, not plans and programs. God’s word preached, sinners converted and discipled with and through the Word of God.
Here’s a thought
A store places valued or eye catching stock in the store window display, to get your attention. Often even having items in the display, that are not even in stock! Churches have started doing the same. Flashy, dramatic showmanship rather that solid preaching and teaching from the Word of God. When you get inside you get a relevant life message, a watered down bible and rehearsed prayer rather than life changing salvation.
Quality over Quantity
So many Churches today have been stocked with cheap, temporary, flashy inventory that simply doesn’t last. It’s like the Dollar Store quality merchandise designed to look like the expensive version but made with cheap parts. The people truly looking to have the need fulfilled should be able to come and see a Church filled with people excited, refreshed and ready to fulfill that need. Where a Pastor works just as hard to keep the shelves full as he does getting people in the store. (Church) But too often people walk out entertained and empty. Still hungry, still searching for that which will satisfy.
So my question is if your Church and people are “sold out for God” with nothing left to give?
Has the Church’s Vision exceeded the Value?
Is the quantity of people in the building more important that the quality of the message?
Or is your Church stocked up with the very best that Christ had to give. Shelves full of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, staff and members replenished and ready to fill the needs of a lost and dying world. Where the quality of the work mattered more than the quantity in the seats. Because it’s been my experience that when a store (Church) has the best product and the best service, word gets around.