I would argue that in my lifetime, a mere 52 years, the world has advanced more educationally, technologically, economically and culturally than in the previous thousand years combined. Certainly, not all of it has been positive, like our advanced war machines, but we have had to adapt to all of it, good, bad, or indifferent. In many corners, churches find themselves stuck in a culture or a tradition rooted in a time that doesn’t exist any longer. The biggest change that the church is seeing in the culture around them is that the scales have tipped toward apathy, disregard, and even distrust of the Christian institution.
Why then has the church been so resistant to change? And by church, I mean denominational leaders, pastors, leaders, and congregations, or all of us! Here are 3 myths, in my opinion, that are keeping the church from living out Jesus’ Great Commission.
- The Bible outlines our traditions that we must abide. I absolutely agree that the Bible and the Holy Spirit are our guides for following Jesus; that it outlines for us principles to live by and love our neighbors. I would argue that it does not define parameters that we must adhere to as organized groups of Christians. As a matter of fact, the New Testament is full of examples where the early Church leaders were adaptable in how they shared Jesus’ story. The Spirit shared a vision with Peter (Acts 10) that globalized his perspective on who and where to make disciples. Paul was constantly adapting his strategy as he traveled from place to place in order to present the Gospel in a way that could be heard by his audience. The Apostles and early missionaries were constantly changing their approach because they were following the Spirit into not only new places but new ideas too!
How is the Bible shaping your ministry to reach a new culture and where is the Spirit leading you or your church to make an impact in your community or the world?
- The church must be a safe haven for its members. One of the changes in the world over the past 50 years that has created both positive and negative ramifications is our culture of consumerism. In a good way, it has advanced innovation in creating effective and safe products; a negative is that it breeds selfishness and greed. One aspect of church consumerism is that many people view church as that 1-2 hours per week that we can safely and comfortably hear encouraging words of hope and love. I agree that the church should be a safe haven, but the shelter should be for the people that the world has beaten up, abused, and forgotten. “Members” already have Jesus to provide them with the support they need to follow Him. In order for us to be the church Jesus envisions, we have to be the driving force in our communities for changing personal attitudes from consumer greed to loving neighbors.
How are you challenging your people to leave the safe confines of the building and engage with people in the community that need Jesus?
- Our church doesn’t have the resources to compete. This is the most dangerous attitude that church people can harbor because this is where the Evil One sets up shop. I daresay that the Apostles were ill-equipped to revolutionize the world with a message of faith, hope, and love. Their most important resource was their belief that Jesus had overcome the evil in the world for anyone that would follow Him. They empowered each other to build relationships with other people who, in turn, built relationships with other people that needed faith, hope, and love. Our most important resource as a Church are our people who have the capacity to build relationships with others centered around a love for and trust in Jesus Christ. (Please note that I said other people and NOT those people. That will be a topic for another discussion.)
How are you motivating, equipping, and supporting your people to build relationships in their homes, schools, workplaces, etc?