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Action Changes Things

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It is kind of funny that the Bible says we are supposed to be “changing” all the time but it seems that many Christians do not like to even hear the word change.  Like it or not, things change, people change, styles change, and the culture changes.  Yes, followers of Christ must use great discernment in what areas they should or should not change.  Some say we should never strive to contextualize the gospel but is that not what Paul did in Acts 17 at Mars Hill?

It is strange how we decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the area of culture and contextualization when the Bible does not address it.  For example many believe that not wearing a suit when you preach would be a sin but quite honestly the suit is a contextual manifestation of a particular culture, like it or not.  Would it not be ok to wisely and prayerfully choose to change in some areas if it would advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom?

Sometimes the only alternative to change is to pick a rut and make it deeper.  The truth is that many churches need to change and if they do not they will suffer a slow but sure death of their ministry.  Rather than being on mission with Jesus Christ some have opted to just fellowship with those they are comfortable with and seem content to go around in circles.  We are bound to the Great Commission and must move beyond only being concerned for those already in God’s family.

Recently a good friend of mine shared this convicting definition with me; “Failure is succeeding at doing the wrong thing!”  Have churches “succeeded” at becoming gathering centers more than being sending centers on mission for God?  Unfortunately, it is far too easy to fall into old and ineffective behavior patterns that are completely unproductive.  We are continually drawn to be inwardly focused on ourselves instead of remaining outwardly focused on others.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Another way to say this is, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.”  Jethro told Moses to change the way he was overseeing the Hebrew children.  Samuel was told to change the way he was looking for a King.  Jonah was told to change the way he looked at his enemies.  The Pharisees were told to change the way they worshipped and six of the seven churches of Asia were told to change or else.

There are some things that definitely need to be changed (maybe I should have said transformed because that seems a little easier for some to swallow) in our lives and in our churches.  While my list certainly is not exhaustive, nor is it necessarily prioritized, allow me to suggest a few things.

  1. We need to change the focus from only bringing people to church to also need to be the church to them.
  2. We need to change our focus from developing more programs to discipling and developing more people.
  3. We need to change from how many we can gather around us to how many can we can send out from us.
  4. We need to change from institutional maintenance to incarnational influence.
  5. We need to change from talking about making a difference and start making a difference.
  6. We need to change from talking about Jesus to acting more like Him.
  7. We need to change from knowing what’s wrong with our communities and start doing something to transform them.

There should always be room for change in a follower of Christ.  That change needs to happen in our hearts, in our actions, and in our focus.  We have spent a lot of time and effort trying to do church better when what really needs to change is all of us to start acting like the body of Christ.

Reggie McNeal describes the problem well, “Many congregations have become sociologically cocooned, evidencing little interest in reaching beyond their family or tribe, however defined.”