I spoke last night at the Crown Him with Many Crowns event organised by Heart for Ipswich. The theme was Taking Up The Challenge and I had been asked to speak as part of the section Challenge to Change. Here is my outline.
Any impetus to change requires a challenge. Jesus provides that challenge: Go make disciples. That is, go and make disciples who will become disciple-making disciples themselves. Disciples that bear fruit is not a ‘nice to have’ but an essential requirement. On the night before he died, Jesus talked about his Father being the vineyard owner (John 15). A vineyard owner needs fruit to survive. Being faithful is not enough.
Last year, 2011, in our churches, how much fruit? How many people came to faith in Christ for the first time? The numbers are perilously small.
However beautiful the strategy you should occasionally look at the results.
Our strategies are beautiful (great Services, creative teaching, vibrate worship, powerful preaching). Are we brave enough, however, to look at the results?
This creates the challenge to change. We long for different results.
Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Apart from cosmetic changes (music style, dress code etc), churches have been fundamentally doing the same thing for years. The times we are in though have completely changed. Yet Jesus said (Matthew 16:18):
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop trying to build the church (that is Jesus’s job anyway) and start making disciples (which has been our job all along). This will require churches to return to an approach much closer to Jesus.
People, not just programmes
Jesus’s strategy for transforming the world was to gather twelve people and pour his life into them. Typical church concentrates on running programmes and events that often get in the way of building meaningful relationships with those we are trying to reach.
Imitation, not just information
Sunday by Sunday we bombard Christians with information telling them what they must do. It’s not enough. If it produces any change it is very slow. It’s like teaching someone to drive a car by only giving them the theory and then expecting them to go off and drive by themselves. Jesus taught not with loads of information but with lots of opportunity for imitation.
Out there, not just in here
We focus the overwhelming emphasis on inside the church. Jesus in stark contrast did almost everything ‘outside.’ He crossed all the barriers (social, cultural, etc) to meet people where they were.
If we want to reach those that no-one else is reaching we will have to do what no-one else is doing.
Jesus will build His church in 2012. Will we join Him?