Houston, We Have a Problem

Those are words that those in the space industry do not want to hear. But, in the Church world they are words that I believe we need to hear. We have a problem or two. Here is an obvious one – and one which Jesus warned us about. We need new wineskins to contain what God is doing today to reach our culture and the fast changing society in which we live. Jesus said that new wine needs new wineskins. However, he also said that no one who has tasted the old wants the new. This is the problem.

Change is never easy. And, it is not something we look forward to. However, in the Church it is inevitable. Followers of Jesus can be assured of one thing – change is a constant when you are a disciple of the Lord. Because it is we need to learn to welcome and embrace change.

Here are some changes I believe we need to embrace:

1> We need to embrace new methods and new ministries to reach new generations.

2> We need to stop trying to be relevant and start becoming more meaningful – living and presenting a Jesus that transcends our culture with a message of hope for the new world order we are facing.

3> We need to do away with the North American prosperity and success gospel that is not a gospel.

4> We need to understand that a lot of what North American Christianity embraces as normal and a sign of success is simply an anomoly and will not work in most other cultures and nations – thus is not a biblical measure of anything important and should not be used to measure success.

5> We need to become more transparent offering hope, love and grace. This will mean engaging the unchurched beyond a weekend service. God’s people need to be missionaries of grace. This means we must recognize that our cool, slick, overly programmed worship services are only attracting other Christians, not the unchurched. We need to learn how to have a service that allows people to “see Jesus” and his unreachable riches.

6> We need to shift from a performance style of worship, whether traditional or contemporary, to a hospitality model. Churches need to be offering a face-to-face fellowship of a meal combined with elements of worship. This would be a return to the pattern of church found in Acts 2:42.

7> We need to do away with the model (wineskin) that was created to entertain, retain, and maintain the church (the truly saved and the unsaved who come to our churches believing they are saved). This model means we spend a great deal of time and effort tweaking elements of the worship service hoping to find just the perfect combination so that “the door will spring open, there will be lots of dancing, singing rainbows and unicorns.”

8> We need to build churches that are practical, Bible-based, and truth-focused. We do need to be loving, we do need to meet needs and we do need to do our best not to be boring, but most importantly we need to have a hunger within the Church concerning the importance of Scripture, the truth of His Word, and an unwavering tenacity at applying its principles. That’s what speaks to the needs of the people, both churches and unchurched.

9> We need to end the “sense of privilege” most believers have. This attitude of privilege prevents them from owning the mission of the Church. It allows them to sit and expect to be served and ministered to instead of realizing that each and every believer is a minister and must be up and out of the pew touching lives for Jesus. It is not about the privileged few but about the lost whom Jesus died to save.

10> We need to stop repackaging what doesn’t work, giving it a new name hoping that it will work. Said another way: we are manufacturing old wineskins with new names, and passing them off as new wineskins. God is not fooled and neither are the unchurched and unsaved.

I could go on but the point is – “Houston, We have a problem.” Sand, until we recognize the problem we will simply continue to do what we have always done and thus get what we have always gotten. Poor English, but true nonetheless.

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