We are looking at things that need to change if we hope to be a dangerous church. We saw that we need:
1> To see things through the eyes of the unchurched and de-churched
2> Let guests and visitors be anonymous
Today – Let’s look at the need to EMBRACE CHANGE
Wouldn’t you agree that everyone hates change, except a wet baby? Still, as much as we resist change, it is frequently the very thing we must embrace if we are going to have any hope of reaching this lost generation. Fashions change, education methods change, technology and medical science change. And in the church, while the message and mission we have been given will never change, our methods of communicating and our structures of organization must change, or we risk failure. In his book Soul Tsunami, Leonard Sweet asks, “What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? How do you tell one from the other? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death.
If you don’t change – you die. It’s that simple. It’s that scary. The bottom line for our churches is that they must change or they face certain death. We cannot afford to stagnate or to maintain or to settle for the status quo. To change is to live and grow. There simply is no other option.
Resistance to change is nothing new. In fact, we find it even in the earliest days of the Christian church. The story of the early church in Acts 15 almost sounds like something we’d find in one of our churches today. It’s a great example of how well-intentioned motives can sometimes lead to really dumb decisions, and it exposes our selfish tendency to want to hold on to the past. Sometimes even the smartest leaders make stupid decisions.
We read in Acts 15 that some of the Pharisees who had come to know Christ found out that Gentiles (non-Jews) were being saved. As Pharisees, these were men who knew their Bibles and had even made a decision to embrace Jesus Christ. They weren’t dummies! And yet they demonstrate a tendency that we often find when we see God at work in ways we don’t expect. As non-Jewish men began embracing the gospel and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, the first concern of the Pharisees who had become Christians was to preserve the status quo. Immediately these leaders began adding to the gospel by requiring that the new converts be circumcised: “Then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, `The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).
Can you imagine the negative effect that a circumcision requirement would have on church growth? A man raises his hand and steps forward in faith to trust Jesus and receive God’s grace … and then he is sent to the circumcision room to complete the process of being saved! Ouch.
As dumb as it sounds, we do similar things today. In all attempt to help God, we add requirements to the gospel or take away aspects of the gospel, watering down the message. Either we change the message in unbiblical ways. Instead we need to preach and share the unchanged, unashamed, and unbridled truth of the gospel. We don’t have to give people a gospel that is politically correct or offer them a sensitive version of the truth. Our message is the same message that was preached two thousand years ago: receive the grace and forgiveness of God, turn from your sin, and trust in the mercy of Jesus Christ to be saved.