Change is inevitable–it will come for the better or for the worse. Change comes when we want to, we need to or we have to. Some churches are changing (for the better or for the worse) because they need to. Let’s be honest, in thousands of churches across America the “builder generation” is paying the bills and the “millennials” are still unfaithful.
While traveling across the United States thousands of churches with large or small congregations are making incremental changes trying to address the needs of an ever changing culture. Many changes in color, design, methods, approach, and outreach are being seen in churches who are passionate about reaching a new generation. Many churches are still operating in the 80’s with their myriad of programs no longer pursuing their purpose and lacking passion. Change will come and not all change is bad but not all change is good.
There are however, some essentials to never lose grasp of and I’ve compiled a short list of value elements in the church that should be the bedrock of our faith, I call them the CHURCH UNCHANGABLES.
A SINNER FRIENDLY CHURCH SHOULD NOT MEAN WE ARE A SIN FRIENDLY CHURCH.
All churches should be friendly to sinners. Let’s face the facts, if we want a sinner to come to church and give their heart and life to Jesus then we must be friendly to sinners. Jesus himself was a friend to sinners, see Luke7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! Although, being gluttonous and winebibber was a slam against him, a friend to publicans and sinners, is a compliment. Though the Phariseedical crowd refrained from touching, talking or eating with sinners, Jesus encouraged it.
Yes, the church must be sinner friendly. However, to reach the unchurched we must not forget to stand strong against the evils of this day and the sins held socially acceptable. We must uphold God’s standard of righteousness. Sinner friendly doesn’t mean we muddle in the same puddle. While some churches quit the call for repentance, we must not slide down the same abyss. Sin should be defined and declared while giving opportunity for a repentance prayer. A healthy church warns of sin and reveals the Savior.
SINNER FRIENDLY DOESN’T MEAN WE MUDDLE IN THE SAME PUDDLE
WHY WE MEET SHOULD NEVER CHANGE BUT WHEN AND WHERE AND WHAT SHOULD CHANGE REGULARLY
If we lose our WHY then we cease to be a church and self-create into a business, a party, a club or social gathering. Our WHY–Jesus lived, died, resurrected and coming back again must never change. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
THE WHY DRIVES EVERYTHING IN THE CHURCH
Bringing people to Jesus, baptizing them and teaching them is WHO we are and that must never change. But there are a few things we can change; times, days, methods, places, and opportunities are variables. Recently our Wednesday Adult Bible Study starting serving dinner at 6:30 pm, with Bible Study at 7:00 pm has consistently gathered the most response. That may change in time but at this present time we are investing more into the Bible Study with handouts, food, praying together, and celebrating with communion. We changed the method and still hold up highly the WHY.
REGULAR TIMES OF PRAYER SHOULD NOT CHANGE TO SEE YOU NEXT SUNDAY.
Can I bluntly ask? Why are we ashamed of bringing the congregation into corporate prayer? A deacon or an usher can quietly bring a disruptive saint to the back but we value the privilege of having corporate, community prayer. Leading each person who wants to pray into a side room may embarrass the seeker more when they are with people they don’t know, probing into their personal life. Why not let a friend slip an arm around them and pray with them while they stand at the end of the service? Or invite everyone to come forward to pray as a body, the people of God kneeling together, and watching God work through the lives of people. Where is the prayer room? Do you and your staff meet regularly for prayer? When does the church body pray over the needs of the church body? Is there a regular time in the morning worship for prayer? Why not?
A pastor with a church of 600+ people confessed to me, while we were drinking coffee at Starbucks, “I haven’t called the people to prayer for six years.” The “big churches don’t do it”, “you might lose control”, or “there may be emotional outbreaks” are detrimental imaginations. The following Sunday a time of prayer, to come up front and pray, was given after the end of the message and over 250+ people responded. When the pastor and I met again at Starbucks, he confessed, “It was like revival, a real refreshing.”
PERFORMANCE AND PERSONALITIES SHADOWS GOD’S PRESENCE
The presence of God in a church service compared to when God is not present in the church service is perfectly compared to having church with no electricity and having church with electricity. Can we examine our worship times and ask the question, “do we do church without electricity?” The presence of God can easily be overshadowed by performers who desire to sway the crowd with gyrations and musical entrees. The scriptures warn us “no flesh should glory in His presence.” God’s presence is of great value. When God comes to church everything else develops, grows and matures. Yes, there are levels of His presence in every service yet personalities lowering the level of His presence “grieves the spirit.”
CAN WE EXAMINE OUR WORSHIP EXPERIENCES AND ASK THE QUESTION,
“DO WE DO CHURCH WITHOUT ELECTRICITY?”
CULTURE SHOULD NOT BE THE DRIVING FORCE BUT CHRIST JESUS IS THE DRIVING FORCE
To define the church by the crowd might increase the numbers – to define the church by Christ will disciple the numbers. Culture gives birth to entitlement belief systems and maybe even, unfaithful members but a genuine Christ Jesus experience births committed, loyal and faithful members. Culture defined worship is compared to a making a plumber the captain of a war ship because both have experience with water. Christ Jesus brings wisdom to the table. Christ Jesus beings insight and direction to the board room. Christ Jesus brings a driving force into the auditorium. People can see the difference, feel the difference and know the difference.
LET’S CHANGE THE CHANGEABLE AND CONTINUE TO CHAMPION FOR THE UNCHANGABLES.
You may not agree with my list of unchangebales or you could add a few more but at least give it deep and complete contemplation. The better way could be standing in front of you right now.
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling.