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Need some change?

November 10, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Lately I have been throwing the idea around that sometimes we get so caught up in trying to make everything in church appealing that we miss the point.  Sometimes we feel that our music is sub-par, outdated, the wrong genre, or too slow.  Sometimes we feel that our version of the Bible is a bit too “linguistically challenged” for some people to understand.  Sometimes we worry that if everyone dresses up that someone will come into the church and feel like they aren’t dressed nice enough and on and on.  

As I have been studying Romans with the youth group, I’ve realized that if we do those things, or if we don’t do those things, they don’t matter in the end.

I’ve posed the idea before about “How do those who are not in church and really don’t have a religious background view our services?”  I mean, it has to be odd to those people.  Shouldn’t we be more careful about the traditions we take on in the church?  For a while I was very confused as to how a church service should be structured in order to make it more evangelistic…

Yet something has really stuck out to me lately.  Our efforts to make our music more modern, our Bible Translations more modern, our Sunday School classes more modern, and on and on are good up to a certain level.  You want to reach out to as many people as possible.  But there is a huge divergence within the church as to “what works.”  Some people feel the old style works the best.  Some people feel the new style works the best.  As I’ve looked around the Free Will Baptist denomination, I’ve come to realize that those things are worthless at best.  There are churches who are traditional to the core who are making profound impacts for Christ’s kingdom.  They might only sing from Heavenly Highway Hymns.  They might only read the King James Version.  They might not do anything “modern” but they are reaching people and bringing them to know Christ.

There are also churches that are on the modern movement.  They only do songs that Chris Tomlin wrote in the last week.  They only read from a Bible translation that has words created within the last ten years.  They only wear flip flops, blue jeans, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, or whatever they want to.  They’re modern to the core, and they’re making a profound impact for Christ’s kingdom.  

There are also those types of churches that are doing a lick for Christ, too.  

What gives?  

I’ve come to realize that it’s not those stupid, irrelevant small things that matter.  Yes, maybe one way might reach more people than others, but that’s not the drawing factor.  It is Christians who takes Christ’s commands to heart.  They truly love their neighbor.  They are concerned not just about their spiritual well being, but they are concerned about their physical well being, their finances, their hunger, their thirst, their everything.  So they love them.  But there’s one other thing that happens…

They realize that it isn’t any of their own attempts that can bring someone to Christ.  It isn’t their program  It isn’t their curriculum.  It isn’t their Bible translation.  It isn’t their song.  It is only Christ who can change someone’s heart.  The Holy Spirit’s role is the key thing.

This is huge for me.  Sometimes I have gotten so caught up into change, that I miss the point.  Change is worthless in the church unless it is guided by God.  So who needs change?  The Christian needs the change…then the church will change to where it needs to go.

  1. November 10, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    It would seem that there might be some underlying assumptions that lead to your frustration…or reflections.

    For example, we don’t design our Celebration Service to be evangelistic. That isn’t our purpose behind them. Our purpose is to inspire, equip, motivate, and empower the body of Christ to grow deeper in their walk with God and conform more to the image of His Son every day. Sure, I believe that will result in evangelism within our daily contexts and that fruit is a Biblical evidence of our walk. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to increase in worship attendance, or even greater activity at SWC.

    I have come to believe that “those things” which it is easy to point to as not really mattering at all are pieces of a puzzle. So without them, the puzzle will not be complete. They may not seem critical in and of themselves, but what do I know. At face value, teaching out of “The Message” may just seem an attempt at contemporary. But what if unbeknown to me, someone listening Sunday heard the passage in terms where it clicked with them for the first time. Singing only modern songs during our service may seem like a stab at relevancy at face value…but what if that stab at relevancy is what in the deep recesses of my son’s mind is keeping him from thinking the church is 100% irrelevant?

    I guess it could be an issue of the zoom lens being dialed too far in. God has a much wider perspective on how all the “hoops” we think we are jumping through, all the “games” we think we are playing, or all the “marketing strategies” we think we are employing are all playing out. So I’m not too quick to bank my ministry on them…or to write them off.

    If the end all for a church’s success is whether new people are coming to know Christ…then I guess we can boil it down to some pretty simple measurements. But I don’t think that is the end all of a church’s success. So maybe song choices, translation selections, movie clips, powerpoints, and even organs are having a greater impact on the kingdom than we might initially think.

  2. November 10, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Using a worship service as an outreach tool is a very fishy thing to me. It is one thing I will be looking for when I begin History of Christianity 1 this week.

  3. November 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    My point of this post was not to condemn or exalt one’s preferences, but to point out that far too many Christians think that they will only reach someone if they follow the Saddleback or Willow Creek way. The feel as though they will only reach people if they stick to a certain way. I was simply pointing out that it’s none of our efforts that can actually bring someone to Christ, but the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Yes, we can be tools in the hands of God, but it all boils down to God leading.

  4. November 10, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    I agree. I think we’re after the same thing. The only problem I have with that is saying our efforts don’t bring people to Christ. We aren’t the sole reason for it, but we’re in there. We’re much more apt to hurt than we know. Traditional churches that work out have traditional people in there general area, modern churches likewise.

  5. November 11, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I agree with Brennan. The Holy Spirit is definitely the catalyst and worker in people’s lives. But God has chosen, for some crazy reason, to utilize us as the vessels. So our efforts definitely have an impact. Both our direct efforts, and even indirect efforts that we don’t necessarily consider “evangelistic.”

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