Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Changing Church

Two men sat on a park bench, eating lunch and talking about their church experience. With an expression of consternation, one said to the other, "My congregation is becoming more Christ-like… the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Leadership Journal, Fall 2008, p. 82)

Some of you will read that and immediately think, "What is he complaining about? The church should be just like it was yesterday and should stay like it is into the future!" Others of you will read it and think, "I understand that frustration. The only thing my church has changed in twenty years is the number of people who come. We've been in decline for ten years!"

So, should the church change?

Absolutely not!

And Definitely yes!

When the Hebrew writer said that Jesus was the same yesterday, today and forever he was warning the readers to guard against departing from the new, better covenant. Those who had taught them had led godly lives following Jesus. If they followed the same way, they would live godly lives, too. The consistency of Jesus confirms that truth. "Stick with what you've learned from those who taught you," the writer contends! Grace is much more beneficial than ceremonial foods!

Few people actually believe though that the church should not change in any way. I say "few." I don't know of any, but I don't know everybody.

We meet in buildings with padded pews. We sing songs from books or screens. We evangelize via Facebook, blogs, or church websites. We print material, we purchase advertisements, we have bank accounts (perhaps blank accounts right now), we own property and pave parking lots, we drink our fruit of the vine from tiny plastic cups, and we stare at the back of the head of the person in front of us during the communion. We baptize people in chlorinated water circulated through filters. We have Bible Classes and Children's Bible Hour. We wear suits on Sunday mornings (at least the real Christian men do) and jeans on Sunday night. The readers of Hebrews didn't do any of that. The list could go on and on.

Change? No way! I'll take God's grace over my filthy rags!

Change? Yes! How can we become all things to all people so that we can save some?


Uncommon Sense said... long as the changes fit within the model of the first century. However, South Yukon has adopted some disturbing changes (additions) that remove the worshiper from worship (i.e., applause to focus on a person's personal achievement or new membership, children's church which pulls both adults and kids out of the first-day-of-the-week worship and edification). I should hope that the elders look down the road to see what these changes may lead to, and consider that some changes simply make the church look like another denomination.

dagwud said...

Where is the New Testament model for the youth intern, on summer break from a Christian University, using Facebook to encourage his youth group to sign up if they are going to ride the church bus to the Christian camp?

Like some many things drew the additions are not about following a model for many of your brothers in sisters in Christ. They are preferences. And to judge those who applaud at a baptism as people who are focusing on the person's personal achievement is a judgment that you don't really have the ability to make. I know that's not the reason I applaud.

And again, your going to find some committed disciples of Jesus who believe just as you do about a Children's Bible Hour and some committed disciples who believe like I do. Shouldn't we accept one another, and let God make us all stand? After all, South Yukon is an assembly of his servants; and your church is an assembly of his servants, regardless of where the kids are during the sermon.

I appreciate your differences with me about this, but much of what you and I do in our modern churches is outside the model of the first century. And figuring out what is actually outside of God's will is not always easy. Thank God for his wonderful grace. I believe he'll forgive the faithful for applauding and Children's worship if it turns out we shouldn't have done them. And I believe he'll forgive the faithful like you for opposing them if it turns out that they were OK.