Generous. Vibrant. Loving. Authentic. Innovative, honest….agents of CHANGE
No, I’m not quoting a politician describing himself to a pre-election crowd, I’m sharing some of the important characteristics of a transformational church. A church takes on these traits when it plugs into Gods mission to advance His Gospel among the nations. As we’ve studied the church of Antioch, we’ve seen an encouraging example of just such a church.
The Church of Antioch was the epitome of intentional evangelism for they were truly innovative. I say this because of their willingness to be the “first” church to commit to a series of important methodological changes in church history, many of which we’ve already discussed. they were the first church to establish a discipleship ministry among non Jews (Gentiles). This of course led to their becoming the first predominately Gentile congregation. Because of their purposeful evangelism, they were the first to be called “The Christ Ones”, later shortened to “Christians” and they were the first missionary “sending” church as they sent their leaders, Paul and Barnabus out on mission for Christ.
They were unafraid to break new ground and were consistently evolving in their methods to reach the nations.
Let Me Ask You
How receptive are YOU to change?
What was the last significant change in the life of your church?
Do you think innovation is important in the life of a church?
Now, to be sure, change for the sake of change is never a good idea and there are certain things that must be bedrock. For example, Biblical Doctrine should not be tampered with…ever. Why? It’s settled, it’s authoritative and there is no way to improve upon it. However, the methods we use to reach the world for Christ must constantly be evolving.
Our problem, more often than not, is that we see our personal preferences as Doctrinal truth and when change is mentioned we resist. I really believe we do this with good intentions.
The changes that were continually made in Antioch werent Doctrinal Changes but changes in the methods they used to advance the Gospel. They intentionally refused to settle for less than being as effective as possible when it came to advancing the Gospel. Preferences werent their focus, the Gospel was and this allowed them to become the transformational church they were.
If change is essential for Gospel advance, why is it that we struggle so mightily with it?
Fact- to truly advance the gospel, churches and individuals must be willing and ready to cast aside their own personal preferences for the sake of others. I really believe that in doing so, we are taking on the attitude of Jesus!
Read Philippians 2:3-11 – What does this passage have to do with preferences we may have?
Does putting others before self sound like the attitude Christ Himself would have?
The believer that responds to good, Gospel soaked change with the attitude of “No way! I’ll fight! I’ll leave! THAT IS NOT THE WAY I LIKE IT!” is teeming with pride and immaturity. Why? How could I say such a thing? Easy- it’s not about me. Let me give you an example and I’ll use myself as a case study. I have preferences, things I like. Ways that I like to do things. My preferences are o.k. in and of themselves. They become a problem when I begin to see them as top priority, when I see them as non negotiable. The fact is, my preferences are just that, preferences. Personal opinion and not Gospel truth. I know that the preferences that I have would not be conducive to Gospel advance in the community that God has placed me into…..so, I willingly lay them aside. Why? So the Gospel will be advanced. Again, it’s not about me.
Change, may be a cuss word in many churches today but it was the spark plug for gospel advance in Antioch.
May we be that kind of people….Church.
Love You All So Much and Soli Deo Gloria!- Pastor