Why we change things
How can we be relevant as a church and reach our city in today’s society?
Two types of churches
In the world today, we find that there are two “philosophies” about what the church is or should be like
- The Half-Time Church: the church is only for Christians. It’s a place where Christians congregate and huddle up together, hold hands, listen to pep talk and talk their own language … just like athletes at half-time.
- The Seeker-Sensitive Church: the church is for the unchurched, the unsaved, the not-yet Christians. If you live this kind of church philosophy, everything you do as a church is catered towards the unchurched people: teaching and preaching is safe, worship and prayer is safe and palatable, everything is on the clock, no demons are mentioned or cast out…, speaking in tongues is limited or non-existent during church services, there is no prophesying or anything that could seem a little too spiritual to an unchurched person.
Now while both philosophies aren’t wrong, they do represent two extremes that focus on only one people group, the churched or the unchurched. However, we believe, it should be a combination of both approaches. What if people looked at us and saw a bit of both?
Rigorous combining of the two
“…But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,…” – 1 Cor. 14:24 (ESV)
“…Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?” -1 Cor. 14:16
“… addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,…” -Eph. 5:19
The proclamation of our faith, be it in the form of praying in and interpreting tongues, prophesying, singing songs, praises and hymns to God from and with all our heart, is also for the ears of the unchurched. This is how people see that “surely, God is among you.”
Church is for the churched and unchurched
The way we address our church congregation should be reflected in the way we preach. We need to use what is relevant in our neighbourhood and community.
An example is found in Acts 17:22, when Paul uses what he found in the community of Athens to preach the Gospel.
“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…”
All things to all men
“…To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some…” – 1 Cor. 9:22
Paul said he was happy to change himself and to become “all things to all people” so that he can relate Jesus to them in a relevant way that they can understand.
When people come to our church, we want them to see that God is among us and that they want to be a part of this.
- Churches that are conservative in practice and conservative in the preaching of the Gospel
- Churches that are liberal in practice and liberal in the preaching of the Gospel
We don’t want to be a church that is limited in the way we express ourselves and preaches the Gospel in a way that noone can relate to, nor do we want to be too liberal in the preaching of the Gospel so that the message of Christ is watered down and loses its truth and power.
What we strive for
We strive toward being a church that is liberal in the way we do things while preaching the Gospel “conservatively”. This means that the way we preach is not necessarily conservative and outdated, but that the message remains “conservative”, undiluted and biblical.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” -Jude 3-4
We need to contend for our faith. We may change the way we bring the message across, but the message of Jesus Christ stays the same.
How to help a church understand change
- There are closed hand issues and open hand issues: We hold on to our core values. Methods can change. When change is about to happen, we need to remind the congregation about what is not going to change. We can never become loose in our theology.
- Mission focussed. Jesus left us here on earth with a mission to go and preach the Gospel. People embrace change when they see it part of God’s plan.
- Events. Events are not only amazing outreach tools, but they also help the church. For example, an event may help modernise the church facility and that will benefit the church as whole.
- Slowly, do not draw attention. Some things we want to change don’t require permission from the entire congregation. These things we can change slowly without drawing attention to the change.
- Enthusiasm. When we want to invoke change, we need to be excited and enthusiastic about the change. We need to get our team on board with us and get them excited about it.
The reason why we change is so that we can become all things to all people and preach the Gospel of Christ.
Something to think about:
Study Jude and write down 10 things we contend for in our Faith
–staff notes by Grant Crawford compiled by Sabby Mahabeer.