“I can’t believe how much is changing!” is a quote I heard recently. Most surprisingly is that it was ME that said it! Change is never easy. And let me say up front that I’m not writing this because so many have come to me expressing struggle with this. I’ve just been through and led change over the years and my experience is that change is never easy, but it is easIER if the purpose for the change is clearly laid out. Just FYI, I’m no fan of change for change sake!
On recent Sunday evenings I have been laying out a vision for what I believe is needed in order for UBC to become an authentic biblical community (my phrase for just being a church that simply reflects scripture as closely as possible). I’d like to lay out a few things in this blog that may help in the process of discussing these changes.
1) EVERYTHING We Do Should Glorify God (1 Cor.10:23-33)
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. …31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
God is most glorified in the church when the people of the church seek to cause others to have their greatest joy in God! Think about that statement in light of the above passage. We are to be of no offense by seeking the best of others, especially in non-essentials like food (or ministry plans, schedules, etc…). The context of this passage is that the non-essentials are to be a platform for us all to glorify God by edifying one another to be satisfied in the essential of the gospel!
I am not passionate about the non-essentials of a new plan, schedule or Life Groups. I am absolutely passionate about what these things are intended to produce, and the changes to get there gives us the opportunity to reflect God’s glory in the manner mentioned above. We should exult in that!
2) Everything We Do Should be Everything WE Do (Eph.4:11-16)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Did you notice verse 16? The WHOLE body is joined and held together by God’s grace to work together for the growth of the body. Healthy things grow, but it demands that each part is “working properly.” I take very seriously that I am to equip the saints through the Word of God to grow up into the maturity that is in Christ and see the body build itself up. The Body of Christ is just that, A Body! It is not a machine, a company or a building. It is a living, breathing organism that God has purchased for Himself in Christ Jesus and chooses to use in order that He is seen as strong (2 Cor.4:7).
UBC has a great chance to see the greater body get involved in ministry with increased and more clearly communicated opportunities that will lead to this growth. We must lose our Western evangelical consumeristic tendencies and realize that there are no quick fixes that produce lasting fruit. When the fruit is bore, it will be beautiful because when God makes something it has color and flavor and real lasting value. What could be better said of us?!
3) We Should Walk with Other Generations (Titus 2…All of it)
2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Scripture is relatively silent on methodology, but where it speaks to it, it is clear. Families and generations are to pursue Christ together and live out the gospel together. There is a place for age-based equipping (like our Sunday AM Bible Fellowships), but the greater weight of scripture speaks to a more family-integrated approach. Most of us would agree that the family is important and needs to be strengthened, but there are also many of us who would rather others do their work for them. For too long, our churches have maintained an overly-intensive age-based system that essentially says, “Come to our family friendly church and we’ll offer you a children’s worship experience, a youth experience, a college experience and an adult experience” and 3 hours later you see your blood relatives again just in time to go to lunch and discuss the 3-4 different messages heard that morning. Now, you may say, “Mike, that’s an over-exaggeration and much too harsh.” Well, that may be, but I have no malice, just an intensifying passion to see churches truly become family-oriented again, even integrating singles of every age!
Our hope by creating a weekly Family Worship Guide and Life Groups that are bi-weekly, meeting in communities in and around Fayetteville, is to see whole families gather for fellowship, prayer and the application of God’s Word (see Acts 2:24-47).
Go back to Titus 2. Verse 10 says, “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Multi-generations sharing and living the gospel together is clothed with the beauty of the gospel. The world says that diversity is beautiful. But our diversity is not under the banner of political correctness or the condoning of sinful lifestyles, it is in the unity of the gospel.
There is more I could say, but I’ll leave it at this for now for your consideration. There are other benefits like better organization, better stewardship of our “human” resources, better communication, broader fellowship and the like.
Let us, as the local body of UBC, remember that the opportunity to evaluate and re-create our ministry approach does not come around that often. God has sovereignly and graciously brought us to a time when we can evaluate so much, simplify, focus and improve our stewardship of the gospel.
Like I said, this is a lot of change. But as I looked around and met with staff and leaders, so many ministries seemed to be at a “stripped down” place and ready for fresh start. I am excited about where we are heading and look forward to the next several weeks of discussion, decision and implementation.
May God richly bless you all in the knowledge of His Word!