There is no denying that the modern day church is not exerting the influence on community that we once did. There is no arguing, that as Followers of Jesus, we desire to see people come to saving faith in Christ. Rightfully so, the local church should be concerned about the declining metric of baptisms.
In a previous post (Full Circle Discipleship), I presented the premise that until the local church recovers a biblical model of discipleship there will not be biblical realization of evangelism. The underlying thought is that evangelism and discipleship go hand-in-hand. Neither can be relegated to a program; rather, they should be held together in the Great Commission. A spiritually lost and dying world cannot afford for the church to choose one over the other. People need Jesus. They are literally dying to hear the Good News of the gospel.
I have also offered the position that the church needs a new scorecard to define ministry success. The ultimate measure is to see persons growing in their relationship with Jesus, which should be evidenced by a desire to not only see others come to faith in Christ, but taking a personal responsibility for sharing with others how they can be saved. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer define this as a Transformational Church …A congregation that joins God’s mission of sharing the gospel and making disciples. Those disciples become more like Jesus, and the church thus acts as the body of Christ transforming their communities and world for the Kingdom of God.
Churches without clarity of purpose are like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Alice had a conversation with the Cheshire Cat. Alice asked, “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” The cat replied, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice stated, “I don’t much care where.” The cat said, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
It matters which way the church goes. It matters for all of eternity. Knowing our purpose should determine our course of action. In Acts 2:42-43, the church was marked by life transformation. The Followers of Jesus were studying the Scriptures together, praying together, worshiping together and serving others together. The result was that God was glorified and people were drawn to God through His work in the lives of His people.
There is a danger in our churches of becoming comfortable with a lack of life transformation. We must fight against the flesh to settle for church being a rinse and repeat each week of sing a little, pray a little, preach a little and then go home. Apathy is deadly. The solution is the gospel. Most of us have heard the adage, People and churches do not change until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change. But what must change? Who must change? How do we change? In Transformational Church, Rainer and Stetzer argue that there must be three specific areas of change for a church to become a Transformational Church.
- Attitude Change – Our attitude about church must change. Church is not somewhere we go; rather, it’s who we are.
- Behavior Change – Obedience to God is doing what God asks, when He asks with the right heart attitude.
- Commitment Change – God’s people must be intentional about fulfilling the Great Commission. Churches do not wander into evangelism and discipleship. Busy doing ministry does not equal being productive. If the church is busy with the wrong things, they become a distraction from God’s plan for the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples through evangelism and discipleship.
The natural order of things is for the energy to wane over time and productivity to come to a grinding halt. The Christian life does not have that intention. God creates new life in us and wants to transform us by the gospel and then use us to lead others to gospel transformation.
Stalling is no longer an option. The apostle Paul exhorts us to, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1Corinthians 16:13).