Denise, Gabby and I just got back from a 10 day vacation in Europe. We had never been before. We spent time in Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and France. It was a whirl-wind tour, and we saw things we had never seen before. While they drove on the right side of the road, the speed limits were very different there. The cities are old. They have cobblestone streets that have been in place longer than people have been settling here in America. In Prague, it was not unusual to see streets or buildings that had been there for 1,000 years. They built their structures to last.
On the Sunday we were there, we had a chance to tour a cathedral that was 1,000 years old. It had been added on to a few times over the centuries, but parts of that building were original to the first structure. I can’t even imagine how many baptisms that a millennium had produced, or how many people had taken communion there over the ages. It was not just the artistry that was captivating, it was the history. Over hundreds of years, they had added on and built additions, but you cannot tell the newer part from the older part. It was built to be true with its history.
In this Christian life, we are following a long history of faith. While it all seems new to us, the practices that Jesus taught His disciples have been around for almost 2,000 years. These practices never go out of style. Programming in churches change, but some truths remain forever. We were called to love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We live in community with one another. We find groups. Faith is passed on person to person.
Our current world is fascinated by the new, especially here in America. We don’t save our structures; we tear them down and build new ones. It doesn’t matter if something still works, if there's a newer one out there, we need it. New phones, new cars, new apps for our phones, new options for cable, new social media mediums…as soon as one gets popular enough for a parent to learn it, our society creates a new one. And while progress is a good thing, and we should never stop improving, we cannot lose sight of the eternal things that do not change.
We are in a season of change in our church right now. We are in the process of reworking our values and re-examining our purpose in our community. We are setting new initiatives to follow for the next few years. But if you look at them, you'll find a deeper, eternal message that has not changed at the heart of each one.
Mobilizing our church for the transformation of our community… the great commission sends us out into our community and the world see lives become more and more like Jesus.
LIFE Groups. In the New Testament, we have overwhelming evidence of small groups and house church gatherings. They encouraged, prayed, taught, and shared with one another. Where did that happen? In their life groups.
Connecting. The church has consistently been a body of people connected by their faith and love for God. For many people, the church is their family away from family.
Leader Development. Faith has been passed down one person to the next. You cannot read a book on it, or get a chip implanted to make it happen. Our development happens when one person invests in another.
Outreach. Since the Garden of Eden, God has been reaching out to us: to gain our attention to see us come back to Him. And His role is now our role – we reach out to others so that they can experience God.
We are not looking to tear down the building and put up something new. We are trying to remodel ourselves. Keeping the eternal and refreshing the rest.
Probably one of the most startling remakes we saw was in Prague. On a car tour through the old and new city, we passed an old building. Our driver commented that in the 1920’s the communist party had commandeered the building as a barracks, headquarters and office complex. When the Berlin Wall came down, most European countries got rid of their communist governments. Today, the building still stands. It’s a shopping mall. (The irony was not lost on us.)
This month we finish our series “Look to the Future” And as we look ahead, we take the best of the eternal principles of God’s church with us. We are being made new, but we are holding on to the church as God designed it. Hold on as we continue to share with you who God is calling us to be.