Welcome back! After taking a couple of days off from our case study, it’s time to get back into gear, and take a look at a seminal issue of church transformation, and that is the view from the inside out. We’ve already talked about seeing the church from the point of view of the outside looking in, we’ve talked about the inward focus needed for spiritual growth and the development of disciples through community and relationship. Today is the culmination: from the inside out.
From the point of view of a Christian in church, how do you view the world outside those walls? Do you see opponents? Do you see wickedness and depravity? So you see the “lost”? Maybe you see opportunity to add to your numbers, potential “converts” or a competition of some sort… Do you see God’s children whom He loved so much that He sent His Son to die for them? Do you look upon those outside your church walls with a loving heart… or an air of superiority?
If you aren’t seeing God’s children, the ones He loved so much in spite of their problems, that He would shed blood to save them, you have some growing up to do!
Several years ago, I remember in our church a note of unhappiness on the part of some, who complained that we had too many “new people.” All anybody cared about was “new people.” When were we going to do something for our “old people?” (By which they meant long time members) All too often, this is the attitude of our churches.
When enough Christians look beyond the church walls and see the world outside through God’s loving eyes, you will never again hear complaints of this type. You will never again hear someone say that we are not about to coddle the culture by making a change to the way we do something, for the congregation will have a loving attitude towards other people, and will be willing to do whatever it takes to create the environment that helps the process of salvation along… short of tampering with the truth of scripture.
Love is the key ingredient in transforming a church, because love is the key ingredient of transforming a person. Once again, I’m not talking about sentimentalism or emotionalism here, I’m talking about that divine element that makes us respond to God with a great desire to serve His purpose by serving others selflessly. Love God; Love your neighbor as yourself: Make disciples. This is the formula Jesus gave us. It requires a vision, then it requires that everything a church does fits into that vision with a clear, purposeful and unambiguous message. It requires community and relationship that is purposeful and intentional and that provides healing, closeness and selfless service… and all of this requires leadership. This leadership comes not just from the pastor or the leadership team, but an environment where each member is empowered to grow and develop. In short, it requires an environment that trains ministers, not ministry.
Up to this point in our case study, I’ve shared a number of “what’s” and this today is the “why.” Every class, study and sermon needs to point the people to the “why.” That is our strategy, that is our policy, and that is what Jesus did with the Twelve.