FROM MONUMENT TO MOVEMENT
Change is not easy. Change usually requires one to step out of their comfort zone. Change typically means working harder. Change demands that one set aside personal preference for the good of the church. That may be the most difficult aspect of change. And I do understand. I have sympathy. But what I cannot go along with is a refusal to make improvements out of a stubbornness to change. Churches that are unwilling to adapt and adjust will die where they sit. They may not have to close their doors, but they will be filled with people who are not growing.
Before we go any further, allow me to make one thing very clear: change seems to be a dirty word in the Lord’s church. That word is like nails on a chalkboard to many people because change is often associated with altering doctrine. When some church members hear “change” they automatically assume that we’re beginning a downward spiral away from truth. Any kind of change, even it’s necessary, may be met with the phrase, “Well you know, that’s how it always starts.” Or, “You know where that’s going to lead.” I am in no way advocating a movement away from scripture. I would certainly never knowingly promote doctrinal error. I admit that not all change is good. Not all change is profitable. Not all change is necessary. And change just for the sake of change is not advisable. However, change can be a really good thing. In fact, change can be absolutely necessary.
Here’s the change I’m advocating—a return to our roots. Read through the book of Acts. Did the church just sit? Did the first Christians simply go to church? No. They were more than a church. They were a movement. They were The Way. Church wasn’t a part of their life. It was their life. They were a part of something much bigger than themselves. I want to be a part of a movement don’t you? I’m not satisfied with coming to church. I want to be church. More specifically, I want to be that church. The one we read about in the New Testament; the one that changed the world; the one that was more than a congregation. They were a movement! Let’s be a movement again.
The apostles were constantly on the move. People like Paul, Barnabas and a host of others worked tirelessly to spread the gospel message and to build up the church. They were not sitters. They were movers. Movements move, which means that if want to be a movement again then we must start moving! I don’t believe God ever intended for the church to be a monument or a memorial to a once great movement. You will never convince me of that. Sadly, in many cases that’s precisely what has happened. Churches have retreated. They stay cooped up within the walls of the building and focus inwardly. They keep to themselves. The major emphasis is on maintaining the flock rather than growing the flock. The tendency is to focus more on the structure of worship but not as much on transformation. They concentrate on petty, insignificant scruples and less on brotherly love. They get worked up over societal ills, politics, and what other churches are doing wrong, but show far less passion for evangelism. A lot of things are important; only one thing is most important. We cannot forget our core. We must remember who we are and what we are to be about.
We hear talk all of the time about restoring New Testament Christianity, but the talk usually centers around what we do in worship, in our monuments. Without a doubt we should always concern ourselves with worshiping in a manner that is God-ordained and, thus, God-pleasing. However, restoring New Testament Christianity isn’t just about the form and function of worship. If we’re truly concerned about restoring New Testament Christianity then let’s also focus on moving beyond the walls of the church building. Let’s be passionate about making disciples. Let’s be participators and not merely spectators. The first church was Christ-centered and mission-minded. Let’s be who they were and do what they did and that will always be enough!