Is Change a Good Thing?

This past Sunday was our fourth week into our latest series, Stories of God. It began with a video testimony of Monty and Deana Williams sharing their story of how they took in a friend who was struggling with a drug addiction and how he came to know the Lord. The first thing Monty says in the beginning of the video is, “I think every day of your life is your ministry, and you have to walk that out, and people have to see that in you… if people don’t see Christ in you, or see something that draws them to you, then I don’t think you have anything.” What did he mean by that? Ryan unpacked it perfectly with a list of things that us as believers should walk by in our day-to-day lives.

There is no doubt that our culture strays further and further from morality every single day. Just this week, a news channel covered the conflict in California where people are trying to get a bill passed to allow drug users to have a safe place where they can inject themselves with their drug of choice, with the intentions of “encouraging sobriety”… Abortion rates are at an all-time high, with 40 million abortions having been performed since it’s legalization in 1973, almost 7 times more casualties than the Holocaust. America has become the leading country in human trafficking statistics, with a terrifying 32 billion dollars circulating each year from the sex trade.
Reading this, you would think that the church has failed, right?
Wrong. Ryan covered the statistics of church attendance, stating that in the early twentieth century, only 6 churches in the world had more than 2,000 members. By 1960, there were 16 churches with 2,000+ members. By 2013, there are 1,600 churches with more than two thousand in attendance on average, and the numbers have continued to rise. With the introduction of television and technology, churches have gained the ability to reach more people. With such high attendance numbers and cultural shifts, the church has had to find new ways to reach the lost, and that can be scary for some people. 3,700 churches close their doors every year because they refuse to change their ways in order to reach the lost. They are focused more on religion and rules, and that is repelling to a lost person.
In order for a church to never lose it’s focus, Ryan listed 4 foundational truths that the church cannot sway from, even while shifting their dynamics to reach the culture around them. The first and most important thing was to never forget the importance of teaching about Jesus’ blood, and basing everything upon the message of Christ. The second thing was to always strive to share the Good News with the lost, and to never be content with only preaching to a bunch of saved church people. The third thing was to cherish discipleship, building godly friendships and being surrounded by a body of believers to encourage growth in your faith (Acts 29). Lastly, we as a church should always stand up for social injustices, and be a voice against the things that God calls wicked.
With these principles as our foundation, we can become a city on a hill, where our light shines for all to see. Ryan read from 1 Timothy 3, where Paul is writing to young Timothy. Timothy’s church is surrounded by a sinful culture that indulges in idolatry and adultery, much like our churches are surrounded by immorality today. He talks about having a Church of the Living God, which translates to “an assembly of people called out”, meaning a group of people called out of the darkness and into the light; Not a group of people who care more about service time limits, their outfits, the carpet color or the volume of the music. It’s a group of people who have Christ living in their hearts, creating a Church of the Living God where lost people can come to experience the love of God and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Williams’s story of how they shared Christ with their lost friend, despite everyone advising them not to, is a perfect example of living with Christ in our hearts. They saw the bigger picture, and that they were called to love others as Christ loved them.
So how do we apply this to our dark and dying world?: The same way Timothy did in Ephesus a thousand years ago. With Christ in our hearts, we create a place where culture doesn’t sway or infiltrate our teachings or beliefs. We stand up for what we believe. We recognize that the power within us is the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, and we love others as Christ loved us, doing everything short of sin to speak out against injustices, reach out to the lost, and remain on the foundations of the Word.
Blessings! -Kinley Hurt